Johanna Squeaks at Mice Templar #1

People send me PDFs for review. Here's my thoughts on one. Bear in mind that I use a laptop, so my screen space is minimal, and by the time I blow up the pages to be able to read the dialogue, I'm looking at individual panels, not full pages. It's not the most ideal format, but it's effectively free for both of us. I can't help but compare Mice Templar to the earlier (and well-lauded) Mouse Guard. After all, they're both about mice with swords and spears. David Petersen's art is much more attractive, though, lending a storybook/fairy tale quality to the premise that helps with suspension of disbelief.

Michael Avon Oeming's mice, on the other hand, have outsized ears that look like satellite dishes with strange tiger-striping inside them, and everything's spiky, not just the weapons. Unlike Mouse Guard's emphasis on its characters fitting into a natural environment, these mice have humanoid body language, with long arms and legs, and they wear torso-covering armor. It looks like someone redrew a Japanese war story or a version of King Arthur by giving the characters mouse heads.

It's also the kind of fantasy story where various made-up names pepper the text in order to give the requisite exotic flavor. An early caption reads "It was upon the once-sacred field of Avalon where Templar fought against Templar--beneath Kros Cur Onnor Da, that now-desolate tree of grace where the noble dream of Kuhl-En finally came to its end." That kind of thing really turns me off.

Mice kids inspired by the legend of the now-departed Templar dream of being heroes while playing. When confronted with real danger -- a giant spider -- one of their townsfolk is revealed to be surprisingly heroic, and one of the children thinks he's been selected for a special destiny. It's a familiar plot, and the dressing in this case didn't interest me enough to continue or care. I quit paying attention halfway through. Ultimately, I didn't see any reason for these characters to be mice. And there's way too much violence and death for my taste, even for its setting. That gets it an Eh.