ONCE & FUTURE #6
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Dan Mora
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Kieron Gillen is usually hit or miss for me, some of the books he's written are fantastic and a joy to read, others not so much. So when the first issue of Once & Future came out I wasn't sure which we would be getting and thankfully the last 5 issues leading up to this week's release have been a joy to read. Having a main character that is the fish out of water character that is the reader's entry to the series world is something we've seen a million times so it's hard to take that approach and stand out. It's the way that the story of Duncan and his grandmother unravels into this larger epic story, which in itself an interpretation of a story that's been around for ages, that really catches your attention. It's very well done and it's definitely a testament to Gillen's talent.
That being said, this issue was originally supposed to be the last of the series and it having the "To Be Continued" at the end felt a bit out of place. The plot moved along at an extremely quick pace which didn't leave a whole lot of time to develop most of the characters outside of Duncan and his grandmother. Rose initially started off as a love interest for Duncan and now it's not completely clear what she is. She had a role to play within this King Arthur story interpretation but in relation to Duncan and his grandmother, she never got a whole lot of development. Same with the other side, While we get reveals regarding Mary and her relationship with Duncan, there isn't much there outside of her fascination with Arthur. The problem is that considering how well the issues have been written and how much was squeezed into the last 5 issues, the gripes mentioned above were easily forgivable. But now that this is an ongoing, it seems odd that this first 5 issue story arc was rushed through so quickly. There also weren't too many threads left open to know exactly where this is going. Definitely seems like the original story ran its course and Gillen is forcing an expansion, which may or may not work out as well as these last 6 issues have.
All that being said, the issue served well as a finale to the story arc. We finally see Duncan start taking control and embracing his role in the plot while single handedly saving the day. Unfortunately Bridgette is sidelined for the first half but that doesn't stop her from providing her endearing commentary while Duncan carries her through the issue. Things do wrap up a bit too quickly and easily and I kind of get the feeling that Bridgette was originally meant to meet her end at the end of the last issue and help inspire Duncan to take control we see play out in this issue.
The art of course has consistently been fantastic, in particular I like the coloring. Given the slight horror tone to the story, a drab color palette would be typical but I really appreciate how Tamra Bonvillain uses some really vibrant colors throughout that also help with the surreal elements of the tone. The characters are designed very well and emote extremely well. I think part of the charm of this series is how well Mora sells the expressions of Duncan and his grandmother so that you know exactly what emotion or thought they have in any given panel. Absolutely solid art throughout.
Overall this was a fairly well as a finale to what is now the first story arc of this series. I'm not entirely sure where the story is going next but I hope that the next story arc manages to keep the charm of the first while also providing a bit more development for the supporting characters on both sides.