The barbarian Mug and magical Wiz, having been reluctantly paired together in their first adventure of Fantasy Sports, are back. In the first volume they finally worked together—Wiz’s magical skill and knowledge of sports and Mug’s endurance and strength—to win their basketball game and secure the treasure for the council of mages. However, an unfortunate magical accident has left them stranded in Barbel Bay, where the fish-like inhabitants don’t appreciate mages at all. Wiz is troubled by the destroyed town, the angry inhabitants, and the general air of tragedy and ruin, but Mug just wants his leg fixed and to get their treasure back to the council. But when their treasure is stolen, the two must work together to join in a sacred ritual of the inhabitants—a volleyball game! The story ends on a cliffhanger as the two set off for another adventure, another challenge, and another game.
The story opens with a flashback to Wiz’s past, as her magical ability is revealed in a baseball game. The orange and yellow tones show the intense emotions of the game and her family as they realize they are losing their daughter, as well as Wiz’s starry eyes at the adventure that lies ahead. Abruptly, the scenes switch to the blue, gray, and green hues of the ocean town Wiz and Mug wash up in. Defeated and impoverished by the mages, the scenery has a derelict air. When the volleyball game begins, the fish people’s champions glow with a rich purple and blue, showing the prosperity that once reigned in the village. The village inhabitants have a slimy, damp look, while Wiz and Mug shine a bright, war-like red.
What started out as a sports-infused adventure in the first volume, deepens into a more complex story in the second installment. While Mug claims to still be an unfeeling, physical fighter, even he occasionally admits to softer feelings and is learning to work together with Wiz. The young wizard is losing her naivety as she sees more of the world and begins to suspect the Mages’ Guild has more secrets and a dark side she hasn’t yet seen. The unexpected ending of the game stays away from saccharine sentiment as both Wiz and Mug develop a little more in their characters and set out, determined to find the truth.
Fans of the first volume will be excited to read the continuing story. Recommend this exciting fantasy with sporting elements to sports fans who don’t think they like fantasy and fantasy fans who don’t think they like sports. Readers interested in the unique art showcased in Nobrow’s works will also enjoy the detailed, colorful pictures that convey the emotions, excitement, and secrets of the fantastic world slowly being unfolded.
Fantasy Sports, vol 2: The Bandit of Barbel Bay
by Sam Bosma
Publisher Age Rating: 6 and up