Webcomic / Lighter Than Heir


A webcomic by Melissa Albino, aka Nalem, Lighter Than Heir is the story of Zeppelin von Schultheiss, a volant (flying human) girl who's tired of living in the shadow of her famous father. Growing up as the only daughter of deceased war hero left Zeppelin with high expectations and a massive chip on her shoulder, so she signed up for the military as soon as she could, determined to become an even bigger war hero than he was. With an ego as big as hers, she'll be in for a surprise, because the army is not known for catering to the whims of 19 year old girls, even if they are the only daughter of the late, great Major Hemmel Von Schultheiss.

Updates every Wednesday and Friday.

Lighter Than Heir contains examples of:

  • An Arm and a Leg: The comic does not shy away from showing the horrific effects of military weaponry, resulting in...
  • Artificial Limbs: The Steiners use their mecha technology to replace the limbs that have been blown (or sliced, or burned) off of their soldiers.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Neither Steinbech nor Zamora have much claim to the moral high ground. Even the nominally heroic Steiners live in a military dictatorship.
  • Blood Knight: Zeppelin, shading into The Berserker after she escapes Doctor Villalobos. Face her in combat and she will kill you, even if she has to sacrifice parts of her own body to do so. Already Hot-Blooded with a hair-trigger Berserk Button and a well-founded hatred for the Zamorans, Zeppelin is teetering on the brink of becoming something much worse. Hertz recognizes the signs even if nobody else does.
  • Break the Haughty: Austerlitz admits that a big part of his Drill Sergeant Nasty training was supposed to do this for Zeppelin. Despite it failing, he grudgingly lets her graduate from training with the rest. Time will tell if this actually happens.
    • Her disastrous tour of Zamora and finding her father's butchered corpse have done a much better job of being this trope.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Even in its more violent and dramatic bits, the strip stays relatively lighthearted - until Zeppelin is vivisected, then finds her father's corpse, at which point all the plotlines start to get very dark, very fast.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Steiner originally attacked Zamora for unclear reasons. The Zamorans of today hate them for it, to the point of infiltrating their bases and sabotaging their weapons. This, understandably, annoys the Steiners, and around and around it goes. Roth is nearly killed by a scout who beats him bloody because her family was killed by Steiners when she was eight—never mind that he was twelve at the time, and thus clearly not in any way responsible.
  • Disappeared Dad: Zeppelin is still angry at her father for failing to return. Finding out what actually happened to him is even worse.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Sergeant Austerlitz, who is actually a decorated veteran. In an interesting twist, it doesn't fully work in instilling discipline in the squad of the protagonists (see Mildly Military). Then again, this is possibly due to the saboteur and spy who had infiltrated their squad.
  • Evil Luddite: Zamorans hate Steiner war machines and seem to dislike technology in general. Their government doesn't seem to mind using technology to breed or create super soldiers though...
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: The squad members all have their hair shaved off after entering training camp. They later grow it back out.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • Going by the names and general behavior, the Steiners are obviously German in heritage, with some of them (including Zeppelin) spouting off a few phrases in German from time to time.
    • The Zamorans are harder to pin down in terms of culture, but the origin of the name points to them being from a counterpart of Spain. (Zamora is a province in Spain, as well as the name of the capital city of said province.)
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Ria, after sniping someone to save Austerlitz.
  • Hypocrite:
    • For a country that hates all machines, the Zamorans sure have a lot of guns.
    • The scientist in charge of the Zamoran volant project claims that human enhancement is totally different than the technology the Zamorans hate. However, she seems to be a bit sarcastic and just seems to be paying lip service to the idea. She doesn't seem to be Zamoran at all, and even experimented on Steiners in the past.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: Fleischer have made one with Hertz's help, because she wanted one.
  • Jerkass: Roth and Austerlitz, Hertz to an extent, but Zeppelin is the main offender.
  • Lensman Arms Race: Looks it's heading this way with Zamoran volant super soldiers versus Steiner mechas.
  • Mildly Military: Played with. The majority of the military does run on fairly tight discipline. The squad of the protagonists...not so much. The military brass doesn't seem overly concerned, though. This is because they are more focused on the possibility of the war re-starting.
  • The Mole: It becomes very clear early on that there is one on the training grounds. It turns out to be Kurt Grunwald, who not only feigned being broken by the training, but is also secretly a volant like Zepplin.
  • Mood Whiplash: After getting treated to seeing whatever's left of her dad, we cut immediately to a flashback of an adorable Zeppelin celebrating her fifth birthday.
  • Police State: When Steinebech enters a state of war, the civilian government steps down and the military takes full control of the country. When Steinebech went back to war against Zamora, the first thing General Eckstein did was have any Zamoran or anyone of Zamoran descent arrested on suspicion of espionage.
  • Poor Communication Kills: There's a long list.
    • Vogel intentionally got the team lost instead of just telling them that he didn't want to show up home with some Steiner medical tech on his arm. This led to them wandering a bombed-out ruin that had become a secret research facility.
    • The volants guarding said research facility refused to believe that the team was escorting a Zamoran home, and immediately attacked.
    • When they finally got Vogel home, Hertz and Roth went to use the old Steiner radio tower without asking any questions. Vogel would have been able to tell them that it had been repurposed into a military outpost, and was off limits.
    • When one of the scouts saw Hertz and Roth approaching, she nearly killed them, assuming they were spies, and refused to listen to anything to the contrary. She later lied to her superiors, claiming Roth fell off the tower instead of admitting she beat him up herself.
    • When they're in prison, the prime minister doesn't believe them either—partly because of the scout lying to her, and partly because the Zamoran they claim to be escorting is nowhere to be found. But at least she started by asking why they were in the country.
    • Hertz managed to get a message back to Steiner before they were arrested, so Austerlitz rolls in like he owns the place, having not even bothered to call ahead and let the Zamorans know he's coming to peacefully extract his men.
    • And someone (possibly the Zamoran prime minister, possibly someone else entirely) is organizing Zamoran youths to infiltrate Steiner and cripple their infrastructure, which is a large part of what started the war.
  • Steampunk: Some influences are there, such as the machines they pilot and the metallic arm cast.
  • Scars Are Forever: Hertz has a strange set of scars on his back. They're from a failed procedure to turn him into a volant. Zeppelin later finds herself injured in the same manner by a similar machine, in an effort to vivisect her and learn more about volants.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Zeppelin wakes up (after having being shot down) cocooned inside a steampunk-ish version of this.
  • Super Soldier: It turns out that the Zamorans have been trying to create artificial volants for years. Hertz is an early victim of a failed procedure to do so.
  • The Unfettered: Doctor Villalobos gleefully experiments on unwilling human subjects
  • Walk on Water: Anyone who's a volant is capable of this due to being buoyant enough not to sink. If they are forced underwater, they dissolve.
  • "Well Done, Daughter!" Girl: Zepplin suffers from this bad in regards to her father. What makes it brutal is that he died a war hero when she was a little girl.
  • Wham Line: Page 378. "...Dad?"
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: Steinbech. They won the previous war and imposed some terms, but Zamora has clearly broken whatever treaty they had, is trying to create more super soldiers and is waging a guerrilla war against Steinbech. As of comic 465 they have assassinated Steinbech's chancelor.