REVIEW: Mouse Guard Legends of the Guard Vol. 2 #1

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Mouse Guard is a terrific comic that excels at unique storytelling. Every so often, it’s creator, David Petersen, let’s others play in his sandbox. That’s the premise behind this special four-issue miniseries from Archaia. The first Legends of the Guard was the 2011 Eisner Award winner for best anthology. I expected great things from this first issue as well!

SUMMARY

Pros
Diverse, interesting stories from a variety of creators.
Colorful, fascinating characters in “real” stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Cons

If only all four issues had all come out at the same time! Oh, well, there’s always next month!

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

READER RATING!

[ratings]

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MOUSE GUARD LEGENDS OF THE GUARD VOL. 2 #1
Creator/Framing Sequences: David Petersen
“Autumn Tale:” Art & Story – Stan Sakai
“Leviathan:” Art – Alex Eckman-Lawn, Story – Nick Tapalansky
“A Bone to Pick:” Art & Story – Ben Caldwell
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.50

Previously in MOUSE GUARD LEGENDS OF THE GUARD:  David Petersen opened the Mouse Guard universe to a group of handpicked superstar creators for this anthology filled with adventure, mystery, and whimsy. Inside the June Alley Inn, located in the western mouse city of Barkstone, mice gathered to tell tales, each trying to outdo the other. A competition, of sorts, begins. With the winner getting his or her bar tab cleared, fantastic stories are spun throughout the evening.

MORE “IMAGINARY STORIES” IN A FANCIFUL SETTING

I first discovered Mouse Guard while going through the Diamond Previews book or, as I like to call it, the “phone book.” Yes, it’s that thick. A comic has to really stand out to get my attention, and the first issue of Mouse Guard did just that. Usually comics-related animals are anthropomorphic, or human-like. What Petersen does is make them as close to real-world mice as possible. They appear as if a mouse in our world could really stand on its hind legs, pick up a sword and put on a cape. I ordered that first issue, and have been a huge fan ever since!

It’s rare when a creator actually gives others a chance to tell stories like this, apparently part of “his” universe. I do like that the legends are not necessarily “real” in the Mouse Guard continuity. In fact, they could be made-up stories as far as the mice are concerned. (But hey, aren’t they really all imaginary stories?)

We get to meet mice we may not have seen before, or learn something interesting about ones we have.

In this first issue, we get three new stories from several creators who haven’t dealt with Mouse Guard before. I actually enjoyed them all tremendously, but if I had to put them in order, here’s how I would rank them!

THE TELLING OF THE TALES!

First up is “Leviathan.” It focuses on the idea that perhaps there are more “guards” than the one we’ve met previously. The art has a more painted feel, and the main character in the story, Tiernan – We discover how he went from being called “Tiernan the Brash” to “Tiernan the Brave.” The pacing is quick, the characters fun. And I loved the animals who make up the other “guard!”

Next comes “A Bone to Pick.” This one is more fanciful, and the art reflects that with a more cartoon-like art style. Lily and Pearl are two mice children who discover two larger animals planning on plundering local villages. They take it upon themselves to attempt to discourage the predators, and their plan has wonderful results!

Last (but still a great story) is “Autumn Tale,” which focuses on how the husband of one of the mice was incapacitated by a vixen and just how he survived the attack. It shows just how vulnerable these creatures are, and just how often they must depend on the kindness of others to live to see another day.

BOTTOM LINE: IF YOU DIDN’T GET THIS DURING YOUR WEEKLY TRIP TO THE LOCAL COMICS SHOP, CALL THEM AND SEE IF THEY STILL HAVE ANY! IT’S THAT GOOD!

If you read the previous Legends books or hardcover, you’ll find this issue consistent with that level of excellent storytelling. If you haven’t read them yet, don’t let that hold you back! You’ll pick up all you need to know from the framing sequences. If this is your first time sampling Mouse Guard, I hope you become just as big a fan as I am!

The good news is that this title should be appearing monthly, so be sure to add it to your pull list!

Want to hear more from Mr. Petersen? Listen to the next episode of the Wayne’s Comics podcast in which I interview him regarding this series and other things he’s up to! Don’t miss it!

Rating: ★★★★★