Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #3 (Archaia Studios Press)

mousguard-header.jpgDavid Petersen’s hit fantasy series continues, with the book’s rodent heroes separated and lost on their quest to bring medicine to a fallen comrade.

 

 

24 pgs; full color, $3.50

(W / A: David Petersen)

 

Anthropomorphic mice may seem like an old hat trick for a comic series, but David Petersen scores with his series Mouse Guard. The series mainly follows the voyages of four Guardmice: Lieam (the novice), Kenzie (the young leader), Saxon (the firebrand) and Sadie (the calm one). Joined by the mysterious old warrior Celanawe, also called "the Black Axe," they seek provisions for their home of Lockhaven. Winter is thick, and reserves are low for the Guard thanks to the nefarious actions of a malcontent, highlighted in Petersen’s debut volume Mouse Guard, Fall: 1152.

The cover to Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #3 by David Petersen. Click for a larger image.In this issue, the Lockhaven matriarch Gwendolyn puts the citadel on lockdown, trying to flush out a traitor who has poisoned its shield-bearer. The desperately-needed antidote, however, is caught out in a ferocious ice storm. Celanawe and Lieam have gotten separated from the others and are near freezing, so they hunker down in the snow for a rest. Meanwhile, the other mice are lost in the abandoned weasel kingdom of Darkheather, where they accidentally confront the legions of bats who have taken over. Kenzie and Sadie’s attempt to pacify the rankled bats is thrown out the proverbial window when Saxon insults them, spurring the winged denizens to attack. Back above ground in the snow burrow, a medicine bottle from the mouse city Sprucetuck shatters in the cold, leaving a precious single flask left for the sick shield-bearer. Celanawe and Lieam having more pressing concerns however, as a one-eyed owl lurks above their snowy den, waiting…

Petersen’s masterful storytelling and rich illustrations continue to enchant new and old readers of Mouse Guard. In a sort of Lord of the Rings-meets-NIMH setting, you really get caught up in the affairs of these mice. The settings of Lockhaven and beyond are meticulously researched and lavishly drawn, and Petersen attends to every detail, from the fabulous Moroccan-inspired weasel architecture to the use of acorns as snowshoes. The enormity of the world compared to the mice is evident, but perhaps one of the most endearing features of this comic is their resolve to go forward and face the danger. The slogan of the Mouse Guard is, after all, "It matters not what you fight, but what you fight for."

If you haven’t picked up the Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 complete collection the significance of all the relationships and certain characters might be a little unclear, and I would definitely recommend starting Winter 1152 from the beginning. As a series, Mouse Guard is great for all ages, except perhaps the very young comic reader. Petersen’s storytelling is gentle yet engaging, and his artwork detailed but not overtly graphic during battle scenes. Grab Fall 1152, and then dive into Winter. Don’t forget to watch out for weasel holes. | Elizabeth Schweitzer

Learn more about Mouse Guard at Dave Petersen’s official site!

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