(++WARNING: mild spoilers ahead++)
Whatever you cherished, idyllic image of King Arthur was, then Kieron Gillen has well and truly trampled all over it with the first 6 issue story-arc of BOOM Studios’ Once and Future and it would seem he’s not done yet as Once and Future #7 reveals.
It’s an issue that took me totally by surprise I saw who had been resurrected from the dead at the end of the issue. Seems Arthur isn’t the only once and future king of this title. Nor will he be the last, methinks.
Having dealt with the Arthurian legend by gleefully pushing it through a meat grinder resulting in the most macabre version of this British legend to date, Gillen now seem to have set his sights on another legend and in doing so moves further back in time in terms of the source materials he is plundering to create a shared universe of horrors from the stint past, and more specifically the Anglo-Saxon period of British history. Gillen moves away from the courtly chivalry of the Middle Ages, and that really has no place in this saga. and back to a more barbaric time. A time in which Arthur’s legend was spawned and grew, while others fell by the wayside for a time. A time when the Romans had returned to try and salvage their crumbling Empire and paganism returned once more to Britain. Along with foreign invaders that would carve up the British landscape in ways that are still felt today.
But, to get to this startling revelation there’s a whole issue to get through first as we catch up with all our main players on both sides of the battle. While Arthur takes steps to bring Galahad in line with the rest of his Round Table knights by sitting him on the gnarliest Siege Perilous I’ve even seen – the total antithesis of it’s original design and intent – Rose, Duncan and his gran all set off to London and the The British Museum to thwart Arthur’s latest plan.
It’s worth pointing out that the treasure they thing they’re looking for is an actual artefact from the famous Sutton Hoo treasure that every school kid in Britain eventual covers in school at some point. It’s also a place of interest in this story too, as it’s the site on which Elaine (or is it Nimue now?) performs the ritual that sees a new, equally dangerous past ‘hero’ from legend resurrected and ready to do battle. The Otherworld just got a power-boost in strength that will have Duncan and his minuscule troops (his nan and Rose, don’t forget) reeling.
But, you don’t become one of the greatest known kings of Britain without having a brilliant tactician’s mind, and he easily send them in the wrong direction through clever subterfuge thereby gaining the true prize that results in Elaine resurrecting… well, you can find out for yourselves by asking your comic book store to save you a copy/add it to your pull list foe when stores reopen and/ore comics are once again distributed and shops reopen. here’s hoping that many will, if you give them your business now that is.
Dan Mora and Tamara Bonvillain show that even in the darkness that is rising there is time for beauty. Whether that is the fleeting beauty of Galahad (you saw our preview, right?) or the beauty of a Britain most readers are familiar with, it’s there and Bonvillain’s neon colors certainly add some much needed fairy lights to the Otherworld. It’s a surprisingly more colourful, ethereal issue than you’d imagine as Mora adds the shadows and Bonvillain balances then up with lush deep green, vibrant purples and the odd dash of fiery red and orange.
This saga is only expanding and adding more classic, legendary characters from the mists of time to the ranks. Where will it end is anyone’s guess at this point, but what ride it’s been so far. It’s also great to see a corner of England that isn’t often seen get some love. Having spent some time down that end of the country myself last year, I can attest for both it’s beauty and it’s sense of magic too. A place straight our of an Old English fairy tale with thatched roofs, country pubs. An idyll for a king, that’s for sure.
Once and Future #7 is out now from BOOM! Studios.
For all of our coverage of Once and Future, look no further than here where you’ll find all of our preview, reviews and Arthurian Annotations too.