In years past, there has been a tradition during the holidays, where sitcoms and variety shows would curl up next to the audience on a couch and then sift through all the memories of the past year in a series of excerpts and out-takes. If viewers were lucky, they would ask on a few more guest stars and add a sparkling tree. This is what Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard reminds me of, an easy to digest holiday special with a fancy tree.
This is not meant as an insult. The primary narrative has taken a break with this book to allow some of the additional stories that follow the band of adorable yet tough mice on their epic adventures. June, the local barmaid, creates the context for the connecting narrative framework of the book. She sets forth a contest to allow the mouse with the best story to pay off their outstanding bar tab of at the local pub. Thus the mice weave yarns of tales told and true. Each story is told by a different mouse and has a different author and illustrator that bring their own flare to the rodent stories. Initially developed by Mouse Guard’s primary author Dave Peterson as a way to allow some of what he felt were exceptional Mouse Guard stories to exist in print without breaking the cohesive arc that he is creating, Legends of the Guard is an anthology of tales from the mythology of the mouse society.
Like all anthologies, some stories are more interesting than others, and which stories are most pleasing are will depend on the individual reader. Jeremy Bastian’s The Battle if the Hawk’s Mouse and The Fox Mouse feels very much in line with the pacing and the visual layout that Peterson has created within his other Mouse Guard books. Others are more daring in their approach. Karl Kerschl creates a simple and elegant tale with no dialog, and if the mice aren’t already cute enough, Katie Cook ups the cute level by 1000% with illustrations for the story A Mouse named Fox. There are thirteen stories in all, each very enjoyable.
It is a quick evenings read, or perhaps a multi-evening adventure if reading along with a younger audience. There are even additional drawings and materials by Peterson and the additional contributors for the uber fan. And in the same fashion of wanting more after seeing the funniest bits during a holiday variety hour, Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard really just wets the appetite for more from the original arc of the Mouse Guard series. Lets hope the next Mouse Guard book winds up under everyone’s tree this year.
Mouse Guard: Legend of the Guard
Authors: Dave Peterson, and Jeremy Bastian, Ted Naifeh, Alex Sheikman, Sean Rubin, Alex Kain, Terry Moore, Gene Ha, Lowell Francis, Katie Cook, Guy Davis, Nate Pride, Jason Shawn Alexander, Karl Kerschl, Craig Rousseau, and Mark Smylie