The Once and Future Queen #1
Writer: Adam P. Knave, D.J. Kirkbride
Artist: Nick Brokenshire
Letterer: Frank Cvetkovic
Editor: Shantel LaRocque
Publisher: Dark Horse
A review by Amelia Wellman
It’s out with the old myths and in with the new as a nineteen-year-old chess prodigy pulls Excalibur from the stone and becomes queen. Now, magic, romance, Fae, Merlin, and more await her! Lend her your axe as the creators of Amelia Cole start a new age of adventure!
To be honest, I’m getting a little tired of gritty retellings of classic stories. Does the world need more dark, twisted versions of Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz? The Once and Future Queen #1 feels the same way and instead presents a retelling of the Excalibur myth that’s colourful and fun from the very first panel to the “to be continued” leading into issue two.
The Once and Future Queen #1 follows Rani as she heads to England for a chess tournament, gets distracted by a pretty girl named Gwen, loses the chess tournament, and then becomes Queen of England when she pulls the sword out of the stone. So, same old, same old.
Issue one of this five issue run moves the story along at the perfect pace. Rani finds Excalibur and extracts it from the stone to Merlin’s delight. Some exposition is given by the wizard… and then some more as he appears to her in a space suit and that’s not really what you imagine Merlin the Wizard wearing. When Rani has become one with Excalibur (it becomes a tattoo on her forearm), the descendants of the rest of King Arthur’s court are suddenly compelled to find her.
Enter Gwen and Lance, who are Guinevere and Lancelot respectively. Gwen follows Rani from England back to her home in Portland and I’m already dying to see these two become a couple! Unfortunately, the assembling of the Round Table has caught the attention of the King of the Fae who declares war on the human world for reasons we are not yet privy too.
The diversity of The Once and Future Queen #1 is what drew me to this title and I am not disappointed. Not everyone’s white and not everyone’s straight–hallelujah it can be done! Plus a gender swap on King Arthur and having Excalibur not be an actual sword but an idea? An idea that can take any shape, including a badass tattoo that Rani now wears on her forearm? What a brilliant way to write a sword-based myth into 2017!
The art of The Once and Future Queen #1 is an absolute delight! The character models are expressive and cute as buttons in their cartoony style. The action sequences are laid out beautifully, keeping your eye moving across the pages without muddling the chain of events and confusing the reader.
The colouring is the real star of The Once and Future Queen #1. It’s the brightest, most psychedelic comic I’ve read in a long time and it’s so striking. A lot of panels are done in a single colour and though you would think it would be overwhelming to go from a completely pink panel to a blue one to purple to yellow, it’s not. It’s beautiful and so, so fun! Then there are times when backgrounds are done as a series of similar shades and the main characters are the only part of the panel that’s a different colour. It’s effective at always keeping your attention on them and a technique that really keeps you engaged.
Buy it! Do you want a diverse, modern, fantastical re-imagining of King Arthur? The Once and Future Queen #1 is the beginning of exactly what you want! Fantastic narrative pacing, characters with interesting personalities, and some of the most gorgeous colouring will draw you deep into the magical fantasy of this five issue series!
The Once and Future Queen #1 hits comic book stores on March 1st, 2017.