The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s Newstand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.
This week I think we all learned a bit more than we ever wanted to know about eBay. We also took some time out to review the new issue of Glass and Oeming's fantasy opus, Mice Templar. I think the lack of a Dark Reign banner may have thrown SuperginraiX for a loop, but MrBlack makes up for it by posting a bonus review of the entire first volume!
Review by Daringd
I was able to pick this book up for free, (Returned Tales from the Corps #1) and I’ll say I would have paid for it. I really dug what was going on here. The art is very slick and smooth and the writing is really interesting. I never read the first Mice Templar but I felt this issue let me know everything I needed to know to read it. I do plan on track the trade down at some point maybe this weekend. I did think the ending was just kind of there, maybe it was just me, it almost felt a little forced. But I can’t really complain about it. I enjoyed it and will be back for more of it.
Haiku by House of J
Well, I read it twice and pretty much get the gist of it despite not having read volume 1. It's a solid rodent fantasy, and uses a lot of ideas or tropes familiar to readers of the genre, fantasy that is not rodents, the quest, the bitter old master, the novice, the boon to be granted once, etc.
The art is pretty to look at once I got past the design of the actual mice. The artist(s), probably Victor Santos, does some interesting things with the colors and panel layout, with some nice big splash pages as well, most notably the one with the raptors. I really like the mole goblins that popped up at the end.
For the second volume of a complicated fantasy series, the book is fairly accessible although I'm sure one would be more invested in the characters if one had read volume 1.
Pretty good for owl food.
Review by thefourthman
So this book was awesome, will quote and link when live.
I debated this score for a while, but screw it.
Overall - 10.
Oeming takes on a different roll for this issue. He is ready to sit back as co-creator and let his creation take on a new life. Providing the cover and the pencils for only the first eight pages of this issue, he hands the reigns to Victor Santos.
Santos knows he is behind a hard act to follow, so he pulls all the rabbits out of his artistic hat here. There is a breathtaking splash page, one of the most magnificent ever, certainly among those that feature owls. There are fiery visions, monstrous creatures, eerie forests, and illuminated spirits. What is most astonishing is that it all works seamlessly with Oeming's opening sequence - a bloody battle sequence that plays like the opening D-Day salvo of Saving Private Ryan, only here, it's with mice and swords.
The dynamic layouts, the emotional fortitude of the cast, the sturdiness of the graphic narrative all dazzle, but pale in comparison to Cassius’s recounting of the legend of the wood. The page is turned and like the Technicolor brilliance of Oz, there is a water-colored surrealism that literally sucks the oxygen out of the room.
read the rest here: http://brokenfrontier.com/reviews/p/detail/the-mice-templar-volume-ii-destiny-1
Review by Shiro
I think I read the first issue of the previous Mice Templar series for the Review Group. I made it to the 2nd or 3rd issue before my LCS stopped having it. I wasn't that in to it, so wasn't too bothered.
This first issue of Mice Templar: Destiny, I loved. It was generous to give such an in-depth round up of the previous goings on in the series. Then from the first panel, I realized that this was a story that had found some legs. Ideas seemed a lot clearer in their delivery with the overall focus of the plot being very strong.
The opening few pages detailing what I assume to be a memory of conflicts waged in the previous series shows how Cassius cut his teeth on the battle field. Now the master, he seems older, wiser and with a chip on his shoulder as he attempts to teach Karic, his ward, the way of the Templar. It works because it's a simple straight forward fantasy concept. There's no point confusing the audience with grand ideas at this point, especially if they're new and having to contend with such a volume of information about the universe that they hold in their hands.
This all leads to Cassius and Karic getting lost in a haunted forest. It's impressive that such a rich back-story for the forest was included without disrupting the flow of the book. The main section of the comic involves Karic experiencing a nightmarish delusion brought on by his experiences in the forest. It's clear that he's keen to succeed in his quest, but has many fears that he might fail and let the people relying on him down. Again, standard fantasy faire, but working well given the situation.
This all leads to a climactic rescue by the summoned Lord Wotan and a fine example of the superb art in the book. A double page spread shows Lord Wotan and his fellow owls banishing away the nightmare demons to rescue Cassius and Karic.
Big fan of this first issue, hopefully it'll carry on to the next, which I'll definitely pick up in two weeks time.
Review by 48THRiLLS
I had a hard time reviewing this, it is well written and the art is quite capable yet I still have this feeling of eh after I read it. It is the same feeling I got while I was reading Volume 1... I think I may just not be into this. I can't put my finger on what leaves me indecisive because I feel like I should give it a good score but at the same time I really didn't enjoy it. I should love this, mice with swords, lots of blood, big mythological story... Maybe it is the part where Karic and Cassius are trapped in the Haunted Wood and you can tell the writer and artist are trying so hard to make it seem like they are in danger but it seemed like they tried too hard and it went on for too long and when Karic calls upon Wotan for his get out of jail free card it didn't deem worthy for the situation they were in... iono... :?
STORY - 7
ART - 9
Review by starlord
I'm going to start by saying that I'm in the minority on this one. I did not like the art much at all. Coloring was nice, but the mice kept reminding me of the Shi'ar (or perhaps their cats).
The story, however, is pretty amazing. The time and care that Bryan Glass has taken to create this world is evident and for someone who loves that sort of thing, mouth watering as well!
It also makes it a bit more difficult for me to be objective, since I understood the back story completely, but still have no real emotional connection with these characters, nor did anything that was on the written page make me want to care for them. Most of it seemed rather drawn out and by the end of it I really feel like the story could have been told with about 7 pages less than what it was.
I can see the appeal and when the first one comes out in trade I will probably pick it up (or if it already is, I shall acquire it), but based on this one single issue, it didn't really grab me either.
How's that for being contradictory?
My Score: 5
Limerick by amlah6
I liked the first volume of Mice Templar quite a lot. With this first issue of Destiny, the series has picked up where Prophecy left off in a rather spectacular fashion. This issue is crammed with story and information from the first page to the last, so much so that at times it can border on being overwhelming even for someone like myself who has read the first series a couple of times. There are tons of great character moments and the setup for this series looks promising. Karic calling on Wotan so soon and in that situation was a bit shocking, so I hope that will be followed up on in subsequent issues.
Mike Oeming's pages in this issue might just surpass anything he had done so far in a Mice Templar comic. The double page spread of the Templar battle was all different kinds of awesome. After that Victor Santos, while lacking the dynamic oomph of Oeming's layouts and characters, does an admirable job of maintaining the visual style of the book and gives hope that there will be little or no drop in quality going forward.
Review by SuperginraiX
Ugh. I've heard so much good things about these mouse knight type of comics but this thing was thoroughly disappointing.
FAR too much random story elements thrown in. I swear at one time there was a back-story within a back-story. As it stands, there's too much back story and no enough actual forward momentum. The main two characters are interesting but it seems like I've caught this story too late. The story is bogged down in details and it's hard to follow.
Not helping is the art. It's beautiful in parts but doesn't flow well. The panel work is kind of poorly done. The two main characters are only differentiated by the older one having a scar (as far as I can tell). It would have been better if they had at least been different colors or something. In certain parts, I actually forgot which mouse I was following. The story also seems to be chaotically narrated. There's a good tale underneath all the dreck but there's so much exposition that even Gandalf would shy away.
This comic was just not that good.
Mice Templar, you get a 4. Blech.
Review by Punchy
- OK, this definitely will be a short one, because I really don't have
much to say. This was a fine comic, solidy plotted, and there's a lot
of attention payed to a what seems like a fascinating back-story and
world that Glass and Oeming have created but... since I have not read
the first mini-series I was pretty much totally lost. This is like
jumping into the Two Towers without reading the Fellowship of the Ring,
like the Empire Strikes Back without Star Wars, I'm not getting the
full story and as such my appreciation of this book is a lot smaller
than it probably should be. If I was a better comics fan, nay, a better
person, I would have read the first series, and like this a lot more,
but alas... It's only OK. Perhaps I should blame the book for not
having enough exposition for a new reader, but really, there was
plenty, we learn about Karic's family, his fake mentor Pilot, and his
new one, and the overall plot of the puppet Mouse King. I just didn't
feel like it affected me, it just seemed like standard hero's quest
stuff, shades of Star Wars really. It's my own fault, not Glass'
The idea of Mice and other forest creatures in a Fantasy/Medieval setting is nothing new, there's some of it in Narnia, I used to love the Redwall novels of Brian Jacques when I was a kid, and in a bit of a Bug's Life/Antz situation, David Peterson's Mouse Guard has recently enjoyed a lot of success, but I think Mice Templar is different from these, because of the violence, this isn't cutesy animals having fun adventures, this is brutal Conan-esque stuff, but just with Mice. It was refreshing to see, and very unexpected, the opening flashback fightscene and the Owl splashpage were particularly hardcore.
So in the end, I don't know if I can feel comfortable giving this a score, I am reviewing pretty much blind. I will say that it did make me interested in checking out the first series in trade, but if you aren't familiar with the world of Mice Templar, best to start at the beginning.
Art - I'm a big fan of Mike Oeming, his Powers work is exceptional, and his opening 8 pages here are pretty great too. He's a bit of a chameleon, and here he eschews his Bruce Timm/Alex Toth style and gives us angular mice hacking the shit out eachother, it's impressive. Victor Santos does the rest of the art, and to be honest, I didn't really notice much of a transition, he does a capable job of emulating the tone Oeming sets.
Best Line - When the Owls come swooping down '... To send us your aid as you promised!'
I score this a 6/10 but if I get round to the first mini, that will probably go up, the low score doesn't reflect the book, but me.
That gives Mice Templar: Destiny #1 a group score of 7.61.
For further discussion about this issue, feel free to join us in this week's thread (http://www.theouthousers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=26748) found in the Newstand forum where you are also invited to join the group by posting your own review.
***Bonus Review by MrBlack****
As stated earlier, I was unable to secure a copy of this week's book (although HoJ is working to rectify that!). In lieu of a review of that title, I instead present my review of the first Mice Templar trade.
Mice Templar: The Prophecy TPB
While Michael Avon Oeming and Bryan J.L. Glass certainly embark upon well trodden ground in their first entry into what promises to be a fantasy epic, they combine different mythological elements in such a way to make their story much fresher than it would seem at first glance.
The story begins with an almost beat-for-beat retelling of the first quarter of Star Wars: A New Hope. Our protagonist, Karic, dreams of the days when the Templar and the Maevens protected mouse-kind, only to have the horrors of the real world come crashing down upon his head. In the wake of a tragedy in his village and the disappearance of his friends and family, Karic is taken under the wing of Pilot the Tall, one of the lone survivors of the ancient order of Templar, an order which was torn apart by the civil war which led to the troubles currently facing the world. Karic learns that it is his burden to repair the damage done to his world, and lead mouse-kind out of the dark ages, and, encouraged by Pilot, he begins his journey to become a Templar and save his family.
While the story begins with pretty typical fantasy fare, it takes a major turn away from fantasy convention towards the end of the book. By the time the conclusion roles around, Karic is uncertain as to his true destiny, but realizes that he must stay the course if he is to rescue his friends and family, and have any hope of repairing the damage done to mouse civilization.
The conclusion of the book leaves the reader wanting more, and the creators are happy to oblige. Included in the TPB is an older story giving us some background on Cassius, another Templar at odds with Pilot, as well as a timeline regarding the history of the Templars’ world, and several essays regarding the disparate mythological elements which underlie the story. It is clear that Oeming and Glass have created a fully realized world for their characters to play in, and I eagerly await further volumes to further flesh out the history of Wotan’s realm.
The art is very stylized, and somewhat “messy,” but it is very dynamic and perfectly suits the story. There are a couple of panels from the city scenes where the mice faces look a little oversimplified and rushed, but overall the art is fantastic, particularly the last couple of pages from the TPB. One other minor quibble is that my copy of the trade seems to have cut off the edges of the panels on a couple of pages. This would not normally be a problem, except that it also cut out some of Cassius’ dialogue during an important scene, although it was easy to ascertain the gist of the dialogue from context.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable story with wonderful art to support it. I highly recommend it for any fans of the fantasy genre.
thefourthman has the pick for August 5th, he put it up for a vote and a majority of Outhousers selected Doom Patrol #1 from DC Comics. Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning to join in on the fun.
Doom Patrol #1
Written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis
Art by Matthew Clark and Kevin Maguire
Come one, come all! The world's strangest Super Heroes are back, and they brought those robot guys along with 'em! Thrill to the strange adventures of the Doom Patrol, with script by Keith Giffen and art by Matthew Clark! Whether you think you know 'em or you wouldn't know 'em if they bit you on the behind, this Doom Patrol's for you! But that's not all! Read all the way to the back cover for the all-new adventures of those elemental everymen, the Metal Men, featuring the triumphant return of the creative team that brought you JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL! That's 40 full pages of comic-bookery for just under four American dollars. So why not try some Doom Patrol with a side order of Metal Men today?
DC Universe | 40pg | Color | $3.99 US