Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard by David Petersen

Summary

From the book’s Amazon page:

Inside the June Alley Inn, located in the western mouse city of Barkstone, mice gather to tell tales, each trying to outdo the other. A competition, of sorts, begins. The rules: Every story must contain one truth, one lie and have never been told in that tavern before. With the winner getting his bar tab cleared, fantastic stories are spun throughout the evening. Legends of the Guard is a new Mouse Guard anthology series featuring the work of artists and storytellers handpicked by series creator David Petersen, including Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl), Alex Sheikman (Robotika), Ted Naifeh (Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things), Gene Ha (Top 10), Sean Rubin (Redwall), Guy Davis (B.P.R.D.), Katie Cook (Fraggle Rock), Karl Kerschl (Teen Titans: Year One), Craig Rousseau (Impulse), and Mark Smylie (Artesia).

The Hoot Worthy

The anthology format is a great way to introduce new readers to the series while fans learn more about the world’s mythos and characters from previous volumes. Seamlessly, the anthology incorporated original and adapted legends into the Mouse Guard world. The stories are grand and striking but still feel personal and wholehearted. The storytelling contest serves as a clever way of telling new and fresh stories without feeling disjointed from prior Mouse Guard storylines. Fans of the series will also appreciate the cameo appearances of much-loved characters like Tristram and Sadie. This collection enriches the series’ world without getting bogged down in cumbersome story arc details or repetitive character introductions.

Story contents range from re-imaginings of well-known fables and classic stories to original legends. “Crown of Silver, Crown of Gold” by Mark Smylie tells an original tale in gorgeous style. Rich in color and texture, Smylie paints the tragic and triumphant story of the first guard mouse of Cedarloch and Rosestone.  The opening story, “The Battle of the Hawk’s Mouse and the Fox’s Mouse” by Jeremy Bastian, tells how mousekind first rallied together to defend themselves. The story art resembles medieval woodcut etchings and the sepia monotones are marked with reds to underscore important scenes and characters. The characters of mice legends are motivated by the same feelings of love, jealousy, loss, bravery and humor that drive people today. Contrasting with these new tales, “The Lion and the Mouse” and “The Raven” are adapted and reformatted to fit this compilation. Jason Shawn Alexander’s adaptation of Poe’s most famous story is roughly sketched and darkly colored to convey the character’s (and the teller’s) stark sense of loss and pain. Craig Rousseau’s panels humorously retell the story the unlikely animal pair with bright colors and smart dialogue. In short, the anthology’s art styles are as diverse and resonant as its contents.

In case there was any doubt, the mice featured in this series are utterly delightful and winsome. But a word to the wise: these mice are adorable and unafraid of slaying their enemies and any creature threatening mousekind. The series’ standard art style is endearing but by no means cutesy or cartoony. The mice’s depiction along with the beautiful and period-accurate detail fully creates their world and helps the reader dive right into it. Character descriptions and pictures are included with the anthology as well as an eagle-eye map of the Inn and its contents.

Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

Birds of a Feather

Fans of the series will really enjoy this latest addition to the Mouse Guard mythos. New readers can explore short and fun tales leading them into series’ rich world and characters. Imagine Lord of the Rings aesthetics and action meet adorable mice.

The series is a fabulous way to introduce readers of all ages to comics and graphic novels. Read alikes for this series include the Korgi by Christian Slade, Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires, and the Owly series by Andy Runton.

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