The first Mouse Guard series was excellent, so it is nice to see writer/artist David Petersen return with a new mini-series detailing the adventures of the loyal Mouse Guard who protect the Mouse Territories from harm. With this second mini-series, Petersen extends the canvas he is working with a bit, as the stories take on a more expansive tone.
It is a very ambitious undertaking on Petersen’s part, but for the first issue at least, he pulls it off well.
As is par for the course with Mouse Guard, the star of the book is Petersen’s lush detailing of the world these mice live in, depicting what it would be like if mice had to, as in this issue, trek through the snow to visit another city for supplies for the capitol of the Mouse Territories.
Meanwhile, he manages to work in some good character interaction between the various members of the Mouse Guard.
When we get to the other city, Petersen’s depiction of it is breathtaking. I especially enjoy the way that he manages to make each city look distinct upon itself from the other cities we saw in the first series. That is quite impressive, and it shows that each city is a reflection of the mice who create them, as the city they visit in this issue, Sprucetuck, is a city of science.
In the first issue of the first mini-series, there was an amazing sequence involving the Guard and a snake. Petersen includes a parallel encounter with a predator from nature, in this case, an Owl. He depicts it well, as the Owl is a suitably devastating presence, which allows Petersen to get in the feeling that mice must go through, knowing just how fragile their existence on the planet is, as they could be plucked from the Earth and killed at any moment. It’s a particular type of feeling that is hard to express, but I think Petersen does it well.
Back at Lockhaven (the main city, where the Queen lives), we see some more of Lockhaven life, including a cute bit where a beetle acts to the mice as a dog acts to a human. It’s quite cute.
My problems with the comic involve mostly the Lockhaven scenes, as we are introduced to a number of essentially new characters, while at the same time, given a massive info dump to remember, involving where the various members of the Mouse Guard are at the moment. It was pretty clunky exposition, to be honest. Meanwhile, a lot of the captions are shown in this handwriting font that is quite difficult to read – that was also annoying.
The comic ends with a brilliant cliffhanger, which speaks to the fragility of mouse life I mentioned before. It was very well done on Petersen’s part.
The comic also features an excellent pin-up by Geoff Darrow.
All in all, this is another strong opening to one of the most visually stunning comic books being published today.
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