After the conclusion of “Amelia Cole,” fans of authors D.J. Kirkbride, Adam P. Knave and Nick Brokenshire didn’t have to wait long before the trio teamed up for a brand new comic. Their new project, a five-issue print comic published by Dark Horse, introduces a brand new character with a few similarities to “Amelia Cole” into the limelight. With a well established working relationship and a premise that could be a little too similar to the last series they worked on in the past, does the creative team have anything new to say about the fantasy genre?
Written by Adam P. Knave and D.J. Kirkbride
Illustrated by Nick Brokenshire
It’s out with the old myths and in with the new as a nineteen-year-old chess prodigy pulls Excalibur from the stone and becomes queen. Now, magic, romance, Fae, Merlin, and more await her! Lend her your axe as the creators of Amelia Cole start a new age of adventure!
* The legend of King Arthur is reimagined for today, featuring a team of characters with East Asian, African, and British heritage and diverse sexual orientations.
* From the team who created Amelia Cole, which ran for five arcs at Monkeybrain and IDW.
Introducing a brand new concept can be tough, but building a brand new fantasy world from the ground up can be next to impossible. Thankfully Kirkbride and Knave have a secret weapon in this story with Brokenshire’s pencils lacing “The Once and Future Queen” with an otherworldly, silver age comic book vibe. Kirkbride and Knave wisely take their time before digging into any of the fantasy elements of the story. Getting to know the main character in both of these settings and an insane supporting cast member make this debut issue a memorable one.
Unfortunately, building an entire world from the ground-up can be difficult, as one of the faults of the comic include a heavy exposition sequence really bogging the narrative down and tampering with the pacing. Thankfully, this series stays grounded by utilizing two different worlds with the fantasy and modern-day settings. Kirkbride and Knave also utilize two sets of characters with different viewpoints into the surreal world. They nicely avoid tropes by having characters not adhere to standard fantasy rules. The protagonist of the story uproots some fantasy tropes nicely and unravels more of her unique personality as the issue continues.
Brokenshire’s pencils have evolved over the course of his collaboration with Kirkbride and Knave. Brokenshire’s illustrations are incredibly vibrant and filled with unique personality. His choice of color is a particularly thoughtful use of comic book art that adds to the narrative. Certain characters are colored in an entirely different manner, making them stand out among the rest of the cast members. The artwork in this series fades many details into the background with coloring. The parts of the panel meant to pull your eye in are detailed in lavish color, yet details in the background are clearly visible but obscured by the coloring. This bold choice is a really nice aspect to the artwork that I’ve seen in few series. This comic changes locations frequently and actually feels different when the scenes change due in large part to the color. Brokenshire distorts some details as he changes exact length of character’s faces and alters how certain things look in the story very often. However, the artist adds a level of polish with coloring and detail that make the imperfections feel precise and welcome.
The narrative comes together towards the end of the issue nicely. The issue gets a nice burst of energy towards the end of the comic, with the creative team making sure that the entire issue is a compelling read and not just an exposition-heavy introduction. If the series is going to continue to go back-and-forth between regular and fantasy life, the characters in the regular life may not be well characterized enough to keep that part of the story interesting. Plenty of the fantasy heroes contain the charm making them easy to read, but the companions do seem flat from the first issue. This comic’s surreal tone could easily spotlight one of these characters in a future issue and make the series standout more. The fantasy world also isn’t quite as fleshed out as it should be as one simple exposition sequence isn’t enough to show the full scope of the protagonists’ adventures in this world. We also don’t really get to see all of these characters in action, doing something interesting or unique that would set them apart from each other.Continued below
The strongest aspect of this comic is the beginning, where the issue manages to evoke a surreal tone and slowly unwind fantasy and everyday teen life. These elements are all introduced with a character who has just enough of a personal story and attitude to keep the book interesting. If the comic can continue to evoke that feeling and flesh out the supporting cast and fantasy world, Brokenshire, Kirkbride and Knave could be onto something special with “The Once and Future Queen.”
Final Verdict:8.0: Brokenshire, Kirkbride and Knave immerse readers in the duality of fantasy and everyday life with a thoughtful tone in “The Once and Future Queen” #1.