Once and Future #2, published by BOOM! Studios, is written by Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Dan Mora, colored by Tamra Bonvillain, and lettered by Ed Dukeshire. In it, Duncan McGuire and his grandmother Bridgette travel to Glastonbury to stop the rise of King Arthur. Elsewhere, a cult who worships the Once and Future King intend to resurrect him using the scabbard that held his sword Excalibur.
As with the first issue, Gillen, Mora, and Bonvillain make a formidable creative team. Gillen’s writing continues to crackle with perfectly placed barbs, and even more brilliant twists on Arthurian lore including the Lady of the Lake – or in this case, Ladies of the Lake and the Knights of the Round Table. I have always been a fan of Arthurian lore, and to see it filtered through the prism of dark fantasy is both intriguing and unsettling.
The rapport between Duncan and Bridgette continues to be the highlight of the book, and where Gillen excels with his dialogue. Probably one of the best exchanges of the book comes at the beginning, where Bridgette notices that Duncan’s date from the first issue has texted him asking about his gran’s health. Duncan replies, “Great! Tell her ‘she’s fine and has a gun pointed to my head!'”
Mora delivers insanely detailed artwork, leaning heavily into the dark fantasy of the book. The Ladies of the Lake stand motionless, their eyes glowing red and their skin grey and withered. When Arthur is eventually resurrected, we see flesh and organs growing over his ancient bones for several pages.
It’s a disturbing sequence that is eerily reminiscent of Hellraiser, and it helps to highlight the terror of the situation. Another page has Arthur slicing open the hand of one of the cultists. The following panels close in on him while he licks the blood from the open wound. Mora’s art leans toward the cinematic more often than not, and this sequence is a perfect example of that.
Bonvillain adds to the horror vibe with her colors, as the majority of the issue takes place underground. Arthur’s body, especially his eyes, crackle with acidic green energy. Blood literally spatters on the page as bodies are shorn in half. A good colorist knows how to set the mood and make the art pop, and Bonvillain continues to show that she’s one of the best in the business.
Once and Future #2 builds on the momentum of the first issue by continuing to highlight its brilliant premise and the talent of its creative team. It also reinvents the legend of King Arthur as a dark fantasy. Given where this issue leads off, I expect issue three to be action-packed while delivering more acerbic dialogue and twists on familiar myths.
Once and Future #2 is available now wherever comics are sold.
Once and Future #2
Once and Future #2 builds on the momentum of the first issue by continuing to highlight its brilliant premise and the talent of its creative team.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.