Mouse Guard: The Black Axe #1


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Mouse Guard: The Black Axe #1


  • Words: David Petersen
  • Art: David Petersen
  • Colors: David Petersen
  • Publisher: Archaia Comics
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Dec 15, 2010

Whenever I read the original stories of David Petersen’s Mouse Guard, I’m touched by magic. Heroes come alive, journeys are undertaken, and battles are fought. What a privilege that these stories are intended for an audience of all ages. Everyone is invited to travel with the Guard on their missions—young and old alike.

Of all the characters in Mouse Guard, I’ve always been especially fond of Celanawe, the wise warrior and wielder of the legendary Black Axe, a deadly artifact steeped in legend. It was an tool of great importance in the first volume of the series, Fall 1152. The traitorous mouse, Midnight, stole the weapon from Celanawe and used it to inspire an army against the stronghold of Lockhaven.

But the aging champion was reunited with the axe and carried it with him like a symbol of courage as he led a party of the Guard’s finest through the harsh blizzards of Winter 1152. With the axe held high, a gray cowl covering his oval ears, and a long-stemmed pipe perched in his mouth, I couldn’t help but imagine Gandalf the Grey leading the protectors of the One Ring in The Fellowship of the Ring.

My fondness for the character is rewarded in Petersen’s latest miniseries—Mouse Guard: The Black Axe. Here Celanawe isn’t so old and has yet to lay his hands on the Black Axe for the first time. But his spirit is still the same—old or not, legendary or not. Oh, he’s certainly decorated for his past service in the Mouse Guard and protection of the Mouse Territories. But he doesn’t lead a gloating life of celebration. Instead, he lives as a recluse along the shore.

But his service is needed once more, and a consular named Em is dispatched by the mouse queen to summon the knight back into service. Danger, however, is always near to Celanawe, and the two mice are attacked by tribal badgers with unclear intentions.

Recall for a moment the scene from The Empire Strikes Back when Luke Skywalker encounters Yoda for the first time. The small, green creature is mysterious about his identity, and when Luke declares proudly that he’s in search of a Jedi master, Yoda jests: “Oh, Jedi master? Yoda, you seek Yoda!”

A scene very similar to this happens in the first issue of The Black Axe, where Celanawe attempts to hide his identity through subtle trickery. But Em, unlike Luke, is wiser and keener about the nature of humble heroes.

In epic stories, we always see the journey of young heroes learning to master their quests and lives. It’s rare we’re given a glimpse into the making of a true mentor. But that’s exactly what Petersen is doing here, and I can’t think of anyone more suited for the task. Based on this initial issue, The Black Axe is well on its way to being another beautiful addition to the Mouse Guard library.

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