I decided I needed to pick this up to quickly read before getting into the Hugo-nominated Volume 3 of the series and oh, gosh, I’m glad I did! Besides using up some soon-to-be-expiring Kindle credits, this really filled in an important part that I knew I would have wondered about if I’d gone into Vol 3 without having read this first.
That said, how much to tell that isn’t spoiler? To recap the first volume, Duncan finds out that his feisty granny Bridgette is a monster hunter from way back, and that he’s more or less expected to go into the family business. Volume 1 not only set up that premise but also shocked and astonished with the remarkable amount of family drama it managed to pack into its pages, ending finally with Duncan wanting to call it quits with Gran but having enough of a sense of self-preservation and duty both to take up the mantle now that King Arthur has been resurrected. Arthur, you see, wants a land free of Anglo-Saxon invaders, which is played to hilarious effect — well, my idea of hilarious anyway — when certain Little Britainers find out that Arthur is not about their white power life.
Anyway, Volume 2 opens with Duncan, Gran and Rose (Duncan’s colleague and date from the first volume who has been given the job of his scryer and all-around government liaison) chasing down various threats, including the appearance of a brutally transformed Galahad at the British Museum. Duncan stops Galahad from successfully acquiring his objective, with a lot of help from Gran. Alas, turns out that the whole thing was actually a cover for a theft from the British Library next door. Mary, the obsessed archaeologist who originally summoned Arthur, is back in play, with a new backer and new objectives. But when what she’s unleashed threatens to spiral out of control, will she have a change of heart and help her family once more?
This book was just filthy with cameos that made me laugh and gasp and yell at my computer screen. Aside from the very cool A-plot (the source of which I still haven’t read in its entirety, or at least not as thoroughly as poor Trevor did,) there are all sorts of excellent pop culture references, and OH BOY did I gasp at the final one. I think I’ll have to hurry up and read Volume 3 so as to keep the events topical: hardly a hardship, as I have that ready in my Hugo packet next.
And, you know, for all that I’m a Kieron Gillen stan, I really want to shout out this volume’s wonderfully kinetic, expressive art and lettering. There were rough bits in the first chapter included here where I had to scrutinize certain panels to figure out what was going on, but as the book progressed (and again and especially with those hilarious cameos) everything flowed smoothly, if not perfectly. Gosh, I can’t wait to read the next book but I. Must. Schedule!
Once & Future, Vol. 2: Old English by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, Tamra Bonvillain & Ed Dukeshire was published November 11 2020 by Boom! Studios and is available from all good booksellers, including