There will be spoilers for the manhwa series Double Marks.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to blackmail, sex in exchange for favors, dubcon, rape, forced marking, violence, nepotism, threats of arranged marriage, prejudice, child abuse, and blood, as it appears in the manhwa.
Ash is one of the few unbonded omegas at the aristocratic school of Seytan Academy. As an omega, there is immense pressure on him from his father, who demands the best and nothing less, or he will marry off his son to the highest bidder. The pressure is immense, but Ash has a secret weapon: his childhood friend and classmate Judah. Judah shows his answer sheets to Ash during every exam, even at the risk of failing himself. Why? Judah is an alpha, and he is hopelessly obsessed with Ash. In exchange for helping Ash cheat, Judah asks for sexual favors for his reward, which Ash reluctantly gives.
While this works for a while, the appearance of Isaac exposes their secret arrangement. Isaac is an alpha, and he has his eyes set on Ash. His attention on Ash leads him to catch Judah sharing his answers with Ash during an exam. He takes a picture, which he uses to blackmail Ash into having sex with him, too. Stuck between two alphas, one of which wants him all for himself, all Ash wants is freedom. But can an omega ever truly be free?
Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way: I hate the art style. It's messy and not in an attractive or interesting way. The characters sometimes look wildly disproportionate and look like entirely different people from panel to panel. However, while I'm not a fan of it, I think it fits the narrative's mood (until the ending, but we'll talk about that later). The colors are very muted, and some designs give me Death Note vibes (Isaac is like a fuckboy version of Near). I think this art style works for the dark and despondent narrative. It just isn't my preference.
This is a super short one at five episodes total, which can sometimes be really great or really unfortunate. This actually falls somewhere in the middle. I think this does a great job of showing us who each of our main characters are, Isaac as the fuckboy, Judah as the obsessive stalker type, and Ash as the desperate omega bottom. However, while this does a great job of setting up who these characters are, the jump between episodes four and five is jarring. They go from these transactional relationships, with Ash at the center, to enjoying time in a tropical place and having threesomes. The switch in tone doesn't make much sense. The narrative tries to sell it as being Ash's choice, which is why everything is so nice now, but it just doesn't feel believable.
Also, while I'm a huge fan of a poly “alpha x omega x alpha” sandwich, this is the least attractive one I could have imagined, and it's not because of Isaac or Ash. Judah is like the dark version of the puppy dog type, having been Ash's closest friend since childhood. He comes off as very creepy rather than endearing, though based on the story, Ash seems to find his desperate obsession endearing anyway in the end. I do think Ash's reasoning makes sense, as he had been playing with and leading Judah on since childhood, so his feelings toward Judah are more cemented in guilt than true love or affection. Regardless, I hated Judah. Judah is most certainly not my type, I've found. I rarely say a BL character isn't my type, but Judah is one of the few.
Though I don't think it makes much sense within the narrative, I do like the ending in general. However, why would Judah accept Isaac when he was so vehemently against sharing? Who knows? I'm going to try not to look a gift horse in the mouth because I need more polycules in my life, and while this is a fucked up one, I can still appreciate it. Ash does seem happier and more free than he ever was before, so that's good. I love it when there is a message of taking back agency in one's life, though I'm not sure even in this situation that Ash has all that much more control, but at least he chose to give up control in this scenario as opposed to the alternative.
I was pretty harsh on this, but let's face it, it's only five episodes. It's super cheap, and if you just want some dark smut, look no further. I do think it's worth the money, regardless of whether it was to my preference or not. I do wish the story had been more well-crafted, with more development in the relationship between our trio, but there can only be so much done in such a small package. It's not my favorite, but it's fine for the size of a dark, smutty morsel.
Have you read Double Marks? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!