Okay, yes, this appeals to a very specialised audience. It’s not for every comics reader, by any means.

But those it does appeal to,  it will appeal to a LOT.

For those who have always wondered what Marvel’s Hercules wears under the chiton, who have very fond memories of Murphy Anderson’s Hawkman, and who keep the Gray Morrow’s Edge of Chaos for no legitimate reason at all… this is a comic for you!

Dale Lazarov has carved out a niche in the smut market with his wordless – hence needing no translation, enhancing international sales – stories of man-on-man sexual encounters. Emphasising that they are wordless is by no means denigrating Lazarov’s part in the proceedings. Anyone who has written silent or ‘pantomime’ strips knows how difficult it is to convey the narrative without verbal exposition.

A crucial component of the strip’s success, of course, is the artist’s ease with body language and facial expression, two criteria important to any comic, but doubly so without the support of text.

A grown-up Eros/Cupid, very far from the chubby baby of simpering Valentine’s cards, falls foul of Ares when the latter discovers Eros spying on him in a way that is, to say the least, inappropriate. The enraged Ares chases Eros down to Earth, where, to distract Ares from his wrath, Eros uses his arrows of desire on both Ares and an implausibly-convenient Herakles. That’s about it for the narrative, but you may rest assured there’s a happy ending.

Several, in fact. Over and over again.

Now, yes, if you’re going to be po-faced about it, Eros’ conduct is deplorable. He’s caught perving over Ares, and when the latter is justifiably indignant, deflects Ares’ wrath by giving him and Herakles what amounts to an Olympian roofie. If the same thing was shown as being done to a woman and a man, people would be, quite rightly, indignant. So stipulated, but gay porn in the comics, from Tom of Finland onwards, does have a long tradition of the participation of reluctant parties as well as the whole power-trip scenario, so it’s historically valid, if not politically correct. And mythologically, there are many precedents of Olympians fooling around with/tricking/coercing mortals and other gods into sex, so it’s, to coin an odd phrase, mythologically accurate. Anyway, it’s not as if Eros doesn’t get his comeuppance in the end. Comprehensively.

Much gay porn in comics is tired, repetitive, and joyless, but that’s one tradition and precedent Lazarov dispenses with. Under the happy penstrokes of Adam Graphite, Lazarov delivers a smutfest that is funny, tender, whimsical, and utterly, utterly filthy. The gorgeously muted palette gives the grunt and grind an almost ethereal look, and Graphite’s exquisite illustrations, reminiscent of Adam Hughes, make the book a visual joy even if you’re not especially into the subject matter.