It has been a while since the last installment of David Petersen’s latest Mouse Guard tale, but issue #2 of The Black Axe reminds us that good things come to those who wait.
Petersen is proving to be a master of epic storytelling. When last we read about legendary guardsmouse Celanawe in this prequel to Petersen’s highly successful Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 and Mouse Guard: Winter 1152, he was on a quest to find the clandestine black axe, forged by one of his ancestors. With his only other existing relative, Em, Celanawe departs for adventure in searching for this secretive weapon.
Without spoiling the particulars of this issue, Em and Celanawe’s quest is widened as they search for a sea captain to take them on their journey. Petersen is slowly crafting an interesting cast of characters who join Celanawe on his search, this time showing us the world of pirate mice. This certainly hearkens to other epic stories that we’re all familiar with, with a secret quest and a scruffy-looking captain creating safe passage, but Petersen stays away from clichéd characterizations here. The new character of Captain Conrad is flawed and unsuspecting, and bears some further speculation as to his intentions.
The action in this issue is light, but rest assured, our favorite talking mice are far from safe as they confront many challenges in their journey, including internal and external forces. Petersen also can’t resist building on the fascinating world he’s already created, casting us deeper and deeper into it. You feel as if you are uncovering an ancient civilization when reading this book.
The most wonderful thing about this issue is the stellar art. Perhaps this is the reason for the delay, but I honestly do not care when work this detailed and beautiful is being produced. Petersen is a master storyteller, not just with his words, but with his style. The amount of research he must do in order to make this book look ancient has to be incredible. From the line work to the colors, from the action scenes to the map making, Mouse Guard: The Black Axe #2 is a treat to the eyes for those people who love epic, fantasy, and historical fiction. While it can’t be said that this book is fantasy or history, it certainly has all the trappings, and will make fans of all genres very happy.
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