Once and Future #3, published by Boom Studios, is written by Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Dan Mora, colored by Tamra Bonvillain, and lettered by Ed Dukeshire. King Arthur threatens to plunge the land of England into extinction, and a newly reincarnated Galahad may be the key to his ascension. Duncan and Bridgette McGuire enlist the help of an unlikely ally in the fight to stop the Once and Future King from achieving his goal.
Much like Batman and the Outsiders, Once and Future #3 boasts a stellar creative team that works together wonderfully. Gillen packs his script full of witty one-liners and twists on Arthurian lore while continuing to wring gold out of the relationship between Duncan and Bridgette. A key example has Bridgette arming what appears to be a very large explosive; the casing itself contains sea salt, garlic, wolfsbane and silver shavings among other things Arthur himself also receives more development in this issue; his goal to cleanse Britain of invading forces is a not so thinly veiled reference to the destructive rhetoric of the Brexit movement, right down to the quest for the Holy Grail.
The dark twists on familiar archetypes continue to be this series’ ace in the hole. King Arthur is regarded as a hero and his mythos has inspired similar heroic series, including Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. In flipping the script like this, Gillen presents a new, unsettling lens in which to view Arthur and opens up a wealth of storytelling possibilities.
Mora’s artwork is stellar as always; he opens the issue with Duncan firing a semiautomatic rifle at Arthur and his knights; the page is framed from the perspective of the knights as bullets literally fly at them and at the reader. A sequence later in the issue has Duncan scooping up Bridgette and dashing away from an explosion, and Mora’s linework adds to that feeling of movement; the reader will feel like they are literally running alongside Duncan.
Bonvillain continues to add to the eerie vibe of the series with her colors; the fact that most of the events take place during the night only gives her greater reign over the atmosphere. A page finds Duncan, Bridgette, and Rose, Duncan’s date from the first issue, entering the Bath Abbey; the abbey itself turns out to be dominated by ghosts. Bonvillain fills the panel with a hazy blue color, as the ghosts drift in and out; the end result is eye-catching and more than a little creepy. In the same vein, Arthur and his knights are surrounded by fiery green energy when he yanks his signature sword from the stone.
Once and Future #3 continues to impress with its inversion of Arthurian lore, insanely engaging characters, and a creative team who is firing on all cylinders. I can’t wait to see what else Gillen, Mora, and Bonvillain do with this lore.
Once and Future #3 is available wherever comics are sold.
Once and Future #3
Once and Future #3 continues to impress with its inversion of Arthurian lore, insanely engaging characters, and a creative team who is firing on all cylinders.
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.