Raising Arthur from the dead in Britain’s time of need? What could possibly go wrong? Find out in Once & Future #2 from BOOM! Studios.
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Dan Mora
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $3/99
Release Date: September 18, 2019
Previously in Once & Future: Hapless museum curator Duncan McGuire is reprieved from a bad date to go look for his grandmother, Bridgette, who has absconded from her nursing home. He gets off the phone with them when he gets a call from Bridgette – she has a problem and needs his help. Her problem is that someone has stolen an ancient scabbard, and she’s stocking up with weapons, just as the Questing Beast shows up, and Duncan must distract it. A group of Nationalists have stolen the scabbard of Excalibur and are plotting to use it to raise Arthur himself from the dead!
THERE’S NO MESSING AROUND HERE
Duncan McGuire was raised, by his Gran no less, not to be superstitious. In Once & Future #2, he’s trying to come to grips with the fact that she’s a monster hunter and he’s seen the Questing Beast personally. And she’s still got him at gunpoint as they drive to Glastonbury. He may be the one going on the quest, but she’s the only one who knows what’s going on. As scrappy as she is, I like that she’s not invincible as an elderly lady and running around at night tires her out.
They need to cross over to where the bad guys are currently, and the gateway is open and waiting for them. It’s watched over by the Ladies of the Lake. It about sums Bridgette up when she tells her grandson, “Don’t stare at the unearthly demon ladies. It’s rude.” She is so matter of fact, and it is quite endearing.
Down below, the Nationalists are opening a sarcophagus under the direction of a woman named Elaine who is helping them under some duress. Bridgette hopes that she and Duncan can get there in time to stop them – but they’re too late for that. The skeleton of Arthur has risen and is slowly growing a body. Elaine claims he needs some time to attune to them – the language he speaks is ancient and they don’t understand him. He takes his sword and cuts the hand of one of the Nationalists and in a brilliantly gruesome twist, not only tastes the blood to identify him as Anglo-Saxon, but promptly strikes him down along with the other Nationalists. Bad guys need to know their history – in Arthur’s day, Anglo-Saxons were the enemy.
Worse yet, Bridgette recognizes Elaine, used to work with her. She does understand what’s going on. Arthur tastes Elaine’s blood and names her a Celt. She pledges fealty to him as he raises the dead bodies to be the first of his new warriors. Elaine declares she wants to advise Arthur. This is an unexpected twist, and Bridgette decides their best bet is to quietly sneak back out. Until Duncan accidentally kicks a rock…
THE ATMOSPHERIC WORLD
Something I truly love about the art of Once & Future #2 is the atmospheric blend of the inks and the colors. This takes place at night, as all such spooky ceremonies should, so there are strong shadows and interesting pops of moonlight on the characters. The cool palette for outdoors is lovely. Indoors, the blues take on a cooler tone, but with the torchlight and red-headed Elaine, there’s a great contrast with the warmer colors.
The scenes of Arthur being raised from the dead are truly horrific. He’s a skeleton in a simple but very thorny crown, but the posture and attitude he has is definitely in charge. As creepy as it is, like a reverse dissection, I like the way his musculature and organs start coming back a bit at a time. He’s regal and horrifying at the same time. The minions he raises come to life (unlife?) complete with armor that is anything but Arthurian, being replete with extra spiky bits, but it does make them look formidable.
BOTTOM LINE: PLUNGED INTO THE ACTION
Once & Future #2 keeps us on our toes. We find out just enough information that we can follow what is happening, but new twists and complications keep raising the stakes. Bridgette is one of the best new action heroes on the scene, making the book a sheer delight.
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Once & Future #2
It all comes down to blood and bone under the hills of Glastonbury.