Hey guys! So it looks like the blog has been a bit neglected recently (oh my) and while I’d love to say that things will look up soon, I’m not 100% sure. In the meantime, I am super excited to post this review because 1) it’s my first review request on this blog (SCREAMS) and 2) this was such an enjoyable read that I need to scream about it somewhere! Don’t you just love it when you end up reading a genre you normally don’t and get hit with the feels?
Thank you Aero Zero for letting me review your comic!!
Knight of Alanoc by Aero Zero ● Publication Date: January 15, 2019 ● Publisher: Men Plus Monsters
A ruthless lieutenant gives up on pursuing love… until a swordsman from a faraway land enters his life! Slow-burn romance SFW prequel to ACE OF BEASTS, with a NSFW epilogue.
Now then, the closest I’ve ever been to Bara were those FREE doujinshi that loved to appreciate Makoto’s musculature, which I have to admit is really scrumptious (#husbando). But in case you guys aren’t familiar with the term: Bara is yaoi’s cousin in that both genres feature gay relationships, however, bara features more masculine and muscular or brawny characters vs. the more bishounen type found in yaoi. This is because the creators for bara tend to be men and their intended audience are other men. Is this still the case now? I’m not really sure but I’m curious to know!
Knight of Alanoc starts off by introducing our two main characters, Osric Nero, a lieutenant who has recently had his heart broken and Xerxes Phoenix, a traveling swordsman who claims he wants to be a knight of the realm. While their meeting starts off rocky and aggressive (on Osric’s part), things start to work out between them as they get to know each other and feelings begin to develop.
Can I just say that I loved so many things about this webcomic? Honestly, I was a bit skeptical about how much I would like this story (because it’s bara) but the characters really grew on me. I really liked how over the top Osric was at the start (come on, WHO breaks up with someone while posing like him, please someone send help) but as we start to get to know him, we learn he’s a romantic at heart and just wants someone to really love him, and who can’t relate to those feelings?
Also, I’m considering kidnapping Xerxes as part of my deviant armada. I tell you, I am not normally a fan of hairy and muscular men but BOI does Xerxes tempt me. Plus, he’s such a soft guy and he’s so sensitive to everything. I feel like he’d be the best friend ever. I call dibs!
But what I liked the most about this story was the portrayal of the characters. Again, I’m not well versed in bara comics but men are generally portrayed as very manly, unfeeling, and sex-crazy (oh hey this sounds like Osric’s ex!) but this showed us something new. We have Osric who has a beauty routine and just wants to hold hands with his hubby and Xerxes who is so considering and understanding (I hope people are taking notes, I’m taking notes), and both characters talk and aren’t afraid to show affection. There was also consent everywhere, although it was more apparent to me during the NSFW epilogue since sex scenes tend to not have consent (mentions of safe word! I have not seen that outside of fanfiction).
I can’t even name the last M/M manga that had all or even some of this!
I do have to admit that I wasn’t entirely convinced with certain aspects of this story. First, I was completely confused as to how the world works. We do get a glimpse of it while following Osric and Xerxes but those scenes do tend to focus more on the characters and their budding romance. We also hear a bit about the world from Xerxes when he talks about his upbringing but aside from this, I have no idea who this army belongs to or what they’re fighting. I know they reside in a fantasy world with magic and horned creatures but aside from this, I felt a bit in limbo. I also thought some scenes were abrupt. I felt like I’d been thrown into a story midway in when we see Osric break up with his partner, which was okay just unexpected, but then we have moments where I felt Osric’s aggressiveness was random. I think the sense of time being uncertain also didn’t help with how abrupt some scenes felt
Also, something random I noticed was that there were a lot of moments that felt “staged”. For example, there’s a moment where Xerxes and Osric are running and in one panel they are facing forward but they’re posed in a way that I wouldn’t be surprised to find in a magazine. It just screamed photoshoot to me, which made it a bit unnatural because that makes me assume that the characters know they’re being observed. I wasn’t sure if this was intentional
Aside from this, I think the story worked really well and introduces a lot of cool things into a genre that has been stagnant for some time. Since this is part of a larger series (Ace of Beasts), I’m wondering if perhaps the worldbuilding and background character development will be progressed in future volumes. Personally, I’m invested in seeing more of Xerxes! I would recommend checking out this book if you want to experience a new perspective in M/M comics and don’t mind that outside of the romance, not much else is well developed (in this volume). The only thing I would caution is that the NSFW epilogue is NOT SAFE FOR WORK. It’s explicit, you have been warned. The nice thing is that the scene can be skipped since it’s a PWP epilogue but I’m also thinking that those pages could have been used to smooth out other sections of the book
I ended up giving this book a 4/5 on Goodreads because I really enjoyed the romance and it made me curious enough to check out the rest of the series!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ace ● POC ● He/They
AERO ZERO is an erotic comic artist and professional colorist who has made many NSFW consensual gay bara fantasy comics and worked alongside industry professionals since 2012.
They were born in the 32-bit era and have been playing video games ever since. They have a BA in illustration from an art school where they learned traditional media; however their digital work methods are mostly self-taught.
Their oldest characters are Xerxes and Osric (the main characters of ACE OF BEASTS), both made in 2009 and still close to their original designs! Their first comic was KYRIA, published online in 2012. Aero’s art has been featured in many professional comics, anthologies, and other works.
They currently draw/write ACE OF BEASTS and MEN+MONSTERS, while running their comic sites MEN PLUS MONSTERS & BARA COMICS, as well as the MEN PLUS MONSTERS shop. Their comics and art have gained critical acclaim from thousands of readers around the globe.
Here are some other reviews of Knight of Alanoc that I found on the internet!
But I’m curious, who else has read this comic and what did you think? And if you haven’t read it, did any of my rambles make you curious enough to go check it out? LMK!
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