Once & Future #1 Review: A Brilliant, New Spin on Arthurian Lore

Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora are taking fans on an adventure through Arthurian mythology, but as we see in Once & Future #1, it is definitely not what anyone is expecting and that is a wonderful thing. The new series puts you in the shoes of a clutzy museum curator named Duncan who, alongside his gran Bridgette McGuire, goes on an adventure to keep a legendary item out of the wrong hands. What follows is a journey that constantly defies your expectations while delivering the perfect dose of humorous charm.

Once & Future quickly establishes the stakes at play here and introduces readers to the star of the show. That would be the mysterious yet lovable Bridgette, who makes an immediate impression within the first few pages and never lets go of your attention. Every time Bridgette makes an appearance, she charms with her sarcastic wit, nonchalance at the most terrifying of things, and a subtle layer of giddiness with every one of her revelations.

Making this all work is Duncan, as you need someone to play the straight man against Gran to get the full effect. Gillen's answer is Duncan, whose compassion you never question and is just the right amount of befuddled at all times. Gillen also plays with some bumbling character tropes with Duncan, as it was nice to see someone who's capable but not necessarily in the most efficient of ways.

While the first half of the book establishes the world and its characters, the second half is really where it shines. A big part of that is again thanks to Bridgette, whose history is pulled into the spotlight and opens up a host of storytelling possibilities. It also allows Bridgette and Duncan's relationship to expand beyond what you expect a dynamic between grandson and grandmother to be. That's what really sets this book apart, and it's easy to see that much of the book's heart and soul will stem from their relationship; it's off to a fantastic start so far.

Once & Future wouldn't make nearly as big of an impression if it wasn't for the skills of artist Dan Mora and colorist Tamra Bonvillain. Mora's characters are full of life and expression, and allow the reader to not just read what they're feeling at any given time, but to see the effect it has on the character's mannerisms and expressions in each moment. Bonvillain's colors are filled with moody purples, greens, and pinks, assuring you'll spend as much time looking at the characters as you do the backgrounds, and that's not even mentioning the duo's work on a particular creature that makes hell for the leads.

Once & Future's biggest achievement, though, is the novel approach to the mythos on which it's based. Arthurian legends have been used many times in comics, movies, and tv alike, so it can be challenging to find a take on them that feels fresh. Gillen navigates that familiar lore to find several notable foundations on which to build a unique story, and it's already showing massive potential. Once & Future storms out of the gate with gorgeous visuals, a delightful cast, and an intriguing central premise, so do yourself a favor and jump on in because you won't regret it.

Published by BOOM! Studios

On August 14, 2019

Written by Kieron Gillen

Art by Dan Mora

Colors by Tamra Bonvillain

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Letters by Ed Dukeshire

Cover by Dan Mora