Friday, December 17, 2010

Mouse Guard

Mouse Guard: The Black Axe #1 (of 6)
David Petersen

I finally finished the Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard mini-series just in time to pick up the first issue of the new series!  And while I appreciated sampling other artists through the anthology, it's nice to see Petersen draw a full story again and not just interludes.  He crafts his world beautifully - I love the designs of all the little guardmice, and the animals he incorporates into his stories, especially the birds that he depicts in this issue.  In the first issue of this new series, which is a prequel to the two previous Mouse Guard books he's released, we get to see the vicious ferrets that were before only hinted at.  The ferrets are merciless hunters who wear trophies from their kills, whether it be patches of hide, skulls or shells.  They're kind of creepy and serial killer-ish, especially when one of them sniffs after a pair of mice and a drop of blood drips from his mouth right in front of where two mice crouch, hiding from him.  The story moves fluidly along with the beautiful scenery, and I'm really interested to see how The Black Axe became who he is in later years, as the weapon is only mentioned at this point.  A great start to the new book.

Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard HC
David Petersen & Various

Like I said earlier, I appreciate seeing other artists depict this world that Petersen dreamed up, even if I do prefer Petersen's familiar style with the guardmice.  I talked about the first issue of the series already, and felt the same then as I feel now, that the showcase of talent on this anthology was pretty spectacular.  Even if a creator only had a few pages to work with, they all did a nice job, although, like all anthologies, I preferred some stories to others.  It was a nice touch to have Petersen illustrate the covers and the pub scenes that tied the book together, as it makes it fit in with the other books nicely that way.  The story behind Legends of the Guard sees June, the owner of a pub, propose a contest for her patrons.  Whoever can tell the best story will have their tab paid in full, while the losers will have to pay their tabs in a short amount of time instead of continuing to let them build up.  I was satisfied with the way the story ended, which was no small feat, considering the talent involved with the stories, but it was a smart way to go.  Overall, my favorite contributors, who were all showcased in biography pages in the back (along with a character gallery and other extras) were Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl) and Mark Smylie (Artesia), who did nice jobs with story and art for the allotted pages.  Other creators involved in this mini-series were Ted Naifeh (Courtney Crumrin), Terry Moore (Strangers In Paradise), Alex Sheikman (Robotika), Gene Ha (Top Ten: The Forty-Niners), Guy Davis (B.P.R.D.) and Jason Shawn Alexander (Queen and Country), among others.  I'm glad that the series was successful enough to allow for another anthology (coming next year), as I enjoy seeing the different artists and their varying styles.  I know that based on Bastian's contribution here, I will definitely be seeking out other work from the creator, and I hope to discover other such talent in the forthcoming anthology.

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