Yes, that is a glowing clownfish. It makes sense in context
An unnamed woman who works as a journalism intern finds she is on a terrorist watchlist. When she confronts the unnamed Fed who is set to watch her, things get seriously, fantastically weird. There's a good deal of humor thrown in. And did we mention the forty billion undead pixies? And the talking super-genius koala? Once the fantastic elements are accepted by the reader, we then see how deep the rabbit hole goes. Much, much better than it sounds.Read. Enjoy. Conspire.Contains these tropes:
Armor-Piercing Question: The Fed asked George Washington - who had made his disapproval about the Agents' ongoing plans clear - what he would've done in his place. When Washington tries to duck the question, the Fed asks him point blank "Would you have run? Washington, to his credit, answers honestly, "Yes."
Art Evolution: Downright noddy at the start, until the occasional artshift shows the artist's potential. The comic is getting redrawn in colour and a brand new style.
Notably, the first dramatic art shift happened after a significant meditation event undertaken by the Girl. She opened her eyes and from that point on, the world is drawn in full color and with more details (including characters having visible eyes whereas before, it was a case of Eyes Always Shut). Slightly undermined by the art style reboot...
The 'Eyes Always Shut' bit was broken at various different points - the meeting with Mike, the flashbacks with the Fed and Dixon's wife, et cetera. The real art style change happened when the artist decided to do so for one reason or another... and the fact that she's bringing the whole strip into a more realistic style makes one wonder what it'll look like regarding those flashbacks.
Artificial Limbs: Clarice has a super strong cybernetic arm and has apparently similar reinforcements planted to her spine to supports its weight and lift capability. However, apparently it's not designed to resist being ripped apart from her shoulder socket.
Ben: I came back from the dead for this Country. I will not sit passively by while what I fought to forge is CORRUPTED and DESTROYED!
Badass: Almost everyone in the comic, up to and including Ben Franklin.
Badass Bureaucrat: After the Pocket President is revealed to the world, the surviving members of the program eventually become this.
Badass Grandma: Rose Myers, the woman who taught the Fed everything he knows about espionage. Though officially retired, she hasn't forgotten how to hand out a bit of pain when the occasion calls for it.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Several agents in the Pocket President community made the mistake of thinking that the Girl was just a spoiled rich girl working an internship for a tiny newspaper. They were wrong.
Chekhov's Gunman: The Fed fairly early on asserts that he doesn't dream, but during the Vegas excursion, he mumbles in his sleep about someone named Frederick. It's revealed that, as a coping mechanism, he was somehow visiting the afterlife and receiving support from Frederick Douglass.
Curbstomp Battle: Planning an all-out assault really does make a difference, doesn't it?
Fiction 500: The Girl has a lot of money from Ben going into the future and picking high-yield stocks. He believes his charges are able to focus better when they don't have to worry about feeding or sheltering themselves.
The Lancer: Mare plays this role within OACET after the Time Skip; she's the one most public with disagreements with Pat's leadership style. That said, outsiders frequently underestimate just how loyal she is overall.
Interestingly, George Washington sees Pat in this light - because of his stature, almost nobody amongst the ghosts are willing to stand up to him. He begrudgingly admits that he enjoys that Pat is willing to fight back (both with words and with fists).
Land Downunder: An ad for holidaying in Australia has a warning about the claws and teeth of anything not poisonous.
Living Weapon: The entire point of the program. The chip is an unspeakably powerful digital weapon, being a gamechanger on the level of nuclear power. But it requires a biological component that cannot be removed. Obviously, no one wanted to put that much power into the hands of the few who happened to have the chips. So they created an extremely annoying interface designed to pop up whenever the agents got too emotional, and when they went to government-provided psychiatrists for their problems, they were given piles of drugs. All this was in an effort to turn the agents into human robots, thereby oblivating the problems of the biological component.
The Girl: Damn, we're juggling a load of MacGuffins. And I've heard MacGuffins are insanely high in calories... Get it? Muffin? MacGuffin?
Magikarp Power: The chips were considered abject failures until Ben unlocked the Fed's. Turns out they were crippled on purpose, but the trope still stands.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Zig-zagged all to hell. The Girl seems like a shoe-in for this, being spunky, violent, and spontaneous. But it ends up that she has to spend a lot more effort getting used to Sparky's convoluted conspiracy/spy shenanigans than any effort he'd have to take to get used to her being merely eccentric.
Masquerade: At least until the chips are revealed to the public between parts one and two. The ghosts are probably going to remain hidden for a while, though.
No Name Given: Both title characters, initially. Word of God had this was intentional. Their real names are eventually revealed as Hope Blackwell and Patrick Mulcahy respectively.
Scandalgate: The Fed thinks the Chip could end up as one of these. He's also more eloquent about this than the trope expects.
The Fed: I keep thinking about the Watergate, or Tuskegee... Nightmares that we sum up in one word.
Small Annoying Creature: The Bitty Bush is a not-so-subtle jab at former U.S. President George W. Bush, who is famous for his verbal flubs. As a result, half the things it says are non-sequiturs and the other half are a result of it misinterpreting the Fed's commands. In addition, the Pocket President activates whenever the chip holder feels a particularly strong emotion, which means it's constantly activating against the Fed's will, and even occasionally while he's sleeping. Suffice it to say, the Fed takes the first chance he can to get rid of the Bitty Bush.
A bit of Fridge Brilliance, here. First, the program was designed in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, and the people in charge of the program's funding legitimately thought Bush's visage would boost morale for the government agents. Second, the Bitty Bush is meant to grind at the will of the chip holders, so they would become more emotionally withdrawn and mentally exhausted, thus making them easier to manipulate.
The Sociopath: The Girl outright calls Clarice one, and she admits that she's not far from one herself.
Strawman Political: Surprisingly averted (most of the time). While the comic is heavily steeped in the politics surrounding government surveillance, especially electronic surveillance, it generally tries to present all sides fairly.
Technical Pacifist: Mike is a Buddhist monk who advocates non-violence. He is also a judo master with twelve years of experience on the Girl, and has no problem using his skills against the people who threaten his friends.
Lampshaded by Mike himself, who makes certain to teach the difference between "non-violent" and "pacifist."
There Are No Therapists: Averted. The Girl went to one and "blew twenty grand" when Ben first popped up. Also played straight and subverted with Abraham Lincoln. In the afterlife he has completely lost his mind due to stress from the Civil War, but no one has been able to help him- partially because he seals himself off from almost everyone, Frederick Douglass being one known exception. But apparently getting somebody in hasn't been tried, or if it has been tried, it has...not worked. When Lincoln is finally introduced, it became pretty clear that anyone who tried to get through to him would would be ejected from his presence the moment they hit a sensitive subject.
The Un Reveal: The identity of the ghost who set the Pocket President program in motion. Further plot developments suggest that 99% of the audience wouldn't have recognized him by name anyway.
Time Skip: After stopping the Pocket President program and revealing its existence to the public.
Weaksauce Weakness: Agents in the program get instant, debilitating migraines when exposed to bright light. Ironically, this makes it very hard for them to blend in, since they look like stereotypical federal agents.
After the chips are revealed to the public. In the earlier comics it's the Masquerade (see above).
After? How about this qoute from the beggining of the strip.
The Fed: Oh good, the ghost of Benjamin Franklin has arrived. Now things can get back to normal. That's the sound of a mutant conservative koala bear in a screaming fight with an EXTREMELY pissed-off Liberal wanna-be journalist. To the best of my knowledge, it's a first for the record books.
Yaoi Fangirl: "I'LL GIVE YOU BOTH A MILLION DOLLARS IF YOU MAKE OUT!" "I'm just gonna say...she's good for it."
And "Sparky, he's got six inches and fifty pounds on you, so..." "Yeah?" "Make sure clothing gets torn. Strategic clothing."