Posted by: Graeme McMillan on September 3, 2007
If you remember what I said about pullquotes, you’ll know that I paid particular attention to the quotes on the back of THE MICE TEMPLAR #1. Sure, you could almost expect a Mike Oeming book to have generic niceties from Powers partner Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar, but it’s the quote from Katie Mignola, Mike Mignola’s daughter, that nails the appeal of the book: “You cannot go wrong with mice with little tiny weapons.”
I was completely prepared to dislike this book. I hadn’t been particularly impressed with what little I’d read of Oeming’s stuff in the past, and the fantasy setting of the book was pretty far outside of my area of interest as well – all it needed was for there to be a guest-shot by prominent Republican politician Mitt Romney to complete my current list of Things I Don’t Particularly Want To Read Right Now, Thanks. And yet, I ended up won over at least slightly by two things, and one of those was the fact that it was mice with tiny little weapons who were the focus of this particular brand of quest fiction, fighting rats and spiders and dealing with mighty fish gods. Way to undercut the potential pretention problem, after all.
The second – and, to be honest, larger – reason that I got turned around on the book was Oeming’s artwork, which is far, far more impressive here to me than anything he’s done elsewhere – There’s a clarity and immediacy to his linework that throws together influences from Mignola to Disney to McKean; there’s even some Hewlett in there, but I have no idea whether that’s intentional or not. More than Bryan Glass’s script (co-plotted by Oeming), which drags in places as it takes too long to get us to somewhere that the reader knows pretty early is the destination, it’s the art that sells the story, giving a visceral “in” where the dialogue and plot fail, and a reason to care about the characters (They’re cute cartoon mice, after all).
I’m not sure where the story is going to go next – nor am I particularly sure that I’m going to stick with it, to be honest – but I am sure that if people want to look at one of the more visually impressive books of the week, this is a Good book to choose to spend your time with.