The story of King Arthur has been told many times, many ways. In feature film, we have the classic Excalibur with its all star cast. Excalibur stands out as perhaps the greatest movie version of the Arthurian legend, but the second closest would no doubt be Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Many versions lay in between. You also have the classic book by T.H. White this comic seems to borrow its name from – The Once and Future King. So, what does this 6 part series titled Once and Future by BOOM! Studio Comics offer over other versions? After one issue I can say a whole lot, especially one bad ass grandma!
Once and Future: COVER TO COVER
I love the cover to Once and Future. It is gorgeous and fits the story inside. The title gives away some of the premise of the comic if one knows of White’s book, but otherwise a person reading this on a whim will see a well drawn demon knight with a large, beautiful sword. The reflection is of a young man and his grandma, who happens to be packing a shot gun. A bit misleading to the events inside, but well crafted to capture interest.
The artwork in the actual issue captures the readers attention, but it lacks awe, which is fine. The creative team of Dan Mora (artist), Tamra Bonvillian (Colorist), and Ed Dukeshire (Letterer) present a solid and in places well detailed illustrations, but it lacks the image to image high detail or overly rich coloring of better comics. In the end they do a great job doing what needs to be done, though.
It Has Resurfaced
A drought dried up a lake, allowing an archaeologist to discover a scabbard, minus its sword. The scabbard lays in perfect condition despite being dated from the fifth or sixth century. Okay….ancient scabbard at a lake bed from the fifth century. Arthurian bells should be ringing about now. Not only that, once the lady in the tent confirms its authenticity, three guys bust in, kill the archaeologist and take the scabbard.
Far off in a retirement home in Somerset, an old lady rolls a cigarette while listening to the news. The anchor reads a story of an archaeologist killed at a dig site The only thing stolen was a scabbard found at the lake site. When a fellow resident attempts to turn the channel, she says go ahead “…but broken fingers take so much longer to heal at our age. I really wouldn’t.” When told its bed time, the old lady asks if she can have just a few more minutes to finish her smoke….and the disappears from the center!
Setting the Stage For What Is To Come
These two scenes set the stage for what is to come. The rest of Once and Future revolves around the grandma and her grandson, who is introduced as a clumsy, academic that just spilled wine all over his blind date. Duncan gets bailed out of the disaster after being called by the home and told his grandmother had disappeared. He then receives a call from his grandma to come pick her up.
The adventure only begins as Duncan locates his grandma in the middle of no where. The story introduces some mythical beasts and then let’s grandma hint at her fabled past with other mystical creatures. She is far more than she appears to be. She and Duncan set out on a quest to retrieve the sword before it falls into the wrong hands.
Why Once and Future?
Of all the Arthurian tales, why does this one deserve a shot? There are three good reasons to give Once and Future a shot. The first is the way it is written. This is not a stuffy, follow the historic dots, King Arthur tale. This title plays for laughs and does a great job achieving them. It entertains as it lays out its story. There is some hefty exposition as Grandma lays out the tale of what may yet come, but the reader is so distracted by humor and action, you don’t even realize its exposition.
This story hints at putting a whole new spin on the Arthurian legend. Grandma hints at an Arthurian prophecy that hints at the return of the once great king, but she does what the Jedi could not. She understands that a prophecy can be read different ways. Will Arthur return to save Britain at its darkest hour? Or will he be the cause of it all?
Finally the greatest reason to pick this title up – GRANDMA! I gave a brief example earlier, but it gets so much better. She takes Duncan to an underground bunker that houses an arsenal that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone jealous. She quietly states she used to be a vampire hunter until she ran out of vampires. When a mythical terror shows up, she tells Duncan how to deal with it as if it were a pet cat, and she actually pulls a gun on Duncan. Duncan aims she can’t shoot her grandson. She shoot him! A minor wound, but a wound none the less. When Duncan stares in disbelief she explains her finger aren’t as steady as they used to be. She is the equivalent of Master Yoda if he were your grandmother.
Once and Future is an amazingly fun read that sets up a rich Arthurian background that promises to play out differently than other tales we know. With Duncan as our young champion and Grandma as the hilarious, sharp witted, ancient master, This series promises good action, great laughs and one hell of a tale.