Let me tell you it’s been a long time since I’ve read The Mice Templar. I actually remember checking out the book shortly after Mouse Guard made its debut. I have no idea which came first, the chicken or the egg and so I’m not going to argue and debate that. Frankly both series couldn’t be more different from each other and both are enjoyable for completely different reasons. In a rare move I’m actually going to review five issues at once. Partially because I’m very behind on the series and mostly because they all warrant the same score and I doubt I would have much in the way of differences to state between them.
In issue nine kicks off the Legend Part II storyline in which the Legend of Karic takes on a life of its own. In fact we don’t even see Karic until the last page which I thought was very appropriate of the story. Instead we see how his legend is affecting the people and it’s causing a lot of uprising against the new king Icarus, traitor to the Templars. The group we follow the most ends up consulting with the bats and discovering that they hate the mice and have basically been plotting against them. We also learn that Karic may have unleashed doom upon them all.
With issue ten we start with Karic and Cassius as he wakes him up from another of his night terrors. We then jump to a battle between rats and mice. A few Templars meet up with an old white mouse and another strong soldier. Here they learn about Karic and hear more about his Legend. What’s interesting is that one of them as the Mark of Kuhl-en which should mean that he’s the leader of the Templar. His companion performs some dark magic and shows that he can’t really be trusted. What he sees is again a sign that Karic has brought about doom to everyone.
The next issue is very important and what I would call the peak of the mountain for the storyline. Here all the Templars and their trainees meet by the trees that Icarus has scorched. There’s a division among their ranks though as just a few years ago they were battling each other, unbeknownst that Icarus had plans to betray them all. Now they’re divided by ex-Icarus supporters and not. Karic makes his appearance and ends up uniting them just in time for a massive battle against the Rat army approaching them.
Issue twelve is an incredible issue as it consists of only splash pages and depicts the entire battle between the mice and the rats. It’s an incredible presentation and still manages to move the plot along and follow the characters throughout the battle.
With the latest issue we see another side of the battle that for story reasons wasn’t shown in the last issue. It was an interesting start and continues the conversation of the class allegory that the series has always dealt with. We still deal with the legend of Karic as the city of the mice begins an uprising. The youth, inspired by Karic begin mounting their attack. It’s a solid follow up to the previous issues epic battle. We also see what’s been haunting Karic’s dreams and what others have been hinting out though the Mole Trolls give it away in issue eleven if you’re paying attention to it.
Overall writer Bryan J.L. Glass has done a wonderful job with the story. You really get the strong impression of what a legend can do, but what’s brilliant about the story is the way the wiser mice address the legend. They know that it can do as much harm as it can help and they address that as best they can. It’s interesting for sure. The dialogue is very good and gives the story a quick pace. A lot of the talking happens during battles so it’s never dull to look at.
Victor Santos kills it on art. Really you’d never know that Michael Avon Oeming, the co-creator of the series, wasn’t still doing the art. Santos keeps the distinct look and style of the series which is definitely important, but if you pat attention you’ll see his unique style come through in the angles that he chooses.
He’s particularly brilliant during the epic battle as he makes the entire issue look like one epic scrolling scene. He spices it up by adding depth to the pages with flying objects closer to the reader and then occasionally when bigger creatures show up. No spoilers here on which ones, but it’s stunning and makes the entire issue incredible. Then he follows it up with a battle in the thirteenth issue that was completely different and relied on strategy. It looked very different and while it wasn’t as big and glorious it still felt just as important to the story.
Just catching up on one issue of this series reminded me why I used to follow it. While I was a little lost at first I really didn’t feel that far behind and with Glass’ story angle of the legend of Karic he’s able to recap a lot of the previous volumes and issues making it very friendly to a lapsed reader like myself, but it would also be easy for a new reader to jump on.
I’m very curious to see where the series is going and I think if you like battles and forest creatures fighting them, then you’ll enjoy this series and this arc of The Mice Templar.
Score: 5/5 (all issues)
Writer: Bryan J.L. Glass Artist: Victor Santos Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 each Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital