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King Arthur will return in Britain's Darkest Hour... but no one said he wouldn't cause it.

"Oh. Hell. It's all real. "
"Ptth. You're just as bad as Duncan. It's not real, it's just true."
Rose and Bridgette on the nature of stories
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A certain relic has been excavated in Cornwall, Britain. The sheath of a sword. Fifth, sixth century. Ornate, immaculately preserved. Fit for a king. Priceless. So valuable that a woman and her ultra-nationalist lackeys will kill for it.

Meanwhile, Duncan McGuire thought his night couldn't get any worse. His first date with a new girlfriend, a lovely young woman named Rose Chandra, and he starts it by spilling wine all over his date's white dress. But then he learns his gran, Bridgette McGuire, ran away from the nursing home before calling him out to the middle of nowhere. There he learns that she was a vampire hunter in her youth with an entire armory of monster-killing weapons. One thing leads to another, and it isn't long before she's holding him at gunpoint to take her to Glastonbury.

The scabbard of King Arthur's sword has been found, and Bridgette fears that someone will be trying to resurrect him. It's said King Arthur will return in Britain's Darkest Hour, but never trust a prophecy that can be taken in two ways. After all, it never said anything about him rescuing Britain... Let alone that this Britain is ruled by Arthur's old enemies, the Anglo-Saxons, by now.

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Once & Future is an adventure-horror comic book written by Kieron Gillen with art by Dan Mora for Boom! Studios. Swept into the stories of myth, Duncan must fight the greatest legends of Britain alongside his octogenarian vampire hunting grandmother, all while learning more about his family than he ever wanted to know.


Once & Future contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Wouldn't be an Arthurian tale without them. Standing out, of course, is Excalibur. Lancelot cuts up bullets and later a huge army of undead.
  • Abusive Parents: Bridgette's husband dunked their daughter Mary in a boiling cauldron to send her to the Otherworld and have her bed Lancelot to produce a Galahad.
  • All the Other Reindeer: Implied to have been the case for Rose while growing up in Bath on account of her family being the only South Asians in a "whiter-than-white street," which also touches upon the comic series' criticism of bigotry and racism.
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  • Always Save the Girl: Owing to being the greatest knight in the land Lancelot immediately rushes to help when he hears Elaine scream in pain.
  • Ancient Order of Protectors: The family that Duncan, Bridgette and Mary belong to may well be a thousand years old and have the full support of the government. That doesn't mean they can't get audited.
  • Androcles' Lion:
    • When Galahad makes off with the Holy Grail, no one is fast enough to catch him. But when Rose removes the sword plaguing the dragon that Lancelot defeated, she accidentally invokes the story of this trope or its even older prototype. The dragon then aids them in chasing down Galahad by allowing the heroes to ride its back. After taking on the role of King Arthur, she once again calls upon the dragon to rescue Duncan from Merlin.
    • Sir Ywain made friends with his lion through a broadly similar set of circumstances as Rose explains to Duncan as the knight is chasing them across the highway.
  • Anti-Hero: Bridgette fights to protect others from the monsters and stories that go bump in the night, but as the story goes on it becomes increasingly clear that she crossed lines and burnt bridges to succeed. This also means she has no problems murdering others in cold blood if it means stopping Elaine's plans.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Rose's, to be exact, when she pulls Excalibur from the stone, becoming the One True King of Britain and slaying the Welsh Arthur.
  • Beard of Sorrow: After the Otherworld merges with Britain, Duncan's five o'clock shadow becomes a full beard, showing how jaded and frustrated he's become after his and Bridgette's efforts have come to naught. Also an Adrenaline Makeover as he's still fighting to survive.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: William Shakespeare was a monster hunter, and one of the best at that.
  • Big "NO!": Bridgette lets one out when she realizes Prime Minister Boris Johnson is about to reveal the existence of magic to the world on live television, which sends England into the Otherworld.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: As the series progresses, it's revealed that most of Duncan's family is actively working to bring the stories back to Britain - regardless of all the deaths and horror that would entail. Only he and his grandmother Bridgette seek to oppose this - and Duncan quickly learns that his Gran too has a coldblooded and ruthless side to her. Summed up by Bridgette after her estranged husband, Duncan's grandfather, shoots himself in order to keep them from getting the Grail:
    Bridgette: You're so good Duncan. I prayed you'd never know your family isn't.
  • Blunt "No": This is Arthur's response to the Green Knight's offer to play a game. Arthur punctuates it by splitting the Knight in half with Excalibur.
  • Body Horror:
    • Arthur is able to raise the bodies of the dead to remake his faithful knights, twisting them into skeletal monstrosities of exposed flesh whose jaws hang down when they speak.
    • Galahad is subject to this upon sitting on the Siege Perilous, fusing him to his armor, burning off all his hair, and turning him into a misshapen monster. Then after losing his legs to Bridgette's Razor Floss, Merlin sews Galahad's lower body to the remains of his horse, turning him into a centaur.
    • Mary reveals to Rose, to the latter's horror, that her body below her neck is covered in burn scars on account of her father having dunked her in a boiling cauldron to send her to the Otherworld and have her conceive Galahad with Lancelot.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Mary downs Sir Ywain and his lion with a high-power sniper rifle while he's busy chasing after Duncan and Bridgette. She then threatens her mum and son with the same as soon as they step into Mary's firing line.
  • Breath Weapon: The heroes are alarmed when Sir Ywain's lion suddenly breathes fire, with Duncan asking if it could do that in the stories as the lion uses it to detonate an RPG they shot at it prematurely.
  • Broken Masquerade: Boris Johnson is manipulated into revealing the existence of the Otherworld to the entire British populace. As a result, this sucks the whole of England into the Otherworld.
  • Broken Pedestal: As much as Bridgette drove him crazy at times, Duncan thought the world of his gran as his only parental figure growing up. But the more he learns about his family's history and the monster-hunting business, the more disillusioned he becomes with Bridgette for lying to him and using him.
    Duncan: I don't think I can do this.
    Bridgette: You're in the family trade, now. You have to.
    Duncan: No, I can do that. I don't think I can do us.
  • Brought Down to Normal: William Shakespeare dealt with the water god Leir by wrapping up the god's legend in a play and making it so famous that the original story has largely been forgotten. Even now, Leir recites lines from the play without meaning to while straining to get out from Bill's trap. The play Shakespeare wrote? King Lear.
  • Call-Back: When the Briton Arthur is about to be slaughtered by the Norman Arthur and Lancelot, the Briton Merlin remembers what Bridgette said about Lancelot and turns the Norman Arthur against his greatest knight by shouting, "Hail, Arthur! I have ill news! The Frenchie shagged your wife, you big ninny!" The resulting confusion sends the Norman Arthur's forces into retreat.
  • Catchphrase: Bridgette has a habit of saying "Bugger." as an Oh, Crap! or a sigh of resignation. She also has a tendency to refer to others as "ninnies".
  • Celebrity Casualty: Boris Johnson gets his head ripped off on national television by King Arthur after Boris revealed the Holy Grail against Hempleworth's advice.
  • Closest Thing We Got: Merlin needs a Galahad, a Percival, and a Bors to obtain the Holy Grail. While a Galahad and Percival are known in the story, there's no one named Bors. The Bors of this story is Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who reveals the Grail against Hempleworth's advice.
  • Cool Sword: Excalibur, of course. With it in hand, Duncan, an inexperienced swordsman, is able to effortlessly cleave his way through most of Arthur's knights, impressing the undead king.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Bridgette has her ammunition, weapons, and explosives specially made to have a little bit of everything to cover her bases. Meteoric iron, sea salt, garlic, silver filings, wolfsbane, and of course, high explosives. Can never be too sure what you're up against in this line of work. She also raised Duncan alone, unaware of knightly orders and the truth of the world, and virginal, all to ensure she'd have a grail knight in case she needed to reach the Holy Grail.
  • Crossover Cosmology: Bridgette makes it very clear that the stories are not "real", but they're very much "true" in the otherworld. While the story primarily focuses on the folklore of Britain, Greek mythology pops up after the United Kingdom is plunged into the Otherworld thanks to Roman influences in the region.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Due to the Theory of Narrative Causality being in full effect, nameless Red Shirts are quickly offed by stories like King Arthur. Bridgette tends to get around this by trying to exploit the weaknesses of each story, to the point of packing explosives with a smorgasbord of anti-supernatural items and using blessed bullets to kill monsters.
  • Deadlier Than The Male:
    • Bridgette has zero qualms with committing murder if it means stopping a story dead in its tracks and preventing it from wreaking havoc. Compare that to her grandson Duncan, who is new to the monster-hunting business and very much not okay with cold-blooded killing.
    • Grendel may be a dangerous monster, but its mother even more so. Bridgette is able to inflict severe harm on Grendel with a chainsaw, but it's only barely able to cut into Grendel's mother's skin.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Duncan becomes prone to snarking as a coping mechanism for the insanity his gran puts him through. Lampshaded repeatedly by a none-too-pleased Bridgette.
    Bridgette: [pointing a gun at Duncan's head as he drives] Oh—you have a text message, dear. From a girl, Rose?
    Duncan: Text her back saying, "Great, she's fine and has a gun pointing at my head!"
    Bridgette: There's no need for sarcasm, Duncan McGuire. You were raised better than that.
  • Depending on the Writer: The King Arthur here is the one from Briton culture. A Norman Arthur who is aesthetically closer to a Knight in Shining Armor later appears to challenge his Briton counterpart, and a third Arthur has recently made his presence known as well, representing the King Arthur that is the icon of the modern-day national identity of Britain as a global power, with the might of industry to back him.
  • Double Meaning: Bridgette points out that the word "merry" didn't always mean "happy and jubilant". It's derived from a Germanic root word meaning "short" as in "makes time pass quickly". Bridgette has the heroes join Robin Hood's Merry Men to exploit this aspect of the story and make time pass more quickly.
  • Dramatic Irony: The far-right English Nationalists awaken King Arthur in the hope that he will lead them in expelling all "undesirables" from British soil. However, it never occurred to them that the legendary Arthur, who fought the invading Anglo-Saxons, might consider all non-Celtic people to likewise be "undesirable"... Mary is the only survivor of the event on account of her being at least half-Irish and hence "Briton enough" for Arthur's taste.
  • Elemental Embodiment: "Of the lake" is taken seriously, When he appears, Lancelot is basically a silhouette opening on to a lake bed, fish can be seen swimming in him and there are reeds growing from his feet. He also has a water sword.
  • Emasculated Cuckold: Bridgette weaponizes this to turn King Arthur against Elaine, explaining that Galahad is the son of Lancelot, the Frank who slept with Guinevere.
    Bridgette: [Lancelot's] the Frenchie who shagged your wife, you big ninny.
    [Beat Panel]
    King Arthur: A FRANK HAS LAIN WITH MY QUEEN!
    • Later repeated by Briton!Merlin when Briton King Arthur and Norman King Arthur are battling, using the exact same words to distract the Norman version and call off the battle between the two.
  • Evil Versus Evil: After claiming Britain, King Arthur faces a challenger to the throne: the Norman version of Arthur (as opposed to the Briton one the story centers around). This Arthur has his own Merlin and Guinevere, and is aided by the Lancelot already introduced. And after he's defeated, a THIRD Arthur shows up.
  • Excalibur in the Stone: Discussed; Arthur is able to retrieve a sword from a stone immediately, but it is explicitly not Excalibur. As stated, he does have the scabbard but getting the sword is a secondary objective of his. He gets a worthier sword a tick later but that, too, could at best be called Clarent, though that is a bit too late for a Briton Arthur.
  • Exact Words: Upon meeting Little John in the otherworld, the heroes are instructed to knock him from the bridge like in the stories. Only, Little John is a giant faerie the size of an office building. While Duncan grabs a branch to use as a quarterstaff like in the stories, Brigette admonishes him for not thinking laterally, asking if he's watched any Taskmaster. She then proceeds to lay explosives on the bridge and detonates them, knocking Little John off by taking the bridge down with him.
  • Expy Coexistence: It seems that Galahad aligning himself with the Briton Arthur caused a Norman Galahad to appear to fill the role. Furthermore, after Briton!Merlin manages to tell Norman!Arthur about Lancelot's defiling of Gwynevere, Norman!Arthur retreats, only for A THIRD Arthur to show up with his OWN Merlin in tow.
  • The Fair Folk: Fairies are depicted as ravenous, monstrous bug-eyed creatures with fly-like wings and an extra large mouth in their torsos. They're nearly universally malicious unless they're convinced to do a favor for someone. To them, humans are hideous and weird for having all of their blood on the inside.
  • Feeling Their Age: Bridgette is still spry, Crazy-Prepared, and badass in her old age, but she's definitely feeling her years. She's wheezing while trying to flee King Arthur's knights, shoots off part of Duncan's ear when she meant to give him a Close-Call Haircut, and she needs Duncan to be the muscle when it comes to fighting in close-quarters. She even mentions it herself.
    Duncan: [clutching his bloody ear] You... shot me.
    Bridgette: I was trying to give you a close shave. But fingers aren't as steady as they used to be. Age comes for us all...
  • Fighting Irish: Bridgette moved from Ireland to Britain when she was 15 and slayed vampires across the country until she ran out of vampires. Once Duncan gets into the family business, he soon finds that he has a knack for it even though he doesn't want to have a knack for it.
  • Fisher King: Discussed. The story of the maimed Fisher King is brought up as the one man who knows where the Holy Grail is. Bridgette's husband willingly acts as one to give Galahad a path to the Grail, before shooting himself in the head to prevent Bridgette from following. Bridgette, as both mother and father figure to Duncan, decides to shoot herself to become a surrogate Fisher King, allowing Duncan to pursue Galahad.
  • Flaming Sword: Inverted. Lancelot of the Lake has a sword made of water.
  • Gendered Outfit: When Rose draws the sword in the stone and becomes King Arthur and the rightful queen of Britain, she lacks the medieval armor worn by the other Arthurs. She instead has a form-fitting armored corset with a Breast Plate that leaves her shoulders bare while her legs are covered by padded tights.
  • Genre Savvy: Bridgette is this by necessity, considering she fights monsters and villains from various stories come to life. Merlin is also uniquely aware of how the nature and conventions of the story affect those like him, and he naturally abuses this for all its worth.
  • Give Him a Normal Life: While Bridgette did raise Duncan specifically to have a Percival just in case, she also wanted to keep him away from the monster-hunting life and have him live blissfully unaware of his screwed up family.
  • Glory Hound: Galahad is utterly convinced that he's destined to be the greatest knight, not caring if untold thousands or millions suffer should the real world merge with the Otherworld to bring about a land of stories so long as he's the hero of them all.
  • Good Parents: Rose's parents love her dearly and they clearly share a warm and openly friendly relationship where they fret about but also trust each other. This is especially noticeable when compared to Duncan and Bridgette's relationship, which grows increasingly strained by multiple layers of Broken Pedestal.
  • Green Thumb: Robin Hood represents the will of the British isles. As a result, he's able to cause vines to sprout from the corpses of those he shoots with his arrows.
  • Groin Attack: Bridgette shot her husband in the groin after he suggested that they bring the stories back to Britain solely to relive their Glory Days and to give their daughter Mary a life of excitement. Unfortunately, all this did was make him a Fisher King able to lead Galahad to the Grail.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: The Green Knight splits Rose in half with his axe when he comes to take his swing at her. She only survives thanks to retrieving Arthur's healing scabbard beforehand. The Knight is subject to the same fate when Briton!Arthur cuts him down with Excalibur.
  • Happily Adopted: Rose is not the Chandras's child by brith, having been adopted after her adoptive parents failed to concieve a child on their own. This, combined with her mysterious parentage, makes her eligible to draw the sword in the stone become the queen of Britain, a heroic King Arthur who opposes all of the other Arthurs.
  • History Repeats:
    • People can take on the role of characters in a story to reenact them. For instance, Elaine becomes the mother of Galahad to produce a grail knight, presenting him to King Arthur as the greatest of knights in order to claim the Holy Grail.
    • Bridgette also mentions that this isn't the first time King Arthur has risen again. The last time was the 1940s, and before that the 18th century.
  • Human-Demon Hybrid: Merlin as is common in many of the later tales, it's one of the reason's he can't as a creature of hell help with the Holy Grail quest.
  • Hunter of Monsters: The Family, which includes Duncan and Bridgette, is part of a deal with the British government that predates the Magna Carta. They deal with Arthurian stuff but that isn't all they do either.
  • I Choose to Stay: Ultimately, Mary would rather stay in hell with Galahad than return to the living world. She begs Bridgette to turn around and reenact the tragedy of Orpheus to make this happen.
  • I'm Not a Hero, I'm...: As more and more of her Big, Screwed-Up Family comes to light, Bridgette reiterates that she is not a good person and Duncan grows more disillusioned with her as the story goes on. Her brutal, uncompromising methodology helps her kill monsters and save people, but she hurts just as many as she helps. At the end of the series, everyone has their memories of the story wiped away by the River Lethe except Bridgette, who vomits the waters up thanks to a note she left for herself. She stops herself from telling Duncan and Rose to do the same, but admits that if things went to hell again, she'd drag them both right back into it.
  • In the Hood: The Briton and Norman Merlin have their face in shadow from the hood they wear, the Briton one has a big bushy beard and Volcanic Veins.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: His affair with Guinevere aside, Lancelot continually strives to be the perfect knight. He will Always Save the Girl, will not allow unarmed innocents to come to harm, and will take on any threat for the sake of his lord, Arthur. Of all the knights in the story, only Lancelot sides with the people after being removed from his service to Arthur. As per Lancelot's own words, protecting people is what a knight does, or at least, what he should do. At the end of the story, he sacrifices himself to burst Leir's heart and shower the waters of forgetfulness upon all of Britain, thus removing the Otherworld.
  • King Arthur: A pivotal character in the comic, stopping his rise and take over of Britain is the driving force of the story. But once Britain is entirely subsumed into the Otherworld, the heroes have to [[contend with every version of him.
  • Landmark of Lore: Shows up multiple times but it isn't the only form Place of Power takes here, for example going to a place where petty men became petty kings can allow an entrance into the Otherworld.
  • Loss of Identity:
    • After sitting on the Siege Perilous, Galahad is lost to the story, not recognizing his mother Mary and referring to her as "Elaine", "Nimue", and "Witch". Although she is able to use the Holy Grail to restore him to his original form, he dies not long after he recognizes her again.
    • It's revealed that the Briton Arthur was once a mortal man killed on the battlefield. His most loyal subject wrapped him up in the story of King Arthur to revive him. But the new Arthur remembers nothing about his mortal life, something only Merlin knows. Merlin declares that Rose is at risk of losing herself to the story of King Arthur too, but she drinks the waters of forgetfulness from the River Lethe before that can happen.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Bridgette reveals that "Elaine" is actually Mary McGuire, Duncan's mother, whom he thought was dead. This also means that Galahad is Duncan's half-brother.
  • The Magic Goes Away: At the end of the series, Bridgette conspires to have Leir rain the waters of the River Lethe to wake the United Kingdom from its dreaming and make everyone forget that stories exist, thus wiping away the Otherworld. But then it's subverted when Bridgette reads a note she left for herself to vomit immediately, giving her the memories of what happened back.
  • Magpies as Portents: Double Subverted. Issue 13 opens with a magpie flying down and interrupting Bridgette's smoke on the care home's deck. Then the otherworld light show kicks off and it's joined by five other magpies and Bridgette recites two versions of old rhyme and asks if she's in for gold or Hell, only to be told it's the latter. So Bridgette shoots four of them and says now it must be either joy or mirth, only for one magpie to tear the throat out of the other and say she's in for sorrow.
  • Meaningful Name: Duncan's middle name is "Percy", short for "Percival". The same as one of the grail knights, as Bridgette raised him specifically so that she'd have one just in case.
  • Medusa: A rare male version shows up when the group goes back to Bath to rescue Rose's parents.
  • Merlin and Nimue: This trope is Lampshaded, discussed and Invoked just like many other Arthurian tropes. When the Briton Merlin recruits Mary as his Nimue, he is completely expecting her to betray him at some point, resulting in him double-crossing her first.
  • Mirror Match: After England is plunged into the Otherworld, the Norman version of Arthur rises to challenge the Briton Arthur, complete with his own version of Merlin and Guinevere. While the Briton Arthur has an undead army he can summon at will, the Norman Arthur has Lancelot.
  • Ms. Exposition: Bridgette is exceptionally well-versed in all forms of Arthurian lore, often summarizing them for Duncan (and the reader) so they know what they're up against. That said, she has a blind spot in that she never read up on Beowulf due to considering it a mere poem that doesn't have nearly as much recognition as King Arthur. This comes back to bite her when Beowulf himself comes after her and Duncan, and she needs others to relay the fine details of the story to her so she can come up with a way to deal with Beowulf and the monsters from his story.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: The characters in the stories are all shaped by the ways people told them. Additions over the years by writers and bards can cause the characters to get mixed up about their own identities and histories. King Arthur recognizes Galahad as his greatest knight, but is baffled when he lays eyes upon Excalibur or when Bridgette brings up Lancelot. Arthur also seems to miss Merlin once he is awakened, yet does not recognize Merlin when he finally shows up.
  • Muscles Are Meaningful: Duncan may be a museum curator, but he's also tall and broad-shouldered, letting him smash a door in two with a single kick. He spends a lot of his recreational time in Rugby.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Duncan is a klutzy museum curator who enjoys artifacts and history. He's also tall, handsome, and buff from a childhood spent romping through the woods away from amenities like video games.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Bridgette is an octogenarian who feels her age, but she's also the best monster hunter in Britain with decades of experience fighting stories. She never leaves home without a weapon and knows Arthurian lore inside and out, making her a force to be reckoned with even if her grandson is far better-suited to the monster-hunting business now.
  • Nice Day, Deadly Night: The Otherworld can only be accessed by people at night. So when dawn comes, the ability to cross between worlds goes. That said, stories can still take place during the day.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Duncan's squeamishness about killing people has him stop Bridgette from shooting Galahad dead. This comes back to bite Duncan repeatedly, as it's through Galahad that Arthur has a chance to claim the Holy Grail in the first place, and Galahad quickly becomes a recurring and dangerous foe.
  • Nightmare Face: Lancelot almost looks like a comic book superhero between his Sculpted Physique and mouthless mask. But once he's enraged, the mouth of the "mask" opens and his jaw drops unnaturally low as he screams for answers.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: It's possible for people to take on multiple roles in the same story or different stories. This can cause the story to go off in strange tangents or strange ways as the roles overlap and diverge.
    • Mary acts as Elaine to become a mother to Galahad with Lancelot, but then takes on the role of Nimue in her quest to restore Galahad's humanity and original identity. At the end of the story, she becomes Eurydice by asking Bridgette to look back in a recreation of the Orpheus myth.
    • Duncan becomes both Percival and Beowulf, allowing him to reach the Holy Grail and slay Grendel's mother. However, this also means that he's fated to fall against a dragon, which Merlin attempts to exploit at the story's climax. But when he's rescued by Rose, Duncan ends up taking the role of Guinevere, as she had since taken up the role of King Arthur by pulling the sword from the stone.
    • Rose takes on the role of Gawain in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight so Duncan wouldn't have to. She later invokes Androcles by accident when removing a sword from the dragon defeated by Lancelot. She then becomes King Arthur when she draws the sword in the stone on account of her mysterious parentage as a Happily Adopted child.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: It's heavily implied that the prime minister of Britain is Boris Johnson, but his face is always framed in shadow to prevent any fine detailing of his appearance. Then Arthur rips Boris' head off on national television, but Boris' face is still turned away from the viewer even though his hair is visible.
  • Obviously Evil: Arthur and his court are all visibly dark undead monsters associated with a Sickly Green Glow. Less so for the Norman Arthur.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Bridgette has a tendency to make others, even her own grandson Duncan, cooperate by pointing a gun at them.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • As per the story, this is the fate of numerous men who are confronted by the Green Knight, who lops their heads off with an axe.
    • King Arthur rips Boris Johnson's head off on national television after the latter reveals the Holy Grail, "healing the land" and merging Britain with the Otherworld.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: This is Merlin's reaction after he manages to chase away the Norman Arthur by revealing Guinevere's infidelty to turn him against Lancelot, only for another Arthur to show up and challenge Merlin's king.
    Merlin: This will never end...
  • Only the Chosen May Wield:
    • Only those who meet the criterion of being a grail knight may seek and touch the Holy Grail. Galahad was explicitly raised by Elaine for this purpose. Duncan was also raised to be a Percival, making him eligible to seek the Holy Grail.
    • Near the end of the story, the sword in the stone appears to crown the rightful king of Britain. All of the King Arthurs converge on it to claim it as their own, but in the end it's Rose, an adopted child not unlike Arthur, who claims it and becomes the rightful queen of Britain.
  • Only the Pure of Heart:
    • Excalibur may only be loaned by the Ladies of the Lake to knights who are unarmed and pure of heart. Duncan meets all the criteria, borrowing Excalibur to journey into the other world and retrieve the sword's sheath to save Bridgette, who shot herself to become a surrogate Fisher King.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Bridgette tends to be calm and collected in even the most strenuous situations, with her Oh, Crap! reactions usually amounting to her saying "Bugger." However, on two occasions she loses her cool. The first is the Big "NO!" she lets out when realizing that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is about to reveal the existence of magic to the world on live television, with disastrous results for everyone in Britain. The second occasion is weeks or months later, when one of the people in the retirement home that Bridgette, Duncan, Rose and other survivors are hiding in asks "When is this going to get back to normal?", which sets Bridgette off and sends her into a shouting fit as a result of the desperation of their situation and the stress that she has been under.
  • Painting the Medium: To emphasize how monstrous Arthur is, his dialogue is in a creepy font that seems scrawled on the page in green. Even his speech bubbles are angular and irregular. The only ones who share this trait are monsters from myth like Grendel.
  • Parrying Bullets: Arthur's knights can deflect bullets with their swords, neutering the effectiveness of small arms against them.
  • Popcultural Osmosis Failure: Duncan is a major example: as he's an English doctoral student but focused on modern literature, he's out of his depth with Arthurian Legend, thereby making him a good Audience Surrogate.
  • Position of Literal Power:
    • Important narrative roles like being the Grail Knight let someone enter inaccessible places and win against dangerous monsters. Some creatures are only able to be killed by certain roles otherwise they're essentially unkillable. In addition, characters in the story will refer to humans by the roles they take on (i.e. Gawain or Percival). But an advantage in the demimonde doesn't translate into a mundane advantage.
    • Mixing roles is not recommended as you'll get pulled in many different directions, resulting in the story going in unpredictable ways that could be potentially troublesome or even lethal.
  • Prophecy Twist: Discussed by Bridgette. She's intimately familiar with the story of King Arthur, who is supposed to return in Britain's Darkest Hour. While most would take it as a sign that he will return to save Britain, she always found the wording of it strange, as nothing in the prophecy says he couldn't cause it.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Not for the modern protagonists but Bridgette notes that King Arthur is often remembered as the hero-king who united the Britons and beat back the foreign invaders. People often forget that he went to war with the Roman Empire and crushed it. Once King Arthur rises from his crypt, the first thing he does is slaughter the English nationalists who resurrected him for being Anglo-Saxons before declaring that he's reclaiming Briton for the Britons.
  • Public Domain Artifact: The Holy Grail is the central MacGuffin in the story for its ability to "heal" the land, which would merge the real world and the Otherworld together, bringing about chaos and death. Excalibur also appears, though King Arthur does not know of it due to his Multiple-Choice Past.
  • Razor Floss: When Galahad comes charging at Duncan in the middle of the British Museum in London, it turns out Bridgette had laid out silver wire in advance, bisecting Galahad's horse and cutting off his legs below the knee.
  • Real After All: A recurring theme in Bridgette explaining scores of supposed myths are all true. Ironically, she gets hit with this when she dismisses Duncan's talk of Beowulf as "just a poem." For once, Duncan is the one who can gloat about being right when Beowulf attacks them and Bridgette realizes how it feels to foolishly dismiss "a myth."
  • Rightful King Returns: When the sword in the stone appears, Robin Hood refuses to lift a finger to stop the King Arthurs from trying to take it. After all, it's his role to take up arms against false kings, not true kings.
  • Robin Hood: Shows up in issue 24, Bridgette comments that he's equally dangerous even if he's on the side of "the people". She describes him as an old legend, even older than King Arthur, when "all this land was forest" and that something in the wood could mess you up something fierce. He's the physical representation of rebellion against any who would claim dominion over the British Isles. As such, Bridgette calls upon him to attack the King Arthurs while she makes use of her insistence on joining the Merry Men to speed up the passage of time so she can get to December 26th to undo the seal on Leir more quickly.
  • Sinister Scythe: Merlin carries one of these along with a traditional staff to emphasize how he's bad news.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • A recurring bit as Owen learns fast to never go on about how easy something is going.
    • Gran is generally smarter but falls into this when she dismisses Bewoulf as just a poem only to find he's real.
    • Gran again as she goes "I hate to jinx this but we're doing well" on how Robin Hood is doing taking it to their enemies and they'll have it all fixed "as long as there's no true king Robin Hood respects, we're sorted." Cut to a panel of Excalibur buried in the forest with an inscription that whoever pulls it is the rightful king.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality
    • Anyone caught up in a story is fated to reenact it. As such, purposefully following it can allow someone to accomplish the same things as stories in myth, such as Elaine giving birth to and raising a Galahad to find the Holy Grail.
    • It's also possible to get caught up in multiple stories at once, which will cause them to mingle and twist, as seen when Duncan becomes both Percival and Beowulf. Bridgette regards this as incredibly dangerous as it can cause the stories to go in unexpected directions, but Duncan is nonchalant because Beowulf died of old age.
    • This also means that Duncan can go toe-to-toe with enormous monsters as the "hero" of the story designated to defeat beasts, but quickly gets his butt kicked when he's dogpiled by a Nazi biker gang, as they aren't part of a story or subject to its rules.
    • When the Briton Arthur summons an undead army to swarm the Norman Arthur, Lancelot effortlessly cuts the entire army down. As per Merlin's own words, an army cannot defeat a hero, as heroes would not be remembered otherwise.
  • Translator Microbes: The characters of the stories generally speak in their native tongue, Arthur in old Britonnic and Lancelot in French. But they gradually "adjust" to the area they've been summoned in and the people they're speaking to, resulting in Arthur and Lancelot switching to modern English.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Quite a few facing monsters but the topper has to be Prime Minister Boris Johnson who, despite constant warnings of the dangers magic has, actually dismisses "we've had enough of experts", reveals magic to the world in hopes of making himself look better fighting it...and ends up with his head ripped off and England sent into the Otherworld.
  • Victory Is Boring: Once Bridgette killed the last redcap in Britain, she hoped things would finally be over and that she and her children would be able to retire to a life of normalcy. But her husband thought differently, believing that they had robbed their daughter Mary of the exciting life of monster-hunting. So after Bridgette shot him in the groin in disgust, he began plotting to have the stories return to Britain, starting with dunking Mary in a boiling cauldron to have her bed Lancelot and produce a Galahad.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: The capitalistic steampunk King Arthur(s) of the modern British Empire is quickly slaughered by Robin Hood and his Merry Men, with Little John flinging Duncan, Bridgette, and Rose inside via a log being used as an arrow. They then shoot up most of the knights inside in the confusion while Robin himself takes out the kings with three arrows as promised.
  • The Wild Hunt: King Arthur summons the hunt when Bridgette tosses Excalibur's sheath out a window, causing skeletal horses with dragon-like wings to erupt from the ground as he flies after it.
  • World's Best Warrior: Lancelot is described by Bridgette as one of the original "hard lads" as the greatest knight in the land. All of Lancelot's appearances show him to be a cut above the other stories, effortlessly dicing bullets sent his way to bits and going after a dragon without fear. Bridgette urges everyone to not bother trying to shoot Lancelot and to simply run when he shows up. Then when the Briton Arthur summons an undead army to face the Norman Arthur, Lancelot sides with the Norman Arthur and cuts it down as the hero of the story.
  • Worthy Opponent: The Green Knight considers Rose this for taking up his challenge and driving his axe into his head. He eagerly looks forward to seeing "Gawain" again next year so he can take his own swing at her.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: This is Arthur and Merlin's reaction to seeing the version of the Arthurian knights mixed with the modern British Empire via Lord Tennyson's telling of "Morte d'Arthur", resulting in a Humongous Mecha powered by steam and piloted by capitalistic knights.
  • You Never Did That for Me: Discussed in issue 14. Needing to get information from Iain the white nationalist, who's dying from a grievous gut wound inflicted by the Green Knight, Bridgette makes it look like she's going to torture him. Instead, she shows a kind and empathetic side of herself as she gets the needed information before Iain dies from blood loss. This behavior flabergasts Duncan, who asks why she is never like that for him now or when he was growing up. Her answer?
    Bridgette: If you had your guts bleeding out over the floor, I would be.

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