Thursday, November 5, 2009

Trade Waiting - The Mice Templar Vol 1, The Prophecy

Although Michael Avon Oeming is mostly know as an artist, and most prominently for his work on Powers, he is also a skilled writer. Some examples of his work include a 2006 Ares miniseries from Marvel, the Avengers Disassembled arc in Thor, the Omega Flight mini that launched out of The Initiative books as well as various creator owned series. The Mice Templar is fantasy series by Oeming, co-written by Bryan Glass, from Image, and, as a huge fan of the fantasy genre and Oeming's work, I couldn't pass it up. Hit the jump for my review.

Written by Bryan J.L. Glass and Michael Avon Oeming
Art by Michael Avon Oeming
Collects Mice Templar #1-7

Mice Templar stars Karic, a mouse with dreams of becoming a hero and, specifically, a Templar, a fallen order of warriors who used to project the land. One day, his village is attacked and burned to the ground with Karic believing that he might be the only survivor. While nearing drowning, Karic receives a messages from the gods that he is the chosen one and is then rescued by a former Templar, Pilot, who takes Karic under his tutelage after hearing his story.

About half way through my first reading of the trade, I figured out what exactly Mice Templar was - your classic hero's journey/hero cycle. While it's something that most people would learn about in high school they would most likely would be more familiar with it through it's use in the Star Wars movies. Now, the hero's journey is probably something I think most people would get bored with, I know I did, and look for other types of stories but, honestly, sometimes it's nice to return to the basics, as it where, and especially so when it's as good as Mice Templar is.

The series also doesn't follow the formula to the letter and Oeming and Glass do some nice tweaking with it that, while predictable on some level, I still found it enjoyable. Part of this is because of high level of skill from Oeming and Glass but it also comes from a lot of the trapping of the story.

The later part of the story starts to introduce some plot lines that will play into later miniseries and hint at some directions the book might take. There is also a conspiracy feel to some of it, which I liked.

The characters are also pretty good, even if they also conform to some common archetypes, for the most part. Again, there are some tweaks here and there and not all characters are archetypes and there is some depth to be found as well.

One thing I enjoy very much but tend to find lacking in most comics is world and mythology building. Mice Templar has it in spades though, which I thoroughly enjoyed. What I enjoyed most though was simply the level of detail that Oeming and Glass put into it. There world building is very expansive and, as with most things like this, it's all in the details and they do a wonderful job of bring it to life. Instead of having the characters use human phrases, they try and adapt as a much as possible to fit in with the world they created, which, again, I really did enjoy and appreciate.

The myth building isn't as original, drawing on several real world sources, and while it may be something I generally dislike in a book like Mice Templar, I do appreciate what Oeming and Glass do with it and I enjoyed it as well. First off, they don't copy it verbatim and only use one or two aspects of a given mythology but, instead, work it into their own world and use several sources that not only make sense for their book but works wells with the other sources they are drawing from. They also just don't use the surface aspects of the myths and there is some depth to it from Oeming's and Glass's own additions as well as how they mix the various sources together.

While the various aspects and elements of Mice Templar are something that, when take alone, are not thing that I would generally enjoy, the way Oeming and Glass work the various elements together, along with their skill and strong execution, help to overcome that.

The art by Oeming is also the best that I've seen from him. Now, I not really seen that much of his work, mostly the first volume of Powers and some assorted stuff here and there, I think the subject matter of Mice Templar works well with his cartooning style, which is more suited to depicting anthropomorphic animals than people. Not to say that his other work is bad but I think there is a slight clash of styles with it that his Mice Templar work doesn't have.

Mice Templar also includes some nice extras as well, which I think most trade collections often lack. The two biggest ones would be a short history of the world of Mice Templar done as a historical chronicle and then a series of short essays detailing the various materials and myths that Mice Templar draws one. Overall, very good stuff that adds to the comic while something that can be appreciated on its own.

Verdict - Must Read. Although Mice Templar covers well-worn territory, it does so in a compelling way with strong storytelling, solid characters and an imaginative mythology and world building.

Like this review? Interested in Mice Templar Vol 1: The Prophecy? Buy it on and help support the Weekly Crisis!

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