‘Once and Future: Volume 2’ delves right back into the action after the epic conclusion of volume one. A review of which can be found on the site, written by yours truly, meaning if you would like to avoid spoilers concerning the first volumes thrilling story, this is your only warning.
I will be honest after reading and reviewing the first volume of ‘Once and Future’ I was hooked. Kieron Gillen did a phenomenal job of world building and pacing that I felt would not be able to be topped or equalled in subsequent volumes of the story. But how wrong I was. The second volume of ‘Once and Future’ is fantastic, building upon the rules established about myth and legend in volume one as well as adding to the mystery of the world that the characters find themselves in. With that being said let us dive into ‘Once and Future: Volume 2’.
The events of volume 2 of ‘Once and Future’ pick up immediately after the first. Duncan has continued his journey as a hero dealing with myths, legends, and other magical creatures, with Rose acting as his ‘Guy in the Chair’, looking out for disturbances coming from the place known as the ‘otherworld’ and cleaning up any messes that Duncan gets into.
Bridgette and Duncan are still on frosty terms after the end of volume one, where it was discovered that Bridgette had been rearing Duncan from birth to act as a surrogate for the Arthurian hero ‘Sir Percival’, just in case King Arthur returned.
However, after a Helmet and manuscript are taken from the British Museum, by the disgruntled King, Duncan and Bridgette are brought together with more trouble to face and another ancient British hero and all his foes to fight.
‘Once and Future: Volume 2’ excels and builds upon all the best parts of volume one. The pacing across issues 7-12 run again at a breakneck speed, with just as much hectic violence as the first volume. This time however Duncan has more direction as a character and now understands his purpose in the story.
I am very wary of spoilers, so I will try and keep this bit as vague as possible since there some great plot moments in the book that I don’t want to spoil.
The way in which the concepts of ‘story’ influencing reality is again explored in this volume really hammering home the idea of how interpretation can change a myth Entirely. For example, after volume one, Duncan and Bridgette inadvertently change King Arthurs story by destroying the holy grail and separating him from the scabbard of the sword Excalibur. This plays a large part in volume two as Gillen makes Bridgette, the knowledgeable one about monsters and myth, have no idea as to what Arthur is scheming, allowing for tension to build that continues through the whole volume.
The dialogue of this volume is wittier and more entertaining than the last with Gillen’s trademark satiric wit seeping into the main characters, especially in the case of Duncan. Although Bridgette is as wry and sarcastic as always, Duncan has gained what Bridgette calls ‘that real unlikable broody sarcasm’. This fleshes out his character form a charming boy scout to a fully formed badass especially as the story progresses.
Weirdly enough in this volume the villains are also darkly funny, with the undead King Arthur somehow able to convey dark humour with his expressions despite the lack of face to do so. The new monsters that appear in this book are also twistedly funny. Especially in one section where they all converge on Bridgette, resulting in some hilarious solo moments of Bridgette berating and beating up some monstrous creatures.
In terms of satire of politics and pop culture Gillen is a master of incorporating these elements through well timed sarcastic and funny moments. For example, Gillen pokes fun at the reliance of modern people on technology such as using ‘uber-like apps’ to get everywhere, resulting in some fun outward exclamation by Duncan about how since his life has become more mysterious, one of life’s greatest mysterious is still ‘how can something be three minutes away, for three minutes!’.
In concerns of sly reference to pop culture, due to the book being set in rural England, specifically Somerset, there may or not be a cheeky reference to a certain Edgar Wright film, that you’ll know when you see it.
Obviously, political satire is Gillen’s is bread and butter. Although it does not appear to have as much of a through line in this book, without spoiling it, there is a massive bomb shell that involves a political figure that in hindsight is hilariously obvious but also incredibly smart.
As always Dan Mora’s art is fantastic, each character and monster are drawn perfectly to convey the scene at hand complimenting Gillen’s writing. Mora is able to perfectly illustrate epic scenes in the book with a visceral and pulpy art style that brings the action on the page to life.
Tamra Bonvillain’s colour choice again perfectly matches Mora’s art. The dark colour pallet is used to establish the dark tone and give context to the events on the page as well as giving each moment of action real weight. One moment that springs to mind in particular is when Bridgette, Duncan’s grandmother, is caked from head to toe in blood, in a full-page splash that would feel right at home in a horror comic.
Overall, ‘Once and Future: Volume 2’ does a perfect job of continuing the story set out in volume one, while subsequently building upon the elements of myth and legend by introducing new characters for the heroes to encounter. I cannot stress enough how well the creative team have done on this volume, to create a fast paced, witty, and interesting narrative that I have a feeling is only going to get better.
If you enjoyed our Review of Once and Future: Volume 2 then leave a comment below or leave your own rating if you’ve read it already.
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