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"Once & Future #4" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by BOOM! Studios

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Written by Kieron Gillen
Illustrated by Dan Mora
Colored by Tamra Bonvillain
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire

Review:

Just a few days ago, Duncan was a normal guy, searching for love. Now he's fighting monsters with his grandmother and his latest date in an effort to save England from complete and total annihilation from the undead King Arthur. We delve further into the Arthurian legend in Once & Future #4 with several eye-opening moments.

Writer Kieron Gillen cleverly weaves the various aspects of this centuries-old myth into the present day of the story. There's quite a bit for him to choose from and he is selective as to what and when he pulls in these different elements. This gives each new piece a lot more weight, as you have the time to fully understand what it means in this setting and time period, not to mention the consequences it could have for the characters.

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One such point is the anointing of Galahad. This is the first big step into King Arthur's court and there are a few more taken in this issue. Seen through the modern-day lens and what it can mean for society at large is simultaneously riveting and horrifying.

I can't say the word “horrifying” and not mention Dan Mora's incredible designs for the undead warriors. They are recently resurrected and their flesh is still filling in, so you get these eerie zombie-like creatures clad in knight's armor that move as swiftly and deadly as any swordsman. This contrasts well with the human characters using Arthur to bring about this destruction. They often look more evil than the literal monsters.

There's a great sequence where Duncan and his grandmother Bridgette are fleeing from Arthur and his forces. They go through a portal of sorts and reality distorts around them. Mora bends and twists the panels on the page to really drive home the unsettling feeling of his journey. This creates a spiral-like set of panels that can almost make you dizzy if you stare at it too long.

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Colorist Tamra Bonvillain distinguishes the normal world from that of Athurian legend with a different palette for each. There's a rather subdued set of colors for the modern day landscape with nothing too out of the ordinary. Every time Duncan and Bridgette start to dabble with the folklore, the colors explode with purples and greens, highlighting these unnatural elements.

Letterer Ed Dukeshire gets in on this too, distorting the word balloons in the same fashion. The real standout for Dukeshire's work in Once & Future #4 is Arthur's dialogue. It's shown in blocky word balloons with sharp angles. The font is scratchy and menacing in an eerie shade of green. I imagine an emerald fire burning within the king as he prepares his next move.

Once & Future has steadily been assembling the pieces of this story and this issue delivers some major developments that left my jaw on the floor. You might come for the new take on Arthurian legend, but you'll stay for the amazing character work and incredible art. This is a powerhouse of a comic, blending action and horror in a big, beautiful way.

Grades:

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Art: fivestars
Overall: 5 Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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