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The Mark of Aeacus

First issue of a series, Class Comics, 2007.

Category: fantasy.

Author(s): Charles Christensen, Mark Brill.

Jack and the stranger

Until now, Class Comics has published comics which were sexually explicit, if varied in ambiance and style. But with The Mark of Aeacus, they're branching out, as writer Charles Christensen and artist Mark Brill give us the first part of a very intriguing noir story, as sexy as it's disquieting.
When Jack, a young man, spends the night with a stranger he's just met, he gets more than he bargained for: great sex, but also a new tattoo on his back, a tattoo linked to a mythological figure of vengeance, which will help him in a very violent way when he's later attacked by thugs.
Writer Christensen has done his homework (as detailed on his site): Aeacus, the Greek king who gives his name to the series, is not among the better known characters in mythology (see here for a longer recap of his story). One of the innumerable bastard sons of Zeus, Aeacus lived on an island devoid of population, and according to one source (they differ, as usual in myths), Zeus turned ants into men, the famous Myrmidons (from the Greek word meaning "ants")--the grand-child of Aeacus was Achilles, who commanded the Myrmidons in the Trojan war. What does this have to do with a gay comic? Well, during the night of sex between Jack and the stranger, we see panels showing various things, including people from ancient times, a tattooed creature killing men, and ants. That, and the main tattoo is in the shape of the one Jack gets stuck with. It is, in fact, the Mark of Aeacus, who, after his death, was appointed as one of the judges of the dead.
The blend of (non explicit) sex scenes and unexplained, weird scenes is wonderfully staged and drawn by Mark Brill, who uses interesting color schemes to portray the intimacy between the two men, from warm colors to unsettling grey, and gives a painterly feeling to his panels, bringing a lot of presence and emotion to those pages. Brill has also adopted a realistic art style which is miles away from the one he used on his furry series Rocketship Rodents and draws men who don't look like porn stars at all, but seem to live in the real world.
The same can be said for the way Jack is written by Christensen. He faces real-life problems, as is hinted in the various flash-backs punctuating the night of sex scenes, and is shown as a man full of doubts, lacking self-assurance. Getting a supernatural tattoo on his back will obviously make him question a lot of things, although I have no idea where this comic is really going, a nice feeling for a reader.
What I know is that The Mark of Aeacus is a comic of which I'd really like to read the continuation.

The beast is out
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