The title birds only figure into the first few pages of this volume, but their brief presence is enough to let you know that Magpies are serious business. It’s enough to convince Bridgette that she needs to find her daughter Mary before her dalliance with Merlin and Arthur begets more violence and tragedy. Which is why she ropes Duncan and Rose into visiting a biker bar full of white supremacists to get some answers. Things go badly for our ostensible Percival, until another story decides to intervene and Rose finds herself having to step up for this particular conflict. What follows involves a trip to Otherworld, an encounter with the greatest of knights, a couple conversations held at gunpoint, and a big friggin’ dragon as well. Oh, and we get to finally find out what the other Grail Knight’s role in this story is meant to be.
My biggest issue with this volume is that this other Grail Knight doesn’t stick around long enough to see what he’s wrought. (Well, it’s possible that he may stick around in a particular form, but writer Kieron Gillen already tried that trick in “The Wicked + The Divine.”) The rest of the volume is more concerned with subverting expectations. Whether it involves the introduction of another story, the government’s role in Bridgette’s long history of monster hunting, or the appearance of a job well done, nothing really goes to plan in vol. 3. I appreciated Gillen’s efforts in that regard, along with Dan Mora’s always-excellent art as he gets even more fantastical things to draw in this volume.
Still, if you’re worried that “Duncan, Bridgette and Rose Fight Legendary English Monsters” was going to be this series’ sole trick, Gillen has you covered. There’s a substantial change to the status quo over the course of this volume which assures that vol. 4 of “Once and Future” will look considerably different than the previous three. It also means that things will be going from bad to worse for a good portion of the English population, but I have a feeling that their misery will be great fuel for our entertainment.