Writer: Kieron Gillen
Illustrator: Dan Mora
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
All good comic books speak to the times in which they are created. Once & Future #1, the latest fantasy miniseries from Boom!, is no exception. Kieron Gillen’s (Wicked + Divine) anticipated new comic enlists Arthurian legend to comment on the recent wave of nationalism in Britain and abroad. Careful not to lose sight of the need to entertain, Gillen creates a fun story that mixes politics with monsters, the shared bonds of kinship, and mysterious truths of history and myth.
The story opens as a group of nationalists steal a magical fifth-century CE artifact with the intention of raising an Arthurian villain from the dead. The theft prompts retired monster-hunter Bridgette McGuire to escape from her old age home and enlist her grandson Duncan’s help to stop them from gaining power. Duncan, an awkward museum curator, learns to his surprise that his grandmother is an accomplished monster hunter who eradicated the vampire menace.
It’s nice to see Gillen having fun with a story. Once & Future #1 lacks the maudlin, ambivalent tone of his work on DIE. By far, the best character in the comicbook is Bridgette. The interplay between the unsentimental assassin and her clumsy grandson is an interesting twist on generational and gender relations. Gillen also hints that he is seeking to revise the way we think about King Arthur. His interpretation of the legendary hero is undoubtedly loaded with political content that reflects on contemporary events such as Bexit, as well as recent presidential elections in the United States.
I also thought the artwork was enjoyable. Dan Mora’s (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) facial expressions add to the characters. Examples include the taut faces of grim nationalists or the astonished looks of Bridgette’s unsuspecting grandson. He creates a sense of excitement in the action sequences, which involve a famous monster of medieval legend. Tamra Bonvillain’s (Rat Queens) selects a palette of pinks and blues to compliment the entertaining touch that Gillen puts on serious subjects of history, myth, and politics.