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Spotlight on Masque of the Red Death Vol: 1
by Wendy Pini
Published by Go! Comics
Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

If a yaoi graphic novel was to be created from a well-known horror story, no one, least of all me could ever think of one based on Edgar Allen Poe's classic Masque of the Red Death. This time it's set in the future where everyone is supposed to be perfect and science genius, Anton Prosper has the wealth and power to change people's lives, and one in particular, Steffan Kabala, the Legolas lookalike who happens to catch Anton's eye. Steffan's mother wants to get the two of them together for her own benefit as a fellow scientist, but Steffan has other ideas.

There are several surprising things about this book; the first is it being given the yaoi treatment, the second that Wendy Pini is the artist behind the mega successful Elfquest fantasy series, with her husband, Richard as the writer. A yaoi version of a Poe classic short story from Wendy is as unexpected as it gets. Especially so as Go! Comi already publish original Japanese manga titles; 07-Ghost, Song of the Hanging Sky, After School Nightmare and Black Sun/Silver Moon.

The small "Contains Mature Content" sign on the back is a strong indicator of the content inside as Anton and Steffan enjoy a rather dark romance part of the way through. It's not so much dark as in the Poe way, but the sex scenes are done under cover of darkness. The manga look is part Western, though the large eyes and stylised look of the menís bodies fits in with the yaoi theme of slender men with long arms, legs and, in some cases, hair. While Anton is the self-assured and at times cocky character who oozes sensuality, Steffan is the indulgent, easy-going one who has had several sexual relationships, but none have given him anything close to how he feels for Anton.

The sad part is that this was the only volume that got published, further volumes never got the chance as Go! Comi stopped publishing in 2010. Despite this readers can see Wendy Pini's Elfquest characters in the main ones here even though this first volume is a diversion from the Elfquest saga she has been so used to illustrating. She has made the characters sexy and it's good to see her taking on other more racy projects.

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