Comic Book / A Distant Soil

A Distant Soil is an epic comic book series by Colleen Doran. It is a combination of science fiction and fantasy, combining Arthurian elements with a space story about a highly advanced alien society, from a world called Ovanan. Ovanan is inhabited by immortal, androgynous, psychic beauties, and ruled by a corrupt council called the Hierarchy. The Hierarchy draws its power from a being called the Avatar, who is connected to what is called the Collective, and through it, every Ovanan mind. They control the Avatar, forcing him to kill or exile any children with power that could threaten the Hierarchy and the empire built and ruled by Ovanan.

One Ovanan man, Aeren, was exiled by the current Avatar, Seren, for being a Disruptor, which is the opposite of the Avatar in that while the Avatar manipulates the flow of energy through the world around them, a Disruptor disrupts the flow of energy. This power can be used to kill with a touch, short out machinery, or unlock any lock. Aeren was allowed to live, and escaped to Earth, where he married a human woman and had several children. Only two survived.

Liana and Jason, 15 and 17, have powers they don't understand and can't control. They are locked up in an institute for study. Liana has epilepsy, and her seizures appear to be linked to her powers. Together, they escape the institute, but are quickly separated. Liana is confronted by an Ovanan man who introduces himself as Rieken, and his companion, a mortal named D'mer, from a world conquered by Ovanan.Rieken explains that Liana has the powers of an Avatar, and as such is interfering with the current Avatar's ability to access and draw upon the power of the Collective. When Liana accidentally touched the Collective, the Hierarchy became aware of her existence, and sent a battleship, the Siovansin, to find and eliminate her. Rieken and D'mer are members of the Resistance, and want to overthrow the oppressive Hierarchy. They have come to Liana for help, and to protect her from the Hierarchy. She agrees to help, and Rieken and D'mer set off in search of more people to help them on their quest. Rieken is revealed to be the Avatar, Seren, who wishes to be free of the Hierarchy's control and remove them from power. He is keeping this a secret from his allies, believing they would not trust him if they knew.

Meanwhile, the Hierarchy has captured Jason, who is a Disruptor with a psychic link to his sister. He is tortured and nearly killed by Sere, a sadistic pedophile and a member of the Hierarchy. The Hierarchy believes him to be dead, and he is rescued by the Resistance, who recruit him and convince him to help them kill the Avatar. They are unaware that their leader, Rieken, is really the Avatar.

Rieken, D'mer, Liana, and their allies are taken aboard the Siovansin, the humans passing as new members of Rieken's household. Beys, a member of the Resistance, seduces Jason during his initiation, and uses crystals containing information about the mission to control his mind and actions. The two groups rush towards confrontation, with Liana and Jason caught in the middle.

Since 2009 the comic has been published for free on line. All of the original pages have been posted and new material is now appearing. It can be read here.


This comic contains examples of:

  • The Ageless: The Ovanan do not age once they reach adulthood.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The whole point of the Avatar, who can channel the Collective and wield the combined psychic power of the entire Ovanan race.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The Hierarchy has an internal pecking order based on personal psionic power. Niniri and Sere largely bully the rest, being the strongest psychics of the group. Niniri is the only member of the Ovanan race powerful enough to smack down Sere, and as a result she is the leader of the Hierarchy and the de facto queen of Ovanan.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted by the Hierarchy, who are all physically stunning and range from weak and manipulated to evil.
  • Bi the Way: Seren and Aeren, and the rest of the Ovanan, really, but it isn't as apparent as with these two, who are actually shown in relationships with both genders.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: NINIRI.
  • Costume Porn: The Ovanan take this Up to Eleven, or beyond in the case of nobles. The Hierarchy members have wardrobes that are almost beyond belief, and what they consider everyday casual wear would count as royal court dress in almost any other civilization. Except for Emeris, who is an exhibitionist, to the point where Niniri finally breaks down and demands that he start wearing proper clothing.
  • Creepy Twins: Jason describes Liana and his twin older siblings as this. They were intentionally drawn to look very similar and have a creepy looking face.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: The Siovansin and its Ovanan noble passengers are this in spades.
  • Deadpan Snarker: D'mer, much to Seren's amusement.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: With the Ovanans.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Sere, although she is strictly a pedophile and tends to lose interest once her prey reaches adulthood. Also Emeris, who also has a thing for Kimarians, given his brutal sexual abuse of D'Mer. He has an enslaved Kimarian female hanging off his legs in one scene in Coda and makes a comment about "everybody doing it with mortals", noting that all the females brought in from Kimar are sterile as a rationalization for it, even though it is illegal for Ovanan to have sexual relations with other species.
  • Dirty Mind-Reading: Poor Liana is mindlinked to both Seren and Jason. She sings "Mary Had A Little Lamb" to block out the thoughts she doesn't want to hear.
    Liana: AND STOP THINKING THOSE THOUGHTS!
    • This takes a much darker turn when Liana has to struggle to not share the experience of Emeris brutally raping and torturing Seren to get information from him.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Quite common, as the Ovanan favor androgynous looks. The human characters actually debate whether one of the Psi-Wards guarding Seren's household (while in trance) is a male or female. Bast informs them he is a male. Ovanan with easily-distinguishable gender are usually lower class and/or warriors.
  • Everyone Is Bi: The Ovanan don't seem to care one way or the other about the gender of their lovers. This actually comes across as part of Humans Through Alien Eyes. (elaborated below)
  • Executive Meddling: The comic was originally published by ElfQuest's Richard Pini. Doran severed the contract after nine issues, citing Pini's interference in the plot, dialogue and choice of cover artist, not to mention allegedly trying to grab all the rights. Apart from one short story, none of the original version has ever been reprinted and probably never will (making it a case of Keep Circulating the Tapes).
  • Fair Folk: Dunstan, see below.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: The teleporter used by Seren and D'mer to covertly beam to and from their shuttle in The Gathering is never used or mentioned later on, even in situations where being able use teleportation to make an escape would be extremely useful.
  • Geas: Dunstan mentions that he's under a Geas, he cannot reveal he's one of the Fair Folk while on mortal soil.
  • God-Emperor: In theory the Avatars are supposed to be this, as both the secular rulers of Ovanan as well as a God in Human Form. However, the Hierarchy has long since learned how to turn them into Puppet Kings.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Niniri is the de facto queen of Ovanan rather than officially holding the title. But she is the leader of the Hierarchy, as well as being the only one powerful enough to dare to directly punish Sere. In public ceremonies she takes a place of prominence that would normally be occupied by an actual queen and in private she commands everyone, including the other Hierarchy members and the Avatar.
  • Harmful to Minors: The Hierarchy's typical handling of young potential Avatars involves extensive emotional, physical, sexual and psionic abuse. Other than the last, the human Institute used not dissimilar tactics to try to make Jason and Liana more compliant.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: A different example, where Rieken (undercover as a botanist) is amazed at a beautiful flower that grows on Earth. Liana meanwhile is surprised at this because it's a dandelion.
    • Likewise, Liana gets angry at Rieken for a rather intense night with Bast, and Rieken finds it weird that humans choose just one partner in their lifetimes.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Liana and Seren are about seventy years apart.
  • La Résistance: Rieken leads a multi-species group of rebels, although during his frequent absences they often hatch their own plans. This can lead to problems since Rieken is secretly Seren, the Avatar, whom they are trying to kill along with the Hierarchy.
  • Longhaired Pretty Boy: Pretty much all the male Ovanan.
  • Mayfly-December Romance: Seren and D'mer, Aeren and his human wife.
  • Mind Rape: Sere and Emeris are specialists at this. Other Ovanan aren't all that hesitant about it either.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-universe — Liana mentions destroying something and Jason wouldn't tell her what it was. These were unfertilized egg cells, implied to have been from Liana.
    • The Choosing ceremony, where the Avatar tests Ovanan children to determine if they are "variants" (i.e. have won the Superpower Lottery). Any deemed a threat to the Hierarchy are killed by the Avatar on the spot, while all the other children watch and wait their turn to find out whether or not they will be killed too.
  • Papa Wolf: Sgt. Minetti. You probably also wouldn't want to threaten Seren or Liana with Kovar around.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Seren, Liana, and Jason, as well as every other Avatar and Disruptor that existed before them.
  • Psychic Powers: The Ovanan have a wide range of these. Some other species have them as well.
    • Aura Vision: Ovanan see the world this way, which makes them like looking at mortals because their life forces burn fast and brightly, whereas most of the immortal Ovanan have very faint auras.
    • Healing Hands: Most Ovanan medical practitioners have this ability.
    • Mind over Matter: Very common among Ovanan. D'Mer can also use this on himself to fly.
    • Playing with Fire: D'Mer is a powerful pyrokinetic, as are some other Kimarians. The Ovanan see no use for this power and don't breed for it.
    • Psychic Block Defense: Psi-Wards, usually members of House Teramis, can do this for themselves and extend it to others.
    • Seers: Hierarchy members Merai (a precognitive) and Eshi (who can sense any disruption in the Collective).
    • Telepathy is pretty much standard in all Ovanan.
    • Touch of Death: Disupters have this.
    • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Bast and the other members of the House of Avriahm possessed this ability.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Could possibly have been a Trope Namer given its prevalence!
  • Significant Haircut: Kovar has two: from trailing on the floor to knee-length when he steps down as a Prince of his house to serve the Avatar, and then to just past his shoulders so he can pass as a commoner during the rebellion.
  • Sugary Malice: Bitch in Sheep's Clothing Niniri calmly looks the other way while Sere sexually abuses children, including Seren—who sees her as a mother figure. And that's not even getting into all the other psychological manipulation and abuse she subjects him to.
  • Super Breeding Program: Inverted. The Hierarchy deliberately rigs the conception of Ovanan children so as to prevent anyone from winning the Superpower Lottery and proving to be powerful enough to threaten the ruling power structure.
  • Supernatural Elite: The Hierarchy and the rulers of the Houses, who have greater psychic powers than lower-ranked Ovanan. Perhaps the most dramatic demonstration was the eminently ladylike Sere casually mowing down Seren's household guards, despite their possession of guns as well as psychic powers. She was only stopped by Kovar, who as the Prince of House Teramis was sufficiently powerful to withstand her psionic attacks long enough to hold a sword to her throat.
  • Team Dad: Whether he's babysitting Liana, tucking Seren into bed, or getting Brent to behave with the promise of a cool bike, Kovar is the most paternal guy around.
  • Torture for Fun and Information: Sere makes no secret of her fondness for this:
    "I adore these evil little rebels. They're so entertaining! Let's not delay gratification. Let's attack now! We'll take prisoners — it'll be such fun!"
  • Traumatic Haircut: Seren, after the plan to assassinate the Hierarchy fails and Liana becomes the new Avatar (it's also a Significant Haircut for his loss of status). It's made even worse by the fact that Niniri uses his hair to make extensions for Liana so she'll be properly regal-looking.
  • Uterine Replicator: Ovanan children are conceived via combination of computer-selected sperm and egg, then gestated in these.
  • Villainous Friendship: Sere and Emeris, who have a shared fondness for committing heinously brutal acts purely For the Evulz and then laughing about it together. Although Emeris' mourning period when Sere is killed doesn't even last until her funeral.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Dramatic public suicide by jumping from high places is traditional among the Ovanan. Aeren expresses disdain towards another Ovanan who complains that life is boring, but he was comparatively young and there is no telling what their age difference was.
  • Would Hurt a Child: There is actually a holiday for this on Ovanan. In order to weed out children whose psychic potential is too great ("variants"), all children are ceremonially tested by the Avatar, who kills any with potential that could allow them to threaten the Hierarchy. The kids have to stand in line and literally wait for their turn to find out whether they will live or die.
    • Sere is a pedophile with a particularly horrific "artistic" mentality about her perversion. She also finds the Choosing ceremony immensely entertaining. Niniri also counts in that she is really the one who orchestrates the Choosing, as well as frequently turning a blind eye to, if not outright encouraging, Sere's twisted behavior.


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