Page 45 Review by Stephen
Six short, sweet and moving morality tales - each by original MOUSE GUARD creator David Petersen - two of which are completely new. The others appeared as Free Comicbook Day Comics from 2011 to 2014.
In terms of the MOUSE GUARD matriarchal society's timeline they take place between Spring 1124 and Winter 1155, and in each a young mouse is told a salutary story which will go on to shape their lives.
In the first a town finds itself effectively under siege from three fearsome predators - a hawk, a snake and a crab - but although its mightiest warriors fail to break the giant beasts' grip, a weaver uses cunning in a way so that each comes undone proving that, as ever, the ken is mightier than the sword.
The second is told as a puppet show involving a town deemed cursed, its mighty gate sporting the slogan, "Evil Prevails". Thanks to one individual's actions, however, the sign finds itself substantially amended for by the end.
The third was my favourite: a tale of true love told as a tapestry about a female mouse so beautiful and talented she is not short of suitors. The fourth, using a paler palette, explores the mice's version of Heaven, Seyan, and its equivalent of Saint Peter at its gates, Sefatus, judging who is worth to enter. It expounds the value of service and sacrifice above notoriety. Being true to your nature and trusting your instincts lies at the heart of the fifth as three sisters share the role of THE BLACK AXE, cooperating to take on beasts bigger than they might otherwise manage single-handedly, and the sixth is a lullaby.
It's impressive how much Petersen can slip in to ten-page segments without them feeling cramped, and you'll feel far from short-changed by the results. The colours are exquisite, the reproduction as classy as ever, and it's a perfect entry point to the wider world of MOUSE GUARD which would make a thoroughly heart-warming present.