Duncan’s life has turned upside down all in one night. The story of King Arthur looms large, threatening all of Britain. Is history doomed to repeat itself? Find out in Once & Future #5, 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: December 18, 2019
Previously in Once & Future: History is getting set to repeat itself, as long as there are people who fit the necessary roles. Elaine’s son is knighted as Galahad, and Elaine assures Arthur that they have a maimed Fisher King and a Grail for the taking. Bridgette tries to shoot Galahad, but Duncan disrupts her shot. They flee the Otherworld and Bridgette directs them to where this Fisher King is and tells them more about Elaine’s plot to “make” a Galahad to fit the story. Rose, who is still with them, has been paying attention and understands that Elaine is not the only one playing this game. The Fisher King was Bridgette’s husband, and Duncan’s middle name just happens to be Percival.
MORE BOMBSHELLS FROM GRAN
As Once & Future #5 opens, Duncan has just met the man who is his grandfather, only to see him kill himself to grant access to the Grail to Arthur and Galahad and to deny anyone else. He wants to understand what’s going on. Bridgette had thought everything was over years ago. There was only a small handful of people who knew the story of Arthur was true, and if they kept it to themselves, the danger of the story getting into people’s heads would die when they all finally did. Still, they wanted an emergency contingency. A young man, raised by women, not knowing any of the story would be their Percival. It also turns out that Elaine is her daughter, and Duncan’s mother.
We finally really understand what is at stake – England in the real world could be entirely dragged into the Otherworld. This is a lot for Duncan to process. His Gran is not the woman he thought she was. The people he’s been fighting turn out to be family he never knew he had. He’s been manipulated his entire life all for the sake of mythology. And Bridgette asks if she was like both mother and father to him for all those years. Is this really the time for this? Oh yes, because when he admits she was both mother and father, she has the way to open the gate for him to go through – alone – to get the Grail.
As he reaches Galahad and the Grail procession, Duncan runs into Gawain and sees what happens when someone doesn’t fit properly into the story. He faces off with Galahad, manages to get the Grail, and goes running back through the portal. With any luck, he’ll be able to heal Bridgette. But the Grail cannot cross to our world. They’ve slowed Arthur down again, but not for long.
But this is where Duncan embraces the rules of the game as he understands them. He thinks he has another way to heal Gran. They head back to Bath Abbey and Rose lets them in again, where he tries something different.
It is here, in Once & Future #6, that Bridgette is finally shaken. For a tiny old lady, she has been a powerhouse up until now, full of nerve and determination. But now things are getting real and the consequences are catching up with her, and we see it in her face and in her eyes. The time for keeping secrets has come (mostly) to an end. Her worst fears are coming to fruition. She can no longer protect Duncan, and she has to trust that what she’s done gives him the strength he needs. It is very emotional and rather sweet.
As always, I love the Otherworld. As he goes to find the Grail, Bridgette gives him a helpful note of instructions which, as depicted, are amusingly obvious. “Don’t wake up the dragon,” he is admonished as we see a small part of an enormous scaly beast. Yep, that seems like good advice. “Don’t fall asleep in the room that shoots magic arrows.” This one had me chuckling, because as depicted, it seems pretty straightforward. The Grail procession looks ethereal except for the blood which fills the Grail. And while Galahad mostly looks like an image of knightly perfection, he has moments where he gets a little crazy-eyed, where he just buys into all of this a little too much.
BOTTOM LINE: DOES DUNCAN UNDERSTAND THE RULES?
Not everything is as Duncan expects in Once & Future #5. We’re at the turning point where he’s no longer just being dragged along; he’s part of the story and he has to do with it what he can.
Once & Future #5
Can Duncan take on the mantle of Percival and still do the unexpected?