Comic Book / Arawn

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Monster, demon, abomination. Men imagine that I am the devil. But what do they know of the king of hell? What do they know of good and evil? My name is Arawn. I am the lord of Burning Lands. The king of the underworld. The ruler of the dead. Humans fear me. They're right. I do not know pity. I despise weakness. I am the God of Wrath. The Avenging God... But it was not always this way. I was a man once, born from my mother's belly...

Les chroniques d'Arawn is a French comic book written by Ronan le Breton and drawn by Sebastian Grenier originally published in the pages of the Heavy Metal magazine (yes, that one). Its loosely based on Celtic Mythology and tells the tragic story of Death-Lord Arawn, an Evil Overlord that has thoroughly conquered the land and how he came to be the way he is.

The unwanted son of an amazon named Siahm, he and his half-brothers were trained as a warriors and each one of them acquired magic artifacts, with Arawn gaining a Cauldron of Blood, an unholy relic with unspeakable powers and has a mind of its own. With each of Siahm's sons parting ways and gaining their own kingdoms, Arawn's older brother Math turns into a ruthless tyrant who utterly destroys all those that stand in his way and also desires Arawn's cauldron for himself. Things go From Bad to Worse when Math kidnaps Arawn's wife Deidre (who is also pregnant his child) and holds her hostage until his brother surrenders his cauldron in her return. An all-out war between siblings erupts, which ends up causing everyone whom Arawn knew turning against him because of a prophecy his mother had about all of her children dying and one of them (believed to be Arawn) turning evil. So naturally, Arawn decides that he might as well be the monster everyone think he is and make the prophecy come true...

The comic has been published in both French and English languages and ran for six volumes, though its schedule has been irregular.

Arawn contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Mom: Giving birth to four kids hasn't hampered Siahm's skill with the sword, as she succeeds in killing several werewolves.
  • An Axe to Grind: The Sun Axe is Math's indestructible weapon, capable of shattering almost any weapon with its blows.
  • Anti-Hero / Anti-Villain: Before his Start of Darkness, Arawn wasn't necessarily a nice person; He became King of Cymru by butchering his way through the throne room and violently murdering his predecessor Gresholm. He has a few redeeming qualities such as having a warrior's pride, a sense of fair play and being genuinely in love with Deirdre.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Cauldron is a powerful item giving its owner the power to summon demons and the undead, heal grievous injuries such as as dismembered limbs, but it can also corrupt people into desiring it. Its a completely evil son of a bitch to booth that causes so much disgrace and misery that the One Ring would probably feel jealous.
  • As You Know: Arawn has his entire life story told to his lieutenant Owen, including bits that didn't need to be told to him given his knowledge before hand, if it wasn't done for the audience's sake.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Arawn and all his brothers become kings and they are all powerful warriors in their own right.
  • Axe-Crazy: Math could qualify as an almost literal example, since he is an axe-wielding insane warlord with no reservations about killing innocent women and children.
  • Asshole Victim: Math and Engus suffer a A Fate Worse Than Death at the end of the story. Nobody will shed a tear for the lunatic tyrants that raped and murdered innocents in their wake. Arawn himself thinks that it will never be enough punishment fitting for them.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • The Cauldron is able to revive the recently deceased by dumping their bodies inside of it.
    • Arawn himself gains this power after rising as a dark lord, using it to revive the recently deceased by feeding them his blood. With that said, it has its limits and it can't bring back those that died a long time ago such as Deirdre.
    • Kern is brought back to life as a god himself and Arawn spends his time killing him every day, only for him to be resurrected in the next day.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: Arawn has removed his own heart after Deidre's death. He keeps it in a platform where it bleeds forever without stopping, creating a massive lake of blood.
  • Berserk Button: Do not make fun of Math's father dying in his bed at Bran's hands. Engus did it and Math plummeted him so badly that he would have died if Arawn hasn't stepped in.
  • Big Bad: The Cauldron of Blood is the closest thing to the role; not only Arawn's downfall was caused by its machinations, but when you get down to it, nearly every bad thing that happened in the story can be traced back to it.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Its pretty hard to pin point which side is the most "grey", but its a pretty accurate assessment to say nobody on either side comes out clean.
  • Butt Monkey: Owen. For starters, he is reduced to a decapitated head who lives in constant torment at Arawn's hands for his betrayal. And as Arawn's tale shows, he was constantly disrespected, berated and slapped by others. But then again, given the kind of stuff he pulled, he deserved it though he kinda redeems himself by throwing down his life to destroy the Cauldron.
  • Cain and Abel: Oooh boy. Where do we get started?
    • The most prominent deadly rivalry is between Math and Arawn for possession of the Cauldron, driving the elder brother to utterly ruin his younger brother's life and push him down the dark path. While Arawn is ultimately robbed of personally killing Math, he makes sure to torture his sibling in the Underworld for the rest of time.
    • Kern seems to be the only one in good terms with all his brothers until he too is tempted by the Cauldron and tricked into sacrificing Engus to the Cauldron in order to become a god. The joke was on him, since it was Engus who rose as a god at the end an promptly killed his brother. At the end of the series, Kern is resurrected as a god himself named Kernunos, leaving him as Arawn's only surviving sibling. Arawn tries to kill Kern in revenge, but he is always brought back to life every night.
    • Engus himself, despite being Arawn's blood brother, also ends up partaking in this trope when he becomes a god and usurps the Cauldron's power from him. Engus actually succeeds in killing his brother in a duel, but just like his own example above, Arawn is resurrected by the Cauldron and murders his brother in revenge.
  • The Caligula:
    • Math is an insane, power-hungry brute who lusts after the Cauldron's power and goes to war with his brother just to possess it.
    • Engus turns out into a decadent degenerate who holds non-stop orgies in his throne room. He becomes even worse after gaining the Cauldron's power, having an army of demons at his back and call, and fueling the Cauldron with the souls of the innocents.
  • Came Back Wrong: Deirdre, when Arawn tries to bring her back to life with his blood, she returns as an Empty Shell, a living body without a soul.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Any female fighter will be invariably "dressed" this way.
  • Child by Rape: Arawn and his twin brother Engus were conceived from Siahm's rape by Bran.
  • Combat by Champion:
    • Unlike his brothers, Kern gained his crown with the most minimal bloodshed, by simply challenged his rival into a duel and winning.
    • Later on, Arawn challenges his brother Engus to a duel to the death for control of their armies. Arawn deliberately hands over his black sword to his rival, because its enchanted to not harm its owner. Except the Cauldron removes the enchantment allowing Engus to kill his brother effortlessly. Prick.
  • The Corrupter: The Cauldron pushed Arawn's brothers to madness in pursuit for power, primarily Math and Engus.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The Cauldron switches owners very frequently and is constantly whispering promises to those next who can provide more souls to it.
  • Death Glare: Rather than screaming or crying, Siahm simply glared silently at Bran while he raped her.
  • Death of a Child: Kids are not safe from onscreen deaths, one of Math's infamous moments was murdering the children of the king he dethroned just to prevent any future rebellions, and also his own nephew Gwern (Arawn's son) out of sheer spite.
  • Deity of Human Origin:
    • The main protagonist became a god of his own right after being possessed by the Cauldron and absorbing the essence of two gods. He may probably double as a Demon of Human Origin too.
    • Kern is resurrected as the god Kernunnos at the end of the story.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • After Math kidnaps Deirdre and their unborn child and his cauldron is stolen by Kern, Arawn turned into an Empty Shell holed up inside his ruin castle to grieve while his kingdom is torn apart by his vassals. It takes Deirdre's death for him to get out of his despair and seek revenge.
    • Deirdre crosses this too when Math kills Gwern, her son with Arawn.
    • Math himself is also swallowed by despair following the deaths of his own son Duncan and Deirdre, even though he killed her in revenge for their son.
  • Dirty Coward: What exactly made Owen betray Arawn? He handed over the Cauldron to Kern, ruining any chance of saving Deirdre when she is captured by Math.
  • Distressed Damsel: Deirdre.
  • Downer Ending: Its a Foregone Conclusion. Arawn is left as a tormented and damned undead ruling over the underworld and unable to bring his wife back to life.
  • Driven to Suicide: Deirdre tries to slit her wrists after Arawn had brutally murdered her husband, but she is stopped.
  • Evil Overlord: Guess who? Though to be fair, he has a sympathetic backstory.
  • Fanservice: Goes both ways with loads of muscled and ripped men and busty and curvy women. Hey, this was a Heavy Metal title.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Arawn's father Bran repayed Dag's hospitality by killing him in his sleep, trying to sacrifice his sons Math and Kern and raping his wife Siahm besides Dag's corpse, which ended up conceiving Arawn and Engus.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: The ultimate fates of Math and Engus are eternal torture at the hands of the brother they betrayed: the former has his body forever quartered for all eternity and the latter has his still-alive decapitated head impaled in front of a mirror with his eyelids removed for all eternity.
  • Fisher King: After Deirdre became Math's hostage and forced wife, Arawn retreats to his castle and becomes a complete shut-in, with his kingdom falling apart as result of his despair.
  • Framing Device: The whole comic is narrated by Arawn himself to the decapitated head of his lieutenant Owen.
  • Freudian Excuse: Math's father was killed by a man who raped his mom, and much of his madness is attributed to the Cauldron. Whether the audience buys it or not is up to them.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The first issue already establishes Deirdre's death and Owen's betrayal. Also its kinda obvious that since he is fated to become an dark lord, Arawn's survival is pretty much guaranteed.
  • For the Evulz: The Cauldron has no long-term end goal other than devouring souls and is constantly searching for people to corrupt who can provide him with victims, it doesn't matter how many owners he screws over, the bastard.
  • Gorn: Its extremely rare to find a clean death without High-Pressure Blood flowing around or body parts spread all over the room.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Siahm and her children have the power of manifest these during a fight.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Math really wants Arawn's cauldron and couldn't get over the fact that The Unfavorite got the best relic of all their brothers. This ends up being his undoing.
  • The Heavy: Math is the most prominent antagonist in the series, since his murderous rivalry with Arawn drives the plot, but he is under the influence of the Black Cauldron, who is the real Big Bad.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Well, anti-heroes at any rate, but Deirdre is the only woman our protagonist ever loved.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Pulled by the most unexpected people of all: Owen destroys the Black Cauldron with the Sun Axe at the cost of its own life.
  • Honest Advisor: Owen used to be one to Arawn, believe it or not. His chronological Establishing Character Moment was telling Arawn to watch himself around Cymru's court since he is in a den of wolves.
  • Hope Spot:
    • When it looks like Deirdre might be returned to Arawn when he decides to exchange an imprisoned Math for his wife. But then Math beckons his sun axe back and grabs Deirdre again and Kern returns with the Cauldron in hand.
    • Arawn is advised to hand over his black sword to his rival since the weapon is enchanted to not harm him. The Cauldron removed it and allows his enemy to kill Arawn with his sword.
    • Arawn finds out his blood has the power to resurrect the dead after becoming a Evil Overlord, which he uses on his fallen comrades that died in combat. So logically, he tries to use it on Deirdre... Only to find out her body has become an Empty Shell and her soul is long gone.
  • Human Sacrifice: The Cauldron constantly demand that its owners give them souls.
  • Karma Houdini: Siahm, who does a lot of questionable decisions (such as siding with Math when he kidnaps Deirdre, even though he raped his sister-in-law and is clearly driven insane driven by his desire to have Arawn's cauldron), but she survives the events of the series.
  • Kill the God: A resurrected Arawn managed to kill Morrigan, the Celtic Goddess of War and stole her godly power.
  • Love at First Sight: Arawn fell in love with Deirdre in the moment he laid eyes on her.
  • Marital Rape License: Subverted when Deidre becomes Arawn's wife by right of conquest after he murdered her husband. Naturally she despises him and pushes away when he tries making a move. Arawn rips her dress and attempts to force himself on her, but he refrains from doing so as he prefers that she gave her consent.
  • Mystical White Hair: Siahm is a white-haired pretty girl, just like the rest of her Amazon tribe.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Siahm. Most women tend to be fanservicey, but she is the one to receive most attention in the story, being frequently depicted partially or fully naked. Even when she is covered, her outfits are really skin-tight.
  • Noble Wolf: Arawn was nursed by an albino she-wolf named Sohrja. Sadly, she becomes the first of Math's many victims after being corrupted by the Cauldron. Her remaining wolf pack still follows Arawn.
  • Offing the Offspring:
    • Siahm leaves Arawn to die as a baby in the forest, but he survives after being cared and nursed by a she-wolf. She ends up personally killing Math, after he crossed the Despair Event Horizon.
    • Deirdre kills her innocent son Duncan in revenge for Gwern's death.
  • One-Winged Angel: It happens to Arawn when he becomes a giant infused with the Cauldron's power to fight Morrigan.
  • Outliving One's Offspring:
    • One of Siahm's greatest fears was seeing all her children dying. And they all do with one of them dying by her own hand, though Arawn and Kern are resurrected.
    • Arawn and Deirdre outlive their son Gwern, who is murdered by his uncle/stepfather Math.
  • Parental Favoritism: Its clear that Siahm prefer her legitimate children with her deceased husband Dag than the bastard children born from Bran's rape.
  • Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You: Arawn finally wins Deirdre's heart by telling her that he loves her so much that he is willing to put his life in her hands, then offers her a knife and asks her to either kill him if she really hates him that much, or accept him. While she's tempted, she instead falls into his arms, moved by his declaration of love.
  • Prophecy Twist:
    • According to Siahm's prophecy, one of her sons will become all powerful, which she believes to be Math. Turns out every single one of her children end up becoming all-powerful at some point... Except for Math, who is reduced to a broken shell of his former self caused by his madness.
    • It also claimed that all of her children would end up dying. They indeed all do, but Arawn and Kern are brought back to life as deities.
  • Revenge by Proxy: After her son with Arawn is murdered by Math Deirdre takes revenge on him by murdering their son Duncan, chopping him into pieces and serving his body as meat for their husband to eat.
  • Sanity Slippage: Math was not always stable, but the desire for the Cauldron pushes him more and more towards madness. After the deaths of Duncan and Deirdre, he turns into a raving lunatic who hallucinates with their ghosts and thinks his subjects are conspiring to have him killed, such as killing a bedwarmer sent to his chamber because he thinks she was sent to kill him.
  • Screw Destiny: Siahm wants to at least stop all her children from dying, and at least have one become a god. At the end, she decides to take matters into her own hands and slays Math after he became a shadow of himself.
  • Start of Darkness: Arawn tells his to the readers through his lieutenant's decapitated head.
  • Supernaturally Young Parent: Siahm looks extremely hot for a woman that gave birth to four sons. She also shows no sign of aging, or hell any change, when her children reach adulthood and have kids of their own. There is a reason for that: she drinks the blood from her enemies' hearts, as her tribe's secret to extend their vitality and longevity, preventing their bodies from being destroyed by the ravages of time..
  • Rape as Drama:
    • Siahm is raped by Bran right next to her husband's corpse.
    • Deirdre by Math, after her own wedding ceremony no less. When she is kidnapped by him and kept as a hostage, she ends up being forced to carry his son.
  • Rated M for Manly: Tropes Are Not Bad.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Arawn, as you can see in the picture above.
  • Red Right Hand:
    • Arawn was born without genitals which Siahm thought marked him as who would betray all others. He gains them once he bathes on the Cauldron for the first time. Unfortunately he is hit with his trope again, after Math strikes the left side of his face with his axe, blinding him in one eye and giving him a disfiguring scar.
    • His uncle Fenris also has a similar scar in his left side, though it was cased by a swamp monster slashing his face.
  • Token Good Teammate: Arguably Kern. He is the only one of Arawn's brothers to not turn out into a complete dick, won his crown with the most minimal bloodshed and questioned Math's madness, believing he brought it on himself. With that said, he still followed his mad brother, ended up falling to the Cauldron's seduction too and payed with his life for it, though ironically, he was raised from the dead and became a forest god.
  • The Unfavorite: Arawn, as a result of his mother's prophecy, was thought to be the son to betray their kin.
  • When Trees Attack: Kern uses his staff to animate trees and turn them against Arawn's army.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Common practice in the setting. Not only one can become king by personally killing the previous one, his wife is taken by his successors as right of conquest. Arawn managed to gain control of an army of giants after just killing their leader in single combat.
  • Youngest Child Wins: A very dark inversion, with Arawn being the youngest of all his brothers and a Villain Protagonist. With that said, his eldest brother Math was worse.
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