A few years ago I wandered into the comic book shop in my town. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, it was just a nice day and I wanted to go for a stroll. It had been around a decade since I had last read any comics or graphic novels, and truth be told, I wasn’t really interested in getting back into it mainly due to time constraints. I grew up reading Marvel’s more popular titles but the Marvel universe had grown too expansive and too saturated in everyday life and frankly, it made me lose interest in super heroes altogether. While I was making my rounds in the store, I caught something out of the corner of my eye on a shelf. I hadn’t picked anything up to actually look at, but this piqued my interest enough to change that. At 8″ tall, it was shorter than most graphic novels and this may have been what made them stand out initially. These books were part of the Mouse Guard series.
The Mouse Guard are the protectors of the rodent world.
The main story line is written and drawn by David Petersen with the first few books making up seasons in a timeline: Fall 1152, Winter 1152, and Spring 1153 along with a few prequel stories. These books recount the tales a group of anthropomorphic mice, dedicated to providing security for other mice that travel between villages and protecting those villages from predators. After flipping through a few pages of one of the books, I was immediately reminded of Strider (Aragon) from The Lord of the Rings, just as a mouse. I immediately decided that these were books I wanted to read, so I picked up a copy of each that were in stock and purchased them. The story is gripping and conveys how dedicated these mice are to their duties. The mice battle weasels, foxes and owls. They ride rabbits and endure harsh elements all in the name of duty. I was hooked right away and returned a few days later to purchase the rest of the books that were in the shop. I had also picked up a book called Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard.
The Legends of the Guard are a fun collection of tales from several authors writing about the Mouse Guard world.
The Legends of the Guard books are not part of the main story line and are not drawn by Gary Petersen. These stories are written and drawn by other comic artists that were infatuated with the series as well. These books take place in a tavern, where several mice have run up large tabs that they need to pay. The proprietor of tavern agrees to waive the balance due for one mouse based on a story that they tell. The innkeeper also states that the stories can’t be completely true or completely false. After all the stories are told, the innkeeper picks the one she likes the best. The parts that take place in the inn are written and drawn by Petersen, so they have the appearance of the rest of the Mouse Guard world. Since each of the shorter stories are being told by other mice (authors), they are drawn differently than what Petersen does. These changes add a uniqueness to each tale that helps contribute to the overall charm of the Legends books. There are three volumes of the Legends all featuring different artists.
Both the main story line and the Legends books are well worth the read. If you are a fan of graphic novels and looking for a change of pace from super heroes, these are a good choice. This is a fantasy series I would like to see in more mediums and I think the world would be perfect for a movie or a video game. If you get the chance, give any of the books a shot, you won’t be disappointed.