By Jonathan Edwards
Okay, so, I honestly kind of forgot this book existed. It goes without saying that that's not great and doesn't bode well for the first issue's ability to leave a lasting impression. Although, when I did see this second issue listed on the spreadsheet, and took the second to register and remember it, I wasn't opposed to checking it out. If anything, I was actually interested to see what this issue did and, hopefully, how it was improved from the previous one. And then, as I started reading, something that probably should've occurred to me last time (but didn't) clicked, and I grew somewhat concerned. See, The Once and Future Queen is branded as a "retelling of Arthurian Legend." However, Arthurian Legend is comprised of a whole lot of material, and this is a 5-issue limited series. It's always possible that the creators are planning successive limited series to follow this one, but that doesn't really stop me from wondering if we're really getting what it says on the tin. And unfortunately, The Once and Future Queen #2 only reinforced this concern.
The first seven or eight pages are dedicated to finishing up the fight against the Fae. And on the one hand, it's nice to keep the tension from the last issue going instead of just immediately ending the fight on the first or second page. But, it also shouldn't take up the first third of the issue, especially when the rest of the issue is pretty much dedicated to exposition with a sliver of character development. Right about at the halfway point is where it becomes clear what this book really is. Basically, it's just "the Fae are trying to invade our world, and it's Rani's destiny to stop them." That's some dime a dozen young adult novel, not Arthurian Legend. The only reason it was Athur's "destiny" to become was that he was the son of the previous king, Uther. Pulling the sword from the stone was only to prove the legitimacy of that. Furthermore, as far as I know, the Fae (or fairies) were only ever a very marginal aspect of stories if they were present at all. I mean, sure, there's Morgan le Fay, but she's more often portrayed as a human enchantress than an actual Fae. So, this book pretty much amounts to some generic contemporary fantasy story with Arthurian names slapped on to make it sell better.
It does seem like they're trying to set up the whole "Guinevere and Lancelot betray Arthur" story, except it's executed pretty poorly. Not only does the story suddenly jump cut Gwen and Lance from being at Rani's house to getting food together, but the context is all wrong. I don't give a shit if "destiny" is making them trust one another more or whatever, they've all known each other for a day maximum. That's not enough time for anyone to really trust anyone (additionally, Rani even questions if she can trust that's how she feels or if it's being forced upon her). That's not enough time for the betrayal to, y'know, actually feel like a breach of trust. Originally, Arthur trusted both Guinevere and Lancelot so much that the betrayal was tragic enough to lead to the downfall of Arthur's kingdom and his death.
To give credit where credit is due, the art is thoroughly strong this time through. The problem I had last time of backgrounds turning solid pink during the fight scene is nonexistent here. The art's working well. I have no complaints. And, I really don't have anything else to say about it.
I presume we're going to be seeing the Lady of the Lake at some point soon. Really, if she doesn't appear than something is wrong. I'm also not too keen on the apparent downgrade of Morgan le Fay to a more subordinate role. It also rings odd to me that, if Morgan Pari is meant to be connected to the Fae (spoiler: she is, but that should be more than obvious), that she would write books where she portrays the Fae as "Dark Faeries." Rani makes the comparison in the first narration box of the issue, specifically using the term "extra-nasty." And, that would imply that the Dark Faeries are already nasty in the context of Pari's book. But, why would she demonize her own people? Is that meant to be foreshadowing for her being some sort of double agent? If it is, I'm going to be mad.
The Once and Future Queen#2
Dark Horse Comics