I thought I'd do a complete 180 and talk about a good comic book for once.
This book, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser #3 (of 4) is a complete departure from Alpha Flight #121 in terms of quality. From the nice paper, the Prestige format, the careful lettering, the obvious attention to composition and color, to the witty and understated script and the lovingly created art... well, this is about as far away from Alpha Flight #121 as you can get and still be considered a comic book.
This is the third part of a four-issue limited series Epic published at the dawn of the Comics Dark Age that adapts Fritz Leiber's classic Fafhrd and Gray Mouser sword-and-sorcery stories into comic book form. Written by Howard Chaykin with pencils by Mike Fucking Mignola and inks by Al Williamson, Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser is a loving translation of Leiber's fantasy stories that manages to capture the plucky camaraderie of Leiber's eponymous heroes and the sinister world of deviltry and debauchery they swagger through.
Plus, it's pretty. Real pretty. Each book has two short stories, and each story gets a boss title card like this:
For those unfamiliar with Leiber's work, allow me to quickly explain. Fritz Leiber wrote a series of fantasy stories Back in The Day about two thieves: Fafhrd the hulking barbarian and the stealthy Gray Mouser. In books like Swords and Deviltry and Swords in The Mist, Leiber introduced us to these opportunistic adventurers, who were always running afoul of black magic while hunting for treasure or running some errand for their mysterious wizard patrons Sheelba and Ningauble. Many of the stories take place in the city of Lankhmar, a sprawling medieval metropolis of gods and thieves where anything goes. When I was a wee bairn I existed on a steady diet of Nazgul, Conan, Elric, and Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, so I was pretty stoked to see Chaykin and Mignola's series when it first came out.
These guys really nail it. The comic looks and feels like a proper Fafhrd and Gray Mouser story, from the design of ancient Lankhmar, to the banter of the two buddies, to the beguiling evil of magic, which was always dangerous and capricious in the Leiber universe. Who better than Mike "Hellboy" Mignola, to bring this seedy and ancient world to life?
And really, who is better than Howard "American Flagg" Chaykin at writing incorrigable, skirt-chasing rogues? Because when it comes down to it, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser aren't heroes in the classic mold. They're interested in a) women and b) loot, but aren't afraid of getting their hands dirty to get either. They would subscribe to the NWA philosophy of life:
This book has two Leiber adaptations: "The Price of Pain Ease," in which our heroes steal a house (it's not very big) while drunk and find themselves haunted by the shades of their lost loves, and "The Bazaar of the Bizarre," wherein The Gray Mouser falls under the sway of The Devourers, sinister merchants of illusion. The stories are told with elan and wit and are carefully, lovingly illustrated by Mignola and Williamson, who is a great inker.
So there you have it, Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser. I don't know if these have ever been collected in one volume, but they're definitely worth checking out. The whole think just stinks of quality, damn it!