After Grendel’s death, the monster’s mother shows up. But with Beowulf already dead, how will his story resolve? Find out in Once & Future #12 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 14, 2020

Previously in Once & Future: The focus is momentarily off Arthur and on the saga of Beowulf. Grendel rampages around the residence Bridgette lives in, while she ponders how to rip his arm off. Duncan arrives in a cab which crashes into Grendel while Bridgette finds a chainsaw. Grendel dispatched, Bridgette sets about trying to get everyone in the home to keep quiet. And then the police arrive. Duncan and Bridgette manage to wiggle out of being arrested, but if you know the story of Beowulf, you know it can’t end there. Sure enough, Grendel’s mother arrives!


Once & Future #12 opens with Grendel’s mother rampaging through the residence with a lot more blood and someone’s arm getting ripped off. Bridgette sends Duncan back to the car to get some weapons and she picks up her borrowed chainsaw yet again. She tells the other residents to hide. Duncan seconds this, saying that she knows best. It is a delightfully human moment when one of the traumatized elders questions this, and you have to admit she has a point.

Duncan makes it out to the wrecked car and starts looking through it when he hears a familiar voice – Elaine! But she’s not here to pick a fight. She claims to have a potential weapon for him – a book. Bridgette drives Grendel’s mother off, and Duncan and Elaine follow the monster into a mere. Elaine reveals her plan. She will read from the book, and the magic from it will allow Duncan to take on the role of Beowulf. Even he realizes that being both Percival and Beowulf can’t be a good thing, but what choice does he have? He dives into the mere.

Bridgette comes across Elaine, born Mary, now playing the role of Nimue (the Lady of the Lake). As Nimue, she has gotten close to Merlin and she knows what’s going on. Remember that this is a world where stories have incredible power, almost lives of their own. A Merlin caught a feral Beowulf story (I love that concept) and trapped it in a paper manuscript while the Arthurian legend lived on as folklore. That trapped story has been set free, but it needs a Beowulf, and Nimue explains that Duncan is taking that part. Bridgette may not like this, but she immediately recognizes the necessity.

In the story, Beowulf goes into the mere after the mother of monsters. His weapons fail him, and as he is dying, he spots a sword. And Duncan does as well. He kills Grendel’s mother and arises from the lake with Excalibur in hand. Nimue slips away. Now two stories are in motion, but who is driving the plot? Is it Arthur? Is it Merlin? Is it Nimue?


Once & Future #12 opens with the continuation of last issue’s blood bath. Grendel’s mother is fearsome, and I like that she has the tail of an aquatic creature, linking her to the lake she disappears to. I love the shots of Bridgette with the chainsaw, and the marvelous sound effects that not only sound like a struggling chainsaw, but which support Bridgette’s quip about how this is just not a stealthy weapon. Story, art, and lettering work together so well throughout. I like to point this out, because when they do this, it’s really easy to get caught up in the story and not notice how this works. I suppose that’s the point, but I do appreciate seeing the team working together well on a book.

There is no love lost between Bridgette and Nimue, and we see this in their tense encounter. Even so, these are two strong women who both have a good understanding of the power of stories. We see it in their faces and their body language as Nimue sets up the untenable situation for Duncan, and Bridgette as she makes the snap judgement to go along with it. This is a fascinating world where family dysfunction could have considerable consequences for the world.


I like that, after the bloodbath, Once & Future #12 takes the time to tie together the two dueling legends that have met full on. Not only that, but it is setting up the possibility for any number of plots and betrayals.

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Once and Future #12

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Duncan takes a risk to defeat Grendel’s mother, but who can know what will happen next?

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By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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