David Petersen’s “Mouse Guard” is the kind of series that’s managed to grab the attention of comic creators and fans with equal tenacity, so it’s no small surprise that creators jumped at the chance to tell their own stories about the mice warriors of Petersen’s world. Each issue of “Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard” is framed with pages of the guardsmice at a tavern telling stories to one another (courtesy Petersen), with the meat of the issue being the different tales told.
I wasn’t familiar with Alex Kain and Sean Rubin, but it’s their story that stood out the most for me in this issue. I think Kain absolutely understood all of the charms of “Mouse Guard” when writing his story; it showcases the valor of a member of the guard in fighting an animal much larger than a mouse, but also takes the time to explain the ideals and values of the guardsmice in general. Rubin’s art is beautiful; it’s highly textured, and the wave and curl of the bear’s fur looks fantastic. As we see a mouse successfully take out a bear, there’s excitement and adventure, and I was actually a little sad once it was over.
The other two contributions are good in their own right, too. Terry Moore’s story of a pair of mice evading a flock of shrikes with the unwilling help of a toad is short and to the point, a little too short in some respects. Even a third page would’ve been welcome, but it’s still enjoyable, and in many ways Moore is artistically the closest to Petersen’s own visual portrayal of “Mouse Guard.” Lowell Francis and Gene Ha close out the issue; and while the coloring in their story seems a little too glossy, it’s otherwise a good story. They take the tactic of focusing on a non-guardsman mouse, but based on the banker mouse’s courage and cunning he’s a guardsmouse in spirit if not profession.
Waiting for the new “Mouse Guard” mini-series is much easier with this to fill the gap; it might not be as jaw-droppingly wonderful as Petersen’s own work, but he and Archaia have lined up a strong enough group of creators that it’s a nice interlude. And if you’ve never read “Mouse Guard” before, “Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard” is a good enough way to sample it for yourself.