Webcomic / Black Rose

There are two worlds. Theirs isn't strong anymore. The old world is dying. The handwavers can bend the earth, the sea, the mind — even life — with a gesture, a thought. But we Athelicans — our power is in things so that even the weakest can be the strongest. The handwavers have never seen war like this. Or men like these...and when we've finished with the old world, all that will remain is a shadow of its pride. My sister and I are between worlds. That's why we need to get out. Everything I have to do, Aliyana, I will.
Arion, issue one

Fantasy is dead.

Black Rose is a Dark Fantasy / Steam Punk webcomic (originally introduced as an independently published comic) made by writers Christopher Arndt and Brandon Peat with illustrator Aaron Minier.

Black Rose focuses on two siblings: Arion, who has just come home from his grueling term of duty in the Athelican military, only to find that bureaucracy has taken away the land grant he was promised for his eight years of service, and Aliyana, who grew into aristocratic life much easier than her rough and tumble brother. Arion wishes to take Aliyana out of Athelica, against her own desires.

Athelica, a Steam Punk industrialized empire is encroaching on the land of Ishtakar, where magic (used by those known as Handwavers) is still in common use...but not for long, as the Athelican military's technology is giving them a significant advantage against the Handwavers and their Mind Control abilities. But Ishtakar isn't going down without a fight, and Arion and Aliyana are caught in the middle.

Black Rose, as a webcomic transitioning from print, is available to read online and also in print volumes. The comic updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays (currently on issue 8), having finished uploading pages from the first arc (the first six print issues). The official Facebook is here, along with the Twitter.

The Handwaving in this series is also not to be confused with the trope.

Black Rose contains examples of:

  • Chekhov's Gun: Deliberately set up in issue 3, finally used in issue 4.
    If you’re going to give your character a weapon, your character should use said weapon. What good is a neutered Wolverine that can only cut loose in “what if” or “alternate universe” storylines? Why should Leonardo cut up countless robotic foot soldiers, but not slice Rocksteady’s fool hand off? Pacifists don’t carry.
  • Dark Fantasy: A grimy corrupted empire with Steam Punk technology versus an underdeveloped country where magic users are being wiped out, a lack of fantasy races other than humans, and more realistic leanings? Check.
  • Functional Magic: Of the mentalism kind Handwavers use. So far, it's been used in the series for mind control, crop cutting, and raising the dead.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: While Airon's fate ( death) and Aliyana's resulting actions ( fixing said death with her handwaver powers) in issue 4 might have shocked some readers of the webcomic re-release of issue 4, those who had the print issue/book collecting issues 1-6 knew months before hand. Those who only follow the webcomic could still notice something was up when the cover and the description for issue 5 had both Airon and Aliyana appear just fine.
  • Mind Control: The version used in Black Rose is applied not only to humans, but to nature as well.
  • Mind Rape: The Athelican army claims to provide help to Ishtakar's villagers to avoid this from the Overseers in exchange for produce. Whether or not they hold true to it instead of "vacating" said villages is another story.
  • Pretty Man: Arion, as described by Bjorn.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Attempted on soldiers by a Handwaver in issue one. A good portion of them nearly did it but the attempt failed after the Handwaver was shot by a soldier who maintained control of their mind.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Implied to be what happens when the Athelican military "vacates" Istakar's.
  • Shown Their Work: "Old matchlock pistols like Arion’s had absolutely horrific accuracy. That said, someone could still get a headshot."
  • Steam Punk: Athelica, both the location and its military.
  • Wham Episode: In Issue 4, group of Handwavers make their attack on the Nelkan household, but there's at least one Handwaver unaffiliated with them that's on Airon's side: Aliyana, who revived him after a murder attempt by said group of Handwavers
  • Wretched Hive: Arion comes home from his stint in the military to a country ripe with corrupt politicians and polluted air. War veterans (including Arion) are screwed out of many benefits and Arion is only slightly luckier than the rest of them due to his fighting skills bringing in a means of income.