Review: Black Wade

Artist(s): Andärle, Franze.

Published last year by Bruno Gmünder, Black Wade: The Wild Side of Love1 is a wonderfully-illustrated tale full of sex and danger. So far, so good. But I must admit one aspect of the story was not to my taste at all. More about that in a bit.

Wade and Jack

We follow the adventures of Lieutenant Jack Wilkins, a young officer in the Royal Navy, whose gold-carrying ship is attacked by a band of pirates lead by the dreaded Captain Black Wade. Wilkins is made prisoner, and finds himself bound in the hold of the pirate ship–and not to be used as a hostage. Rather as an unwilling sex toy by the gay captain. And then he begins to like it, to the point of falling for the captain.
You see what I object to? This setup reminds me of a number of yaoi mangas I’ve read, where rape is, after all, what the victim really needed to make his hidden desires come to the fore. Because, yes, Wilkins is shown as fantasizing about men (well, cock, at least) while jerking off, so he’s obviously a closet case. Wasn’t there another way of making him realize his true nature, for example by tempting him, by showing the captain having sex with another man in front of him (we see that one of the pirate crew has the hots for the captain)? I certainly don’t mean to tell the authors how to do their story, but frankly, “corrective rape” doesn’t sound a very good idea to me. The same basic idea of a gay pirate captain and his prisoner was also used by Justin Hall in Hard to Swallow, but there, the rapes weren’t shown as beneficial to the victim.

Once you get past that, there’s a lot to like in Black Wade: Wilkins is shown as a man who’s ready to take risks for what he believes in (later in the book, captain Wade is captured by the Navy), Wade himself isn’t sure he can afford to fall in love (and with an officer of the Navy!), what with his line of work, and the art itself is stunning. Lush, vibrant colors, detailed backgrounds and clothes, energetic layouts and a style influenced by both manga and animation.

The authors haven’t announced a sequel to their book, but Black Wade: The Wild Side of Love feels like a solid first story for what could be a series. Dangers abound for the new lovers, and after all, the life of pirates, gay or not, was nothing if not adventures-filled. So, while I hope the unfortunate choice of rape will not return, I’d be on board for a second book.

  1. This 80-page hardcover is available from the publisher or from Amazon.

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