February 4, 2023

Review: Once and Future, Vol. 5: The Wasteland

Once and Future, Vol. 5: The Wasteland Once and Future, Vol. 5: The Wasteland by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More and more as I read comics, I'm finding I like stories that are one and done, rather than legacy characters that are endlessly rebooted and rewritten (looking at you, Marvel). That gets boring. This is why I think for the most part Boom! and Image comics are superior, and this series is a good example of why.

This is the final volume of the Once & Future series, which is basically Arthur, Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table returned to England as nasty zombie monsters. The series also has some interesting things to say about stories, as the mythic tales of the past are brought to sometimes gory life. Our lead character Bridgette (a rare example of an older woman leading the way) is a fascinating example of a morally gray and generally not-nice person, but her knowledge, experience, stubbornness and overall badassery saves the day.

In this tale, zombie monster Arthur, his Knights, and Merlin are eventually defeated, by Bridgette, her grandson Duncan, and Duncan's girlfriend Rose, who in a nice twist ends up being the reincarnated Arthur and pulling Excalibur from the stone. Of course, after all is said and done, the three have to drink the waters of Lethe and forget everything that happened....except in the final pages, Bridgette looks at a note left by her previous self that says, "Vomit now!" She sticks her finger down her throat and ends up remembering everything that happened, including the roles of Duncan, Rose and her own lost daughter Mary, Duncan's mother, who stayed behind in the underworld.

The final panel shows Bridgette bluntly stating that she's not a good person and if she had to, she'd drag them all back in again. In that way, the door is left cracked for a reboot or continuation of the series, but I really hope they don't. This is a satisfying story with a proper ending (and the art and lettering is gorgeous) and it doesn't need to be revisited.

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