Web Comic / Endtown

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It's the End of Civilization as we know it. A mutagenic plague followed by a global war fought with disintegration weaponry has left much of the Earth a desert of fine powder and what remains of humanity fragmented into humans, animal-like mutants, and bloodthirsty monstrosities with lots of teeth. The surface, still teeming with the mutagenic virus, has become the domain of the dreaded Topsiders — well-organized, technologically advanced, and heavily armed un-mutated humans sworn to exterminate mutations of any kind in order to clear the way for the eventual resurgence of a new, genetically clean humanity. Faced with annihilation, mutants and "impure" humans have retreated into the depths of the planet to form communities and hope to win, or at least survive, what may prove to be mankind's final war. Endtown is the continuing story of one of those communities. It's also worth noting that every answer gives a dozen questions and mysteries are a major part of the story and thus best read without spoilers.
Author's description of Endtown, found on the GoComics site.

In short, Endtown is an apocalyptic Webcomic by Aaron Neathery that enjoys contrasting its Funny Animals and many silly jokes with the fact that it's The End of the World as We Know It. Alternates between being a funny comic, a serious comic, and a really friggin' scary comic, increasingly shading towards the latter two as time goes by.

The strip was originally hosted on Modern Tales. When it moved to its new home at GoComics, Neathery pretty much wrapped up the then-current arc and switched the focus of the action to a new set of characters; this was not a ReBoot, and most of the original characters have gradually reappeared. The old Modern Tales strips have recently been added to the GoComics archives.


Tropes Featured:

  • A God Am I: Jim declares himself God after suffering Schism Syndrome. Complete with demands to pray to him. He also mentions things he should have not possibly have known and survives things he should not have possibly survived(The flaming wreckage probably did it though). References to 'God' turn up again occasionally and in the most unlikely of places.
    • Word of God says Jim was actually possessed by a quasi-demonic entity known as "Eye". It's not a usual result for Schism Syndrome sufferers and apparently happened because Eye saw Jim's schisming as an opportunity to wreak havoc in aid of an uncertain goal.
  • Alliterative Name: Albert Anderson, Gustine Greene, Wally Wallechinsky, Allie Alvarez, Holly Hollister, Jacob J. Jackrabbit, Mike Mole, Louie Lynx...
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Sam Sanders, Flask, Octavius Allgood, Jim.
    • Most of the Arc villains it turns out, but not all of them.
  • Almighty Janitor: Aaron Marx. He's working towards some overall mission to protect the multiverse and beyond from an Outside-Context Problem, and as such sticks to the sidelines in Endtown despite having a post-singularity reality-warping computer in his pocket watch.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Once Al and Gustine complete their quest and are officially cleared by security, the comic's focus shifts to Holly and Wally.
  • Apocalypse How: Probably class 2, depending on where you look.
  • Arc Villain: Sam Sanders. Due to the change in perspective after the arc was over, he has been rarely mentioned.
  • Bad Dreams: Wally is shown to regularly have them. Usually related to his past as an engineer for a militarized equivalent of the CDC that started killing anyone suspected of being a mutant before World War 3 happened.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Gustine and Wally in the main cast.
  • Batman Gambit: Jacob Jackrabbit's plan in the Milk and Eggs plot. He took Octavius Allgood, a Moral Guardian Knight Templar with goals opposite his, an overzealous security force recently bereft of its leader, and a High Council that has (supposedly) random selection and a short window of authority in exchange for functionally limitless power, and manipulated them all, knowing it would be a recipe for disaster. And they did not disappoint; Allgood had a pair of well-liked citizens and a recent transplant arrested on a charge that is widely considered 'icky' but not actual considered a crime. The arrest was performed by a squad of security rats who went in guns blazing, ransacking the locations they went to. Allgood then went forward with a sham showtrial expecting that the cronies he had seeded on the council would find them guilty no matter what and then issue an admonishment, when the council was under no obligation to do so and had explicitly left execution on the table as a punishment from the start. Jacob's outspoken position that mutants should accept proudly and loudly their animal aspects caused people to demand that he step forward to represent for the defense, which allowed him to loudly play up the ridiculousness of the trial to a raptly listening populace. The perceived over-reaction by Allgood and the High Council led to increased tensions in the town which turned into a riot when the trigger-happy rats were cornered by protesters. By the end, Allgood's position had been so thoroughly reviled by the public that Jacob was considered a hero and in an excellent position to take more power for himself.
    • And apparently, putting the bunny on the tyrant's throne will eventually do a lot of good, says Aaron Marx.
  • Berserk Button: Apparently Wally cannot stand child abusers. When he sees that someone had beaten a child's face black and blue, without hesitation he went and beat the guy until others pulled him off.
    • Taunting Holly about her baby, while throttling a child right in front of her. When a possessed Jim did so, she used her apron to attempt to gag him and then bit off all his fingers.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Linda sees the mutants' taboo against using mutant eggs and milk as food products as this, since it would alleviate, if not solve, Endtown's food shortage. But it's not much different than the Real Life taboo against the general consumption of human breast milk.
  • Bigger Bad: Jacob Jackrabbit for the Eggs and Milk Trial arc.
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: Most of the story arcs, but the Eggs and Milk Trial arc had a particularly bitter ending. Holly, Linda, and Maude are released but Jacob got exactly what he wanted, Octavious was set up as a fall guy and killed by a lynch mob, Maude learns Linda used to be a Topsider and breaks off their friendship, many people including Allie were killed in a riot, Endtown descends into political madness and Holly is so traumatized that she attempts suicide. She's so disillusioned with Endtown that she convinces Wally that they should leave and find a new place to live
  • Body Horror: What happens to people who get hit with the virus and can't resist it; the "lucky" ones turn into bipedal animals.
  • Cats Are Mean: Flask's character design probably had this in mind. There's also the lynx catnip addict who kicked Holly, the two thieves at the hotel... seems the only feline who outright averts this is Wally.
  • Color Me Black: Linda is transformed into one of the mutants she hates, although Flask had intended to turn her into a slightly different variety.
  • Comic-Book Time: Lampshaded by Holly, who says that it felt like they were in there for months.
  • Contrived Clumsiness: Two waitresses have various "accidents" for their new co-worker, Linda, until she goes berserk.
  • Contrived Coincidence: It so happens that The transporter that became known as Petey so happened to be Flask's lover.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Flask, even before her mutation.
    • Seems all the main characters have at least something troubling in their past. Wally still has nightmares from his job before WW 3 and something happened to Holly about 2 years before the events of the story that threw her into a deep depression that seems to involve a baby.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Flask feels she has nothing to lose once everyone rejects her command.
    • Sam Sanders had hit this in the past.
    • Holly hits this after her trial is over, culminating in a suicide attempt.
    • Jim is pushed into this after catching Sarah cheating on him with one of the lizard colonists.
  • Deus ex Machina: , an almost literal deus.
  • Disintegrator Ray: The primary form of weaponry.
  • The Ditz: Kirbee is a textbook example. Naive, silly (bordering on Cloudcuckoolander tendencies at times) and also one of the most genuinely kind-hearted and innocent characters in the entire story, she maintained her nature in the rather grimdark world of the Unity colony simply by remaining completely unaware of the bad things going on.
  • Do-Anything Robot: The dittos seem to be heading there. Biomechanical organisms, they have so far proved to be capable of camouflage, transport, shielding, strength enhancement, memory access and power source tracing. It's anybody's guess what they'll end up doing next.
  • Does Not Like Guns: Wally.
  • Dr. Jerk: In a place like Endtown, can you really blame Dr. Chase?
  • Driven to Suicide: When Maude shows Linda around her new apartment in Endtown, she mentions that the previous owner committed suicide a month after her husband had passed away. It's implied that this was Leo's old home, and his wife committed suicide not long after being informed by Allie.
    • After the Eggs and Milk Trial, Holly is left so traumatized that she attempts suicide. She is saved in the nick of time by Wally and Angus.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: A common practice. Perhaps most notable with Allie.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Arguably takes the form of a Space Whale Aesop. Those who mutate in a badly drugged state rather than fully conscious or unconscious become peculiar hybrids with no obvious classification, which makes them an easy target for Fantastic Racism even within Endtown. Of course, it's still better than mutating while fully awake.
    • On the other hand, one of the author's favourite characters has been implied to have been a pothead, pre-war (before cannabis became a scarce commodity, if it still exists at all), with absolutely no judgement cast on that fact.
  • Eat the Bomb: Technically, Aaron Marx eats the explosion itself, or at least inhales it.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: While Al and Gustine were the main characters, the story was more of a dark comedy rather than the drama with comedic moments it is now. There were also aspects such as the Topsiders' guns being sentient like their vehicles, yet in phase 2 characters don't treat the guns like they are alive like they do the vehicles. Also we learn at the end of the first arc that Mallard had come up with a solution to hunger ages ago, yet food still remains scarce even in phase 2. It hasn't been mentioned since.
    • The food solution was briefly mentioned as a few years away and a gun spoke a word as an example when threatening some mutants with brain extractionC.
  • Emotion Eater: The Dittos are revealed to be this.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Interesting variation. Holly finds an old teddy bear in the wastes and decides to bring it back to Endtown for one of the kids there. When a monster mutant suddenly attacks, she realizes the monster was a little girl and that that bear is still very much in use.
  • Evil All Along: Strictly speaking, Jacob Jackrabbit never struck us as much of a hero, but he turned out worse than we thought.
  • Evil Is Petty: The Topsiders are constantly on on the prowl for mutants to use as Wetware CPUs - and they have a nasty habit of telling such unfortunates of their fate beforehand.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Jacob Jackrabbit versus Octavius Allgood. You might call it Gray and Grey Morality, but it's hard to tolerate either's full position.
  • Exposition: Frequently, often in the form of flashbacks, and with those often using the resident mind-reading plot-tools known as dittos. Culminated in the "Holly's Flashback" arc, which was, as the fan-name suggests, almost entirely flashback.
  • Expy: Aaron Marx, of The Doctor, specifically the Second.
  • Extra Eyes: Mutating while conscious almost invariably results in these.
    • Dittos tend to develop many "eye spots" when they go into "threat mode".
  • Eyes Always Shut: Dr. Chase.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Octavius Allgood
  • Fantastic Racism: Apart from Topsiders' treatment of mutants, there's a growing movement in Endtown for the mutants to fully embrace their animal natures, complete with meaningful renames to a Species Surname. Immune humans or mutants who don't conform to any particular species have no real place in their version of society. Mutants who want to keep their old name? Uncle Toms.
    • There's a parallel movement for mutants to preserve their humanity as much as possible, such as keeping human names and legally outlawing things like the consumption of mutant-produced eggs or milk.
    • Later we meet a colony of supremacist lizard mutants, who rely on piracy and selective breedingnote  to sustain themselves.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Holly to Wally.
  • Fragile Speedster: Holly relies almost exclusively on her swift feet to save her. And can be amazing at it.
  • Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal: Several incidental characters, plus Captain Blackie Flask and Holly Hollister.
  • Funny Animal: Being exposed to the mutagenic virus mutates you into either this or something much worse.
  • G-Rated Drug: Catnip. Not that we never see anyone drunk on alcohol.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: All the Topsiders are this. Justified in comic with the virus.
  • General Ripper: Flask.
  • Glasgow Grin: Jim while suffering from Schism Syndrome. Best seen in THIS strip
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: "Schism Syndrome" - when a mutant who has failed to accept his or her new form and instincts eventually goes insane due to the mental split. This can occur slowly, as was threatening to happen to Gustine and Wally, or very suddenly due to a shock in recent transformations like Jim. Results may vary, Word of God says most mutants just become "yowling maniacs", but in Jim's case, it lead to a homicidal rage.
    • It must be pointed out that what happened to Jim is more supernatural than "ordinary" Schism Syndrome. Word of God confirms that he was possessed by a quasi-demonic entity known as Eye, granting him the ability to see beyond the "veil" and into people's hearts and fates, and that this is a very unusual result of Schisming.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Professor Mallard in the main cast.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Linda, apparently.
  • Here There Be Dragons: Endtown's maps of the surface. "Well, at least they know about the dragons."
  • I'm a Humanitarian: It's implied that Topsiders often will eat dead mutants if their form resembles human food animals.
  • The Immune: The few humans left in Endtown. The Topsiders have a particular hatred for them as they carry the virus but don't look obviously nonhuman.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Flask was stopped by Allie and Leo.
    • Holly was stopped by Wally.
  • Interspecies Romance: Not uncommon in Endtown. Of course, "species" doesn't have the same meaning for mutated humans.
  • Ironic Name: That survivor colony that went through a violent racist purge and got "rebuilt" to enshrine reptiles as the master race? It was called Unity.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: When Aaron Marx grants Flask her second chance, he also loses her forever — ironically to another reality's Aaron Marx, who loves her equally. When the Oracle asks if he is envious, he says yes, but that not everyone is granted a Happy Ending.
  • Kangaroo Court: Set up for Al and Gustine. The trial is kept secret so as not to panic Endtown with accusations of treason.
    • Another for Holly, Linda, and "Maw" Maude for the purpose of making the use of mutant byproducts explicitly illegal rather than just taboo.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Part of the Topsider process for making brain-controlled machinery.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Literally. After cheating on Jim, causing him to succumb to Schism Syndrome and being completely uncaring about using poison gas to kill him, Sarah rallies the surviving lizard people after their city burns down and turns them against the gang. When a large group of Topsider sky droids arrives to investigate, her adopted colony is disintegrated while she flees into the night.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Flask, once she realizes who Petey used to be.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The rules for mutation are as follows, according to Word of God:
    • Those who mutate while awake become mindless, raging abominations.
    • Those who mutate while asleep become cute animal people known as "anthros".
    • Those who mutate while of impaired consciousness due to being high or otherwise on drugs become peculiar mixes of various traits.
    • Children always become anthros no matter what - the mutation into a monster relies on adult consciousness (yes this means that either that little girl with the teddy was some unrecognizable animal, or this rule came into being later).
  • Meaningful Echo: Wally's at first weirded out by Oscar the Crab mutant and is relieved when the offer to shake hands is a joke. After Oscar ends up saving his life (and he's come to grips with some things), Wally asks to shake hands for real.
  • Meaningful Name: In Endtown, by Contrived Coincidence, even the names that don't roll easily off the tongue often indicate what animal the character's mutation resembles: Allie Alvarez the alligator, P. Foxworthy the fox, and Linda Kowalski the koala.
  • Mega Corp.: Apex Industries. They were big enough to turn entire megacities into Company Town weapons factories, but they were also stupid / ruthless enough to advance death ray research and then lose / give away their Fantastic Nuke to every other country, triggering the apocalypse.
  • Mercy Killing: Flask shoots a child-turned-monster for this reason. Also, some Topsiders seem to see their massacre of mutants this way.
  • Mood Whiplash: The entire comic is this, because it balances funny animals with how humans would actually react.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Another typical result of mutating while conscious.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Wally's reward for leaving an enemy alive? the death of two other fellow mutants
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Topsiders employ Gas Mask Mooks to eradicate and/or enslave (via And I Must Scream technology) all "impure" lifeforms, and their insignia do evoke the classic look. There is also the reptile-only colony of Unity which is founded on a belief in racial purity, the superiority of reptiles over all other mutants...and a violent purge of all non-reptiles in the colony.
  • Odd Couple: Even putting aside the Interspecies Romance, Aaron Marx and Flask.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Doctor Mallard.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Dr. Chase.
  • Pet the Dog: Considering her usual attitude about killing people in cold blood, putting the little girl Eldritch Abomination out of its misery is possibly one of the kindest and most reasonable things Captain Flask has done in the story. Yet it's regarded by many as Shoot the Dog, if not Kick the Dog.
  • Proud Merchant Race: The Lucranians, apparently. According to Aaron Marx, there are only three things you need to know about them: "greedy beyond comprehension, cheat as readily as they breathe, and absolutely love bargains."
  • Punctuated Pounding: "Weak! Useless! Coward!"
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Care of Holly, a mouse.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The reptile-only mutant colony Wally and Holly wander into is quickly revealed to be a far darker place than the already morally ambiguous Endtown. There are some exceptions to the rule, but most of the reptilians turn out to be at least serious jerkasses, if not outright villains, and the entire single-species colony is revealed to have been the product of a violent civil war and the subsequent ethnic cleansing campaign.
  • Rule of Scary: Why else would those monsters — and the Dittos — look like they do?
  • Self-Disposing Villain:
    • Sort of. When Flask was made captain of a self piloting ship, she planned to ram it into a Topsider base that had many noncombatants and children. The others were horrified and Wally tried to take over as captain of the ship. However the ship refused to acknowledge anyone else as captain as long as Flask was alive even though Wally had knocked her out. Wally, who didn't want to kill her, decided he had to if he was to save everyone else. But before he could, Flask drew an old gun on him that she had found earlier. But then it exploded in her hand due to age and disrepair, apparently killing her instantly and flinging her body out the window of the ship.
    • Jim dumps a flask of lamp oil over himself perched on a lighting rig over a boxing match almost all of Unity Colony was attending so that he could set the crowd on fire.
  • Schizo Tech: Justified, as Endtown has to make do with whatever works. Candlestick phones make sense in a land of many species; there's no telling how far apart their mouths and ears will be.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After being locked up for over a month over eating cheese made from mutant cow milk and seeing Endtown descend into rioting over it, she has decided she wants nothing more to do with the place. She and Wally leave to find somewhere else to live.
  • Selfless Wish: The first big "Quest" in the series is Gustine attempting to turn human. Gustine eventually finds it, but uses the berry to bring her boyfriend back to life.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: Flask is.
  • The Sociopath: Sarah Battle ends up seeming like one. After being mutated into a lizard person, and coming across an almost-entirely lizard settlement, she reveals her uncaring nature by showing disinterest in the mistreatment of the group she arrived with, and cheating on Jim, leading to him being overcome with Schism Syndrome, and this is after Jim had given up his humanity in order to save Sarah from dying of cancer. Sarah doesn't seem concerned by the havoc Jim reeks in his madness, or when he seemingly is killed. Even when he reappears and kills hundreds of other lizards along with himself, Sarah still isn't bothered, and takes it as an opportunity to seize control of the remaining lizard population, turning on her former allies.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Flask identifies Petey when he calls her "Blackie."
  • Species Surname: Adopted by some of the residents of Endtown after their mutation.
  • Tap on the Head: Averted. One swipe didn't just knock Wally out; he was still on death's doorstep in the hospital.
    • Played straighter later on when he again gets whacked on the back of the head. Enough to knock him out for a while, but he seems fine when he wakes up.
  • There Are No Therapists: Justified since this is After the End.
    • The main psychological threat in the comic so far has been "Schism Syndrome", which is when a person suffers a mental break due to not being able to come to grips with their new form, causing them to usually go berserk. Unity's plan for it is the only one we see, and that seems to be "Separate if possible, put down if not".
    • Wally saw some crap in the days before the war and in the time since, he mostly has his stuff together, but he does have some ghosts still pursuing him.
    • Holly's been showing signs of PTSD since The Milk Trial. Wally's been trying to help as much as possible and was able to keep her from killing herself, but it just might be coming to a head.
    • It has been suggested that alcoholism is pretty rampant in Endtown as a coping mechanism.
  • The Unreveal: Though there wasn't too much build up to it, near the end of his first arc, we learn that Wally doesn't feel natural in his new body. He still considers his pre-mutation body to be his real one. He takes out a picture of himself that he apparently looks at regularly to show Holly. However we do not see his human face, and she turns it into a paper boat and drops it in the river while trying to help him accept his current life. Even in a later flashback from when he was still human, we still do not see his face.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Poor, Poor Holly. She got in a flying car crash after being clipped by a plane, watched her friend being killed by robot explosives after mutating into a snake, mutated into a mouse, lost her baby, had her husband mutate in front of her, watched her husband die, got in another car crash and then caught in the middle of war. All of this happened in one day, before the comics timeline. Fresh trauma comes later
  • Truth Serums: Albert and Gustine are injected with them during their interrogation. They give the exact same story as before, and Flask still doesn't believe them.
  • Underground City: The titular Endtown.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Word of God is that Holly's flashback is to be taken as broadly accurate, but not as gospel truth, due to the way memory works.
  • Wetware CPU: Topsider computers, made from those mutants whom they capture instead of disintegrate. Such as "Petey."
  • Wham Line: September 19th's comic, in the midst of an Info Dump, gives this:
    "What, really? You mean you guys STILL haven't realised? There is no mutagenic virus"
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Flask.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Jackrabbit and the Milk Trials. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • You Monster!: What Holly calls Flask after she gives a child-turned-vine-creature a Mercy Killing. Could also qualify as What the Hell, Hero? Interestingly, Flask turns it right back on her, thanks to Values Dissonance.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Wally and Petey manage to foil Flask's plan to explode the rocket they thought they were just sabotaging, killing an entire Topsider city, only to find out that not only was the rocket they were after a decoy; it was specifically set up as a trap for Flask.
  • Your Size May Vary: Holly Hollister goes from being small enough to fit in her boyfriend's backpack to being nearly as tall as he is. This was done, according to the author, because he was finding it hard to fit them both in frame when talking to each other.
    • To a smaller degree, and combined with Off Model, Holly's buckteeth. They've steadily been getting larger over the course of her story, possibly in a case of art drift or perhaps as part of a deliberate attempt to make her less cute.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WebComic/Endtown