Thursday, August 28, 2008

Review: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152

It has been a while since I last posted a review so I thought I'd do one for a book that I've read before but re-read just recently...yesterday night as a matter of fact: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152.

As I've been too lazy to use my scanner, this will be a fairly short review with not many images. If you don't like words...well, bear with me.

The Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 series came to prominence in 2006 when Wizard magazine chose it as the best indie book of the year. Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 heralds the story of three mice of the Mouse Guard elite, Lieam, Kenzie and Saxon, and their adventures as they fight predators much bigger than them as well as a mutiny.

The Mouse Guard are the defenders, guards, escorts, scouts and bodyguards of the various mice villages in David Petersen's mice world. They keep the borders of their villages safe and they are considered the very best...assign any of the Mouse Guard a task and it gets completed even if it means their death.

Lieam, Kenzie and Saxon discover a betrayal plot to assassinate their queen, Gwendolyn and decide to investigate. They uncover a militia uprising led by former Guard member Midnight who has stolen the legendary Black Axe, a weapon that was used years ago to slay various predators to protect the mice village.

Lieam finds Celenawe, who was the legendary wielder of the Black Axe all those years ago and they return to their village to rescue Kenzie and Saxon, who had been captured by Midnight, just in time to stop the militia that had broken through the barricades and attacked Gwendolyn's protectors directly.

As can be expected, the assassination is stopped but instead of killing Midnight, Gwendolyn decides to set him free beyond the mice village's safe borders where Midnight can fend for himself against the many dangerous predators beyond the borders. Which leads in nicely to Winter 1152, a whole different series.

The six-issue mini-series reads pretty quickly. Apart from issue 5, there isn't a lot of text with Petersen allowing the images to tell the story. And what beautifully crafted images!

Each single issue has a wraparound cover as can be seen in the pictures below. The hardcover has a nice wraparound cover too. What is really unique about this series is that it isn't regular comic book size. It is closer to the squarish picture book size that you get in children's books...which is pretty appropriate since at times it really reads like a picture book though with more mature content!

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 HC cover

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 #1 cover

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 #2 cover

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 #3 cover

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 #4 cover

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 #5 cover

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 #6 cover

Petersen's story is one for all-ages and it's like you're reading a story that's right out of any fantasy setting; Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, the Chronicles of has pretty similar identifiable themes to all of them! But this is the story of MICE and because they are mice and not men, there are some obvious differences.

From the first issue, Lieam, Kenzie and Saxon have to fight one of the mices' scariest and fiercest predators, a full-sized snake. To us humans, a snake can be pretty scary, but at least it's so much smaller than us. Imagine how huge and terrifying a snake would be from a mouse's perspective! It's kind of morbid seeing Kenzie and Saxon destroying the snake's eggs (and little snakes emanating from them!) when they find them. Lieam kills the snake by himself eventually. We also get to see Sadie, another member of the Mouse Guard, fight against crabs in the second issue.

Terrific art and a terrific read. Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 is highly recommended. Even though it's a bit on the expensive side to purchase, especially since one can finish reading the series so quickly, the beautiful art and expansive story is more than worth it.

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