Graphic Novel Review: The Once and Future Queen

The Once and Future Queen
Written by Adam P. Knave
Art by Nickolas Brokenshire

Advanced Reader Copy
Graphic Novel
Diversity Read
Teen Audience

(I received this book on Edelweiss for free in exchange for an honest review. This has not impacted my review that follows.)

(Synopsis from Goodreads)

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.

This volume collects The Once and Future Queen #1 – #5

I have always enjoyed Arthurian stories, so I saw this was available on Edelweiss and decided to try for it. I got approved for it, but never got around to reading it. Finally, I decided I should probably do that and get it off my Edelweiss shelf. I can’t say that this was a favorite read by any means. The story and how Rani gets the magical Excalibur felt a bit (umm, how to say this without being too spoiler, but at the same time letting you know how WTF it was for me) anti-climatic (did that work?). While I was not expecting like glittery sparkles for the moment, it was seriously like “okay, she has it now.” I seriously wondered if the writer knew from the get-go that he was only going to get 5 issues, so he had to force things through or what the heck went on in his mind to make it seem like anyone could have rolled up on the sword and taken it. It made me very sad, overall.

The part of the collection that I did enjoy was the fact that this really explores modern day sexualities, but it does not do it successfully to me. See the cover? Poly is all I am going to say, so I don’t give away everything but the kitchen sink. There is even some asexual representation in this, but it all feels so rather forced. Congrats for being diverse, but can it feel more natural? Probably for a different writer or a bit more editing on this writer’s part. It felt like it jumped so much between the two side characters romancing the main character that at times I felt that the main storyline suffered from this. I understand that a single issue of the comic series has limited space and that this particular style means that certain tropes and formatting has to be followed, so I think overall I probably would have enjoyed this more as a well-thought out graphic novel with multiple volumes instead of as this collected 5 issue set.

I will say I loved that this was not an immediate “Morgan Le Faye” is the bad guy story. Morgan appears, but who she is and how she fits into the real world I loved! Seriously! As a book blogger there was no way not to love it. Want to know why the love? Read the darn thing. Find out if you like the things that I disliked about it. Maybe it will give it another volume that can help flesh it out better than this one does. Some of the sketches seem to allude that there was some elements that they wanted to do in subsequent volumes, so maybe if someone throws some money at them they can produce those issues.

I feel that this is one that most people could avoid and just be fine with it. People who like Arthurian stories will at least enjoy those subtle nods that it gives to it. I try to not be overly negative in my reviews, so this is probably the most negative review I will ever give on here. The reality is that this just wasn’t done well for me, as a reader. I saw a lot of cracks in the veneer and simple ways to fix those issues. As a reader though, I recognize my own biases and recognize that sometimes I am just not going to enjoy what I read. This was one of those reads. Someone else may have a completely different experience with it. Good luck to those that take it on.

If you like Arthurian stories and want to continue your journey into the graphic novel field, you should give DC Comics “Camelot 3000” a look.


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