Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Mice Templar, The Prophecy: Review

The Mice Templar: The Prophecy
Michael Avon Oeming
Bryan J.L. Glass

If Mouse Guard is a man with whom you share a deep and fulfilling love than The Mice Templar is the sexy man who you comes and tries to steal you away.

The funny part is that I didn't like this comic book when I originally read the first issue. That's the reason I even compare it to David Peterson's Mouse Guard - because I remember thinking that it just wasn't as good. Honestly it wasn't all that fair of me. Sure, both Mouse Guard and The Mice Templar are part of the same genre. Beyond even the fantasy/talking animal similarities there's also the fact that they focus on heroic weapon-wielding mice. It was a natural impulse for me to hold up one to the standards of the other. Even so I regret having dismissed The Mice Templar so early on.

Lee was nice enough to send the hardcover of the first volume my way (it was in the same box as Persepolis) and I only now got around to reading it. I kept putting it off because I didn't think I'd like it. Still, considering how fast I read if something is sitting around long enough I'll read it eventually and The Mice Templar made my reading list when I decided to see if it would be appropriate reading material for my friend Arielle to read to her kids. It is by the way. Arielle won't be getting this copy though. I'm keeping it for myself (I'll get her a different copy, I'm not greedy... well at least not with books).

I honestly can't recall why I didn't like the first issue of The Mice Templar. If there is one downside to this book though it lies with the inherent chaos of the opening. As much as excitement can be a good way to start a story rolling some of what was happening was hard to follow. I had to go back and reread the beginning once I made it to the end of the book to clarify a few points. Also it is difficult to tell the characters apart. Eventually their clothing becomes more distinct but in the village setting it was very hard to tell which characters were which. The plot seems pretty simplistic and predictable at first which must have factored in to my original assessment of the comic.

These flaws aside the story is actually very rich and incredibly well researched. It's easy to see the amount of work that went into creating this story - there's even a history and mythology added on at the end of the book! Despite the seeming predictability of the plot there are quite a few surprises along the way that change what seemed to be a typical heroic journey. The story draws you in with its nostalgic world (especially for those of us who grew up with The Secret of Nimh) and keeps you turning the pages with a hypnotic mythology that's part imagination and part cultural history.

The art is jarring at first but the further you find yourself in the story the more it works together with the tale being told. The owls are especially gorgeous and the landscapes have qualities that are almost majestic. The mice have odd looking ears though, but I managed to get past that.

While The Mice Templar can never steal away my enduring affection for Mouse Guard I'll certainly continue to admire him from afar. I look forward to reading Destiny (the next volume) when it comes out in a graphic novel format. This was a very good read with unique art and a wonderfully developed history and mythology. I'd recommend it to those of you who enjoy the weapon-wielding mouse genre and to anyone else who wants to read a surprisingly good heroic-adventure story.


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