For small creatures, mice sure have some big problems, especially in the world of “The Mice Templar” by writers Bryan J.L. Glass (“Thor: First Thunder”) and Michael Avon Oeming (“Powers”) with art by Victor Santos (“Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters”). Glass and Oeming first launched the tales of Karic, the book’s star, back in 2007 with the first six-issue “Mice Templar” miniseries from Image Comics, which Oeming also drew. Since then, Santos joined the art team and helped create two more volumes, with the fourth and final volume debuting in April.
“The Mice Templar” chronicles the adventures of Karic, a young mouse who was visited by gods and told he had a much larger destiny than previously expected. There’s a prophecy around him that says he might be the reincarnation of Kuhl-En, the creator of the Templars, a protective group that fell apart well before the beginning of the tale leaving room for the rise of evil King Icarus.
“The Mice Templar Volume IV: Legend” is intended to conclude Karic’s tale. While the first three volumes clocked in at 6, 9 and 8 issues respectively, “Legend” tops them all with a whopping 16. CBR News spoke with Glass and Oeming about Karic’s place in the world, living up to his destiny and bringing the series to a close.
CBR News: This much larger volume of “Mice Templar” leads up to the finale of Karic’s story — what has the experience been working toward that end?
Bryan J.L. Glass: Mike first asked me to come aboard “Mice Templar” back in March 2003 — so we’re coming up on ten years since I first started developing the world and plotline we’re currently drawing to a close. Conveying what that truly means for me is somewhat difficult.
This journey has been in print for over five years! “Volume IV: Legend” is the finale of our hero Karic’s story which began in “The Prophecy,” then continued through “Destiny” and “A Midwinter Night’s Dream.” That represents a lot of issues so preparing for the end has been a mixed bag of emotions, from satisfaction to relief that the tale will soon be told, yet tinged by melancholy that it will soon all be over.
Michael Avon Oeming: I’m excited at the idea of exploring more of the Mice Templar world. We’ve set up so many characters, backgrounds, and an environment that is rich for stories. When the final issue is finished, I want to sit back over a day, reading the whole thing and see what comes to mind. I’ll talk with Bryan and Victor and see what we can come up with. I’m sure both of them have already had lots of ideas come up along the way.
How would you describe “The Mice Templar” to someone who hasn’t picked up one of the books before but is considering “Legend?” Would you say it’s best to go back and read from the beginning?
Glass: “Mice Templar” packs all the spectacle and intrigue of “Game of Thrones,” yet at mouse scale! It’s an epic of heroic action, fallen heroes, ancient evil — of betrayal and redemption, sacrifice and murder — it even has its fair share of love stories between the bloodletting and beheadings!
It has been important to me that each new arc, while representing the next stage in our hero’s journey, also serves as a satisfactory jumping on point for new readers. Obviously, if you’re trying out “Volume IV,” you already know by the cover that you’re entering a tale that has already begun, thus it’s our job to make sure such entry is smooth and welcoming to those new to saga!
Oeming: I think the depth of story and characters that Bryan weaved from my outlines are best appreciated from the beginning. The character arcs for Karic, Leito and Cassius are pretty broad and deep.
Where does this new volume find Karic? It sounds like his status in the mouse community isn’t as secure as he’d probably like.
Glass: On his own, Karic’s heroic deeds have effected those he’s directly engaged for the good, yet he’s been unable to control his own growing legend. Karic is now a figurehead of two movements in opposition: each claiming Karic as their own, or seeking to destroy him if he’s proven to be against them. Karic has been unsure of his path, his destiny, from the very beginning — and yet two supernatural forces appear to benefit from each decision he makes. If Karic cannot embrace either side must he become more than than his own “legend?”
The first issue is titled “A Dangerous Faith,” so how does faith play into the issue and the series as a whole?
Oeming: For me, it goes back to my mythological studies, where faith isn’t an abstract philosophical point of view, it’s the established reality in this world. I’ve been pretty influenced by the works of Joseph Campbell where you can find that faith is intertwined with the very act of breathing in mythology. Faith isn’t always a good thing because it can be misplaced in the wrong hands and can be just as destructive as it can be beautiful and compelling. I like that we get to see both sides of that coin in “Mice Templar.”
Glass: Mike and I have always been pleased and proud that “Mice Templar” portrays a balanced approach: there are heroes and villains of all faiths, creeds and of otherwise conflicting ideologies. We’ve portrayed a world view that suggests what you believe is less about good and evil than in how you apply it. Great horror is often perpetrated in the name of something good — not only by religion but by what a majority or powerful minority believe is in the common good of a people. While conversely, something considered evil can be a source of profound liberation. One culture’s taboo is another’s sacred right, and so forth.
Faith, opposition to faith, conflicting creeds all lead to conflict. But what matters most in “The Mice Templar” is what each individual does with what they believe. Any faith — be it in a deity or political ideology — will always be considered “dangerous” by anybody who sees one’s personal conviction as a threat to their own.
What kind of enemies and allies — new and old — will Karic and company be dealing with in this new installment?
Oeming: I like to think of the world as an enemy for Karic. The “Mice Templar” world wasn’t made with the idea of safety in mind for mice, it is something they are in constant battle and balance with.
Glass: “Legend” will introduce Karic to the Pantheon of gods, beings formed by the collective dreams of a species whose individual members have not yet achieved sentience; like the Fish gods, born from the dreams of all fish, and yet they determine the behavioral traits of the entire species. Cats will also play a crucial role in the fourth arc, as well as bats will finally reveal their place in the machinations of the tale. And did I mention the wolves? You’ll have to pick up the new issue #1 to see what manner of threat wolves pose to our diminutive cast!
Each chapter seems to represent a different stage in Karic’s development as a hero. What would you say are the important challenges for him this time around?
Glass: How does he handle his own notoriety, his own fame. Karic’s “Legend” is now something larger than himself. He now represents an ideal that is not necessarily who he is or what he would endorse. Great evil can now be done “in Karic’s name.” Is he responsible for it? Can he oppose it? Can he change it? How does he deal with good mice who view him as evil?
I said it earlier, above, but if Karic cannot control his legend, must he become something more?
You guys both write “Mice Templar,” what’s that working relationship like? Do you jam out on the story details and then take separate passes?
Oeming: We worked pretty tightly together early on, mostly with expanding the original 6-issue outline I had written back in the ’90s. But over the years Bryan has become the keeper of the keys; he knows every corner, nook and branch of the story. Now, like Bendis and me on “Powers,” Glass and I will talk about story in broad terms, while he and Victor execute the specific details.
Glass: We used about half of Mike’s original 6-issue plot for the first volume: “The Prophecy,” and transformed the rest into the backstory of the Templar’s legendary founder Kuhl-En.
Since “Volume 2: Destiny” and onward, we’ve been playing in the sandcastles I made after Mike let me play in his original sandbox. “Volume 3: A Midwinter Night’s Dream” is something I wanted to do from the very beginning, but Mike was cautious about expanding the story too much; he was firmly fixed on the idea of a three-act structure for the volumes. But with the addition of Victor Santos on pencils, seven Harvey Award nominations and two wins, I felt confident to tell the tale as I first wanted to back in 2007!
How we work now is from an outline Mike and I agreed to back in 2006, with him allowing me all the wiggle room I need to flesh out the characters and further support the primary plot, while he gives each script I write a review and tosses occasional notes my way. I’m just honored that he entrusted me with his baby! And the end is going to be awesome!
“The Mice Templar Volume IV: The Legend” #1 from writers Bryan J.L. Glass and Michael Avon Oeming and artist Victor Santos debuts April 3 from Image Comics.