Mice Templar #5 Review

I’ve been following this series since it began. It doesn’t have the traits of my usual picks, ie, no spandex, or space ships, or surprising resurrections. It doesn’t even have any secret identities! But what Mice Templar does offer is great story telling, and that’s enough to make it stand out from the superheroes crowding the racks.

Writer Bryan J.L Glass (Magician: Apprentice) and artist Mike Avon Oeming (Powers) are crafting this series in to the next great epic in sequential art. I’d compare it to Lord of the Rings since it deals with a dirty fantasy world rich in textured history, but it can also win favour with the Narnia crowd in the way it wraps deceptively cute anthropomorphic adventures in a cloak of adult themes. It would undoubtedly be a more engrossing experience reading the complete series, once finished, in collected form, but thankfully each issue has a handy reminder of what’s come before to refresh the memory. Since this is a bi-monthly series, this addition is particularly welcome and the casual reader should find enough with any issue to be hooked immediately, and the handy MT web-site will also fill you in on all you need to know.

The story told thus far concerns Karic, a young mouse who is rising up to become the next Templar, a long lost group of holy warriors who destroyed themselves long ago. After Karic’s village was raided and his family lost, he managed to rescue and befriend that old fantasy favourite-the mentor, and his rise to glory and greatness continues unabated. Actually, that’s not entirely true, which is what makes this series so exciting. There is always a sense of dread when reading Mice Templar, as betrayals and deaths and bloody battles drag the story to it’s unknown conclusion. Rats and owls and bats all seem horrendously fierce in a world where your best weapon is a lack of trust and a quick pair of legs. Karic’s earnest desire to fulfill the Fish Gods prophecy for him leads him to meet other Templars, such as Pilot (whom he rescues) and the bitter Cassius. Each issue ends on a cliff hanger as every rousing tale should and this one is no different, in which Karic must question his motivations thus far. Is his hope and admiration for the Templars a deserved one, or is he just way too naive and in over his head?

With rats tormenting Karic’s captive family, together with danger and disappointment wherever he turns it appears Karic has a hard road ahead, but it’s certainly a joy to watch him walk it. Like the young legend-in-training, we too never know what’s around the corner.
It’s also a joy to look at, as these preview pages attest. Oeming’s artwork never fails to delight and here resembles Mike (Hellboy) Mignola in his use of hard edges and prominent use of shadows, but with a more versatile approach to bold layouts. His eye for page design is frequently inventive and matches the varying pace of the story’s rhythm. Wil Quintana’s colours can not be ignored either. From sunlight pouring in to caves, to moonlit battles and cities illuminated by torches, it’s a luscious book to behold. Thanks to these two artists every page looks vibrantly different and demands more than just a cursory look. Really, this is what good, or rather, great comics are all about – engrossing characters risking it all who take readers with them on a dangerous journey. I’m not exactly sure where the road will end, but, like driving in the dark with a mumbling hitchhiker, it’s scary and uncertain but definitely entertaining.

More of Tori & More from Image

My third Tori Amos post! I promise no more after this. Probably. Here’s the CSN Comic Book Tattoo I mentioned yesterday for your reading pleasure. It’s a lengthy interview and a big file (6mb). It is hastily scanned and I’ve tried my darndest to flip the pages, but to paraphrase Homer, if something is hard work, it’s not worth doing!

Enjoy, and also for those of you that don’t like reading, there’s also some pictures from Comic Book Tattoo publisher, Image Comics, such as Perhapanauts #3 and the latest issue of the always fun to read Mice Templar (a review of which will be coming soon). There’s also looks at Frank Frazetta’s Swamp Demon, Joe Casey’s Charlatan Ball and Screamland.