It is the year of Arthurian retellings, but ONCE & FUTURE #1 out this week from Boom! Studios is proving to be one of the most unique examples out there – full of twists and turns.
Once & Future #1 is the start of a modernized tale of King Arthur – and it’s already looking like things are not going to go the way we expected. Set in the present day, Once & Future combines archeology with history, prophecies, and supernatural horror all in one neat package.
Early on in the process, writer Kieron Gillen expressed hope of finding a new way to bring the classic tale into the future. But, naturally, he wanted to do something that had never been done before. Considering Arthurian retellings are a dime a dozen, we can hardly fault him for the logic here.
But the real question on everyone’s minds is, did they succeed? After having read the first issue in the series – it certainly looks like they have. Once & Future is everything it promised; it has a strong basis in the supernatural while holding on to history through the use of character backstory and archeological hints.
Once & Future #1 starts in a way that immediately grabs and holds the reader’s attention. This storytelling technique is a clever one but usually needs some further explaining later down the line. Something which our creators were happy to do, through the use of what we can only assume is one of the main characters of the series.
From there the series seems to bounce around a little bit, giving us time to get to know our main characters before tossing them into the thick of the plot. This also allowed for a moment of humor, and a chance to really see the dry wit underlying the series.
Being that this is the first issue, it’s no surprise that they spent most of the time on establishing the frameworks of the series. What is a pleasant surprise is how intriguing and fun they made the process. There was never a dull moment to be found in this issue, and instead, the conclusion left us eager for more.
The artistic team for this series is already proving to be a powerhouse. Dan Mora is the artist behind the scenes, providing the lines that are already creating such iconic moments. Meanwhile, Tamra Bonvillain provided the colors, and you can see her influence over the series. Finally, Ed Dukeshire came in for the lettering, and his work was both beautiful and understated, just like we hoped.
There was a lot to like about the art in this series. The color palette leans well towards the supernatural and the horror, while also supporting some of the lighter moods already shown. This isn’t an easy balance to achieve, but it was done effectively here.
The supernatural elements shown have been fascinating so far, leaving readers hoping for more. It’s ironic, in a sense. There was a statement about watching your obsession with monsters, only to present us with a monster worthy of studying. Was this an intentional mirror, or just a happy coincidence provided by talented artists?
Once & Future #1 has managed to take a story told countless times and completely flip it on its head. The source material is still clearly recognizable – the characters themselves don’t shy from the subject at hand – yet it’s been altered to suit the needs of the story. And that is where this series shines.