Anthropomorphic animals are fairly common in fiction, from cute characters for kids to allegorical tales like Orwell's Animal Farm. In Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 (collecting the first six issues of the comic book series), writer-artist David Petersen combines what could be adorable little mice with a gravity of duty, honor, and batting against impossible odds.

In medieval times, mice are not only intelligent but organizes into separate cities. Following a successful war with a weasel warlord, the elite soldiers known as the Mouse Guard serve as "escorts, pathfinders, weather watchers, scouts, and body guards for the mice who live among the territories." This collection focuses on three members of the Mouse Guard: Lieam, Kenzie, and Saxon. Their initial mission involves finding a missing rice merchant, but it soon expands into the hunt for a traitor, battles against giant creatures, the discovery of a living legend, and an epic siege of a town.

I was introduced to this series by an offering from Free Comic Book Day, and Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 exceeded my expectations. While this comic could have gone in several juvenile directions -- silly situations, mouse puns -- Petersen manages to combine the initially cute mice with a tale of true heroism, from the sayings and lessons that open each chapter to the amazing battles of the heroes. The art is impressive, the story is captivating, and I look forward to reading the next collection, when this world has to face what could be its greatest challenge: winter. Until then, Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 is a truly impressive medieval adventure. With mice.

Overall grade: A-

Reviewed by James Lynch

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