ONCE & FUTURE #3, out this Wednesday from Boom! Studios tells a significantly darker and more disturbing tale of King Arthur and his devout followers. In a world full of King Arthur retellings, this one stands out amongst the pack.
Take a look through any collection of books or comics, and the odds are good that you’ll find more than one retelling focused on the legend of King Arthur. With that in mind, note that Once & Future is a completely different take.
ONCE & FUTURE #3 is a world in which letting King Arthur continue his eternal rest is for the good of all man. Because some legends are better left alone. It’s a darker rendition of the tale, but that is why it has become such a fascinating read in such a short period of time.
And okay, throwing an awkward man and his elderly grandmother into the mix certainly helped to shake up any preconceptions we had about this series. Best of all, their interactions allow for the occasional moment of comic relief, giving the readers a chance to breathe before diving back in.
Kieron Gillen is the author behind Once & Future, and fans of his previous works probably didn’t need to be told this. He has such a distinctive way of writing – telling a story that is both compelling and bone-chilling.
Once & Future #3 is no exception to this rule. This issue starts with a dramatic battle (the one hinted at with the conclusion of the second issue) but then backs off to give us a chance to learn more about the situation at hand.
And to be fair, there is still a lot we need to learn about what is going on. Thankfully, Duncan seems to be equally ignorant. So we get to learn alongside him. Something to be even more grateful about is the fact that unlike Duncan, we won’t have to be risking our necks to gain this knowledge.
In the previous issue, there were hints of a few more classic tropes rearing their heads. And this issue essentially confirmed that fact. These tropes are going to help add to the complexity of the situation, all while giving us something familiar to lean back on. It’s cleverly done.
Once & Future #3 gets to boast about many things, including the brilliant artwork. This series has already been getting a lot of attention on that front, and the third issue does not disappoint. There’s something so eerie and foreboding about the way the artists have rendered the supernatural in this series. But it’s also all sorts of perfect.
The dichotomy between the two sides in this series cannot go unnoticed. On the one hand, we have figures that are classically and sinister-looking, corpses rising from the graves, and the like. The living among their side is that beautiful that doesn’t look real – like they’ve taken a step away from humanity. And in a sense, they have.
On the other side of the war, we have a man and his grandmother. His character always looks so dramatic on the covers, yet the issues portray a very different man. He wasn’t raised for this battle, and he’s struggling a bit. Meanwhile, his grandmother is all lines and determination. Even her expression has been hardened by her drive to see things through.
Knowing all of this about the art, it’s probably no surprise to hear that there is an amazing artistic team working behind the scenes here. Dan Mora was the lead artist for this issue, with Tamra Bonvillain providing the coloring, and Ed Dukeshire doing the lettering. And all credit for the look and feel of this series should go to them.
Once & Future #3 somehow managed to balance the pacing of the previous issues with the need to provide some answers about what is happening. And all while increasing the tension of the situation. This combination has made for a perfect read, not just for fans of the creative team (though there is that), but for fans of King Arthur and lore and well.