With the release of its sixth issue this week, David Petersen’s Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 draws to a close with a few twists that readers who haven’t seen a new issue in almost a year may not have seen coming. Whereas Petersen’s bestselling and highly-praised first series took place in the fall of 1152, therefore setting this one up to occur almost immediately after its conclusion, the third miniseries will focus on the world of Mouse Guard’s past, telling the story of The Black Axe, also known as Celanawe, the elder statesmouse of the series.
In the context of the mice’s history, The Black Axe is an important figure whose service in the Guard is legendary. In the context of the story, David Petersen describes him primarily as a mentor. “The Black Axe character came to me as the idea of like an Obiwan character where the way we were first introduced to this character is as Alec Guinness–the old wise master, and even though he’s this old guy he still went toe-to-toe with Vader,” explains the author. “This guy was still pretty cool, still pretty badass. And then with the prequels we see him as Ewan McGregor and we get to see what he was like in his heyday. So that’s what the idea of the Black Axe character was—let’s see this old guy who can still keep up with the youngfurs and go toe-to-toe with the predators. But the idea with the next story, the Black Axe story, was let’s see Celanawe in his heyday.”
And while the Winter 1152 series followed the same basic group of characters, Petersen says that the Black Axe story will be totally self-contained and feature only one other carryover besides Celanawe.
And it’s Celanawe whose actions in the final issue of Winter 1152 rock the main characters to their core, giving this series a jolt that the by-and-large predictable ending of the first series didn’t completely have. Petersen, who says that he’s “coming up with story ideas faster than [he] can write them,” and sees no end in sight for Mouse Guard, clearly sees this as an investment in the future of the title and the property, whereas the first series was more focused on a specific group of characters. That infuses the final chapter of Winter with a feeling of dreariness and an ominous air that Petersen completely intended.
“Living in Michigan we have all four seasons winter being one of the longer ones and it’s just kind of part of the adventure,” says Petersen. “I wanted to show a Mouse Guard adventure story that had that element. I’ve always said that the landscape and the weather are just as important of a character or a predator as anything else in Mouse Guard. But I wanted this to be action-packed and a little bleak.”
Next week, we’ll feature a more in-depth conversation with Petersen about the upcoming hardcover release of Winter 1152, the epilogue available only in the hardcover edition and his overall intentions for the series.