Once and Future #1, published by BOOM! Studios, is written by Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Dan Mora, colored by Tamra Bonvillain, and lettered by Ed Dukeshire. History professor Duncan McGuire has his world turned upside down when he learns that his grandmother, who turns out to have a vast knowledge of the occult, is trying to prevent a shadowy cabal from resurrecting King Arthur. As it turns out, the Once and Future King may not have been as benevolent as his legend suggests.
Kieron Gillen is no stranger to fantasy, as he currently writes DIE for Image Comics. With this comic, he takes everything you know about King Arthur and turns it upside down. Gillen’s talent for creating memorable characters is also on display with Duncan and his grandmother Bridgette, and the two couldn’t be more different. Bridgette is acerbic, smokes her own hand-rolled joints, and has fought all manner of supernatural creatures. Duncan, on the other hand, fumbles his words, spills wine on a date, and is clearly in over his head. Mismatched pairings like these usually lead to stellar character dynamics, and Gillen delivers with a script packed full of those dynamics as well as his trademark wit.
Mora brings the script to life with his illustration; almost literally, as his characters are extremely expressive. When Duncan digs up his Gran’s stash of weaponry, his eyes widen in shock. His jaw also drops in terror when he comes face to face with a monster known as the Questing Beast and Bridgette’s face lights up when she finds the weapon she’s looking for. Much like his work with Go Go Power Rangers, Mora brings an animated flair to his characters and settings. Bonvillain adds to this with her colors; most of the issue takes place at night and the dark blue and violet hues she uses are reminiscent of the dusk. When the Questing Beast enters the scene, the color immediately flips to a vibrant green.
The best thing about Once and Future #1 is that it manages to hit every beat a first issue should: it introduces you to the main characters, it sets up the stakes, and most importantly, it gives the audience just enough to keep them hooked. At 34 pages, this is no easy feat but Gillen and Mora pull it off. And, the fact that they manage to do so with only one major action sequence is even more impressive.
Though Once and Future #1 is light on action, it immediately hooked me due to its snappy dialogue, well fleshed out characters, and a fresh twist on an old legend. Gillen and Mora are crafting quite a tale and I can’t wait to see what future issues bring to the table.
Once and Future #1 is available now everywhere comic books are sold.
Once and Future #1
Though Once and Future #1 is light on action, it immediately hooked me due to its snappy dialogue, well fleshed out characters, and a fresh twist on an old legend.
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.