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Mouse Guard: The Black Axe #5 (of 6) Advance Review

By Dan Horn
August 7, 2012 - 16:18

When an enigmatic mouse elder, Em, appeared, claiming to be his only surviving relative, Celanawe was relieved from his duties with the Mouse Guard of the Territories to embark on a journey to find and retrieve the mythic Black Axe of his ancestors. With the salty mariner mouse Conrad, Celanawe and Em have traveled far and fought through many hardships, finally attaining the fabled axe, but their adventure was not without its lofty price, and Celanawe's arduous trek back to the Territories is similarly destined to end with a tragedy, even as he questions the purpose of his and Em's quest.

Mouse Guard: The Black Axe is an elegantly written and sumptuously illustrated anthropomorphic legend. Writer and artist David Petersen adeptly marries a dense lore, akin to that found in Brian Jacques' furry fantasy novels, with a strikingly textured and unique visual style. Archaia's Mouse Guard has alway been one of the more beautifully rendered books on the shelves, but The Black Axe series really ups the aesthetic ante. Issue five in particular displays some incredibly powerful imagery coupled with a naturalistic and utilitarian bent.

While Mouse Guard: The Black Axe is certainly a fun read, it's not all lighthearted. There's quite a bit of humanity in Petersen's mice, and you'll find this book tugging at your heartstrings. Petersen's narrative, while exploring the themes of friendship, family, and duty, has a surprisingly mature voice that rings at times cynical. In this way, Mouse Guard: The Black Axe is a fully realized epic; layered and profound; intensely personal. It's a book that provides a compelling and dimensional experience for readers of all ages, and it's an excellent companion piece to Petersen's other Mouse Guard volumes.

Click here for an Archaia preview of Mouse Guard: The Black Axe #5

Rating: 9 /10

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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