Grand Slam Romance 2: Major League Hottiesgrand slam

Writer: Ollie Hicks
Artist: Emma Oosterhous
Publisher: Abrams ComicArts Surely
Price: $24.99
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Coming up with a sequel to the horniest magic softball comic in existence is a peculiar endeavor. In Grand Slam Romance, Book 1, Ollie Hicks and Emma Oosterhous went for an all-out Queer sports saga that would make anyone’s crotch tingle by the simple act of reading it. There’s a reason why it made it to The Beat’s Best Comic of 2023 list. Its explosive mix of romance, competition, and inter-team sexnanigans set it apart from the pack for a book that quite simply has no equal. How do you follow that up? Well, Hicks and Oosterhous have found a way, and it throws in a few curb balls along the way to up the sexual force that the first book already had a whole lot of.

Book 2 of Grand Slam Romance, subtitled “Major League Hotties,” picks up after main players and sexual powerhouses Mickey and Astra score a win over their archrivals The Gaity Gals. New magical powers have been discovered, lost, and transformed. Mickey is riding on a softball high that followed the reveal of her new skills and Astra is considering her future in the sport. Like rainfall on a nudist beach day, their nemesis Jasmine Von Schitz steps in to remind the “it’s complicated but with a lot of sex” couple that magic users require a magic license to play. The magic DMV is in Switzerland, meaning it’s time for an Eurotrip. And we all know what goes on in these Eurotrips (hint: it’s sex).

Hicks and Oosterhous are quick to establish a raunchier kind of energy for Book 2. There are more sex scenes than in the previous book and nearly each line of dialogue has either a direct or an indirect reference to bodily fluids gushing generously or limbs rubbing off each other in sparkly ecstasy. With so much of it to go around, I was worried that “Major League Hotties” would end up losing a lot of the sensual nuance and soul of the first book. But there’s a purpose to the design, and it finds a home in worldbuilding and in meaningful explorations of sexual boundaries (and whether they should be eased for more genuine and consensual expressions of emotional and carnal fulfilment).

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The European setting is just the change in scenery the story needed to distinguish itself from part one. This isn’t a retread the previous book, and the secret is in the amount of detail Hicks and Oostehous pack in each page. Great care goes into making the European trip its own type of magic, with locations and teams and new antagonists that have that classic Euro weirdness so many have poked fun at before. Oosterhous takes the opportunity to add a large dose of fantasy to the visuals here, taking to lighter color palette that complements the purples, hot pinks, and neons of part one. New characters look like Queer kings and queens of old if they had rummaged through Elton John’s wardrobe, and new teammates feel like softball wizards and witches from far away lands. It’s like the Eurovision version of softball, and it’s eyewatering.

Hicks comments on everything, sometimes dropping jokes on the smallest of panels. It makes everything on the page compulsory reading (just in the recap there’s a bit about a horse that’s currently in her slay phase after her controversial presence in book one). The same goes for each new character, all of which feel storied and independent thanks to their unique personalities (which also dictates the kinds of jokes they dish out).

And then there’s what Hicks and Oosterhous do with one of Astra’s and Mickey’s exes. The direction they took with this character was impressive, with a few twists here and there that impact the whole trajectory of their journeys.

Grand Slam Romance 2: Major League Hotties pulls off the rare feat of being a sequel worthy of the original. It’s unafraid to take horniness to the international level to mine even more of it. Hicks and Oosterhous prove that the magical sports world they created can go the distance, leaving the door open for plenty more seasons of sex-packed softball.