It's all too easy to be completely subjugated by the weight of expectations. All expectation and noble intent must someday clash with the reality that everything will one day go completely wrong.
At least, that seems to be the conflict these days in Mice Templar. It's fitting that the latest volume of the series is called Legend, as mythology and self-mythologizing are the central themes in this first issue. In a tale fraught with strife, Mice Templar #1is really about the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and where we come from. Cultural histories clash with prophecies and omens as violently as the forces of the Templars and the evil King Icarus.
Battle and legend intersect on almost every page of the new Mice Templar #1. The issue starts with a recap, drawn by Michael Avon Oeming, of the folklore of the comic, which tells the tale of an order of virtuous knights called the Templars who ages ago were torn apart by civil war, which allowed Icarus to ascend to his throne engage in a tyrannical rule that has lasted for generations. From there, the story jumps into the present, drawn by Victor Santos, where Karic, the young mouse who is prophesied as the one who will reassemble the Templar order, is trying to reconcile the lasting pain of the fall of the Templars, and the two sides of the civil war that fractured the peace and plunged the world into darkness. He learns, before too long, that it simply isn't to be, as the pain runs too deep, and there are those who refuse to bow to stories and accept them as absolute truth. When a pair of dire wolves bear their teeth, it's an opportunity to heal a rift, but it ends in tragedy.
The events of Mice Templar are driven by stories, and this story is told as much in blood, tears, scars, steel and flames as much as it is in words. It is also told in the artwork of Victor Santos, who approximates Oeming's angular, heavily shadowed style while retaining his own sense of illustrative weight and texture. His sections enjoy a unity with Oeming's flashback sequences, but it's still clear to the reader that the two of them are working in two different narrative spaces. In both cases, the artwork is bold and emotional, and it perfectly conveys the harshness of the broken world it takes place in.
Since 2007, Mice Templar has been one of the finest examples of epic fantasy storytelling in comics. It also remains completely uncompromising. With each face that's been contorted in pain, anger, or sadness, the first issue of Legacy proves to be a harrowing vision of a broken world, and the enormous obstacles of idealism and faith. What's really interesting about it is how deftly it handles very real, modern day issues (for all of the hand-wringing over a scene in a recent X-Men comic, Mice Templar is the more cogent – and more subtle – commentary on societal racial strife) while truly sticking to readers' bones as a heavy narrative with massive scope and a finely-tuned sense of narrative and folklore. Mice Templar: Legacy #1 is an expansive read that deserves some very serious consideration.