Prepare to meet demons, spirits, crazed pirates and were-sharks!
A webcomic by H. L. Devera.Credenza, an ordinary waitress, discovers a man washed up on the shores of Ruin Island. He is wounded and on the brink of death, but with Credenza's help is able to recover. The only problem? The man's mind has been shattered; gone are his sanity and memories, including his name. Credenza gives him a new one, Blitz, and earns his undying loyalty. Follow Credenza, Blitz and their friends as they become entangled in a colossal battle between good and evil, journey to new parts of the Archipelago, and learn much more about themselves than they could've bargained for.The comic began on September 30th 2005, and is on its tenth and final chapter.Can be found at the official site as well as the creator's deviantART page.
Adorkable: Raven, especially after he gets a body. Also, Tuff and Knull.
Adult Fear: In backstory rather than the comic itself, Tuff and Riley disappearing from Quillotia at the age of 16. As well as pitchfork-wielding mobs, Chesska dying, Anthony going missing, an army of horrible people attacking your village out of the blue.... The Archipelago, while certainly a nice place to live, is not a sugarbowl.
Aerith and Bob: Considering the fantasy setting, not terribly shocking.
Affably Evil: Captain Snow is this most of the time, making jokes and snide comments; he's probably very capable of dropping it, though.
"You and Clarika are so romantic together!" "We wrote a story about you two!" "That's... nice."
After the End: The back story, involving a fallen (in every sense of the word), Magitek civilization that built the machines like Snow's arm, guns, the submarines, and the dragon the Archipelago is built upon, which the Great Raven, Dragonfly and 4 other Magitek A.I.s ran. And duct tape! They also genetically engineered the various beastmen and were-animals that inhabit the Archipelago.
Hints that this may be a far-future or alternate Earth, given that the common language is descended from English (retaining the name, but about as intelligible to modern English speakers as modern English would be to Old English) and characters have read aloud from real written works. In addition, Word of God states that religions such as Christianity and Buddhism still exist in some form.
All There in the Manual: The cast page explains a number of details about the characters' backgrounds and abilities that otherwise don't get a lot of detail in the story. The author also on occasion leaves notes with certain strips that pose as a sort as insight into the makings of individual characters or elaborations on elements of the Archipelago world i.e. information about the inner workings of magic in this setting.
Always Chaotic Evil: Raven spirits and shadowmandyrs. Subverted in both cases for those released from control of their malevolent forebears, the Great Raven and the Shadowmandyr Queen, respectively. Raven goes on to become heroic, if cranky, while the shadowmandyrs are pretty much animals who were following their Queen's control and eventually jump ship to Simon once she's dead.
Raven: Broke into the wrong brain, didn't you? He looks all frail and frightened, but he has a mind that will swallow you up before it lets you take over. Take it from me, more powerful minds than yours have tried.
Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: Literally, in the form of Dragonfly's necklace that unlocked Credenza's power. Vaniji also has his cane, in which he has invested and concentrated his powers. To the point that Vaniji's cane becomes an Amulet of Dependency, as he has left nothing for himself.
And I Must Scream: Those who are posessed by a raven spirit but are captured or simply no longer useful may be Soul Sealed. Essentially the subjects soul is sealed deep within their body and while they remain alive and aware, they cannot move or act in any way at all.
Raven attempts this on Anthony when he first possesses him, but it's interfered with when Anthony cuts his own left eye out to block Raven's escape route, inadvertently leading to breaking his own mind and trapping Raven in it.
The Antichrist: Snow, who is about as close as it gets without literally being the spawn of the Devil, and if you consider the Great Raven close enough to take the title...
Anti-Hero: Based on what people who knew him say, Anthony was one.
Badass Normal: Until Credenza started actually using Dragonfly's necklace she had no magical strength to speak of, but still threw herself into adventure and trouble. Snow also had no real native magical power before he was resurrected by the Great Raven and given the cyborg arm, but was still one of the most feared men in the world.
Badass Preacher: Miss Tabitha is a nun. A rather elderly nun. Do not be fooled by appearances. Do not threaten her abbey's residents. Do NOT tear books in her library!
Beast Man: Even referred to as such, or werebeasts. Known races include werecats (Miss Tabitha the nun), werehyenas and other canines (Kurr), weresharks (Tuff and Riley are half-wereshark), and wereorcas. There are also some non-were beast man species as well, who seem to have obvious animal features prominently integrated into their humanoid forms.
Blind Seer: ...Kind of. Anansi Padma is blind in one eye, but it doesn't seem relevant at all to her seeing the future. In fact, it was her trying to stop the future from happening that caused her to become blind in one eye and lose her arms.
Credenza asks Kroft (whose dragon form she's riding on) about his human body and he goes into detail explaining it. In the next panel, we have a shot of Blitz looking overjoyed flying on his back. The relevance? Blitz is later revealed to be a dragon.
Chekhov's Gunman: Aside from the aforementioned Charlie, aka Uru. When Snow begins using the gauntlet containing all of the heirs' abilities, the heir whose power he gets the most use out of (and, in turn, the one who's able to counteract him) is Paollo.
Anansi's prediction for Tuff, which involves meeting "a beautiful blue-skinned stranger". Tuff is quick to write it off. Enter Cassie.
"This isn't a toy! It's an insanely dangerous toy. This arm is made with the technology of the ancients who made the Archipelago! At its full power, it is capable of being an unstoppable weapon of mass destruction! ...You don't get one of these until you're at least eighteen, young lady."
Conditioned to Accept Horror: Wereshark society is apparently very dark and violent, with an atavistic focus on blood and feeding. Weresharks raised away from their society are perfectly friendly (like Tuff, Riley, and their father), though can have their fight-or-flight instincts easily triggered by a strong scent of blood or the sight of a loved one being injured.
Cordon Bleugh Chef: This or possibly a combo of it and Lethal Chef describe Riley's cooking. His signature dish is best described as fish still-kicking cooked into a pancake batter. Both of these tropes are actually averted, as his dish is delicious, loved but lost by the Pintur family.
Raven: Curse it, Snow! You soul thieving son of a B- *Mona wallops with baseball bat* -UHK!
Cute Little Fangs: Clair, being the daughter of a half-dragon and a full dragon. Kor could almost count given his small and "huggable" appearance, but he usually only bares them when he looks like he wants to rip out someone's throat with them.
Deliberately Monochrome: Color is reserved for magical effects, lending them extra strength and making climactic fights bright and dramatic. Flashbacks - including Snowflakes, a side story about Snow set just before the series began - are done in full color.
Demonic Possession: The Shadomandyr Queen uses Simon this way. When the Raven sees Dragonfly he posses Snow so he could kill Dragonfly personally, Snow is angry about this because the terms of the his deal stated no possessions. Oh, and The Raven causes Snow to change into a massive raven with a shock of white feather on his head.
Dynamic Entry: Credenza is on the beach, surrounded by shadowmandyrs, and then, suddenly.... Blitz emerges from the ocean. Smashing the shadowmandyrs. While riding a hammerhead shark.
Eldritch Abomination: The Raven, somewhat. Riley's dish that combines fish and pancakes but is so raw that that the fish still move, more so.
Also, Riley's attempt at transforming into a wereshark.
Emotionless Girl: Lucinda. Justified: she had her heart broken (by a man hinted and later confirmed to have something to do with the Raven, no less), and her price for joining the Raven was to have her heart really broken, so she couldn't feel pain anymore.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Captain Snow seems to be oddly protective of his nephew, Knull. Snowflakes introduces Noemi (Snow's wife) and Yula (his daughter), but ultimately deconstructs the trope; Snow kills his mother in a flashback, and Noemi points out that his love for her and their daughter wouldn't stop him from hurting either of them eventually.
Even Evil Has Standards: Snow loves tea, and once berated his crew for trying to burn down a tea house. He refrained from warning them when the shop owner proceeded to poison every cup (even his), deciding that if they couldn't detect the poison, then they weren't good enough to serve on his crew in the first place.
Evil Genius: Snow claims to be trained as a doctor, has jury rigged medical implements using advanced tech, can use magic, and at one point animates bone skeletons.
Fantastic Racism: Usually directed against weresharks and related half-bloods. Weresharks are seen as predatory monsters (and culturally, that's not far off the mark) who are better off dead. Tuff and Riley Luck, as half-bloods (they had a human mother), face all the prejudices ascribed to sharkmen, and even their shark kin would kill them as abominations. It's especially bad in Quillotia, the Luck brothers' home city, which is home to a large population of wereorcas, who hate weresharks more than any other race.
Frameup: Just before the story actually begins, Anthony/Blitz was blamed for the death of his captain's fiance. Turns out it was actually the captain himself who killed her when she discovered he was shipping illegal goods.
Friend to All Living Things: Credenza, though she makes a special exception for Captain Snow, whom she would gladly personally throttle.
Funny Background Event: Though the moment where Snow steals Credenza's soul is very intense, it's hard not to laugh at the picture of the pterodactyl with a laser beam coming out of it's mouth in the background. Here.
Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Alice is trying to untie a bag rather urgently. It's got lots of tight knots. So Alice, a girl raised around sailors, starts swearing at it like only she can:
Alice: Crumbs! Toast crumbs! Toast crumbs with butter and jam you stupid bag!
Word of God says that it's hard to come up with G-rated swears.
Half-Human Hybrid: Beastmen can mix with humans, though it's rare. Tuff and Riley are half-wereshark. A hybrid can get some beneficial traits like strength, danger-sense, or a powerful sense of smell, but shapeshifting into a more animalistic form is generally right out— they can try, but it won't be pretty and is probably lethal. Tuff describes the result as looking something like tuna casserole. We eventually see the result first-hand— see Body Horror above.
Heinz Hybrid: Vaniji is an "Archipelagan Mutt," a mix of human, Avian, were-cat, and Cloven, which balances out to "looks mostly human with a few vestigial features" like tiny, useless wings and a tail.
Most of the were-creature and beastmen races are technically such as well. Weresharks were engineered using traits from gorillas and Komodo dragons as well as sharks. Fish-people like Cassie were engineered using cuttlefish and electric eels, among other things. According to the creator, "This is what comes of being raised watching Animal Planet."
The Lost Lenore: Depending on how you look at it, Chesska's death kickstarts the entire plot. If she hadn't died, Anthony/Blitz probably wouldn't have gone off to join the navy, get framed for the death of the captain's fiance, been possessed by a Raven and gone completely insane, meet Credenza, and cause them to leave the island by sneaking aboard Paollo's submarine.
Mona:The puzzle's all fallen apart. You can't solve it. All the pieces are gone and eaten by the bad children. All gone and eaten. Can't put it back together. I can't see myself anymore. I'm all eaten up.
Noodle Incident: Nim, after rescuing Willium from the belly of the Shadomandyr Queen, states simply "That was definitely the third weirdest thing to ever happen to me."
We're not sure what happened at Mikel's 21st birthday party, but when he brings it up in comparison with Snow's attack on Castle Quillotia, you know it has to have been crazy.
Not So Different: Not explicitly declared, but the parallels between Credenza and Snow are strong. Both are (or were) normal humans with negligible magical gifts and lost their parents, who went through various traumas (death for Snow, and Snow for Credenza), were granted artifacts and powers from the Big Good and Big Bad, and often fall back on who they were before their careers as hero and villain - Snow out of pride, Credenza in humility. Where Credenza is able to build people up, Snow breaks them. They're also rather magnetic, a strength they use as much or more than the gifts offered by Dragonfly and the Great Raven.
Not Using the Z Word: The Darkeyes. Not all of them are actually dead bodies, as Snow can form them from whatever material is handy, but they look like human corpses. Later on they're explicitly called golems.
Ocean Madness: Blitz. Apparently he was already going mad as it was- Raven simply hurried the process along.
Ocean Punk: Submarines are the archipelagian mode of transport.
Personality Powers: Most people's magic is expressed in some way reflective of their unconscious self and the associations they make with their magic, and cannot consciously change their power any more than most people can consciously change their own personality.
Anansi: Prophecies are tricky things. Not that they'll ever lie to you, of course, but they're very easy to misinterpret. After all, a prophecy isn't supposed to make sense until the moment you put it to use.
Retired Monster: The true Great Raven. Being stuck in an orb and slowly siphoned of all power turned him from an omnicidal maniac into a tiny fledgling who had only his regrets to think about. Shortly after this is revealed, Snow consumes him.
Show Within a Show: Vaniji and Kor are introduced presenting and performing within a play called "Cord of Gold," full of flashy magic special effects. Kor calls back to it during a rousing swordfight with Snow through the theatre's storage rooms.
Spot the Impostor: Between Riley and Han. At first, it seems that Tuff spots the difference when Han isn't strong enough to carry Riley's BFS, but as it turns out...
Tuff: Actually, I only used the sword to distract him. I knew you were real because your pants were unbuttoned.
The Starscream: Han dabbles, though he mostly limits himself to assuming too much authority in Snow's absence and thinking he could get away with killing Kurr or roughing up Knull. Once or twice, though... At one point his raven tries to get him to kill Snow, though given they know that Snow can't die, one wonders whether the Great Raven had it out for Han...
Start of Darkness: Snow as a kid took animals apart to see how they worked and because he thought they did nothing useful; a lot of sociopaths in the real world also start by killing animals, so it isn't too much of a stretch. Word of God states that he killed his family just to see if he would feel anything while doing so— he didn't.
Strong Family Resemblance: Credenza looks a lot like her parents. She also looks like the younger Dragonfly, and both have the same magic. Even her soul has dragonfly wings.
Between Knull and Snow and Yulalia.
And also, Clair looks a lot like her mother Chesska and her father Blitz/Anthony.
Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Avians average maybe a meter in height. Word of God says that a "running joke in the Archipelago is that the only reason the Avians haven't wiped out all competing humanoid races is that they like tall women."
Transformation Trinket: Dragons use these to switch between their human forms and their dragon forms. Blitz's is his watch.
Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Blitz. Eventually explained as something far deeper than as normally presented: when Raven came to possess him, he slashed out his own eye, an act which cut off Raven's escape route and damaged the spirit, which in turn damaged Blitz's mind. He's got almost no hope of getting his original memory back (which may be for the best).
Villain Teleportation: Snow learns he has this ability after Claire uses it, since the arm grants him the powers of the heirs.
Voluntary Shapeshifting: All full-blooded werebeasts have a human and animal form. Half-bloods could, in theory, but it would probably kill them. Han pulls off a simpler version with his appearance through garments sewn from magical materials.
Wham Episode: Book 8. The setup of the book is already pretty surprising, with the reveal that the next heir is actually Blitz's daughter. But things really heat up when Snow shows up and steals Alice's soul, causing Riley to freak out and attempt to transform, nearly dying in the process. And it gets even worse when Snow murders Holly. Oh, and by the way? Blitz is a DRAGON. The wham just keeps up until the very end of the book where it's revealed that the final heir is Charlie, or more specifically, Credenza's childhood friend Uru.
Who Wants to Live Forever?: Snow had already died when the Great Raven conscripted him into service, and part of their deal is now that he can't die again. He finds this takes a great deal of excitement out of his second life.
We Can Rebuild Him: Captain Snow keeps getting grievously injured and his magical robot arm keeps repairing him with more robotic arms. By book 9 page 249, his robotic parts include "Both arms, one leg, most of his chest (including heart and portions of the lungs) the first few vertebra of his spine, and a patch on the back of his head that's covered by hair" as per Word of God.