is a webcomic
written by Warren Ellis
, author of Nextwave
, transhumanist and noted Crazy Awesome
British person, with art by Paul Duffield.
Set six years after apocalyptic flooding destroys modern civilization
(at least in Great Britain), the story follows the self-styled "FreakAngels" - a dozen 23-year-olds born at the exact same moment, all with purple eyes, pale skin and an array of mental powers that include telekinesis, telepathy, mind control, and unique individual gifts.
The comic is set in the London district of Whitechapel, now flooded with a good 20 feet of water, and populated by refugees. The FreakAngels are essentially in charge. They're responsible for the steam-powered machines that purify water, the scavenging of artifacts from the pre-flood days, defense against raiders from other neighborhoods, and general enforcement of order. But the raids are getting bolder, the population of Whitechapel is growing too large for their jury-rigged equipment to feed, and the exiled twelfth FreakAngel is looking for revenge on his old family.
Ellis and Duffield turned out six full-color pages a week; it ended at 144 episodes (six volumes of the paper edition) on August 5, 2011. It can be seen here
This comic provides examples of:
- After the End
- A God Am I: Luke's general attitude towards the package, believing that he is part of the "master race" and that having power means he should be able to use it on "lesser souls". Connor hints that this attitude is the primary reason behind his Jerk Ass tendencies. Though after being shot in the head and given a thorough neurological scrubbing, he's dropped the attitude. Still a jerk, though.
- Alphabetical Theme Naming: All the FreakAngels' names contain the letter K or a hard C.
- Anything That Moves/Polyamory: Sirkka
- Appropriated Appellation: The FreakAngels used to be called, among other things, "mutant freaks" and "angels of destruction."
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Kait shows the FreakAngels her potential new jail:
KK: - fucking torture chamber, Kait!
Karl: You can read fucking minds, Kait, so why are you operating the Whitechapel wing of Abu Fucking Ghraib over there -
Arkady: It smells of poo!
- Ascended Fangirl: Kait, who grew up on cop shows and has appointed herself the chief of police for Whitechapel.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The ending heavily implies that the Freakangels moved themselves outside of time, and this was where their "future" selves were communicating from whenever one of the "present" selves died. Or something.
- Back-Alley Doctor: Miki. Each of the FreakAngels is a self-taught but very competent back-alley specialist in a different area. Their power "package" let them master their professions by reading the minds of experts.
- Back from the Dead: Mark was thought dead early on, and came back. Two characters (Luke and Connor) come back after being shot point-blank in the head. Another may have done it more than once. In fact, it's posited that none of the FreakAngels can actually die, and as of the ending, it looks like that might be true.
- Badass: Jack and Kait can kick ass without their powers, being a salvager/explorer and policeman respectively.
- Badass Normal: Alice gets dubbed an "Honorary FreakAngel" on her first day in town, mostly for keeping her cool when Whitechapel comes under attack.
- A week later, she proves her badassery when she takes out Luke with her trusty shotgun, after he's already seriously injured Kirk and nearly killed KK.
- The Beautiful Elite: The FreakAngels are all fairly attractive with their perfect white skin and exotic eye and hair colours. The otherworldly look makes them even more distinct from everyone else, additional to their powers and own moral code. That most other humans are often starved or otherwise ill helps too.
- Bedmate Reveal: The first episode.
- Berserk Button: KK's real name sets her off like nothing else.
- Beware the Nice Ones:
Arkady: Do you know what that was, Luke? That was exactly one second of my overdose experience when we were fifteen. If you ever do something like this again, I am going to give you five minutes of that.
- Big Damn Kiss: Conner and Arkady. SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!
- Bishounen/Bifauxnen: Most of the FreakAngels are fairly attractive, and it can be somewhat hard to tell their exact gender for some of them. Arkady and Karl are even hard to tell apart in a couple of panels, despite being respectively female and male, due to their shaven heads (and Arkady's androgyny in general).
- Brain Bleach: This is one among the many FreakAngel powers. It is applied (usually by Sirrka) to the traumatized people they encounter in Whitechapel. In the case that happens "on-screen" she doesn't even ask if the girl actually wants her brain bleached. In this case and others, it seems the FreakAngels apply brain bleach not just out of mercy, but also to keep their powers secret.
- Brick Joke: The comic begins with KK waking up to discover she screwed a kid from Lambeth. In Episode 8, it's mentioned that Arkady had been in the market the previous week predicting the future. One prediction was that KK would shag someone from Lambeth. See Mad Oracle, below.
- Alice was introduced in the second episode of the comic. In the second-to-last episode, she is paired with a new supporting character named Bob.
- Bullying a Dragon: Hunting down a group of teenagers who can blow up stuff with their minds and deflect artillery strikes was bound to end up badly. Especially if said children would love to be left alone. Cue a disaster that left Great Britain in ruins.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Arkady has Cloud Cuckoo Lander tendencies and is hard to take seriously, but she's by far the strongest and most skilled user of the FreakAngels powers.
- Butt Monkey: Luke. In one day, he gets punched and crotch-stomped by Kirk, pistol-whipped by Jack, and Arkady Mind Rapes him (see Beware the Nice Ones above), leaving him crying in the foetal position on the floor in a puddle of his own urine. A week later, he gets whacked in the face by Alice, curb-stomped by Sirkka and Caz, chained up in Kait's dungeon, shot in both legs by Kirk, blasted by Alice's shotgun, and finally shot through the head, which he recovers from. Not that he didn't deserve it.
- Came Back Strong: All of the Freakangels have this ability. Every time they "die", the powers they wield are stronger and more finely-controlled when they get back up.
- Came Back Wrong: Mild but still there. Mark's first "death" saw him tumble face down into a river with a hole in the back of his head. He healed while immersed in filthy water - so he was brain-damaged in addition to being paranoid, megalomaniacal and a laundry list of other issues.
- Chekhov's Gun: Connor tells Alice in Episode 33 that she'll probably never meet an American. By the end, the Americans have arrived in Whitechapel and Alice is shown interacting with them.
- City of Flooded Streets
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Arkady, attributed to brain damage from a drug overdose and generally spending her spare time pushing the limits of her brain.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Miki, here.
- Combo Platter Powers: Every FreakAngel can use telepathy to talk to the others, read minds, see through someone else's eyes, and project their own thoughts and memories. They can use telekinesis in a variety of ways, from deflecting bullets to causing explosions. They regenerate from serious injury and can go for weeks without food, water, or sleep. Together, they can manipulate time, reshape wood on the cellular level, reverse the chemical reaction of expended gunpowder on the molecular level and build time moats. They even eventually learn that they're effectively immortal.
- Lampshaded by Arkady, who apparently spends much of her time developing new tricks, such as teleportation.
- It's hinted (and possible, within the realm of pseudo-science) that all their powers are simply manipulations of an incredibly potent personal electromagnetic field.
- Crazy Survivalist: Kait has aspects with this, which clashes oddly with her role as Whitechapel's self-appointed constable.
- Death Glare: Arkady manages an impressive (and terrifying) one here.
- Embarrassing First, Middle and Last Name: KK, or should I say Kolfinnia Kokokoho? It gets worse - Who The Fook Names Their Kid Kolfinnia Kokokoho Titching?
- Fantastic Racism: Against people from Lambeth.
- Face-Heel Turn: Mark is a rather tragic example. In flashbacks he's an idealistic fourteen year old boy who wanted to use the package to help mankind. In the present he's a psychopath who got exiled for mind controlling dozens of helpless civilians. Luke also seems to have had one sometime in the past that he's aware of and been trying to pretend is perfectly justifiable (though admittedly he had some Jerk Ass tendencies in the flashbacks).
- Gatling Good: And it fires metal bolts.
- Gorn: Forget the below-mentioned Your Head A Splode - we've got Your Torso A-splode! Not to mention the loving rendition of shattering bones and tearing flesh...
- Groin Attack: Poor, poor Jack...
- The Heart: Connor is the most compassionate and empathetic of the group. The others tend to think of him as rather useless (unlike the others, he doesn't have a unique specialty power, and he seems to be the weakest), but they do admit that he's generally the one who's managed to keep them working together (and the idea that they've started killing each other is enough to make Connor want to leave forever). Consequentially his package upgrade gives him the ability to join all of the Freakangels together into a unified mindspace where their powers are dramatically increased.
- Heel-Face Brainwashing: Luke, consensually and by request because he's ashamed to realize how low he's fallen.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners/Ho Yay: Kirk and Karl seem to only be able to stand each other, tried to murder Mark and kept the secret to themselves, and despite their many interactions have the rare accomplishment of never fighting with one another. Though they don't get much focus, it's implied they share a strong bond.
- As of episode 139, they're either an item or are at least considering becoming one.
Karl: If you think I'm kissing you in front of this shower of bastards you're fucking insane.
- Humans Are White: A side effect of the "package" is pale skin and purple eyes, which even Carolyn (black), Miki (Asian), and KK (possibly part Islander) have. They all retain other racial characteristics, but people often have to look twice before figuring that out.
- Ineffectual Loner: Jack is constantly called out on this. His tendency to go off on his own is seen as him shirking his emotional responsibilities.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Cruelly subverted. Jack is in love with Sirkka and doesn't approve of her polyamorous ways, but rather than object, he just stays away from her. This makes Sirkka, who loves him back, absolutely miserable.
- Jack the Ripper: A murder in Book 3 is done seemingly as a tribute to Jack the Ripper, using the same modus operandi (slashed throat, mutilated stomach) in the same location (Whitechapel).
- Jerkass: Luke in particular, but all of the FreakAngels to an extent. Lampshaded by Connor, who points out that they really are all a bunch of evil arseholes who can do nothing but yell at each other and fuck up.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Summarily deconstructed by Kaitlyn.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Mixed with Pay Evil unto Evil and a bit of Squick - this page and the following ones. May induce Fridge Logic on Page 4.
- Let's Get Dangerous: A wordless example here. In one panel, the FreakAngels snap from a bunch of bickering kids to the psychic hive mind that punched a hole in reality.
- Mad Oracle: A referenced Noodle Incident in which Arkady randomly predicted three people dying and KK shagging a kid from Lambeth, then developed short-term amnesia and forgot the entire event.
- An alternative explanation is that this foreshadows a future plot line. In the scene were Arkady says she doesn't remember visiting the market, she also talks about how she's considering the possibility of time travel. The implication seems to be that the Arkady who made the predictions in the marketplace might have been Arkady travelling back from some point in the future.
- Magic Skirt: KK. Her skirt is about twice as wide as a belt and made from some ruffly material, but the Panty Shot proves elusive.
- Mind-Control Eyes: Not always used - people that Mark manipulated to kill the FreakAngels don't show this, but the girl that Luke rapes does have them.
- Mind Over Manners: A recurring and frequent source of drama.
- Mind Rape: One of the FreakAngel powers.
- Mood Whiplash: Luke's rant here and here. Given a callback of sorts here.
- Moral Event Horizon: In the Freakangels' minds, brainwashing people; this is discussed in-universe several times. Oddly, they don't have any rules to deal with violence, and Kait is never punished for torturing people for dubious reasons, nor has anyone been punished for their murder attempts.
- More Than Mind Control: Sirkka's method of helping abuse victims. It includes physical clean-up and healing as well as a few Fake Memories to account for lost time. Some other FreakAngels don't agree with wiping the victim's memories, but Sirkka's reasons for doing so are undeniably benevolent.
- Ms. Fanservice:
- KK, possibly with a dose of Author Appeal. She also appears on the cover of both print volumes, and all the promotional material for the comic.
- Arkady also tends to wear see-through clothing.
- Lampshaded when a character asks Arkady to at least wear panties. She's been wearing underwear for a good long while now, though they are still visible through her skirt.
- Sirkka, due to her...amorous ways.
- Particularly when her package upgrade occurs with her naked and writhing on her bed.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- In Episode 0122, Luke appears to be having one of these moments, saying the only thing to do is "get rid of him" and then for the others to sort out why they're here...while crying.
- Evidently, this is the reason for Mark's activities. He was responsible for breaking the country as badly as it did, and he went crazy with guilt. Even worse when you remember all his good intentions as a thirteen year old kid.
- Near Death Experience: Apparently any one of these unpacks a FreakAngel's package further.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The FreakAngels had initially wanted to simply cause a huge, showy, but not really lethal shake-up, for the sake of getting the army off their back. Their severe underestimation of just how powerful they were, plus the amount of pain and frustration they poured into their efforts, along with Mark steering them while his mental state was so unbalanced, caused them to instead bring about an immensely destructive disaster which pretty much ended civilization, at least in Britain.
- Not So Different: Connor frequently lampshades that every FreakAngel is as much of a Jerkass as Luke and Mark.
- Oh, Crap: Teleportation's a bitch.
- Only Six Faces: The FreakAngels all look a lot alike. This is a deliberate facet of the story; Ellis has stated that the core idea of the comic is "what if the Midwich Cuckoos survived, grew up, and then fucked up?" The Midwich Cuckoos are famous for, among other things, all looking exactly the same. That being said, some of the character designs have changed noticeably since the beginning. Compare KK then with KK now, for instance.
- The Ophelia: Arkady.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Any single FreakAngel can completely dominate a person's mind or tearing them apart telekinetically, and can shield him- or herself against small arms fire. Two or three working in concert can demolish buildings, blast apart small armies, and cause large explosions, as well as protecting themselves from heavy machine guns and artillery. All twelve of them were able to strike the planet so hard that it caused catastrophic earthquakes, flooded Britain, disrupted the Earth's geomagnetic field and seems to have broken time and space.
- Perverse Sexual Lust: Regarding Quincy, M.E., a detective drama from the 80s...
I fucking loved Quincy
. In fact, I would have done
Quincy, so less of your lip. Miki: You would have
He was a crimefighting genius and he always had hot young chicks on his boat. Quincy's cock was a foot long.
- It gets worse:
You're confessing to murder. Two people just confessed murder to me in the same minute. Why aren't I happy? I swear I had masturbation fantasies about this. Karl:
Oh, Christ, Kait! Too much information!
Is this my punishment? I have to think about you in an interrogation cell in front of a weeping criminal and rubbing one out? Kait: (lip bite)
...And then Quincy walks in. Karl:
- Karl later asks Arkady to wipe that conversation from his mind. He's probably joking.
- Thanks to Kait's package upgrade, it looks like she'll be able to act upon this.
- Sand In My Eyes: In Episode 0122 Luke starts to cry after giving a speech where he says he knows he's a horrible human being and asks the rest to put him down. Upon realizing this, he comments "Something's wrong with my eye."
- Secret Keeper: Alice is the only person in Whitechapel who knows that the FreakAngels really have superpowers.
- Shout-Out: The afterlife apparently does not include Satan and his little wizards.
- Steam Punk/Ocean Punk: KK has a steam helicopter, not to mention the steam-powered, crank-operated Gatling gun.
- Tears of Blood: These start showing up as the FreakAngels' reconstruction of Whitechapel becomes more and more advanced, indicating that their bodies are breaking down under the strain.
- There Are No Therapists: Played with. Sirkka is the local equivalent of a psychologist and helps abuse victims and people Mind Raped by Mark. Her own love life, on the other hand, is a total mess. Other FreakAngels are not much better with the group consisting of The Ophelia, an Ineffectual Loner, a Knight Templar, a guy driven crazy by his own guilt, A God Am I wannabe and a few other dysfunctional personality types. Some hide it better than others. At the end they all get a quick therapy from Arkady of all people. and Luke is fixed on his own request. Even Mark seems to be much more sane. It is implied that their problems don't magically disappear, but they will eventually get over their issues with some love and hard work. FreakAngels are True Companions after all.
- Throat Light: Although the FreakAngels have glowing eyes whenever they use their powers, at the times that they're doing something really powerful, usually together, this trope applies.
- Totally Radical
- Arkady: "I can has vodka."
- KK: "All your forthcoming bone fractures are belong to us."
- Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Every "upgrade" to the package is painful and terrifying due to the whole "death" part.
- True Companions: FreakAngels before the catastrophe. After this event most of them got their own issues and the group broke apart. At the end, they are together again, though perhaps not completely healed. But they have all the time in the world to work on that.
- Unexplained Recovery: "I don't want to say 'I got better' because it's a rotten cliché, but..."
- Webcomic Time: In the first thirteen months of its run, the comic covered a grand total of one day. Then there was a one-week Time Skip, and the following two years have covered another day.
- We Will Use WikiWords In The Future: Or at least our psychic twenty-something overlords will.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Sirkka for her More Than Mind Control method of helping abuse victims, Kait for keeping a prison/torture chamber, and later Miki for using her package upgrade to castrate Luke.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: KK's "bike" helicopter, Jack's steam-boat and the steam-powered Gatling Guns. They built them out of scrounged materials using expertise borrowed from expert brains.
- Wrench Wench: KK and Caz.
- Your Head A Splode: Another of the FreakAngels' powers. Presumably the judicious application of telekinesis or a force field. Seen in a flashback.
- Your Mom: Kait to Connor here, with epic follow-up here.
- Zettai Ryouiki: Arkady, at 14. Grade A. Behold.◊