The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night’s Dream 8 (March 2012)

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night's Dream #8

It's one heck of a finish for the volume. Oeming's back for some of the dream sequences, with Glass finally getting around to explaining what's been going on with Karic. Sort of.

The issue's Karic's battle with the evil druids on a psychic plane. Glass doesn't over explain and he doesn't have to–Templar's sort of biblical in terms of the reality of the mysticism. It's just there and Glass doesn't give the reader any chance at misinterpreting. Here, he doesn't have time to convince, he's got to get Karic through.

It works beautifully because Glass is resolving the unsure young Karic with the now legendary warrior Karic, which has been one of the series's big transitions through the volumes. Glass handles it subtly too.

Some of the issue's events are predictable and it's sort of the ultimate in bridging issues (and series), but it's successful.

Templar's an epic poem now.

A 

CREDITS

The Dream of a Midwinter’s Night; writer, Bryan J.L. Glass; artists, Victor Santos and Michael Avon Oeming; colorists, Veronica Gandini, Serena Guerra and Oeming; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night’s Dream 7 (January 2012)

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night's Dream #7

Glass sets another few pieces into place for, presumably, the next volume. There simply isn’t enough time for him to get any of these plot threads resolved in the final issue of Midwinter Night’s Dream.

There’s more treachery from Pilot the traitorous Templar (though so many rodents in Templar are traitorous it’s hard to disparage Pilot just for that character flaw) and there’s the little mice and the King’s former consort both getting involved with the rebel movement. So two and a half things going on, with Glass also throwing in the series’s first nice rat.

But if Midwinter is a bridging series, this issue is a bridging issue in a bridging series. Nothing comes as a surprise (except the nice rat). It’s compelling because of the events, not because of the characters.

Santos’s art is excellent throughout.

It’s too much time on too little; it coasts on stockpiled goodwill.

B- 

CREDITS

Snowblind; writer, Bryan J.L. Glass; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Veronica Gandini; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night’s Dream 6 (December 2011)

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night's Dream #6

It's an all action issue. Glass does spend some time setting up the lengthy action sequence with a rat commander out to redeem his lost pride (during the previous volume), but not a lot. It's all distinct, because Glass is showing more of the rat culture than he's shown before–and hinting at one aspect of Templar culture never before discussed (the mice abandoning their elderly when moving camps).

Then the rats get to the Templar camp where Cassius is caring for comatose Karic and the action starts. It's vicious and lyrical, with Cassius dispatching the rats either directly or through traps. The traps often lead to more intense violence than just the sword fighting.

During the battle, Glass has Cassius narrating–some of it has to do with the battle, but a lot is self-reflection. Glass and Santos are ambitious with their concept.

The ending double twist subtly deepens the issue.

B+ 

CREDITS

Solitaire; writer, Bryan J.L. Glass; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Veronica Gandini; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night’s Dream 5 (September 2011)

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night's Dream #5

Glass is even more expansive in terms of subplots this issue. There’s more with Pilot training his new protege, there’s the whole movement of Templars believing in Karic’s holy status (for lack of a better description), there’s how that movement is playing out in the capital and how the rats and weasels are getting on without the king. There’s even stuff with the Templar priests and a possible insurrection in their future.

It’s both a busy issue and not. Santos occasionally gets to do a huge, graphically violent page or two; these pages cause a shock and a reset. They relieve the narrative tension just long enough for the reader to process the next big plot point.

In many ways, Glass is just doing the most grandiose bridging issue he can conceive. If it ever doesn’t seem big enough, he adds more to it.

The result’s overwhelming while still compelling.

B 

CREDITS

A Legend Begins; writer, Bryan J.L. Glass; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Veronica Gandini; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night’s Dream 4 (May 2011)

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night's Dream #4

Glass finds another unexpected direction for Midwinter–a much wider look at the world. He still checks in on familiar cast members, with Pilot’s return being simultaneously unwelcome and narratively strong. The reader knows the character to be villainous, yet one hopes for the sake of Pilot’s newest marks he’s changed.

This issue marks the second without Cassius and Karic and Glass is still showing just how strong the series is on its own. He doesn’t need his protagonists; jumping from Pilot to Aquila to the Templar priesthood, Glass is able to move three subplots forward. Midwinter seems focused on establishing the series’s tapestry.

The issue gives Santos the chance to do a lot of “widescreen” panels, like the rat army on the march. There’s a great action sequence involving a centipede as well, but Santos and Glass seem to be enhancing the visual scope of the comic.

Ambitious stuff.

B+ 

CREDITS

Three Blind Mice; writer, Bryan J.L. Glass; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Veronica Gandini; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night’s Dream 3 (March 2011)

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night's Dream #3

While the issue is dedicated to Brian Jacques (of the Redwall series), Santos spends more of his time in homage to M.C. Escher. Mice in mazes and Escher–it’s fabulous. But Santos’s art isn’t just great for that playful and intricate composition, it’s everything this issue. He’s been building up with Midwinter and here he just lets loose.

Speaking of letting loose, Glass goes a very unexpected route. He abandons Cassius and Karic and heads forward a little with the Templar camp from the previous two issues, but most of the issue is about the people–sorry, the rodents–in the capital. There are even weasels this time; lots of developments, lots of great character work.

Glass is almost showing off–Mice Templar has hit the point where the adventure hook of young Karic isn’t necessary anymore.

It’s a wonderful issue. Action, romantic longing, political unrest, rodent bigotry–it’s both comfortably excellent and entirely unexpected.

A- 

CREDITS

Royal Division; writer, Bryan J.L. Glass; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Veronica Gandini; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night’s Dream 2 (January 2011)

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night's Dream #2

Glass is having some real problems with cliffhangers in Midwinter, if this second issue is any indication. After not just going through the main plot, but also introducing the supporting cast back from the previous volume, Glass quarantines these first two issues (for protagonists Cassius and Karic, anyway). He’s moved the players from point A to point B and now he’s ready to get started again.

It’s like a soft reset, with the ground situation now changed. It feels like a combination of treading water and contriving trouble.

There’s still a lot of strong material in the issue–some fantastic action art from Santos–and Glass’s character moments are excellent. He’s just all over the place. This issue it becomes clear Cassius hasn’t been the protagonist these first two issues so much as subject; his lost love has a whole lot more going on and self-awareness.

Hopefully things will get started now.

B 

CREDITS

Consequences; writer, Bryan J.L. Glass; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Veronica Gandini; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night’s Dream 1 (December 2010)

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night's Dream #1

Besides the cliffhanger, which is too manipulative, A Midwinter Night’s Dream is off to a great start. Glass has a lot of territory to cover just getting the story going–there’s lengthy expository narration at the beginning, along with some fantastic art by Santos. For the flashbacks, Santos only gets a few panels to make his point and he does every time.

The issue isn’t just well-executed flashbacks, of course. Glass does some character drama, some more action and a little romance–not to mention another creepy full page spread of the lead character having to negotiate with the bugs to survive during the day time. Santos isn’t a creepy artist so the bugs aren’t gross, but they’re still disturbing. Maybe just because Glass still hasn’t shown them angry yet.

Glass uses the supporting cast to both build the mythology and move the action.

It’s another excellent Templar comic.

B+ 

CREDITS

Precious Burden; writer, Bryan J.L. Glass; artists, Michael Avon Oeming and Victor Santos; colorist, Veronica Gandini; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night’s Dream 0 (November 2010)

The Mice Templar Volume III: A Midwinter Night's Dream #0

As a zero issue introducing the new Mice Templar volume, this issue isn’t effective. There are some really effective things about it–Bryan J.L. Glass and Victor Santos retell the finale of the previous volume from a different perspective and Santos gets in some wonderful pages–but the comic itself is too slight.

Running about eight pages, it might just be too short to be anything but slight, but Glass takes an odd approach. One of the knights saving the citizenry from the tyrant king is questioning his orders and the idea of a savior and so on. If it were a full issue–and the protagonist were better defined–it might work as a rumination on events. But, like I said, it’s too short.

The Santos art makes it easily worth a look and Glass’s script coasts on built-up good will towards the series. It’s hard not to be a little disappointed though.

B- 

CREDITS

Faith in Miracles; writers, Michael Avon Oeming and Bryan J.L. Glass; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Veronica Gandini; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

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