Written and lavishly illustrated by David PetersenMouse Guard follows the adventures of an elite association of mice sworn to protect a kind of medieval mouse kingdom from threats both foreign (like weasels, snakes, and other predators)  and domestic (like traitors!). The story is as harrowing as it is charming, among the most consistently executed, high quality American series published today, and has earned numerous awards and nominations in comics and the book trade.

After years of waiting, those of us who digest Mouse Guard in its luxurious hardcover form will finally have the answer to a mystery that's lingered since the first volume went on sale in 2008: the origin of the Black Axe.

Arguably the most popular and definitely the most mysterious of the "guardmice" is Celanawe, an old warrior who claims to be none other than the Black Axe, a mouse hero of legend. Named for the menacing and majestic weapon he wields, the Black Axe was thought long dead before Celanawe's timely return helps the young guardmice stave off an invasion of Lockhaven, the home city of the Guard. The Black Axe first appeared in Petersen's inaugural volume, Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 and his exploits continued in Winter 1152but it wasn't until the latest volume, Mouse Guard: The Black Axe, that readers learned the true history of Celanawe and the titular weapon.

As you can see in this 12-page preview provided by Archaia, the story begins with a visitor from away...

Mouse Guard: The Black Axe has already completed its run in serialization and those individual chapters have been compiled in a digital collection from ComiXology. But as I said, the best way to enjoy a work as richly detailed and immersive as Mouse Guard is in the hardcover book form. The Black Axe goes on sale in hardcover next week in finer comics shops. Bookstore customers will be able to purchase it from Amazon and elsewhere starting July 23.