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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mouse Guard. Fall 1152. David Petersen (Writer & Art).ASP Comics LLC (2007)

A gorgeous heroic fantasy that makes the most of the anthropomorphic cast. Mice live in scattered settlements across the Mouse Territories. The Mouse Guard guide and protect travellers between one settlement and another, fighting predators if required, acting as a network that helps link all the settlements. In the autumn of 1152 a team of Guards find evidence of treachery and head to the settlement of Barkstone to track it further. Another guard, Sadie is sent to find out why there has been no contact from a missing Guard member. Sadie also finds evidence of a traitor and heads back to the Guard headquarters to alert them. The story unfolds in a very entertaining fashion, the action is fast and exciting, the reveals are nicely staged, the threads of the story are neatly woven together and the adventure is brought to a very satisfactory conclusion.
The most striking aspect to this book is the stunning art, in particular the beautiful use of colour. The tones are autumnal, a riot of red, black, gray, orange and brown. The soft tones give a lush depth to the art and a great sense of the season. The cast are superbly drawn, each character is clearly an individual, the different colouring for the fur is used with subtle differences to draw out the personality of the each cast member.
The striking art does not overwhelm the narrative in any way, the story is simple and boldly confident. Heroic fantasy works best with simple structures that allow action to arise naturally and effectively and give a strong central struggle. The cast are developed enough to really engage with the action and be revealed by their actions. The confidence with which David Petersen presents the world in which the story takes place is a joy, the details are precise and telling without being cluttered. This is a superbly conceived and very beautifully executed and produced comic, a treasure.

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