On July 29th, the mice of Mice Templar return in an all-new miniseries entitled Mice Templar: Destiny. Original creators Michael Avon Oeming and Bryan J. Glass are back writing the tale, with Oeming handing over the art chores to illustrator Victor Santos and colorist Veronica Gandini.
In the inaugural miniseries, subtitled Prophecy, the Mice Templar were found to be a order of knights passing into history, with only one under-trained squire to be found to carry on their name. His name is Karic, and in this new volume he returns – learning under the exiled Templar Cassius. But his training is short-lived, as evil forces are keeping Karic’s family in slavery – the thing that prompted him to become a Templar in the first place. Their journey will take them to a legendary forest named Haunted Wood, replete with ancient evil spirits hungry for living souls.
Sounds like a lot to take in – lucky we have both Glass and Oeming, the creators and writers of Mice Templar to play tour guide into the world of mice who act like men.
Newsarama: This miniseries finds the Templars all but destroyed, with only one left - the newly knighted and in-experienced Karic. What is he up against?
Bryan L. Glass: The newest Templar Knight Karic now faces a natural world in ever-increasing turmoil, a mad king's brutal regime set upon annihilating his culture and species, ancient ancestral enemies of his people, supernatural forces contending for dominion over the world, allies who seek to use him to restore themselves to power, and a new mentor who doesn't like him, trust him, and only trains him under protest. And Karic's family and friends remain prisoners at the capital, where every day means they could be the next victims chosen for sacrifice to the druid snake god.
Michael Avon Oeming: Yep, he's up against the world itself it seems. Poor Karic!
NRAMA: This miniseries is subtitled 'Destiny', and rightly so - in this one Karic is living under the specter of being called 'the chosen one'. What's that mean in this world?
BLG: "Destiny" by its very definition is an unalterable course our lives are set upon, determined by cosmic forces beyond our control. But just as the specific motivating "prophecy" in Mice Templar: The Prophecy turned out to be false, so is "destiny" too often applied not to what will be, but what we desire or fear.
The title Destiny applies to far more than Karic in this next arc. Several characters either fear a perceived inescapable destiny before them that will bring about their doom, or are consumed with forging a destiny built out of their own great achievements. This second chapter of the Mice Templar saga is about those two courses in collision: what happens when two "inevitable" destinies contradict one another? Does one destiny assert itself, proving the other false, or might both shatter when tested against the other? Are both false, and merely serving a larger destiny bigger than individuals?
MAO: The course is set for Karic and the other characters, their paths may diverge, but surely they will eventually collide. Bryan set most of that up in the first arc, now we get to watch it happen.
NRAMA: Before we get too ahead of ourselves here, describe the setting of Mice Templar as it stands now.
BLG: The anthropomorphic fantasy world of Mice Templar is one in which the Templar of the title were Creator Wotan's chosen emissaries to maintain the order of the natural world: preserving the balance between predator and prey, keeping scavenger creatures at bay, etc. And they did this effectively for thousands of seasons until a vicious ideological dispute pitted the Templar against themselves in Civil War, destroyed the Order, and now the natural enemies of the mice have usurped control in a world spiraling into ever-increasing chaos.
In Mice Templar: The Prophecy #1, our hero Karic began receiving visions that he had been chosen by Wotan for some still-unrevealed purpose. But then his village was destroyed, his family taken captive, and Karic fell under the tutelage of fallen Templar Pilot the Tall. Pilot's original plan was to simply use the boy to survive until his own wounds healed and his strength returned, but instead he became convinced that Karic had indeed been touched by supernatural forces…so he changed his intent and sought to use the boy to restore himself to prominence.
The Templar priesthood living in exile concluded no differently than Pilot did: that Karic can be used as a symbol to restore their Order and themselves to power. Only one priest has remained faithful to their true calling, however, and he knighted Karic, only to then order his servant Cassius to take the boy and flee the corruption.
Now Karic finds himself under the tutelage of another fallen Templar, only Cassius has no belief in destiny, of either good or evil. Cassius trains Karic as a warrior for no other reason than he gave his word to do so.
MAO: And much of the world comes from the back of our imagination, from mythology and the things that influenced the art and writing. That's a big part of the world too. Part of the world is from our vision, Bryan, myself, Victor and Veronica. The other part is from a world I think may actually exist somewhere, sometime.
NRAMA: And where does King Icarus fit into all this? He was up to a lot of bad things in the last miniseries.
BLG: Readers were barely introduced to King Icarus at the tail end of Mice Templar: The Prophecy, and he appeared to fit the mold of standard tyrant. He is king of the mice, living in the palace at the capital city, and yet still seems to have the support of the mice populace. Yet he is also responsible for integrating their historic enemies-rats and weasels-into mice culture as police and enforcers; the raids on outlying villages, and the taking of prisoners, slaves, and sacrifices, is conducted with his blessing; he endorses torture. He has outlawed the Templar.
Destiny introduces the true complexity of his court, and the precarious power structure that keeps him on the throne. Readers may have thought Icarus to be either a mad monarch in the tradition of Caligula, or a mere puppet of the rat druids. But the truth is far more intriguing: a delicate balance now exists between the mouse king, a rat army and weasel royal guard (rats and weasels are noted rivals in this world), as well as the religious machinations of the druids-every piece of the power puzzle has their own rationale, and each is frustrated by their seeming reliance upon the others to achieve their goals.
King Icarus will be revealed as less of a crazed puppet ruler, and more of a mad manipulator, the architect of everything unfolding in the series. The mishmash of competing powers is by his design, for an as-yet-unrevealed purpose.
NRAMA: Karic's not entirely on his own - he has Cassius, an exiled Templar - but he's not quite the supporter that Karic needs. What does Cassius think of Karic?
BLG: Cassius is a bitter old soldier of a fallen regime that has only itself to blame. We know little thus far about his own journey back to faith in Wotan, but issue #1 of Destiny reveals the source of his bitterness, distrust, and the guilt that simmers just below his explosive exterior.
For Cassius, Karic's tutelage under Pilot the Tall is too reminiscent of a dark memory from his own past, and the source of his rage. Cassius has been used. He has also taken the lives of those he loved as they were used. He is distrustful of any who claim to follow a cause, as the fall of the Templar remains a constant reminder of how destructive any cause can become no matter how "righteous" it claims to be.
MAO: M: I'm very excited to see the two characters cross arcs, watch them grow both physically and emotionally. Bryan has even written the characters so they can grow in spirit as well.
NRAMA: This new miniseries promises to take us to some new terrain in the world you've created - something called the Haunted Wood. How would you describe the place?
BLG: "The Haunted Wood" is the site of an ancient battle between rats and mice, the druids vs. Templar priests. During the "Golden Age" of mice culture, the last great battle between species ended with the rat army and their druid masters holding up in the Efrafan Forest. The mouse king ordered a great siege around the entire wood-a siege that lasted a generation (and ultimately doomed the prosperity of the Golden Age). Amidst that siege, the druids summoned diabhuls (lesser evil spirits) to break the lines. This brought the direct attention of the Templar priests who added their concerted spiritual power to the containment. As the seasons passed, the increasing desperation of the druids summoned ever more powerful entities, until at last they summoned one of the great diabhlan spirits cursed into the Outer Darkness by Wotan. But the diabhlan consumed them, while the Templar priests bound the various spirits to the forest, unable to ever escape.
In time, the imprisoned spirit entities have drained all life from the wood, even from the soil itself. The Haunted Wood is a place of madness and death, and anything that crosses its border is subject to the torments of the spirits within. As for the Great Diabhlan, desirous for a physical form, it inhabits the carcass of a cat that died in the wood long ago; as a zombie cat, it is the most horrific of the entities that inhabit the accursed forest.
Destiny will also introduce the secret training camps of the surviving Templar exiles, particularly the camp run by Cassius's bitter rival Ronan-his match in skill, ferocity and bitter, seething rage. Ronan's wife, Llochloraine, trains a new generation of female Maeven archers; it doesn't help that she was once Cassius's love.
We'll see much more of the capital city, Dealrach Ard-Vale in this arc, as well as the "Caves of Meave"-kingdom of the bats.
MAO: The Haunted wood scenes are amazing, anything can happen and does. The best part are the choices the characters are forced to make- and have to live with after.
NRAMA: This new miniseries has been called the second chapter in the Mice Templar saga. How many chapters do you see this going?
BLG: The story of Karic that began in The Prophecy and continues in Destiny will run four arcs total, and come to a decisive conclusion. Mike and I have far more tales to tell in the world of the Mice Templar, but time alone will tell.
MAO: And there is a lot of history to tell as well as future stories. It's truly a world.
NRAMA: Back in July of last year Cartoon Network announced it was turning Mice Templar into an animated movie. Has there been any further news on this front?
BLG: We have learned from previous projects that have been optioned that things in Hollywood move "at the speed of Hollywood." The property remains in development, and we'll see what transpires with the release of the new monthly series.
MAO: So true. I have deals that are still "alive" and others that have lived, come to life and died again. Them [The comic book Six] was made into a brilliant pilot- it was really good, I was shocked! Then the writers strike happened and it died a quiet death. Lets hope for better on Mice Templar. But regardless, it's a comic first and now we'll be getting it monthly. I'd rather that than anything else.
NRAMA: Speaking of the comic Mike, for this new miniseries you're passing over the artistic torch to Victor Santos. What's that like for you?
MAO: It was hard. Finding a new artist was a hard choice to make, and honestly, if I didn't know Victor and know his work, I might not have even tried, because honestly I never could have imagined anyone but me or Mike Mignola drawing Mice! I was just looking around at Victors work and saw some sketches and it hit me, Victor could take on Mice Templar and it would still feel like Mice Templar!
I had to come to that choice because my life is very different now then it was when we started Mice Templar. I'm still doing Powers and I'm working at Valve Corp, a video game company full time. If I was to continue with Mice Templar, it would take years for it to even come out, and forget it being monthly. I'm honored and blessed that Victor has taken up the battle for me. I'm still doing covers and various flashback scenes as well as being the co creator, so it still feels like the same series, even to me.
NRAMA: Do you guys have any appearances or signings planned to coincide with the July debut of this new miniseries?
BLG: With Mike and I separated by an entire continent (me in Philly, Mike in Seattle), it isn't quite as easy to whip up a mutual signing.
But I will be at numerous comic shop locations in the tri-state Delaware Valley during the week that MICE TEMPLAR: DESTINY #1 hits stores:
7/29: Comic Universe, Folsom, PA: comicuniverse.net
7/30: Brave New Worlds II, Philadelphia, PA: bravenewworldscomics.com
7/31: Between Books, Claymont, DE: betweenbooks.com
8/1: All Things Fun! West Berlin, NJ: allthingsfun.net
8/1: Atomic City Comics, Philadelphia, PA: atomiccitycomics.com
8/5: Brave New Worlds I, Willow Grove, PA: bravenewworldscomics.com
8/12: Comic Collection, Feasterville, PA (no website)
MAO: I'll be doing some in the Seattle area, but it's not planned out yet. Be sure to check out my site, www.michaeloeming.com for updates on signings.
NRAMA: Before we go, last year was Mice Templar's 10th anniversary - if you count back to 1998 when you originally conceived it while working as a nighttime security guard. If I used the Newsarama time machine and showed the '98 Oeming this book what do you think he'd say?
MAO: What took you 10 years!?!?
Check back next week for an interview with new Mice Templar series artist Victor Santos.