It’s been a long night for Duncan and his Gran, but it isn’t over yet. Can they foil the plot to bring Arthur to life before legend repeats itself? Find out in Once & Future #3 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: October 16, 2019
Previously in Once & Future: Duncan McGuire heads to Glastonbury at gunpoint. (Said gun is wielded by his Gran, Bridgette.) She leads him up to the ruins where they can find a gateway to the Otherworld, which leads underground. There the Nationalists, under the direction of a woman named Elaine (whom Bridgette knows) open a sarcophagus and cast a spell. The skeleton of Arthur starts growing flesh – and promptly kills the Nationalists, but not Elaine, who is a Celt by blood. Bridgette decides that discretion is the better part of valor and she and Duncan sneak out, until Duncan accidentally kicks a rock.
STORY SUMMARY AND CRITIQUE
Once & Future #3 opens with a bang, or rather, several of them as Duncan lets loose with his gun. The inimitable Gran praises him for being a natural at this sort of thing, digs through his pack, and pulls out some explosives. She tells him to run and sets off herself. She is not as young as she once was, and being the good grandson that he is, he goes back for her and carries her out as she clicks the detonator. They make it out from the Otherworld, and this gateway is closed.
Arthur, Elaine, and four undead knights remain in the Otherworld where Elaine hints that if the land could be healed, the two worlds would no longer be separate. This piques Arthur’s interest, and he tells her to bring him the boy who can get the grail for him, and he goes looking for a better sword.
Gran laments the death of another colleague – a Doctor of History, from Bristol. As it so happens, Rose, the woman Duncan was on his disastrous date with is a Doctor of History at Bristol. Coincidence, or fate? They go to her place and Gran immediately points the gun at her, to which Duncan responds by telling her she can’t do that! Their interactions are delightful, providing a natural excuse to let things relax before the next scary thing happens. Gran leads Duncan and Rose to a basement storage area where, in a locked box inside another locked box, there are keys and a note Gran hands to Rose, who agrees to go along with them to Bath.
Why Bath? Edgar the Good, the first King of all England, was crowned at Bath Abbey, not in London. A place with that kind of history can be used as a gateway to the Otherworld, to connect with other places of power where a King may be crowned. They walk in and when Rose sees the spirits in the Abbey, she understands that this is real. Bridgette hands her the candle – her job is stay there as a beacon so they will be able to find their way back.
They find their way to Arthur who is about to pull a sword out of a stone. Excalibur? Well, it depends on the story. And there are lots of kingly swords in history. Gran is delightfully prosaic about all this stuff. She’s a little more critical when Elaine reveals that her son is the Galahad who will bring the Grail to Arthur. One of the interesting takes in this tale is that stories themselves have power. Galahad will find the Grail because that’s what Galahad does. If a new person steps into that role, he will become part of the story.
THE MAGICAL AND THE CREEPY
I like the art in Once & Future #3 so much. There’s a nice balance struck between Arthur and his men, who are decidedly corpse-like and rather creepy, and the settings they’re in which are quite lovely. The coloring plays with the whole candlelight vibe that’s going on. A really effective additional detail is that we see the little spheres of light similar to those you get when light from the flash bounces off motes of dust in a photograph. It speaks to me of age and stillness.
The characters continue to be well-depicted. Bridgette looks like a frail older lady. She is tiny. Her face is wrinkled. Her glasses slide down her nose. Yet we see traces in her of her determination. Her hair floats wildly about her head. She rolls her own and smokes as casually as a movie star of the ‘40’s. Little details such as this add so much to a character.
BOTTOM LINE: A CREEPY TAKE ON A MYTHICAL KING
If you like Arthurian legend and horror stories, Once & Future #3 hits all the right spots. It is well paced and cleverly written, and the artwork brings everything to life. This is an entertaining and captivating book.
Once & Future #3
History, legend, and a touch of humor combine in the plot to bring Arthur back from the dead to save England – whatever that means.