Mouse Guard - the Black Axe by David Petersen

From TheBookbag
Jump to navigationJump to search

Mouse Guard - the Black Axe by David Petersen

Buy Mouse Guard - the Black Axe by David Petersen at or

Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A lovely blend of the surprising and the traditional, as a legend is born. This is almost so good you might believe I mean the book's creator, not his hero.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: November 2013
Publisher: Titan Books
ISBN: 9780857681430

Share on: Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn

Long before there can be peace, there is war. Long before there is something to believe in, there is empty hope. Long before the legend, there is the truth. And so, long before the events of the first two collected Mouse Guard volumes came the story in this third, that of how the heroic, mythical character Celanawe became so notorious. Our tale starts with him just a guard mouse and tutor to those who would follow him, but an unlikely connection to an already fabled weapon is about to be shown to him, in the equally unlikely form of a scholarly old female mouse, Em. When she says the ancient legacy is situated far across unmapped seas, an unusual trio of explorers is pushed to the limit and beyond, in search of the unseekable.

After enjoying the riches of the guest-artist feast that was Legends of the Guard I finally find myself in the possession of a full story arc from the creator, and what a joy it is. There really is little held back here, either in production values, storytelling nous or artistic cleverness. The production includes special edition prologues, mock-encyclopaedic background material (as if the world in the story isn't fulfilled enough) and more, all in the chunk of perfectly-presented square hardback format.

Beyond that it's hard to say which you will find more impressive. The story is fine – a perfect blend of the predictable and the surprising, the old and the new. This is a prequel and back-story to the previous long arcs in the franchise, and is at the same time a legend about a legend, the creation of a creation myth if you like. It takes us so comfortably into the world of warrior mice, with their own heritage pushed so successfully to the forefront it only enlightens and enlivens the action and drama that's also here.

Petersen's artwork is also fine. It might look a little 'off' at first glance - prominent black lining and slightly subdued colouring, but he does so much with it – pulls back on the colour for flashbacks, drains even more away for mist… Whether the frame is of an interior shot or the wild outdoors, or even on the stormiest sea, the character of the heroes is evident, and this is evidently never some cod-Disney anthropomorphised creature story.

This series has won awards for collected works already, and I doubt this will be too far from shortlists for such things, either. Petersen won an Eisner for 'Best Publication for Kids', and this is an all-ages book, but it's one of those child-friendly tomes the adult should be perfectly happy to be seen reading in public. The cover looks a little incriminating, to be sure, but the depth and craft evident here is just too much for the naysayers to get a handle on. This is well worth the read.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra is similarly rich and inventive, and equally a pleasure for the young and old.

Please share on: Facebook Facebook, Follow us on Twitter Twitter and Follow us on Instagram Instagram

Buy Mouse Guard - the Black Axe by David Petersen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mouse Guard - the Black Axe by David Petersen at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Mouse Guard - the Black Axe by David Petersen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mouse Guard - the Black Axe by David Petersen at


Like to comment on this review?

Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.