These days it is nice when creative teams are willing to give us fresh takes on stories which trap the main character(s) in a fantasy world. For once you really don’t envy the main character being exposed to a world of fantasy. This is a new experience when the guy is a full adult with his world shattered between what he never knew about his family and understanding the sacrifices one must make to reach the Holy Grail.
This turned out to be a huge issue. Since the first issue, it was easy to tell that we were only getting bits and pieces to this story from Gran. Part of her appeal was that she was always so convincing in saying what she needed to say to get what she wanted without giving away too much. Part of the story’s appeal was giving us a mystery that had to naturally unravel as the plot thickened. With each passing issue reaching this point, it became clearer that there were some things that she simply could not keep to herself if she wanted to make any real progress in stopping Arthur from rising to power again. All it took was one event where there was simply no moving forward without coming clean about everything she was not being upfront about.
As the truth came to light, it was all very enlightening between ourselves and Duncan. For such an innocent soul like Duncan, he was not born into a clean family history. It was definitely heartbreaking to see how he took all of this new information now dropped on his lap at once. The one person he was supposed to trust more than anyone else in the world was pulling him along all of these years like a puppet in case a time like this ever came. Now even knowing this, what created anticipation for this issue was figuring out how he overcomes this to still save Gran whose life was now somehow in the balance. The answer to that was both shocking and endearing because of the kind of sacrifice you were not prepared for at a time like this.
The evolution that Duncan goes through in this chapter was pretty epic if you ask me. Since the start of this story and our first introduction to Duncan, it was anyone’s guess as to what would be that turnaround point for him. Duncan doesn’t look like the kind of guy you would push around given his stature, but his personality makes it quite easy. He’s a good guy, a little too good for his own good. When you throw someone like him into a world where it doesn’t completely pay to be the nice guy, everything becomes suspenseful waiting for him to finally adapt. This was that point in the story for Duncan and couldn’t have come at a better time. A moment where he needed to be brave, to allow himself not to be overcome by the fears. Especially when so much is on the line including the lives of the two people who matter the most to him currently.
With that said, the art team had a huge impact on the way that we immersed ourselves in these scenes. There was always some bit of entertainment that we got from Gran being drawn to mask her intentions with expressions which betrayed Duncan’s trust, or the consistent state of shock that Duncan was drawn with through his reactions to everything he did not understand. However, with this issue Dan Mora dialed it back to give both of them a sense of seriousness they did not have before. The kind which captured feelings of guilt, regret, frustration, and of course pain. It made a big difference for them to have a real conversation and actually look like they were both being upfront about the way they felt in the moment. Aside from this, the supernatural elements were still outstanding between the ghosts, the design of their version of the Holy Grail, and even what it looks like to summon the sword in this world. Once more I loved those shades of green which take over to throw us into that supernatural setting.
For a series like this which takes a bold step towards the dark side of fantasy, Once & Future #5 is compelling for how it struck a beautiful balance between creating the makings of a proper hero and a memorable moment shared between family. There was a lot of tension created from Gran’s secrets coming to light, but this was the perfect time to truly put their bond to the test when it mattered most.