I love David Petersen’s Mouse Guard series, and some of my favorite stories are the ones that have been released as part of the Archaia Free Comic Book Day anthologies, which have always disappeared quickly from the shelves. These stories have been collected in a lovely edition, with a couple of new ones added to the mix.
For folks who haven’t yet treated themselves to this series, the story focuses on talking mice set in a medieval period, with a Mouse nation trying to survive the various dangers of the period, as well as hunters and other natural dangers that crop up. Protecting this civilization is the Mouse Guard, a Knights-of-the-Round-Table-style group that protects the Realm and the mice within it.
Each tale is lovingly told, each one highlighting a moral at its heart and striving to find a just way to approach and engage the world. The companionship and simple heroism of putting yourself last is a common theme, and all pitched toward the celebration of the greater good when all mice work together for everyone. Set away from the main timelines of the Mouse Guard series, these tales are told in ways that provide more detail into the lives of the heroes and villains we’ve come to know. Seeing heroes being inspired by older tales of heroism gives you a depth and fullness to the characters that have already been established.
The collected tales of strong morality and daring do are coupled with the phenomenal artwork that Petersen lovingly crafts on each page. Painting a romantically detailed world, you’re instantly transported to a world of yore, where you can almost smell the pine and oak in the close, homey rooms and the grain and wheat in the wide world. Some tales are presented in the style of the period he has set his series in, and they might have been lifted from the illuminated texts of the pre-Guttenburg world.
Fans of Mouse Guard will love to have these stories all together, and the new tales add all the more with wonder and joy. For newcomers, these stories highlight the wonder and charm of the Mouse Guard series and are a great introduction to the excellent storytelling paired with phenomenal artwork that Petersen puts together. I would recommend this to anyone who loves the tales of heroism and stalwart morals from their youth, and any who want to share them with their young ones now.