Once and Future #18 Preaches That The Truth Can Be Dangerous

Once and Future #18 Review

Once and Future #18 sees a Britain about to learn the truth about monsters. Once and Future #18 is written by Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Dan Mora, coloured by Tamra Bonvillain, and lettered by Ed Dukeshire; with variant covers by Dan Mora and Qistina Khalidah.

Duncan and Bridgette’s battle against Merlin and Arthur is about to come to a head, and the victor will decide the fate of all Britain. Yet they are not the only players on the field and an attempt to tell the people the truth may spell doom for everyone.

Once and Future #18 is published by BOOM! Studios, and is available from April 28, 2021.

Once and Future 18 comic book review
Once and Future #18, courtesy of BOOM! Studios

Once and Future #18 Story

Starting your comic with the protagonists atop a dragon as they chase down an undead centaur knight may be one of the best ways to do it, and that’s exactly how Once and Future #18 opens. Our heroes are hot on the heels of Gallahad and the Grail, determined to not let him complete Merlin’s nefarious plot. The start to this issue is tight and tense as both sides refuse to lose. Yet, it is not all just action as Mary/Elaine/Nimue steps in to demand Merlin save Gallahad, willing to burn all they have done in order to save her son.

Mary continues to be one of the most complex characters in the story. She is so driven in her goals and yet shows that she cares for her son above all else, even despite what he has become. She loves him so deeply she seems willing to sacrifice everything for him, even if it would mean he became a maggot-infested centaur for nothing.

This also shows how truth can be used as a weapon, as the Prime Minister wishes to use the truth of Otherworld to gain himself political power. I like this angle of real-world manipulators looking to exploit such a thing and only wish it was explored more in-depth than what we get. It’s just such a fitting plot point for this story, and Gillen in particular, that a politician would use stories for personal gain and power. However, what it does lead to is so exciting I’m willing to forgive it not getting more time under the microscope.

Once and Future #18 Preaches That The Truth Can Be Dangerous 4
Once and Future #18 Preview Pages

Once and Future #18 Art

I am always amazed when an artist can take a world that is both completely surreal and unsettling and then place it next to pages of a mundane one and make it all feel like it exists together. That’s exactly what Mora does this issue. Not once do I question how the real world and Otherworld exist in the same reality, I just accept that they do because they look like they could. He also continues to create deeply unsettling images that I just love.

The colouring from Bonvillain continues to be great, and I love the absolute contrast in colours between Otherworld and our world. The colours alone tell you where the characters are, and that’s so great to see.

Dukeshire’s lettering is great, as it has been all series so far, but I do want to draw attention to his lettering for the weakened Arthur. You can feel the defeat in his voice from the way it’s lettered and its surprisingly powerful.

Once and Future #18 Conclusion

I have recommended each issue, and so far that is continuing. Once and Future is perhaps the best Arthurian adaptation we have ever received. The story is just a load of fun to read with an amazing amount of tension and uncertainty about what may lay ahead.

If you do find the imagery of maggots squirming out of flesh, this one may be a difficult read (though if you like that kind of thing you are in for a treat). There’s something beautiful in the unsettling nature of Once and Future, both the story and art. That may be part of Gillen’s point, that these stories are unsettling at their core, and yet we find ourselves so immersed by them that sometimes we lose ourselves in a way that isn’t always good.

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2. REVIEW: Once and Future #16 – Stories Weaved Together by Character
3. FROM THE VAULT: Blake Undying #1, A Superhero Who Just Wants to Die.
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