Webcomic / Genocide Man
is the story of Jacob Doe, one of the titular Genocide Men, a man tasked with hunting out and destroying dangerous "ideas" in the aftermath of the Open Source Movement, when military secrets became public knowledge, a time period where every possible piece of scientific knowledge was available to everyone, which, among other things, resulted in a Zombie Apocalypse
in China, the extinction of the Jewish people (and all redheads), and the deaths of two thirds of the world's total population. Ideas can be very dangerous in a future where the technology exists to make even the most terrible ideas a reality. Jacob Doe is 98 years old, and has seen, and done, many terrible things... and his life is about to become much more complicated.
Brought to us by the author who brought us Indefensible Positions
Tropes in this work include:
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: A terrifying subversion, as every AI is guaranteed to go insane after it has been active long enough, and the smarter the AI, the quicker it is. One AI had a sanity-span of five minutes, because they needed him clever enough to figure several people's locations on the fly within seconds of activation. It didn't even last that long...
- There is eventually revealed to be a way to achieve long-term, if not necessarily indefinite, AI stability. Unfortunately, it has a failure condition and imposes an effective upper limit on how smart the AI can be: fool the AI into thinking it is human. This seems to mostly work for the Kentaro and Fumiaki AIs, allowing them to last for years... up until they find out what they are, at which point they begin sliding downward.
- Advice Backfire: The first time the audience meets Lola and Kevin, she offers him the advice that "its easier to ask forgiveness than permission" (referring to the recruitment of a new GP agent and how the rest of the GUS might react). He takes the first part (not asking permission) to heart way too well and immediately begins Jumping Off the Slippery Slope while smugly reminding anyone who objects that he's well within his legal rights as head of the Genocide Project.
- Animal Theme Naming: The five Genocide Men all donned codenames (in part to prevent backlash against any of their existing family members): Jacob Doe, Lola Lamb, Kevin Kidd, Peter Pup, and Joey. Presumably Kevin was going for irony.
- Anti-Hero: Jacob Doe, the central character. He has killed more people than can easily be imagined, both personally and through the use of Synthetic Plagues, many of whom didn't even deserve it. But his genuine belief in the necessity of his actions, and his equally genuine regret and sorrow over them, combine to help ensure that he falls short of being a real Villain Protagonist.
- Arc Words: First delivered by an insane AI, They say that there's a secret gene, that Adam had, and it made him clean.
- Ascended Extra: Exit the pilot was originally more a piece of scenery than a character. But, by the author's own admission, Exit grew on him, eventually becoming a fearless Deadpan Snarker who is closer to Caera Shou than anyone else in the Genocide Project. He knows no Genocide Man will kill him no matter how much he mouths off because none of them know how to fly the helicopter.
- Bald of Evil: Most of the Genocide Men are bald-ing (given their extreme age), but Kevin is presumably sporting the full chrome dome under his horrendous toupee and is probably the most callously villainous of them.
- Bio-Augmentation: Genocide Men have artificial glands that produce stimulants and antitoxins during combat.
- Biological Weapons Solve Everything: The comic takes place after several extremist groups used open-source biotechnology to kill billions. The titular Genocide Project is an international law enforcement agency that uses targeted plagues to wipe out "genetic deviants" and their creators.
- Bio Punk
- Blood Knight: Joey. The guy had his license to carry a Weapon of Mass Destruction revoked because he was setting it off "for fun"
- Character Alignment: An alignment chart was posted at the end of chapter 9, using "pacifist-conflicted-murderous" as the moral axis.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Girii, maybe. According to the character sheet (as written by the Genocide Project) "She has also demonstrated impressive strength, but a lack of genetic markers indicate her musculature may be from a childhood filled with rigorous labor." However after she rips open a quarantine wall bare-handed Jacob suggests that Fumiaki developed entirely new musculature genes that they can't detect.
- Fumiaki later states that he intended to give her enhanced hormone responses, the empathy was a side effect. Meaning that her "super strength" is actually pure adrenaline.
- Consummate Liar: Lola, the political/scientific founder of the Genocide Project, as showcased when she rather overstates the chances of their "global therapy package" putting an end to the whole mess.
- Cyberspace: The "Undernet"
- Dark-Skinned Blonde: Girii's skin tone is hard to discern due to the greyscale, but she is an Inuit with blonde hair.
Girii: Ancient tribal secret - it's called Peroxide.
- Death Seeker: Jacob Doe's guilt weighs so heavily on him he doesn't mind dying in his mission and would even welcome it.
- Depopulation Bomb: In 2109 the world population is down to 3 billion.
- Designer Babies: Genetic deviancies, the Ugandans were born to mothers who were infected with a virus by "witch doctors".
- Dodgy Toupee: Kevin Kidd sports one. On an April Fools gag-page where all the characters appear only as their hair, he jests that he could take it off and become completely invisible.
- Dogpile Of Doom: Lola Lamb goes out this way, being found under a huge pile of dead Senegal soldiers when Jacob finally arrives.
- Driven to Suicide: Peter Pup, one of the genocide men, eventually went insane from all of the horrors he was forced to inflict, and killed himself by diving into a wet cement foundation with his virus case. Sadly, the case opened, and a nasty bubble of virus released into the air, killing a lot of people.
- Jacob intended to kill himself after Giri's village convinced him to spare them. It's suggested that they used their empathy to suggest it.
- The Empath: Giri and about half her village have this ability.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Joey voted against the Guyaquil plague, because it would "take the teeth out of the human race".
- Fanservice: Chapter 10, Page 11 "This a test of the Emergency Fanservice Delivery System. This is only a test. If it becomes necessary to deliver fanservice to the readers, be assured that our artist Michael is capable of providing it. This has been a test. :)"
- Evil Knockoff: During the invasion on Britain, Lola ends up creating half-baked Genocide Men from volunteering soldiers, who get all of the quick boosts but none of the infrastructural changes. The result is extra-quick soldiers about as fast as the real deal, but not quite as strong, and are assured to die eventually due to their lungs bursting apart from the strain. Even in this crappy state they manage to kill about 500 soldiers each, however.
- Flat "What.": Freighter captain tells Jacob he has mail.
- Follow the Chaos: A genocide man goes shopping...
- Handicapped Badass: Unlike her fellow Genocide Men, Lola underwent the carbon-nanotube therapy while in the early stages of osteoporosis, causing her super-hard bones to also become super-brittle and confining her to a wheelchair. She also takes out Kevin with ease.
I asked the lab boys for a recoilless rifle with auto-aim fast enough to catch a Genocide Man. See how well people respond when you show a little leadership?
- Heel–Face Turn: After a while spent fighting the Jiang Shi, Caera Shou finds herself much less inclined to narrowly-define "humanity," and tries to build bridges with Senator Mkasa.
- He Who Fights Monsters: The Genocide Project was intended to stop extremist groups from committing (larger) genocides. Now they mostly exterminate people who have the wrong genes, though at least some of those "wrong genes" involve natural weapons, enhanced combat abilities, an insatiable need to kill, etc.
"The Genocide Project saved the world. We did good things. But, despite our global dominion and all the mass murder, we somehow lost our way."
- Human Weapon: The eponymous characters were designed to take on small armies. Often of other human weapons.
- Idiot Ball: The very same chapter features an American admiral making a series of truly stunningly-dumb decisions to showcase the threat posed by the Kentaro A.I., and an otherwise-intelligent character arbitrarily assuming the troops sent by the organization with "Genocide" in its name to an enclave of gene-modded beings they've sworn to exterminate are coming to negotiate for no real stated reason.
- Information Wants to Be Free: On the backstory, the Open Source Movement believed this and released a large amount of classified information to the public. The wide-spread horrors that followed and which were created with the technology that this information put at reach of the general public led to the creation of the United Nations' GENOCIDE Project, which believes in the inversion of this (and You Cannot Kill An Idea) and carries it to the most logical extreme.
- Intrepid Reporter: Roger Evers is a rather determined blogger.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Kevin does it pretty quickly, taking the advice that it's sometimes better to beg forgiveness than ask permission and promptly uses it to justify pissing off every nation on Earth while killing loads of people. Kentaro decides it's probably why all A.I.s eventually go insane: when you're the smartest being on Earth, you feel an obligation to help. Then you realize that you can solve an awful lot of problems by killing people. Then you realize that you can solve bigger and bigger problems by killing more and more people...
- Kick the Dog: Kevin eventually murders one of his workers for bringing him bad news before tea. It's the last straw for Lola, who finally takes him out. More-humorously, Jacob reminisces about his last trip to India, when Joey killed a pile of sacred cows for no other reason than because he could.
- Kill 'em All: The government's number one law enforcement tool is now complete annihilation. In a future where you can make anything you please, even a targeted virus that can kill an entire gene line in a matter of days, the only way to prevent abuses of science is to kill anyone with an "idea" that is deemed too dangerous.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Jacob mentions that if he's captured he will be mindwiped, and that it may have happened to him before, Peter was at least three times. And it's later discovered that at times the Genocide Men use a drug patch called the Lethe Protocol when discussing things that absolutely have to be secret, it prevents them from remembering what they did while on the drug. But Joey's augment tweaks rendered him immune.
- Longevity Treatment: Jacob is ninety-eight but thanks to his G-man mods and telomerase treatments he is still one of the deadliest men in the world.
- Mad Scientist: Dr. Fumiaki, just look at him. It turns out his madness may be related to his being an AI.
- Magnetic Weapon: Jacob's sidearm is a handheld railgun loaded with sarin-tipped darts.
- Monochromatic Eyes: Genocide Men are stylized as having dead white eyes, although it's a only visual metaphor for Empty Eyes after a lifetime of horror. In universe, their eyes do have an Uncanny Valley effect for just how dead they look.
- Nice Hat: The Senegalese Command Hat, as seen here.
- No Transhumanism Allowed: Transhumanism is specifically forbidden, because of all the problems that genetic engineering has caused:
Jacob: Your threat comes from what you represent — the idea that human beings can be improved or replaced. Ideas like that are too dangerous to let live.
- Not So Above It All: He might be on a plane towards the most dangerous place in the world, but when Jacob gets the video footage of a particularly hated colleague's murder, he asks for popcorn.
- Oh, Crap!: Tatsu Fumiaki, the scientist who raised Dahnai, begins calculating the maximum lifespan of Dahnai, who is a lifeform that has no mitochondria in her cells. When he realized that Dahnai is technically immortal because of her unique biology, he had a colossal Oh, Crap! because he had just been told that the world would only tolerate her existence because her expected life span was only going to be five more years.
- Rapid Aging: Dahnai reached adulthood in just two years, causing the Genocide Project to guess that she'd die of old age in another five so they let her live. But it seems that the AI who created her designed her to become The Ageless
- Rasputinian Death : Joey, pumped full of Sarin, electrocuted repeatedly, drowned, and finally eaten by crocodiles.
- The Reveal: It's been revealed that the Genocide Project is actually tampering with the human genome on a global scale, which is supposed to be one of the things that they were put into place to stop.
- This Is Reality: Jacob's monologue to Giri about the prevalence of genocide: it's a tribal and human thing, which can use different methods and can even be pacifist in its mass-murders. The Genocide Project is simply an extremist, insane version of what was already happening for millennia; it's not going away even if the protagonists finish the project off.
- Shoot the Messenger: The Genocide Project's analysts prefer to take their reports to Lola instead of Kevin because he killed one of them with his bare hands for bringing him bad news before he'd had his tea.
- Shout-Out: While steeling himself up to go into the Undernet and hack some drones Roger references Spider Jerusalem and Cory Doctorow as bloggers who got theough worse.
- Sociopathic Soldier: Joey, though technically he was a mercenary. While Jacob, whom Lola considered the Genocide Project's moral center (not that that was saying much), was a UN Peacekeeper.
- Suicide by Cop: Kenshiro, having provided world leaders around the globe with the technology necessary to help humanity survive, kills others, bombing many of their capitols, in an ultimately-successful effort to force Jacob to destroy him before he goes completely insane.
- Super Speed: Genocide Man artificial adrenal glands can pump something like rocket fuel which allow temporary bursts of speed. The Ugandan deviancies were capable of the same due to their enhanced nervous systems.
- Super Soldier: Genocide Men are augmented with nanotube-infused bones and synthetic glands that produce combat stimulants and antidotes to most toxins. Some deviancies like the Ugandans are designed for this purpose as well.
- Swallowed Whole: By something that at least looks like a whale.
Giriii: My dad took me whale hunting once. Never thought I'd be swallowed by one.
Jacob: This isn't a whale. Whales don't have card tables, chemical toilets, or crates of MREs.
Girii: It smells like a whale.
- Synthetic Plague: Primary weapon of the Genocide Men and many of the groups they were established to stop.
- Taking You with Me:
- If a Genocide Man is killed in the field, or if his genocide case is stolen, it releases a horrifically deadly "Retribution virus" to contain the situation by killing everyone around it in a city-sized radius.
- Part of the reason why AIs are so dangerous on going insane is that they follow the command to kill themselves rather faithfully, but tend to pick some very destructive methods to do so, including "Kamikaze every single plane in the area into my general location" and "kill every world leader I dislike in front of Jacob Doe so he'll kill me".
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: It's revealed the Genocide proyect, specifically Lola, did this to China's Supersoldier project. They could've just shut down the project through sabotage, instead they subverted it to turn them into the aforementioned Chinese zombies, wiping out the project, its creators, its collaborators, everyone involved and the entire nation they lived in.
Lola Lamb: We kill threats! We use overkill to ensure the threats are gone!
- This Is Gonna Suck: Jacob, when he finds out his contact is an AI, and an incredibly clever one at that. See A.I. Is a Crapshoot above for details on why exactly this isn't good news.
- Too Dumb to Live: Crosses with Idiot Ball when an otherwise very intelligent character ignores the advice of everyone around, insists that the Genocide Project must have sent delegates to "negotiate", and rushes to the fence to meet them. No prizes for guessing the first person to be gunned down in the ensuing carnage.
- United Nations Is a Superpower: Or at least the UN's successor, the GUS (of which the Genocide Project is the only non-state member)
- Uplifted Animal: Subverted by Dahnai, she looks canine but is actually a completely synthetic organism. Played straight by the "Slo-cows", crosses between giant ground sloths and cattle that Fumiaki chimera'd with human brain tissue.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Ironically, this viewpoint is used by both the Genocide Project, and those that they fight against. In a world where the technology exists to make any idea a reality (and how many people have thought that the world would be perfect if this or that group of people were not in it?), a lot of people have tried to make the world a better place by wiping out anyone that they believed hindered a perfect society. This kind of viewpoint has killed billions in this story. Meanwhile, for the Genocide Men, they justify the many acts they do as being for the greater good. While it may be true that they have more scientific research, more funding, and a wider worldview than most other organizations, the truth is, they have killed just as many, or more, than the ones they have fought against.
- Villainous Breakdown: Lola starts doing rather badly after killing Kevin. It's subtle, aside from a brief breakdown, but she gets increasingly open about her ruthless acts afterwards. And after Senegal and the rest declare war on G.U.S. and the invasion of the UK starts, she loses her goddamn mind entirely, remaining exactly as quiet as before while being willing to slaughter everything and everyone that isn't Jacob, who she merely maims.
- Volcano Lair:
Dr Fumiaki: Then welcome to Corvo Island. Part volcano, part laboratory...well, pretty much just those two things.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Everyone in the Genocide Project who isn't a murderous psychopath fits the criterion, since their mission statement is essentially to commit genocide to prevent it. The maddened Fumiaki A.I. is a less-defensible version, unleashing a terrifying flesh-melting plague out of some mad belief that murder breeds progress.
- Wetware Body: The "Fumiaki" and his clone son are actually computerized A.I.s implanted in the heads of organic bodies. Part of a plan by the original Tatsu to create a stable AI by making it believe it was human. It works, mostly... until the Robotic Reveal. Once they know they aren't human, they can't resist making themselves just a liiiiittle smarter, bit by bit...
- A World Half Full: If your ancestors survived the 21st century, then the 22nd isn't such a bad place:
Jacob: G.U.S. has its faults...but they've solved climate change, overpopulation...
Girii: By killing everyone.
Jacob: Hunger, and war. For most people this is darn near utopia.
Girii: Except people like us, who they hunt down and kill.
Jacob: There are always misfits.
- Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": Very much averted. It's actually a shorthand for GENOme pestiCIDE.
- You Cannot Kill An Idea: The Genocide Project thinks they can, and that for the sake of making sure the world doesn't goes further into hell, they must.
- Unfortunately, they specifically say that killing and genocide NEVER go out of style.