Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fantasy Sports No. 2: The Bandit of Barbel Bay

Fantasy Sports No. 1 was one of my favorite graphic novels of 2015, and it had a lot to live up to. This second volume in the series came out recently, and it is a worthy follow-up. It might not have made me laugh quite as much as the first book, but I did laugh in a few places. And I very much liked how it filled me in more about Wiz's background as well as the universe where all this takes place. I feel that the first book was more enjoyable perhaps, but this second volume is more substantial and the better of the two.

The set-up here is that our two mismatched mages, Wiz and Mug, are on another retrieval mission, and they end up stranded on an island of amphibious creatures.

The island's inhabitants have a low opinion of the Order of Mages, which sets our duo on edge. Still, circumstances follow where they lose their loot and have to take part in a tournament in order to win it back. The game here is beach volleyball, and Mug pretty much dominates through brute strength until they are faced with the island's champions, Yahma and Yahmi. Can Mug and Wiz figure out how to actually work together? You have to read the book to find out. But I will say that this volume ends in a much more open-ended manner than the first, and Fantasy Sports No. 3 cannot get here fast enough.

As with the first book, this one was a delight to read. The large-sized pages display the gorgeous artwork in excellent fashion. The story is fast, emotional, and suspenseful. The action sequences are well choreographed, and the details bring out a great sense of reality and humor. Sam Bosma, who is also known for his work as an artist on the cartoon show Steven Universe, has created another masterful graphic novel. He speaks more about his work on this book in these two interviews (1 and 2).

This second book in the series has received some great reviews. Publishers Weekly deemed it a "good-hearted and beautifully drawn sequel." Kirkus Reviews called "this second volume more substantial than the first." Dustin Cabeal remarked on the "strong storytelling with both the writing and the visuals."

Fantasy Sports No. 2 was published by NoBrow Press, and they have a preview and more available here.

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