What makes everything better? Peanut butter? A mother’s kiss? Shoulder pads? No. The answer is obviously Batman. If the Mouse Guard are the police, then the Black Axe is the vigilante that lurks in the shadows, striking fear in the hearts of cowardly and superstitious weasels. If you have a problem – If no one else can help – and if you can find him – maybe you can hire the Black Axe. Look for him after the jump.
Previously in Mouse Guard: The Black Axe:
In a medieval world on the scale of mice, the sacred order of knights known as the Mouse Guard protects mouse civilization from the foxes, weasels and voles that would threaten it. They’re like Jedi, or Aragorn’s rangers. These noble mice have a legend of an immortal warrior mouse who wields a black axe and dispenses justice wherever the Mouse Guard cannot reach. In this miniseries, Guard Mouse Celanawe learned that he was the last member of a bloodline with a connection to the mythic Black Axe. Having adventured far and wide, Celanawe has retrieved the legendary axe at great cost but is still looking for answers.
This is the last issue in a six issue miniseries and serves an a dramatic coda to an action-packed story. In fact, after the previous issue, I wasn’t sure what there was left to say but there’s plenty here to wrap up the loose ends. For a final issue, I think that you could pick this up cold and feel like you got a complete story, although it definitely works even better in the context of the other issues.
This story covers what happens now that Celanawe has the axe and returns to civilization. He learns about the history of the Black Axe, its legacy and his inherited role in the in it. Loose ends are tied up while the Mouse Guard universe is expanded upon and given more depth. It’s got secret bloodlines, clandestine societies, and uncovered, forgotten lore.
On the downside (arguably), this is a very talky issue. There’s very little action. Again, this works better in context, since the previous issues are full of battles and nature—red in tooth and claw. In that sense, it serves as a contrast against the action. But if I only read this issue, I’d want to know why he didn’t use the damned axe.
OF MICE AND MEN
Art is subjective, but this is beautiful. The anthropomorphic mice are very mouse-like yet believable with their human behavior. The character designs allow human emotions to show and for readers to differentiate the characters (a particular problem for, but not limited to, animal-comics) but you never lose sight of the fact that these are little rodents. Further, the landscapes and backgrounds are excellent, capturing the medieval feel of the setting and anchoring the fantasy story in some reality. Finally, the art is really great as comic art. Each page masterfully mixes angles, close-ups and wide shots to guide the reader’s focus and tell the story effectively.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Feed your head
I give Mouse Guard: The Black Axe #6 four and a half stars—Restoring my faith in the comic book medium. This shows that comics can be about talking animals without being childish. You should be reading it.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!