Mouse Guard #1
Story Title: Belly of the Beast
Reviewer: Paul Sebert
Writer: David Peterson
Art: David Peterson
Publisher: Archaia Studios Press
Set in a world in which intelligent rodents struggle to survive in a world filled with hardships and hungry predators Mouse Guard tells the tale of an elite group of mouse knights who serve not just as soldiers, but as guides for the long journeys between the hidden villages of mice. Mouse Guard is also one of the most impressive independent titles to debut this year and is the first comic from writer/artist David Peterson..
Drawn in an art style comparable to Jeff Smith’s Bone, the first issue of Mouse Guard introduces three lead characters, all members of the titular organization. Liem is one of the newest members of the organization who is confident in his abilities, but still needs to prove himself. Kenzie is a wiser, level-headed veteran of the operation. Saxon meanwhile is a feisty little guy whose solution to most problems can be found on the tip of his tiny little broadsword. Together our three Mousketeers set off on a search for a missing merchant but wind up with a lot more than they bargained for. In their first adventure the heroes must encounter a fearsome predator, however that may be the least of their dangers.
Vibrantly colored and skillfully drawn, the first issue of Mouse Guard is an extremely promising start to what appears to be one of the year’s true sleeper titles. In addition to giving the three leads distinct personalities, excellent body language is used to illustrate the realities of how the diminutive characters must interact with their world. They seem fragile, extremely vulnerable and yet undeniably brave. The reader’s attachment to them is instantaneous and quite deep.
My one reservation about this title, strange as it may sound isn’t with its actual content. It’s with the book’s format. While the book’s at 8 x 8 inches, the book’s square shape won’t quite fit comfortably fit in a poly bag or a longbox. Even if you aren’t a one of the bag & board crowd this could make storing this comic with your other books problematic.
Still Mouse Guard isn’t just one of the best new all ages titles to hit the shelves this year, it is also has the makings of one of the best fantasy titles of the year. The trails the Mouse Guard travel may prove a bit off the beaten path for the traditional comic reader, however this book is well worth going out of your way to read.