The Once & Future by Kiron Gillen and illustrated by Dan Mora really appealed to me due to my immense love of Arthurian retellings. In many ways, I was thrilled at the prospect of reading this tale, a story about a villain from Arthurian myth being brought back to life and the young man who has to fight the evil back. What really killed this story for me was the fact that the so-called “villain,” mentioned in the synopsis was revealed early on to be actually Arthur himself.
I’m a big fan of retellings, there’s no question about that. But I have a really hard time when stories take the hero, someone whom I have developed a deep emotional attachment to over the years, and turn them into the evil of their own stories. I hated it when I saw it with Peter Pan and I hated it the first time I saw it with Arthur. With this newest rendition of an Arthurian retelling, it bugged the hell out of me.
It’s really unfortunate, for me, how much I didn’t care for this story. I wanted to love it. I was really excited to read it. But, unfortunately, there were two things that ruined it for me. The first was this vilification of Arthur himself. The second was the utterly ridiculous way in which the evil of this story was illustrated to look like lewd and creepy skeletons. I’m sorry, but this weird nonsense with the tongues and the green slime was just ridiculous and unnecessary.
As for the author’s choice to take a dark stance on who Arthur was, all I can say is it’s not my taste.
Ultimately, I see it as a real shame that I couldn’t get behind much of this story. I really liked the main character, Duncan, and his grandmother. In fact, I absolutely adored the grandmother. Even as some of her methods were quite questionable, she was such a real and fun character to get to know.
I think this story had a lot of potential but those two aspects of the story really hindered my ability to like it. This is disappointing since I’m certain I would have absolutely loved this graphic novel had the villain actually been a villain from Arthurian myth and the skeleton hadn’t been so over the top gross.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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