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Sunday, March 02, 2008
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If you don't see the images of a review, it means that I've transferred it to the new site.
Brother to Dragons #1
Year of publication: 2007.
Here's the first issue of a comic I'm writing. Which means I couldn't write a review. But Tommy Roddy, writer of Pride High, has offered to write a review for me.
One last thing: Brother to Dragons is published by Class Comics, and we have an official blog here, where you can find various art and other goodies, such as a short sequel written for the blog. And now I hand over to Tommy.
I've been eagerly awaiting Brother to Dragons ever since I saw the previews in 2007. With the artwork by Carlos García, I was immediately drawn to the various body types on display. Some of the men were big and burly, others lanky, some hairy, some not. Unlike a lot of gay erotica, it was clear that these guys didn't just stick to their own type. But even more surprising was the richly imagined setting with a well-integrated, compelling storyline.
Brother to Dragons takes place in what, at first glance, seems to be a standard medieval fantasy world. You've got toiling peasants, a young man on his first trip to the big city, danger lurking just around the corner, and that fantasy staple, dragons. But instead of warrior-women in chainmail bikinis fighting dragons off, you have strapping men getting each other off as a form of worshipping the mighty beasts!
The story begins with Alaï, a young farmer's son who is on his way to the capital. He spends the first portion of the trip in a coach, pining after a cheating ex. As luck would have it, his coachman, Jiky, takes a shine to him. Before long, the two frolic in the hay, with a scene reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica, of all things. That happens to be one of my favorite shows, so a big thumbs up to the fantasy version of the "Red Lights of Doom."
Alaï soon makes his way to the house of his uncle, where he's greeted by his cousin, Rano. Alaï is filled with memories of a past summer, when he and Rano spent half the time tending the fields and the other half sowing their wild oats. Together. Alaï is eager to renew the good old days, but Rano is a changed man. Here we have our first hint of a rival school of thought regarding spirituality in Peneaud's world. Where most people see sexual relations as a positive, divine offering, Rano firmly believes in celibacy and purity. He sees it as the only way to keep the inner "Cold Ones" at bay, a reference to the frigid monstrosities that were banished long ago by the dragons. Alaï scoffs at the notion of anything cold within him, since he's quite hot for his cousin.
Meanwhile in another part of the city, Jiky is reunited with his spiritual brethren. I would go into more detail about this sequence, but I think it's one best read without any spoilers. I will say though, that the sense of smell comes up in this scene, which immediately reminded me of an earlier one. Small detail, but one that I'm betting becomes more important later on.
Spurned by his cousin, Alaï goes to a local temple for communion. He is soon matched with a young acolyte and together they recite a creation myth that is my favorite part of the comic. In a series of beautiful panels featuring stained glass in the temple, the monstrous Cold Ones are introduced, along with their enemies: the Drac of Clouds, the Drac of Flames, and the Drac of Shapes. It's a real testament to the richness of the world and its mysteries that this scene doesn't take a backseat to the erotic content.
Speaking of erotic content, what I love most about Peneaud's story is the Happy!Gay Sex. It's great to see comic book intimacy that is *actually* intimate, complete with lots of smiling, cuddling, and laughing. A big kudos to Peneaud and García for bringing a more well-rounded take to man-on-man action.
On a side note, I really like the way García draws cheeks. I'm not talking about *those* cheeks, though I have no complaints there, either. The characters are always taking big bites out of their food, and like chipmunks getting ready for winter, their cheeks puff out. It's so adorable!
Peneaud's superb writing is paired extremely well with García's artwork. The characters' expressions perfectly match the dialogue and there are lots of little details that really bring the world to life. The dragon/reptilian theme is consistent throughout, including a flock of birds that resemble the archaeopteryx. It's quite a world that Peneaud and García have created and one that I look forward to visiting again!
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