When you hear the title Fantasy Sports there’s really nothing you can imagine because the possibilities are just endless. Going in I decided just to see where the story would take me and what these “Fantasy Sports” would be. Well it was a real treat because Sam Bosma doesn’t haphazardly send the reader into a story expecting them to understand the world and the sport. Instead we start off at “The United and Ancient Order of Mages.” Yeah, that’s right mages. Look at that I think someone just rang up a copy of Fantasy Sports.
We’re introduced to this world of mages and we see a young intern running for a meeting with the Archmage. Our intern Wiz is looking for a reassignment and luck would just so have it that her partner Mug also wants to be reassigned. Wiz looks like a young mage, whereas Mug looks like a giant brawler. His entrance into the room was funny because he had to bend and contort his massive body to get through the small doorway. The Archmage, after seeing them squabble, denies their request and sends them back into the field together to prove themselves.
Cut to the mission at hand and their ransacking an old temple. After a combination of Mug destroying all the living skeletons guarding the place and Wiz sweet talking the last skeleton the duo find their way to are parallel zone of sorts. There they find the owner of the tomb a mummified looking dude. Mug tells him they’re taking his fortune, but “He of the Giant Steps” has other ideas. Wiz attempts to invoke ancient law, but Giant Steps gives her the cold shoulder as well. Eventually they do get goaded into a game of… basketball!
That is where this book gets interesting and very different. There was a modern vibe to the ancient fantasy setting in the beginning of the story, but when Giant Steps stands up to play ball… let’s just that he’s come to play ball. I don’t need to tell you anything else about the story other than it’s really entertaining.
Bosma’s jokes are subtle, but they’re funny. It’s at times a sophisticated humor requiring knowledge of both fantasy magic and basketball stereotypes. I know, I know… that’s very niche, but I got it. While all this is happening Bosma also manages to develop both Wiz and Mug. It’s somewhat obvious that it’s going to happen, but it’s the fact that it organically occurs throughout the course of the story that makes it special. There’s not that one scene in which they look at each other and understand one another, but rather fragments spread throughout carefully pieced together by the end.
With all of this the art plays an important role. Bosma not only creates a vivid and living world that our characters occupy a section of, but then he mixes worlds while still keeping that semblance of the original world. Giant Steps nook of the universe feels like his own and yes has modern flair to it, but the overall product matches what we're first introduced to.
Art and humor are important. Jokes can instantly fail if the art isn’t there to back it up. The page in which Giant Steps gets ready to ball is probably one of the funniest pages of the book because it instantly elevates what seems like a carefree adventure into something more. There’s only one line of dialogue there and without the ten panels before it, it wouldn’t have as much of an impact. Bosma has a wonderful pacing for the story and the visuals which delivers big payoffs like that.
If these mages continued to play sports I would be happy. I’m interested in the world as a whole, but even if this was the only style of adventure they went on I would be cool with that. I would love to see more adventures with Wiz and Mug and I think that Bosma has created something special here. There’s the potential for deep character moments while still maintaining the humor of the world and characters.
I didn’t know what to expect from Fantasy Sports, but I’m glad I tried it. I’m glad that there’s a comic like this because it just shows how fantastic the medium can be. You would never find this on TV, movies or even a video game. Hell a cartoon show would be hard pressed to make this happen, but here it is… finished in comic form waiting for all to enjoy it.
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