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December 18, 2010

Archaia Reviews: Mouse Guard: The Black Axe #1

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Written by: Jeff
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Mouse Guard: The Black Axe #1
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment
Writer/Artist:  David Petersen
Price: $3.50
Release Date: December 14, 2010

Gather ’round the fire, friends, and hear ye the tale of Celanawe, the brave warrior of the Mouse Guard who became the legendary Black Axe!

Whenever you read an issue of Mouse Guard, you are instantly transported to a medieval locale, huddled around a campfire with scruffy-looking companions, listening to tales of danger and adventure of the most unlikely of warriors…cute, furry mice. But don’t let their cuddly, diminutive exterior fool you. These mice pack some seriously sharp pig-stickers, so you best watch out!

David Petersen launches us on yet another epic tale of the Mouse Guard, only this time, he spins a yarn of Celanawe (pronounce it right…it’s KELL-IN-AWE), the mysterious defender known as the Black Axe in his first prequel/origin story of a Mouse Guard character.

In this issue, Celanawe is his usual mysterious and hardened-warrior self, a decorated member of the Mouse Guard and trainer of new members. However, when a distant relative shows up on Celanawe’s doorstep, his destiny calls and he begins his quest. We’re not quite sure yet in this issue exactly what the quest is, but Petersen teases us with a journey that will shape this character into the hero he becomes in the Mouse Guard series we’ve already read.

Once again, Petersen crafts a tale that is worthy of the term “epic.” Not only does this issue re-introduce the reader to Celanawe as a younger mouse, but Petersen’s use of language, mystery, and adventure shape this book into one of his finest books to date. Reading Mouse Guard is like finding an old, dusty book on the shelf of an ancient library and discovering the most exciting stories are ones that time has forgotten. Petersen somehow taps into the same divine spirit that authors like Tolkien and Lewis once did.

Only, Petersen does it with not just his words, but his gorgeous illustrations. His detail is so precise, his colors so rustic, and his figures are straight from a wildlife magazine. It’s not photo-realistic, rather a classic illustration that you might find in a turn-of-the-century almanac or storybook.

When you throw all these pieces together, you have a quality and original comic book. Mouse Guard enthusiasts will swoon over this book, and those who are new to Petersen’s world will find a perfect place on which to begin the journey. Since this is a prequel, you can easily read this without having to worry about anything that has happened in previous books.

On a personal note, I have a daughter whose name is Bronwyn, whose name is not very common. Yet when I read this issue, and saw that Celanawe’s matriarch has that name, I literally cheered. Like Petersen, I have an affinity for ancient names from the British Isles, and while the name “Celanawe” is a creation of Petersen’s, it sounds like a name I might want to give one of my children.

Pick this book up if you like adventure, epic storytelling, and classic illustration! For more from Archaia, click here.

Jeff Jackson





  1. I really was impressed with this series when I picked up the Vol 1 Hard cover. I’m sure this is more of the same brilliance and great story telling but I’ve decided to get them in the collected volumes just because they look so good.

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  3. trent

    I came here whilst searching for pronunciation of Celanawe. Frankly, I think it’s a stupid name. When reading Mouse Guard to my kids I substitute “Jim” in place of Celanawe. I think if you,re going to make up a name you should tell people how to pronounce it.

    • I think it’s a great name. If you read Winter 1152, someone mispronounces it and is corrected with the right pronunciation.

    • Kel (hard C/K sound like “The Celts”) – an (short vowel A sound) – awe (like “awe isn’t that cute”)

  4. I wish there was an “edit” feature.
    But the official site description says: Khel-En-Awe.
    Hope that helps.

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