is a Webcomic
by Magnolia Porter of Bob White
When walking home one day Bina Blum sees something out of the corner of her eye move behind a building. When she goes to investigate a strange creature jumps into her body and causes her heart to become its own sentient entity outside of her body. A mysterious organization seeks to control the process and use the phenomena for its own gain.
Bina interacts with various other children affected by this strange ability which causes one of their body parts to take on a mind and personality of its own, whilst still functioning somewhat as if the organ were in/attached to the body from which it came, which in Bina's case keeps her alive.
The CoLab HQ
has begun a let's read.
Monster Pulse contains examples of:
- Action Survivor: Bina, although as the story goes on she is developing a less passive role.
- Adult Fear: When they find the voice monster, the kids quickly realize that somewhere, there's a baby crying, and no one can hear it.
- Applied Phlebotinum: The Arma Energy SHELL uses. It is an amazing power source, with the tendency to create new life from existing forms of life, life that is still maturing.
- Artistic License – Biology: The author has admitted that before designing Rixis she had believed the pupil to literally be a black spot on the eye. If she had known it beforehand he might have turned out different.
- Animate Body Parts: The premise in a nutshell.
- Attack Animal: The monsters, as far as the director of SHELL is concerned.
- Awesome but Impractical: Bina's monster is her heart. While it is extremely powerful, there's the teeny tiny problem that whenever it fights, she is putting her life on the line.
- In general, this applies to almost all monsters - if the monster is destroyed, the original person permanently loses said body part. For someone like Julie (hair monster), it'd be inconvenient at most. For someone like Abel (left eye monster), it would create a noticeable disability. For West and Bina (stomach and heart monster, respectively), it would be fatal.
- Bald Women: Julie, due to her hair turning into a monster.
- Barrier Warrior: Red's strongest power - even Ayo's strength can't break them. Nancy is dangerous enough to have figured out how to weaponize it.
- Blackmail: How West gets Lulenski to become The Mole - he took video of her killing Roger. Unusually she doesn't hold a grudge about it, even becoming protective of the kids.
- Blessed with Suck: Guuzy has elements of this for West - he can't even attempt to eat food without getting ill anymore, so he can't eat. Nor can he really go into social situations where food is involved, because his reaction to food is conspicuous.
- Blob Monster: Red, Nancy's monster, is made of her blood.
- Bloody Murder: Nancy's monster is made from her blood, so all of its attacks qualify.
- Body Horror: While the comic is meant to be all ages, (or at least around the PG rating) Bina's heart graphically bursting out of her chest and turning into a monster may cause a few restless nights for younger readers.
- Body Motifs
- Boring but Practical: Julie's monster is her hair. It's not very powerful, but it's hair, so it can regenerate from pretty much anything.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Chapter 1 shows a stomach as one of the organs manifested by the initial six ARMA escapees. Chapter 2 shows Lulenski and Roger reminiscing of a kid with curly hair with a monster erupting from his midsection. Chapter 3 finally introduces West and Guuzy, his stomach monster.
- Chekhov's Skill: West figures out that Greenie can throw his voice and spends their time together practicing it. It comes in handy when Bina and West are held up by the neighborhood patrol and need a quick distraction.
- Cognizant Limbs: Only one in this case - Ned (one of SHELL's guards) has a monster made out of his right arm. Due to its abnormal shape, he leaves it at home and pretends to be an amputee when going out in public, but it still can function normally when he needs it to (for example, it's his writing hand).
- Defeat Means Friendship: Deconstructed: Nancy and the kids become allies after her defeat, but that does not make them friends. Bina even states outright that she only keeps in contact with Nancy because her powers are too useful to pass up.
- Determinator: While Bina is frightened for the first couple chapters, she quickly becomes the one thing that holds the group together. Her will is so strong that it can interfere with Anima's mindscape. Violet sums it up in chapter 14:
There is a strength in you. A will. That strength makes it difficult to be near you. You are a kind person, but it is easy to feel that strength and become wary of you. It is, at times, blinding. It makes it more difficult to know the right things to say. Many sense that strength, without understanding what it is.
- Driven to Villainy: Nancy didn't escape Shell. She's a wreck because of everything they did to her.
- Embarrassing First Name: West isn't crazy about Desmond.
- Emotionless Girl: Violet, thanks to her monster, Anima.
- Eye Beams: Rixis can fire one at will, though he can only fire so many in a short span. He is also limited by available light levels — because his beams come from condensing light, he can't gather energy for more if it's too dark out.
- Eyepatch of Power: Abel, due to his left eye becoming Rixis.
- Fiery Redhead: In a twist on this trope, Julie is shown to have been incredibly shy when she still had her long red hair, it wasn't until losing it and gaining Kera did she become the bold Plucky Girl we know today. Her older sister is a straight version, and a flashback implies that they get it from their mother.
- Foreshadowing: It's revealed early on that one of six powerful ARMA ghosts was destroyed after possessing someone. Nothing is known about the specifics of who this was or what their monster was, although it's suggested that Abel killed them with Rixis' eye beam.
- Fountain of Youth: It turns out Nate has this: due to his monster being manifested out of his pituitary gland, he gets transformed from a thirty-year old man into a child smaller than the main characters. Once he gets reunited with his monster, he discovers the process is controllable.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Bina-Phlegmatic, Julie-Sanguine, Abel- Melancholic, West-Choleric, Lulenski- Supine
- Friendless Background: West. He was found by an ARMA ghost when he was trying to make a friend in Julie (another found her at the same time), and she later spurs him into action by pointing out that he really wants to have friends.
- Funny Afro: West, though he's more straight-laced than the trope might imply.
- Genki Girl: Julie, overlapping with plucky girl at times. She routinely breaks out of shady laboratories, isn't fazed by the idea of organs as monsters walking around (she actually seems thrilled by it) and only panics for a second when threatened by a creepy arm monster before deciding to fight it.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Roger's death.
- Healing Hands: A bit more disgusting than usual. Guuzy can produce a substance that rapidly accelerates healing - since he's made from West's stomach, that means he has healing vomit.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: It may seem inconvenient for Bina's monster to be her heart, but Ayo is quite strong.
- Heart Trauma: Bina's heart is literally gone due to transforming into Ayo, which initially freaks her out quite a bit. She can still function normally though, and is even able to feel her pulse.
- Hearing Voices: Rjinder reacts as though his skin speaks to him at certain points - it's certainly making some sound, though it's never been intelligible to the reader. Around others, he generally passes if off as it merely requesting food or the like. In private, however, he reacts as though it's giving him suggestions to kill Lulenski - it's still not clear if it actually is or Rjinder's going mad.
- Hollywood Acid: Guuzy can produce some extremely powerful acid. It's used to dispose of Roger's corpse off-panel.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Abel, who admits under emotional duress that Rixis, under his orders, killed someone by killing their monster. He's not proud of having done so, although Bina points out the rationalization: he was striking back against SHELL, so the monster likely belonged to someone out to capture and experiment on him. Later revealed to be this trope, but played out differently, in Chapter 17: Abel's sister pushed him out of the way of an Arma ghost, which manifested a monster out of her lungs. Abel only saw a monster advancing on his sister, so he attacked and killed it to save his sister. That's when he learned it was a part of her, and that losing a monster is like losing that body part, permanently.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Abel's life as a vagrant clearly wears him down - while he feels it necessary to be a drifter and not get close, there are several scenes where he clearly just wants to live a life like normal kids - he even sneaks into school so that he can learn and get some of the experience.
- It Never Gets Any Easier: Abel has the strongest reaction to seeing Lulenski kill Roger for this reason.
- I Work Alone: Abel, at first.
- Jumped at the Call: West and Julie both are very proactive about investigating anything related to SHELL - West wants to help people, while Julie seems like she likes the action. Comparatively, Bina and Abel prefer to not be nearly as involved.
- Kid with the Leash: The kids and their respective monsters. West also acts as a surrogate one to Greenie, since her partner is a baby.
- Loner-Turned-Friend: Abel, after the second time SHELL finds Ayo.
- Marked Change: Several of the people who get monsters get a distinct mark (suggested to glow slightly) on their bodies from where their monster left their body. Bina has one on her chest, West has one on his abdomen, and Abel has one where his left eye used to be. Based on what happens when she's cut, it's strongly suggested that said glow replaces Nancy's entire circulatory system. Rjinder's marking is slightly different - he doesn't have a glow mark, but he's completely hairless (flashbacks show that this wasn't always the case) and there are striations on his skin from where the strips of his monster can pull from his body.
- Meaningful Name: It's not immediately made obvious, but Abel's name is evocative. Ironically and accidentally, though, he became the Cain for his sister in a Cain and Abel moment - he destroyed a lung monster manifested from his sister's body, which is sadly how he learned that destroying a monster destroys that person's corresponding body part, thus killing her.
- The Men in Black : Word of God says they're called "SHELL." Between the kidnappings, experiments on monsters, scary opaque glasses, and some ominous overheard conversation, they're not exactly looking like good guys.
- Mon: A more serious take on the genre.
- Mobile Shrubbery: Bina and Julie use a recycling bin to bypass security.
- The Mole: The kids blackmail Dr. Lulenski into becoming one, giving them updates as to what SHELL is doing.
- Morality Pet: Roger functions as this for Dr. Lulenski...until she is forced to kill him. Red could also be considered one for Nancy, as Nancy only reveals her true feelings while talking to Red.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Abel's reaction to learning what happens when you destroy someone's monster, when he killed his sister's lung monster before finding out the truth about Arma monsters.
- Nightmare Face: After Lulenski tells Rjinder that she killed Roger, Rjinder's skin looks as if it's about to undulate away from his body.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Two examples in quick (and effective) succession:
- After Roger saves Lulenski he starts turning, very slowly. We never see his face in full (it seems to have LEGS), because...
- Lulenski has a major Freak Out and picks up a rock. The next page is simply the kids staring in horror, with no noise, save the sound effects.
- Not So Different: Unstated, but there are huge parallels between Roger's treatment of an Arma ghost regarding Lulenski and Abel's sister and Abel. It also serves as Foreshadowing that just as Abel later received another Arma ghost, Lulenski may yet receive one, too.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Nancy and Red might not seem the most astute pair, but they have perhaps the strongest understanding of their potential offensive abilities of any person/monster combo, making them deadly in a fight. She later reveals that she and Red managed to hide most of their abilities from SHELL, so that they just put her up in an apartment rather than try to use those abilities themselves.
- Oh, Crap: Violet in Chapter 17 when Bina has had enough.
- Open-Minded Parent: West is fortunate in that both of his parents know and are understanding of his situation with Guuzy - it's not always easy for them to deal with, but they are supportive. Bina's mom is working towards this regarding her daughter and Ayo. Julie's mom is like this as well regarding Julie and Kera, but is hiding that she knows from her children.
- Organ Autonomy: Practically the entire premise—these organs aren't just autonomous, they're physically separate from the original body! And yet, somehow, the walking, talking organ continues to perform its function just fine—Bina still has blood moving around in her body, West still gets nutrition, etc.
- Parental Abandonment: Abel's a runaway, so it's unknown whether his parents are out there anywhere.
- Parents as People
- Parrot Pet Position: West tries to do this with Guuzy. With interesting results.
- Secret Keeper: Bina is forced to confide in her mom after her mom sees Ayo. Both of West's parents know about Guuzy and try to help him the best that they can. Julie's older sister, however, not only knows about Kera, but she actively helps out where she can. Julie's younger brother knows as well.
- Secret Secret Keeper: One of the kids has one of these, too. Julie's mom knows about Kera and sometimes talks to her when Julie sleeps.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Abel has apparently been living on the run from SHELL for a long time, and it shows. He has trouble showing emotion and becomes nearly hysterical at the prospect of being found by SHELL. This extends to the point that he is willing to threaten the lives of others to stay hidden from SHELL.
- Nancy is an even more extreme example: Her Berserk Button is being called "stupid" or looked down upon, with disastrous results. She is easily one of the most violent characters, with a penchant for striking people in neck with her crowbar. She also has paranoia, claiming that everyone is a member of SHELL and even targeting children.
- Stockholm Syndrome: Strange as it might seem, Lulenski feels this towards the kids. After she showed blatant disregard for their lives, they are blackmailing her and increasingly putting her entire professional career at risk for their sake. However, as they're the only ones who know about what she did to Roger, she makes several attempts to reach out to them and get to know them socially (though they unwittingly turn her down each time).
- Symbol Swearing: Nate does this frequently.
- Taking the Bullet: Roger saves Lulenski from a Ghost. It seems he would have gained a particularly nasty face-based monster if Lulenski hadn't "stepped in."
- Telepathy: One of the powers of Anima, Violet's monster (which, based on design, is made of at least some part of her central nervous system).
- That Came Out Wrong:
West: It's been awhile since I've had a boy friend. URK! I meant-
Abel: It's okay. I know what you meant.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Rjinder's skin just loves tea.
- Trauma Conga Line
- Trial Balloon Question: While out drinking with Ned, Lulenski awkwardly asks if he ever had to kill anyone during his days with a cop. What might seem like random, morbid curiosity is in fact her way of testing whether he'd be a sympathetic confidant...or at least would have any advice for dealing with her own guilt over mercy-killing Roger.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Bina gets progressively colder as the series goes along, as her resentment over her circumstances grows.
- Use Your Head: A rocket powered heart monster headbutt attack, no less.
- The Voiceless: Greenie's kid is an odd example. Since Greenie is the voicebox, it "talks" in place of the kid.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Nancy has a good idea - stopping SHELL from their experiments on people and the Arma ghosts is probably a good call. How she goes about it, however, puts many innocent people at risk. Plus, since she's paranoid, she's not good at determining friend from foe.
- Wham Episode: Chapter 4, Page 13-14 is one hell of a reminder that this isn't just a bunch of kids and Grotesque Cute monsters running around. It also might go to show that Anyone Can Die.
- A later one occurs in Chapter 17, Page 35-36. We see Abel flash back to when he killed an Arma monster for the first time. It was a lung monster... belonging to his sister. He didn't know at the time what it was, or what the consequences of killing it would be.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Perhaps it's a stretch to call a Well-Intentioned Extremist a "hero," but Bina gives this to Nancy when Nancy reveals that she's the one responsible for the repeated security failures that results in the Arma ghost escapes, and consequently the number of monsters manifested.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: West, to the extent that Bina wants to shield him from some of the darker aspects of the world, including that Abel has killed.