Things look bleak as relationships between the Templar are strained to the breaking point. Meanwhile, we see the Master Druid quickly getting accustomed to his newly acquired power. I don’t know how we’ll get a happy ending out of this, folks.
First, my complaint: Since Oeming is neither writing or drawing in this issue (he doesn’t even get a “plotted by” credit), why is his name on the cover? It’s a minor nitpick that in no way impacts the story, but still, I can’t help but wonder.
Now, to the actual issue. Glass’s writing style, at least to me, is very evocative of Tolkien. There’s a hopelessness to the world these characters live in, and at times it seems like they keep fighting more to spite the seemingly inevitable than for any other reason. Yet, despite such miniscule hope for this cast, against a very creepy (if somewhat generic) villain. The heroes of this book are actually quite inspiring in their perseverance.
Going back to the villain of the piece, though, I found that not only was he a generic archetype, but he didn’t even stand out as the leader visually, either. In a splash page beautifully rendered by Santos, wherein we see all of the main baddies on display, I would not have guessed the Master Druid was the leader there. Especially with his fellow druids dressed in the same outfit, our villain lacks a distinct appearance or voice, and it hurts his credibility as the usurper. The writing overall in this issue is incredibly strong, it would just be nice to have a villain that was more pronounced.
Shifting over to the art side of things, Victor Santos is drawing the most expressive, dynamic rodents in any comic being produced right now, and I say that with a great deal of confidence. His style, both cartoonish and gritty reminds me of Darwyn Cooke, especially in his rendering of landscapes and, oddly enough, dead things (look at the giant skeleton on the aforementioned splash page to see what I mean). But as I said before, Santos’s strength is the expressiveness of his characters. With non-humans, artists have a tendency to draw all of a species alike (See: Every alien race in any comic ever), but with these mice, each one has different facial features and postures that make them immediately recognizable, even to less familiar readers like myself.
This is fantasy writing at its best, and the mouse civilization is a clever conceit. If you’re craving swords chivalry, you need to be buying this title.