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Mouse Guard: Midnight's Dawn
posted December 26, 2006
Archaia Studios Press, standard comic, 24 pages, full color, December 2006, $3.50
Everyone in the world loves stories about tiny creature banding together to defend themselves via a society with codes and histories and social classes; it's one of the great standards of kid's literature. This is a serialized (fifth of six) episode in one such story, where mice are the creatures, the social classes include a warrior group that protects everyone and is at question due to running conflict, and the history involves an axe wielded by a mighty hero. I don't think this is transcendent work, but more the kind of thing a kid reads and then forgets about, where it lives in the recesses of the mind until they encounter the next generation's version.
I like the format a lot here; the book is square like a computer screen -- I can see a lot of comics looking like this one in the future. It's pretty, too. Cartoonist Petersen lets the coloring carry a lot of the story's mood, and his figures and landscapes are children's book-level quality. Where I'm not yet entranced by what Petersen is doing is the story and characterization; I'm not able to tell the characters immediately apart unless they're acting out, and I've yet to see a twist or a variation on the classic set-up that takes me by surprise. One issue to go, though, so there's still hope. And it's not like an unpleasant world to visit; it's just not the most unique.