Overview

Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard #3

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Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard #3

Credits

  • Words: Katie Cook, Guy Davis, Nate Pride, Jason Shawn Alexander, David Petersen
  • Art: Katie Cook, Guy Davis, Nate Pride, Jason Shawn Alexander, David Petersen
  • Colors: Katie Cook, Guy Davis, Nate Pride, Travis Ingram, David Petersen
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Sep 1, 2010

If I were helping June decide the winner of her tab-clearing contest at the June Alley Inn, I’d tell her it’s safe to rule out most of the tales told during this particular round. None of the stories are bad, and some are even quite good—but they don’t have the liftoff or follow-through that made the first two issues of the Legends of the Guard miniseries so special.

The first story in the third issue is “A Mouse Named Fox,” in which we meet a childless fox couple desperate to become parents. They find a stray mouse, and though it’s considered a potential meal, the foxes open their hearts to the tiny creature and raise it as their own. Fox the mouse learns the cunning of his sly parents, and eventually uses his knowledge and skills to save some mice in need when all hope appears to be lost. This story, written and illustrated by Katie Cook, is a charming anecdote, light on its feet, but it lacks the courageous heart that I’ve come to love so much from Petersen’s Mouse Guard mythos. Yes, it is good, but it’s more reminiscent of a brief Disney film than anything else.

“The Critic,” written and illustrated by Guy Davis, is told without words. It completely depends on the linear illustrations of Davis to recount a mouse tactician who sends a warrior of the Guard on a dangerous journey to slay a champion beast. Unfortunately, nothing works out as it should. This is a crafty story, but it’s too brief and too simple to be worthy of June’s prize.

“The Battle of Nettledown” is one of the best in this issue, written and illustrated by Nate Pride, as it captures the spirit of a tall tale. It’s a brief story, recalling the feats of Doren the mouse, who saves the village of Nettledown from a raging flood by very unlikely means. The narrative is written as a poem, complete with lyrics and stanzas, and the illustrations complement the tale’s consistency from panel to panel with perfection.

The fourth and final story told in this issue is “The Raven,” adapted from the timeless poem by Edgar Allen Poe—and my favorite. The story doesn’t need to be explained, as it faithfully follows Poe’s origin material to the best of my memory, but the dimension that artist Jason Shawn Alexander adds to this classic is really breathtaking. I can’t quite place my finger on what the art reminds me of, but I can’t get the idea out of my head of it being a fusion between the work of Alex Maleev and Mike Mignola. Equally impressive are the colors of Travis Ingram: the key word here is “deep.” His colors are heavy, dark, and so very deep: it’s easy to become lost in them.

It’s harsh to say that these stories can be ruled out from June’s contest: they’re all perfectly good, but they don’t hold up to what’s come before them. But I’m sure they’ll look wonderful among all of the other stories when all four issues are collected into a trade volume.

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