Jack, a shy, tortured young man, hooks up with a mysterious stranger at a bar and loses himself in an intense and exhilarating night with him in his hotel room, during which he sees visions of bloodshed and ancient gods. In the morning, he discovers he’s been branded with a mysterious tattoo-the one his mysterious stranger had-and is now imbued with dark and brutal powers. But will those powers be enough to save him from a vicious gang attack?
I got this book on impulse, while cruising the Comixology Submit New Releases category, you can occasionally find some real gems in there. I recognized the creators names, writer Charles “Zan” Christensen and artist Mark Brill, from their book THE POWER WITHIN, which made we want to check this out (plus, that cover looks awesome).
So, as the synopsis says, it features a man named Jack. He seems to be a pretty average guy (I can’t tell what his ethnicity is supposed to be, possibly Asian or Hispanic), he’s homosexual but apparently in the closet, and kind of conflicted about that. The story opens with him in some cheap motel room with a handsome [Black] man that he just met. And while Jack is a tad reluctant at first, he quickly gives in and the two have wild passionate sex all night.
NOTE: The sex is rather graphic. There are no cocks shown, erect or otherwise, but we do get 8 pages full of panels of two naked men in bed on top of and underneath each other. I will confess, as a staunchly heterosexual man, some of this it tad uncomfortable to look at, so I’m just forewarning any other heteros who pick this up. Like me, hopefully, you will not let that stop you from doing so. To me, it would be like avoiding watching the TV show Empire, just because the character of Jamal occasionally kisses (and more) other men on it. GET OVER IT.
Moving along, during the sex see these life-like tattoos enveloping both of them, although Jack is oblivious to this fact. The other man leaves during the night, and the next day we see Jack at work on the phone, concerned about the tattoo which he now has on his abdomen. Later on we see Jack get lost while on his way to see the doctor, and his accosted by three men who force him into an alley and the prepare to rape him, and it’s at this point which the tattoo envelopes Jack’s body, in a way that is similar to what you see on the above cover, and it also seems to take over his mind, as Jack then brutally dispatches his would-be attackers.
I don’t know if my recap does this story justice, but all I can say is that I was hooked. It’s a dark and moody tale, in the vein of James O’Barr’s The Crow and Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. As soon as the story finished, I wanted to know more. And the artwork, along with it’s subdued coloring, helps set the noir-ish mood of the story. This series is off to a great start. Chacebook rating: 5 STARS
P.S. My only complaints, and I add this as advice to the creators, is the price. $4.99 is pricey for an independent title, and that may scare off potential readers. Yes, this is a 74 page-book, but the main story itself is only 27 pages. The rest if all “bonus material”, which includes sketches and original pages without color or dialog, plus an alternate ending for the main story. All of that could have been cut, in my opinion. Saved for a possible collected edition down the road.
Categories: LGBTQ COMIC-BOOKS