“Deadly times be these when the smallest of the land wages war against the sky.”
So utters the hare, Gylam, bearing a rider of the Mouse Guard upon his back. Searching for their missing comrades — Celanawe and Lieam — during the raging winter and time of strife, the trio of mice come upon the carcass of the owl Lieam leaves. Having slain Celanawe in the previous issue, the owl proves to be overmatched by a possessed Lieam.
It is not until the end of this issue that we learn just why Lieam fought with such fervor and what his greater purpose in this legend truly is. In between, however, Petersen delivers a story of equal enthusiasm and power as the chapters that have come before. The world of “Mouse Guard” continues to grow and with each new building block, Petersen offers that much more to the reader. Here we meet hares, utilized like steeds, but capable of intelligent communication.
Petersen doesn’t stop there. We learn more of the rites and rituals of the mice, from their procedures for commemorating the loss of a fallen comrade to the legend of the Black Axe. There are glimpses of future tales planned and future stories left for the imagination of the reader. Only time will tell which ones Petersen picks up on to carry forward.
Petersen’s art continues to dazzle, packing emotion and story into square pages with elongated panels. His camera movement on the page with three panels during the funeral pyre sequence is pure testimony to how much heart and effort Petersen dedicates to this project. He does an amazing job of visually imagining a complete world, leaving little room for interpretation with any of the eventual media opportunities an intellectual property such as this is certain to attract.
Capped off with a pin-up rendered by Jane Irwin, the twelfth book of the tales of the “Mouse Guard” is sure to leave most readers longingly hoping for more. While it is no secret that Petersen has more planned, I am enthused that he has completed another chapter. These tales have reached a far wider audience than Petersen ever imagined and with tales like this I think they will continue to do so.