Review: Stories Change And So Do The Heroes In ‘Once and Future’ #14
by Olly MacNamee
The Green Knight throws down a challenge and Rose steps up to accept. As legends of yore spill out into our reality, Bridgette, Rose and Duncan continue to defend the realm. But, how much can they take on? And, how long until there comes a reckoning? Another gripping issue from Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, Tamra Bonvillain and Ed Dukeshire.
“Stories do change over time”. Something Once & Future is built upon and something reiterated here by Duncan, who is witness to one such story changing in front of his very eyes, as Rose steps up to replace Gawain in the story of the Green Knight. Itself a later addition to the ever-growing, ever evolving legend of King Arthur. A legend that stands as evidence of the power of stories and their fluidity. Indeed, bore deeper into the Arthurian legend and you’ll soon find many, many additions to a bare bones story of a warlord uniting England after the Roman’s retreat. The Round Table, the Holy Grail, Lancelot even. All later additions, but nowadays an integral part of the legend most people recognise. And all with more than one iteration too. As Bridgette comments on when discussing Gawain. A character that shifts depending in which tale you’re telling.
And so, the Green Knight throws down his Seasonal challenge, just as he did in the original 14th century poem, giving the challenger a year until he returns the favour. That favour being the separation of the head from the shoulder courtesy of an axe. And, in Rose taking up this challenge, and being bonded to this particular tale, she reflects the modern day realisation that in the past too many if our heroes have been cast as male. The hero of the Heroes Quest going off to save the damsel in distress has well and truly been reversed in our modern media. From Frozen to Star Wars, sister really are doing it for themselves, and offering up stronger role models to the likes of my daughter.
But, back to the comic.
Once and Future #14 is another one of the more gory issues in this series, but after the gore stops flowing there is the calm. Although watching a racist thing bleed out as Bridgette somewhat sympathetically talks him into a confession is a rather bloody calmness. But then you take your breathers wherever you can, as more and more stories seem to be spilling out into the real world.
Dan Mora dazzles again, even when illustrating the most dull and mundane of country pubs, which England has more than its fair share of, sadly. And, Kieron Gillen’s scripts continue to grip the reader while espousing the philosophy behind this series through his characters dialogue without it feeling forced.
Stories within stories and barely a sighting of King Arthur throughout the past few issues. Something is most definitely brewing and by the end of this issue there is every indication there will be a reckoning very soon. Next issue in fact!
Once and Future #14 is out now from BOOM! Studios
For more on the source materials Gillen is referencing in this series do check out out Arthurian Annotations here for more.