REVIEW: “The Mice Templar #9” Game of Mice Meanders and Sings

The pop culture touch-points of The Mice Templar are so prominent, and celebrated with such fervor, that it can sometimes overshadow the book itself. We can see all the Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Bone, and Redwall in The Mice Templar as we want. At the end of the day, though, The Mice Templar fuses all these elements into its own unique bit of world-building. The primary question is whether or not this is a world you want to sink deeply into.

REVIEW: "The Mice Templar #9" Game of Mice Meanders and Sings
(W)Bryan J.L. Glass (A)Victor Santos $3.50 Image Comics

For the unfamiliar, The Mice Templar, created by Bryan J.L. Glass and Michael Avon Oeming, is a world of Old English speaking woodland creatures. They fight with medieval weaponry, and here in issue #9, we have a real live Bard singing the legend of Karic, Mice Templar’s great mouse hope. The shortest possible summation of The Mice Templar is that Karic is looking to bring an end to the Shadow Time and the rule of evil rats (rats get such a bad rap, man).

As readers know, The Mice Templar takes anything but the shortest possible path to a good story. This is a rich, detailed, carefully crafted world. Flip open issue #9, part one of the new “Legend” story arc, and a new reader will be slapped in the face with a heady ‘Recapitulation’ (my favorite Recap page title in forever), and a character chart so complex Leo Tolstoy is turning over in his grave.

The larger point being: If this looks like a jumping on point, it’s not. Mice Templar is the sort of comic that requires you along for the WHOLE ride, and frankly it’s often served best in trade collection form (a discussion for another time, perhaps).

Now, if you have been along for the ride, “Mice Templar #9” will likely serve basic plot progression needs without really providing much to get excited about. The issue opens with our Bard’s singing recap of Karic’s deeds, in a bit of off-kilter poetry that may possibly make your head spin (would he just RHYME this thing already?!). I’m a fan of any “song-poem lettered over an artist just going to town on whatever element of story they enjoy most” situation, and Victor Santos provides some visually stunning recapitulation. The whole display never quite matches the technique as displayed in “Pretty Deadly #1” (another Image title), but Santos’ work here is easily the highlight of the issue.

From there, things get dark. Not so much “the 80’s called, they want their grit back,” as the book is literally and stylistically very dark. I get that it’s night, and a good part of this issue is spent in a bat cave, but it’s a really bizarre coloring choice. Basic details are genuinely indiscernible, which is the last thing a book with this many characters that all look like white mice really needs.

Ultimately, if you’re a Mice Templar fan, “Legend Part 1” will give you plenty of plot progression. It’s not the most exciting or essential issue, but every storm needs its calm. For any new readers, I highly recommend you start from the top.

Verdict: 5.7 out of 10