The gang seemingly thwart Merlin’s plans once again, but nothing is ever that easy when it comes to the story, with the last pages setting up the next arc to be much bigger than ever before with some serious potential for violence and mayhem. Kieron Gillen closes out this chapter in grand style. While there were a couple of confusing moments, things clear up by the end of the issue. Some of the connections that lead to the big plot twist on Merlin’s part feel like they're all made up on the spot, which I think is pretty much the point, as Bridgette pointed out before. #StoriesMatter because they have the ability to totally open up our minds to possible new narrative possibilities. Once & Future is refreshingly fast and loose with the Arthurian lore, but it’s also able to do these deep dives into the mythos that turn up some really interesting, little-known nuggets.
Dan Mora performs his usual magic here, and the pages are gorgeously rendered. A minor quibble I had while reading the issue – and this could totally be because of a low-res review copy I received – occasionally, the artwork gets a bit busy and it’s a bit hard to decipher what’s happening. Tamra Bonvillain’s work is consistently gorgeous. From the sickly greens and yellows to the bright emerald tones that contrast so well against all the gore, she makes Otherworld just seem like a dark and violent Oz. Rounding out the dream team of creatives is Ed Dukeshire and his deft lettering that just has so much presence and personality; it never feels like an afterthought making Dukeshire an unsung hero in terms of the cover credits.
Overall, if this keeps to the 6-issue per arc structure, then Issue #18 is the closer with one helluva cliffhanger. The stakes have been elevated, and Queen Elizabeth may have some royal competition.
Creative Team: Kieron Gillen (writer), Dan Mora (artist), Tamra Bonvillain (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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