Once & Future, Vol. 3: The Parliament of Magpies by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is more like it. After the balls-to-the-wall (and quite gory) action set pieces in the previous volume, Old English, this volume focuses a little more on the characters. Grandma Bridgette is her usual cynical badass self, and Duncan is settling into his role of monster slayer a bit better. This volume does have a bit more convoluted plotting than the previous two, as Kieron Gillen is trying to match his modern story to the many variations, twists and turns of the original Arthuriana. Gawain the Green Knight makes an appearance, and his story "infects" Duncan's girlfriend Rose (who thankfully has a lot more to do). This is all in service of the puppet master behind the scenes, Merlin, who is manipulating the overarching story to bring the mad undead king Arthur back to Britain. In a cameo at the end--in silhouette and black shadow, but the reader can tell it's England's current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson--"Bors" makes the mistake of revealing the existence of monsters the same moment as Zombie Arthur drinks from the Holy Grail, with the result that the entire country is sucked into the Otherworld.
("Bors" also gets his head handed to him by Arthur, quite literally.)
As always, the art is just gorgeous in this volume. I gather it's rather unusual for an artist and colorist to stick with a title as long as Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain have for this one? I am grateful, as the consistency in the colors, panels, character placements and designs is a big part of why this series is so good. With the closing cliffhanger of this volume, future installments in the series promise a big shakeup in the overall story. Looking forward to it.
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