Good things come to those who wait.
This prequel to the highly successful Mouse Guard series’ Fall 1152 and Winter 1152 finally comes to an end. It’s hard to believe that the first issue of this series was released in December of 2010, but despite the long delays David Petersen gives us nothing but his absolute best. In a market where quantity is constantly preferred by publishers over quality, this issue reminds us that there are some creators who value the craft of comic-making and won’t sacrifice their work on the altar of our consumerism.
Without spoiling anything in this issue, we continue to follow the journey of the former Mouse Guard Celenawe to meet his destiny. Heart-broken after losing his last remaining relative Em, and then his secret love Bronwyn, Celenawe sets his face toward finding the next wielder of the legendary weapon the Black Axe, and what happens may surprise you. Drunken sea-mouse Conrad also appears in this issue, and once again plays a vital role in the legend Petersen is crafting.
Petersen has done a splendid job of taking Celenawe on the classic “hero’s journey,” but adds many twists and turns all along the way. This issue ends very satisfactorily, leading not only into the status quo of the first Mouse Guard books, but also setting up future ones. Somehow, in an Tolkien-esque way, he manages to also elaborate on the clandestine history of the former bearers of the Black Axe weapon and moniker.
Petersen has proven that he is a master of storytelling, not just in his words, but in his immaculate artwork. The level of detail in every panel, paired with Petersen’s exquisite coloring, makes this book an absolute work of art in every sense of the word. It’s as if Petersen has the ability to stretch back into time and pull scrolls of ancient history into the present. Mouse Guard is both timeless and timely in an era where there are few new epic heroes being created.
Archaia books are known for their quality packaging, and whereas I once thought the odd shape of this book would bother me, I have grown to long for all comics to be this creative in how they present their literature. Petersen proves that you can make comics any way you wish. Somehow the shape of this book enhances the ancient feel of it, as if we’ve recovered these issues from an archaeological dig. Because of the quality, these issues sit on my bookshelf right next to my collected editions of the first Mouse Guard books.
Those who have been collecting this series in issues will be quite happy with this issue, but those who are waiting for the collected edition don’t have too long to wait, and will be pleased with the entirety of the story.
We may have to wait another year or so for another Mouse Guard book, but Petersen has shown that every day we wait, we’ll be that much happier with the products of his amazing imagination.
Check out this 5-page preview, thanks to Archaia!
Mouse Guard: The Black Axe #6 will be in stores this Wednesday, February 13!