Guest Reviewer: David Luhn
Illustrations by Jimmy Reyes and Alex P.Z. dela Rosa
Wonder Woman #202 - DC Comics
After Conan The Barbarian became such a hit, DC decided to join the barbarian race with a title of their own. They chose to adapt the stories of Fritz Leiber which featured the duo of Fafhrd The Barbarian, an adventurer, and The Gray Mouser, a thief.
However, instead of just starting with a main title, DC decided to introduce the pair as part of the ongoing series, WONDER WOMAN. This introductory tale is actually the second part of a story which begins in WONDER WOMAN #201. However, it is not necessary to read the previous part to enjoy this issue. The story is by Samual Delany and the art by Dick Giordano.
I-Ching then tells the group that the stones can jump around from world to world on their own, which is apparently how they came to be there, but if they can get the other stone, The Eye Of The Ocean, as well, they could travel between both worlds at will. Fafhrd says Gawron The Sorcerer has a machine like the one they saw in the stone, so they decide to go there in hopes that they'll be able to find a way to get the other stone.
I-Ching wants it for power, Fafhrd and The Mouser want it for its monetary value. Yet, they all agree to help one another, at least for the time being.
At Gawron's stronghold, while trying to find different ways in, Catwoman and The Gray Mouser try to steal the bag of I-Ching, figuring it's got more "good stuff" in it, and chase him. They lose sight of him and run right into the main cavern, which is filled with all kinds of electrical machines. However, Gawron is there on a platform and sees them.
Diana and Fafhrd fight the guards and enter another way, only to find themselves in the same main cavern. I-Ching, who has been following a white rat to gain entrance, does indeed find a way in and he, too, is now with the others. At that moment, The Eye Of The Ocean, which has been in Lu Shan's possession, decides to transport itself, along with Lu Shan, Jonny Double and a couple of bad guys, also to this same main cavern. (Is this coincidence, or what?)
While a big fight ensues, Gawron tries to get both stones, however, I-Ching has the same idea and gets them first and heads to the machine! Placing one stone in each of the stone snake's mouths, one on each side of the passageway, a beam of light appears. Diana, her group, along with Fafhrd and The Mouser, jump into the light. But, on the way through, The Gray Mouser grabs The Eye Of The Ocean and takes it with him.
They all next appear on Earth in Diana's office. Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser think they might want to stay on Earth, but after one look outside of a busy city street, they decide they want to return to Nehwon. At that moment, as if in answer to their request, the stone The Mouser is holding lights up and they both vanish back to Nehwon (as it is assumed by everyone). We never are told exactly where they did go. Everyone in the room simply assumed they went back home. Of course, if back on Nehwon and they have both the stones, they can travel anywhere they want. Hmmmm .. And what of Lu Shan and her gang? What has happened to them? Are they stuck there forever?
The story ends on the top half of the page. On the bottom half of the page is an advert for (you guessed it) the new main title of the comic featuring our two heroes. Fafhrd is pictured with a seductive woman holding onto his neck and The Mouser is standing by them. The ad says to join them in their own magazine titled: "SWORDS AGAINST SORCERY!" Coming soon. Note that the title is a little different at this point.
This tale is fast moving and non-stop and could have been a "Special," flushing out the plot at many obvious points along the way, like who is this Gawron guy anyway, and what about the end with all those open possibilities? But, as it is, this story is very exciting, with outstanding art by Dick Giordano, and a great lead-in story to our duo's own mag. You, the reader, come away with a very good idea of who these two are and what they're all about.
Before their main title came out, however, the title was changed to "SWORD OF SORCERY," which lasted only five issues. All of those stories took place in the world of Nehwon, and many were adapted from stories by Fritz Leiber.
All characters are DC Comics
This column is © July, 1998 by David Luhn.