The third official volume of David Petersen’s Mouse Guard is the tale of the Black Axe. Set in the past, this book tells the tale of the rise of guard mouse, Celanawe, and how he became the greatest of mouse heroes.
I absolutely adore this series of books. Next to Lord of the Rings and the Elder Scrolls, Mouse Guard is one of my favorite sources for fantasy adventure. This is like an adventure within an adventure. Celanawe appeared in the first storyline as an old hermit mouse and was revealed to be the Black Axe, sorta like Obi Wan Kenobi. Sadly though, Celanawe doesn’t make it past winter in the second book and names young Lieam his successor, but that, of course, is a tale for another day.
Now is the time for Celanawe’s story and this issue explains how the legend came to be, as any good origin story should. For being the first issue, the story moves along at the right pace, but also keeps some things concealed for a later reveal. We find out that Celanawe is one of two remaining descendants of a bloodline, and he is being sought out by the other, but we don’t know yet what the second mouse, Em, knows about the Black Axe. It’s truly amazing what David Petersen can do with six comics. He creates these wonderful and complete journeys in less than 200 pages.
I was contacted very recently by a father who had read my review for Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard TPB, and he asked if it would be appropriate for his young son. Now, the comic is listed for all ages, but after reading Black Axe, I might have to warn parents of some graphic happenings. Animals do get hurt or killed, and some kids are sensitive to that. So even though the comic is listed for all ages, I think it’s best given to perhaps a seven or eight year old, and not to a very young child. That’s my only concern with the comic, but it’s nothing that will take away from the rating I gave it. This is a good book. They’re all good books and one would be hard pressed not to enjoy them even in the slightest way.