By Brandy DykhuizenOpening with postcard-worthy panels framed from a descending airplane’s window, Mulp touches down in the Lilliputian world of dormice and deer mice, distinctions drawn exquisitely by Sara Dunkerton. Our pint-sized friends are an inquisitive and fast moving lot, scurrying between friend and foe in an attempt to preserve a national treasure.

Two researchers, Jack and Cornelius, convene at a North African market to begin an anthropological (and anthropomorphic) adventure. A real doozy of an artifact has been excavated, with hints of even greater gems to come. Mulp wastes no time on diving into the excitement of a story that is both intriguing and appropriate for all ages.

When the heroes aren’t battling the bullies, Gibbs and Dunkerman explore biology, history and the arts in gorgeously painted panels. Rhinoceros beetles haul carts of rubble and dung beetles dutifully roll back cylindrical pillars in a transitional page that illustrates how rodents are now the brains behind Earth’s operations. Detailed renderings of Egyptian, Greek and Mayan creation myths explain that humans have long since been extinct, making way for smarter, furrier and more adorable creatures at the helm. The inhabitants of this alternate world exhibit relatable tendencies: thirsting for answers, breaking the rules to be first in line, and getting bored when Dad quotes Shelley at the British Museum.

Mulp brings all the shenanigans of a heist to the page: nutty professors, femme fatales, buried treasure, and brawny bad guys. These elements are all certainly familiar (think Indiana Jones with a sprinkling of NIMH), but in Mulp they never feel played-out or dull. Gibbs and Dunkerman have produced and lively and fun new take on a classic romp, with cuteness to spare.

Improper Books / $7.99

Written by Matt Gibbs.

Art & Colors by Sara Dunkerton.

Letters by Jim Campbell.

Edited by Luke Foster.

9 out of 10