In Fantasy Sports No. 1, a berzerker adventurer and his spellslinging, underappreciated apprentice go on a dungeon crawl that takes them into an eldritch game of basketball -- for the highest stakes imaginable.

Sam Bosma's oversized hardcover graphic novel from London's Nobrow Press is another in their string of outstanding, unorthodox tales for kids and adults that use visuals for a rich and economical storytelling experience.

Wiz is apprenticed to Mug through the The United and Ancient Order of Mages, and neither of them are happy about it. Mug is a tank: a huge warrior mage whose powers mostly consist of being generally indestructible and menacing. Wiz, meanwhile, is a slight magic-user who relies on her cunning more than her muscles. Mug is a hard boss to work for: though he consistently retrieves loot for the Order, he also goes through apprentices at speed. No one is good enough for him.

The Order's Archmage isn't having any of it. Mug and Wiz will have to learn to get along together, or else. And so off they go, on another dungeon-crawl, to a tomb beneath an eldritch pyramid, where Mug makes short work of all the animated skeletons that guard it, save one, whom Wiz charms into showing them into the dungeon's inner sanctum.

That's where things get interesting. In the tomb's heart dwells a millennia-old Pharoah sorcerer, attended by the thronged, animated skeletons of the adventurers he has despatched over the aeons. And there's only one way Mug can defeat him: single combat, in a game of the mummy's choosing.


The mummy strips off his ancient wrappings, revealing baller-chic shorts and singlet, and the skeletons go nuts.

What follows is some of the weirdest, most incongruous, coolest magical comic-book fights you've ever seen. Will Wiz and Mug settle their differences and defeat the ancient wizard, or will he take them downtown on the court?

Fantasy Sports #1 started life as a smaller, limited run comic called "Fantasy Basketball." The new title implies that many more delightful installments are in the offing.

I read this one to my seven-year-old daughter over three consecutive bedtimes, stretching it out. She kept asking me to leave it with her after I left the bedroom so she could re-read the night's passage and then read ahead. The combination of banter, sight gags, and adventure were total kid-crack. Dad-crack, too.

Check it out for yourself; I've ganked a preview that Comic Book Resources ran in January.

Fantasy Sports No. 1 [Sam Bosma/Nobrow]