Archaia Presents: Mouse Guard, Labyrinth, and Other Stories
Mouse Guard: The Tale of the Axe Trio by David Petersen; Rust: Day 23 by Royden Lepp; Labyrinth: Rock Solid Friendship by Adam Smith and Kyla Vanderklugt; Bolivar: The Golden Door by Sean Rubin; Will O’ the Wisp: Missy’s Night Out by Tom Hammock and Megan Hutchison; and Farscape: Backyard Barbecue by Ramón K. Pérez
Archaia Entertainment

Once again the Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios, is offering a nice hardcover with pretty endpapers for Free Comic Book Day. It includes short tales from the following: Mouse Guard, Rust, Labyrinth, Bolivar, Will O’ the Wisp, and Farscape. I picked it because I’ve been wanting to read the Labyrinth graphic novels. It serves as a nice teaser for the various titles and definitely helped me decide which titles I’d be buying.

panel from Mouse Guard

Archaia FCBD 2014 coverBoth Rust and Bolivar left me unimpressed. Rust had a beautiful palette but very little story, and Bolivar just left me shaking my head. I got the feeling that I’d have to pick up the regular title to get the short, but they didn’t make me care enough about the characters to bother.

Mouse Guard does so well with so little. Everything relies on the mice’s evocative poses with their tiny eyes and lack of human expressions, and even the changes in colors work hard to give you a lot of information in just a few pages. A parent and child are playing cards, and the parent relates the story of the Axe Trio to encourage the child to choose a path in life. Such a simple plot, but it was really well written, and both the flashback to three amazing sisters and the overall moral of accepting one’s self were great.

I’ll probably take a chance on Will O’ the Wisp, as the writing was strong and the characters compelling. It’s not my favorite style of art, but it communicated the story effectively and left me wanting to know more about this girl living in a creepy old house with her grandfather and an inquisitive raccoon. The raccoon, Missy, is the protagonist of the short, by the way. Farscape page - FBCD 2014

That brings us to Labyrinth, which was the real disappointment of the issue. I just couldn’t get into the art. The dialogue and characters were very true to the movie, but the artwork got in the way. The short focused on how Ludo ended up in the Labyrinth and explored his relationship with the rocks, but ultimately you don’t learn anything new.

Farscape surprised me the most. I wasn’t expecting much, but it hit the characterization and pacing right off the bat, and managed to replicate the look of the actors from the show without being overly fussy. Even someone with limited knowledge of the show could enjoy the antics going on in the pages. It drew me in immediately, and is one I’d consider picking up, if only for some superb storytelling.

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