{Review/Giveaway} THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN, Volume I: Opening Move by Adam P Knave, DJ Kirkbride, and Nickolas Brokenshire

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This week, Dark Horse releases the first volume of its comic THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN. Based around the lore of King Arthur and his knights, the series stars Rani Arturus, a chess prodigy who finds herself with a destiny greater than she could ever imagine.

The series begins with Rani and her family traveling to Cornwall, England for a chess tournament. She's distracted by a pretty girl in the audience that she feels an instant connection to and winds up losing on the first day. That evening when wandering the area, she stumbles into a cave and finds a sword in the stone. Upon pulling it out, Merlin appears (in a spacesuit, no less!) and says that she is the new Queen and that war is coming. She is able to transform Excalibur into a tattoo to make it easier to come around. Upon returning home to Portland, Oregon, she encounters the pretty girl from the tournament, Gwen, who becomes her partner in crime, as does Lance, a guy she went to high school with. The three of them embrace their destiny and try to save humanity from the invading fae that The Shadow King is sending to their planet. Our Morgan Le Fay character is a Fae who came to our world and donned a human skin in order to fit in and pave the way for the Fae to invade, leave their decaying planet, and find a new home. In this life, she is a super-famous YA author whose novels about dark fae are wildly popular. When her world collides with that of the reincarnated Queen, battle ensues, of course, and the chessboard is set for the war to come.

It's really interesting to see all the new ways the Arthurian lore has been brought to our world and given life in comic form, from tattoo swords to motorcycle steeds. Even the messy romance triangle is present in a new form. Rani and Gwen are very much attracted to one another and begin a relationship right away. Yet Rani is also drawn to Lance, who is Ace, so she never considered the possibility of a relationship before. Gwen doesn't mind a poly relationship, and everyone decides to explore their feelings and do whatever feels right, so long as they're always honest with one another. So it's a different form of messy, but it feels as though there will still be a lot of drama and hurt feelings in the romance department to come, especially since the story of King Arthur is rife with it to begin with.

There are a lot of great ideas and set-up to bring the Arthurian lore to life. At times, it felt like so much was being crammed in at once, but first issues are always like that as they build the world the readers will inhabit over the years to come. The battles won't come easily, either. These characters can be permanently maimed and will wear their battle scars and be changed by them in future volumes in ways too spoilery for me to mention. But I really appreciated the honest portrayal of a war that won't leave the heroes and heroines invincible. I also appreciated the diverse characters and the fact that they are trying to introduce multiple types of relationships and preferences into the mix, even though I can already tell that will make for messy relationship drama going forward. I still like the exploration and feel it is important in particular to have readers learn more about Ace relationships, which have been talked about heatedly on social media this past year with the launch of the Freeform series Riverdale, also based on a comic book series (Archie). Poly relationships also aren't frequently explored in the mainstream, so it's interesting to see so many possibilities to the traditional, accepted forms of love being brought to life and discussed with a new audience.

I also liked the spin on Merlin, and the way he changes based on how time is layered. The concepts revolving around him were really intriguing, and I don't want to reveal too many spoilery things here, but I grew to really like the scenes that included him because he's such a quirky character!

THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN, Volume I: Opening Move, comes out this Tuesday and contains the first five issues of the series bound up into one volume for easy access.

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG15 (.Scene where two characters are in bed together after having had sex off the page. )
Language: PG (.Light cursing: Damn, bullshit, bitch.)
Violence: PG13   (.A bit of blood and gore; some of the fae with body parts missing when they are torn apart going through a portal. )
Other:  --PG  
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I love the way there is a sword running through the word QUEEN in the book's title!

I also like that this is a battle scene and all of our warriors are on the cover. It's a strong image that will intrigue browsers and have them pick up the graphic novel to see what it is about!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN, Volume I: Opening Move
Author: Adam P Knave, DJ Kirkbride, and Nickolas Brokenshire
Release Date: Nov. 14, 2017
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Received: For Review


Rani Arturus is a chess prodigy with no plans to be a leader of any sort, let alone QUEEN. After she pulls the legendary sword Excalibur from the stone...well, no backsies. Now she must form a new round table made of friends and family to protect the Earth from an invasion of Fae, who'd like a new planet to call their own. It's magic, romance, adventure, and excitement as old myths reveal themselves to be fake, and new ones cause trouble for everyone! 

 - King Arthur is reimagined as a 21st century multi-ethnic teen girl 
 - Featuring a diverse team of characters with East-Asian, African, and British heritage, as well as diverse sexual orientation.
 - Set in Portland, Oregon, and the UK
 - From the team who created Amelia Cole, an all-ages heroine who ran for 6 arcs at Monkeybrain and IDW. 



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