Review - Once and Future #1 (@boomstudios)

"Do you know what the Questing Beast is?"

The idea that history may not have been exactly as advertised is a fun one. Many decisions are made based on previously made decisions, but sometimes those decisions may not have been entirely sound. In Once and Future #1 from BOOM! Studios, the notion that King Arthur was something slightly different makes for a good read. The issue is written by Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Dan Mora, colored by Tamra Bonvillain and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

When a group of Nationalists use an ancient artifact to bring a villain from Arthurian myth back from the dead to gain power, ex-monster hunter Bridgette McGuire escapes her retirement home and pulls her unsuspecting grandson Duncan, a museum curator, into a world of magic and mysticism to defeat a legendary threat.

Gillen is tapping into a centuries old mythos in regards to the times of King Arthur as a way to frame the current danger and there's something intriguing about sort of demystifying the myth in a way. Doing so lets the reader know that really nothing is sacred and Gillen uses that notion brilliantly to move the plot forward at an ever-increasing pace. There's a very brief intro prior to meeting Duncan and his grandmother Bridgette who are essentially serving as the main protagonists against the impending dangers ahead. The way that Gillen crafts the narrative here is admirable as it just feels silky smooth in how he weaves together the threats of monsters with modern-day society. The dialogue doesn't feel forced at all and is very effective at characterizing the players; Bridgette is completely calm while Duncan plays the role of "dumbfounded at the notion of seemingly outlandish events" very well.

What Mora's artwork does really well is articulate the characters and give them a presence on the page. Characters are drawn with somewhat sharp angles that afford them distinction against the backgrounds, all of which offer a solid level of detail. Mora's use of cross-hatching is also tremendously effective in conveying action throughout the issue, particularly so when Duncan encounters the aforementioned Questing Beast. Mora's grasp of movement is phenomenal, in that the panels feel alive in terms of how the characters seemingly move through them. Bonvillain's colors are on-point throughout the issue, casting an ancient pall on the action through the use of primarily blues and greens.

Once and Future #1 adapts a modern, cultural relevance to a centuries old tale by challenging the past. Duncan is rapidly learning that everything he knows may not be entirely true and partnering with his grandmother on an impromptu quest is quite a way to come to grips with a new reality. Gillen's script is engaging and entertaining, with most of the entertainment coming from the sassy and knowledgeable grandmother hunter. Mora's artwork feels alive and grounds the book in a modern-day setting. Once and Future #1 is a lot of fun and definitely worth checking out.

Once and Future #1 is available now.