As a history teacher, I'm a sucker for the Arthurian legend. Even if there are eras of world history I hate, the notion of the great king and all of his quests has a certain allure. But what if we didn't know the intentions of Arthur if he were to return to a modern era? That's the essential question that Kieron Gillen's Once and Future asks.
The first book of this series was not 100% on my radar, until I heard Jason Springer talk about it on the Chops Shop podcast. And I was drawn to the storyline. If you haven't read the first two books, essentially someone finds the hilt to Arthur's sword and want to use the sword to resurrect him. But when he returns will he do good or bad?
Not going to lie, for as much as I loved the first book, the second book was a drag. Book 3 raised my excitement. Badass monster-hunting granny (maybe I'm seeing a theme based on my STK review) and her grandson are on the hunt for those who are resurrecting Arthur before he knights and dubs a new Galahad, for if Galahad is chosen and finds the grail it may bring a plague back to the land (in a new sense of saving the world).
I also laughed because the worst date in history is extended from book one. You see an awkward, terrible date come to a quick end when our protagonist has to answer a call from his grandmother and then helps her escape from her nursing home (because she has him at gunpoint). You find that she is trying to now train him in her monster hunting ways, and they have to go to the home of his date, because she is a history professor who can help understand what the motives of Arthur's resurrectors may be attempting to do (oh the fate!). This book has a strong build throughout and ends on another cliffhanger....will Galahad survive, or will granny take him out since he's already in her crosshairs.
Dan Mora's art is also quite impressive. There is a gritty reality to some of the conflict sequences, but also a throwback cartoonish style when we see things like "knock knock" float above doors. Additionally the color palette used by Tamra Bonvillain hits all of the right notes in the right moments, and is quite complementary. It adds a lovely layer of eeriness to a story that normally champions the return of the king.
This book effectively erased any bad taste I had left in my mouth from book two, and now that "THE KING IS UNDEAD" as the back of the book proclaims, I am anxiously seeing what happens to Galahad and the monster hunters.
The journey of a 30-something father of three who's trying to break into the world of reviewing comics after a loooooong hiatus...