Once & Future #26: Mythological Mashups

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Adapting and constructing a story from a mythological framework is a solid method of grounding a narrative in something familiar yet malleable to readers. That’s why there’s a reboot of King Arthur every other year, or a series of bestselling books like Percy Jackson, or the multiple works that tackle Norse mythology through screen, page and console. The creative team of past and future, writer Kieron Gillen, artist Dan Mora, colorist Tamra Bonvillain and scholar Ed Dukeshire have proven that the series is comfortable not only working within the fluctuating versions of the respective mythology, but also going further. away and reveal how these various myths can blend and feed each other. from each other, creating an entirely new and innovative way of linking aspects of culture and history. The book, which is already a crossover of genres, decides it must be the mythological version of a Voltron and constructs a master plan from distinct elements of Arthurian and Greek mythology, Shakespearean literature and British folklore. .

Issue #24 sets the pieces in place for Gran’s mythology fusion solution to all of Britain trapped in the Otherworld. Essentially, the plan is for Robin Hood and his Merry Men to slow down the warring Arthurs, while Leir creates storms that help disrupt battles. During this time the group will return to Bath and use their link to Hades (the Greek underworld) to divert the river Lethe which, according to myth, makes those who bathe in its waters forgotten. From there, the storms created by Lear will take water from Lethe and bathe all of Britain, making them forget the existence of Arthurs, monsters and Other worlds. This should allow the land and all of its inhabitants to return to their rightful place and circumvent the impending threats of the Green Knight and the Dragon to Rose and Duncan respectively. Gillen’s script quickly reveals this shot as a bit of exposition from Gran to Duncan and Rose after traveling through the Wasteland, and it moves effortlessly across two pages.

The most shocking part of the reveal, which Gillen’s script calls out, is Gran’s willingness to seriously share the plan. From that page, it looked like a shoe was about to fall off the other foot and part of the shot was held back, but Gran says she’s giving the big picture for once. It’s a great little beat that shows how much the group dynamic has changed over the course of the series and how specifically Gran has grown. Between sharing this and letting Duncan and Rose have their quiet date night, which takes place months later as the group works with the Merry Men and tries to survive so they can enact the plan. Gillen’s storyline in previous issues has mostly highlighted Duncan and Rose’s growth as they have hardened and adapted to the reality roles that come with mythos, but centering the focus on Gran in this issue, it gives a refreshing moment to breathe before the next great conflict. Which, on the last page, will be both big and full of conflict.

Mora’s art also reinforces this growth for all characters, showcasing the time jumps in the designs of the main trio. After Gran’s explanation of the plan and an amazing interpretation of Robin Hood literally sprouting from the ground, the story shifts to the castle of Elaine and the Grail, and when it returns to plot A, months have passed. The page begins with a caption box indicating the passage of time, but even if that caption were removed, the art and design work would convey the jump. Mora gives Duncan and Rose more wear in their clothes, and everyone’s new hairstyles. It’s a small touch that Mora captures beautifully, and it’s a singular artist’s selling point on a book. Over time within the context of the narrative, Mora can tweak and evolve the various designs of these human characters, which are a direct contrast to the static, but different interpretations of mythological characters. Mora’s art is refined with Bonvillain’s jaw-dropping colors, especially in these polished designs. Otherworld’s palette clashes with the group’s more lightly muted and worn clothing, and this contrast hints at how these characters have grown up while the ethereal world around them has remained much the same.

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