Webcomic / Nebula

No one cares, Earth.
"Space is bad, to be honest with you."
Intro to Nebula Ultra

Nebula is an ongoing Sci-fi/Slice of Life webcomic about the Dysfunction Junction that is the solar system.

Basically, it's a drama comic (with no few moments of humor) about The Solar System/space objects in general, which are all sentient and humanoid (apart from the fact that they have representations of what they actually are for heads). It takes various characteristics of various celestial bodies and turns them into character traits and social situations - Earth is seen by her neighbors as overly interested in what everyone else is doing, Pluto is something of an outcast, Jupiter keeping a comet in orbit around him is regarded about the way as trying to keep a wild animal you found on the street would be, etc.

It has a rotating focus per comic, with pretty much all of the characters getting the limelight at some point— especially now that there's an on-going Story Arc about a mysterious being who has contacted Earth and Pluto, and who has plans of her own for the dwarf planets.

You can find part 1 (comics 1-15 and the short story "Nix") for sale (pay what you want) at Gumroad here. Otherwise, the Ghostfruits tumblr has all the comics and "Nix" online here.

There is also a fan translation of the comic to Korean currently in progress; it can be read here.

Tropes found in Nebula include:

  • Achilles in His Tent: Sun, who walks off and leaves the meeting after Earth says that she can hear Black Hole's voice inside her.
    "... That's it. I'm not entertaining this any longer."
    • Of course, he still steps in when things get desperate and the planets really need his help.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Even comets!
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Poor Pluto... and Earth. Both are outcasts from the rest of the solar system and are implied to be lowly-regarded by most.
  • All There in the Manual: Details about the larger relations between and characteristics of stars, planets, and dwarf planets are on the official Tumblr, but haven't come up in the actual comics yet. (Beware of spoilers- it's unwise to start looking through those answers before being caught up, since some directly relate to large plot twists.)
  • All There in the Script:
    • Ceres' name is revealed in The Rant for #14 and #15, not in the comics themselves.
    • Black Hole's name is mentioned by Pluto in "Nix", a canonical short story.
    • B and Virginis' full names are in The Rant for #16.
  • Arc Words: "Something bigger than us."
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • "What if I just reached right out and took a bunch of your stupid moons. Would you even do anything?"
    • "But how did they die, Virginis?"
  • Art Shift: #16 has a noticeably different coloring style than the other pages (heavy use of shadows, limited color shading on things like fire and burns instead of a single flat color, a background of shades of dark blue instead of black scattered with stars) and a different font for the opening.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: How the social structures in space tend to end up — the biggest and strongest ones there, the stars, control the smaller and weaker planets on the grounds that they're... bigger and stronger and they can burn people to death if they want to. How good of a job they do of it depends on the star, though most do seem to feel a genuine urge to protect their planets.
  • Bait the Dog: Despite the fear the planets have towards her, Black Hole spends most of her time at first befriending Pluto and telling him to stop pretending that the planets care about him. Hard as she is on them, it's hard to argue with the fact that she's right— the planets don't see Pluto as a friend, and he isn't one of them. The reader can start to feel that she might be a case of Dark Is Not Evil— harsh, strange, and creepy, but maybe not evil. And then she lies to Pluto, sends Ceres to their death, and nearly kills the planets.
  • Balloon Belly: After Jupiter's attempt to invoke Large and in Charge fails to work.
    Sun: ...OK, because it doesn't... so much as look like you ate all that. As much as it looks like you're just kind of holding it inside your body.
  • Bastardly Speech: Black Hole's speech to Pluto condemning the rest of the solar system as violent killers instead of victims of Cold-Blooded Torture; he swallows it hook, line, and sinker.
  • "Be Quiet!" Nudge: Venus and Neptune give Jupiter two different verbal versions of it, since what he's talking about probably isn't going to get a great reaction from Sun if he hears him talking about it.
  • Being Watched: The sense that there's something out in the dark watching them helps make an already tense situation (Sun's recent Hair-Trigger Temper and Thousand-Yard Stare, Jupiter's increasing lack of subtlety in his plans to take over the solar system, Earth Hearing Voices that no one else does) worse. The fact that something is watching them doesn't make it any better.
  • The Blank: All of the characters have no facial features, combined with Non-Human Head. Though weirdly enough, the cast (kinda) gain expressions when we see Jupiter daydreaming.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Well, they're made of rocks; they presumably don't have blood. This lets the comic show some pretty horrific scenes, like Ceres being ripped in half and B's face being severely burned, to the point where it looks like she's starting to melt.
  • Body Motifs: Panels focused on one of a character's hands (often clenched into a fist) reoccur, and indicate either that an important decision has been made or realization has been had.
  • Bookends:
    • The first comic both begins and ends with Earth saying "huh" thoughtfully while looking at a rock.
    • #13 begins and ends with Jupiter glaring at Sun's back and saying he hates him, humorously showing that he learned absolutely nothing from his misadventures during the comic.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: What Ceres uses their powers to do the planets, keeping them in incredible pain while their bodies slowly crumble to pieces. It's implied that the entire point of doing that to them was to make Sun run out of time/options and get him to use force to help them, thus ruining everyone's reputation.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Used mostly when rendering the cast more symbolically at the start of a comic.
    • Earth: Green, originally blue
    • Mars: Orange (usually reddish)
    • Venus: Orange
    • Mercury: Grey
    • Jupiter: Orange, sometimes with stripes
    • Saturn: Beige
    • Uranus: Blue
    • Neptune: Dark blue
    • Pluto: Light blue/Teal
    • Sun: Yellow
    • Black Hole: Purple
    • B: Pink
    • Viginis: Pale orange
  • Continuity Creep: The comic was more self-contained and humorous antics early on, though by #7 the different comics were interconnected enough that the authors started including links to prior installments in The Rant.
  • Conveniently Close Planet: Played with. The planets in the solar system are portrayed as close enough together that hanging out and talking between them is easy, regardless of how far they really should be from each other. On the other hand, the distance between various star systems is shown to be just as enormously huge and impassible as it is in reality. In other words, while the planets are conveniently close, the stars are not.
  • Conveniently Timed Distraction: Jupiter's incredibly hammy monologue to Venus and Neptune inadvertently provides one for his comet, allowing it to sneak away without him noticing.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Sun's 'fight' with Ceres, which ended with Sun ripping them in half with his first and only attack.
  • Deer in the Headlights: In the very first comic, Earth freezes in place while a meteor hurtles straight towards her instead of trying to duck out of the way.
  • Downer Ending:
    • #15: Black Hole successfully convinces Pluto that the others are nothing but monsters and convinces him to join her in the void, quite possibly to his doom. The planets are still possibly injured and definitely traumatized from Ceres' attack, and Sun has to live with the fact that he had to kill someone with his bare hands who didn't fight back or even necessarily know what was going on in order to save them.
    • #16: Virginis severely burns B's face and shoulder for asking him a question with no repercussions or any indications that something will stop him from doing it again in the future. The comic ends with B curled up in pain as smoke wafts off her skin and Virginis warning her not to move.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Pointed out by Mars:
    "Jupiter is... dumb. Jupiter's really dumb. But that doesn't mean he might not accidentally be right about something for once."
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the first few comics, there was a noticeable 'glow' effect around the character's heads and Sun's fire. There was also a different method of coloring, with shading used instead of the flat colors seen in the rest of the comic.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: In #16, everybody but B and Virginis has been dead for a long, long while.
  • Eyeless Face: Comets have mouths and noses but no eyes, though they veer onto Ugly Cute instead of being creepy.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Earth is the foolish sibling to Venus' responsible one.
  • Forbidden Zone: The void, on the grounds that any planet who goes out there dies.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble:
    • For the inner solar system, Earth is the Optimist (has faith in and believes the best of people, eager to make friends, pursues her curiosity without much concern for consequences), Mars is the Cynic (pessimistic about the chances of his own survival, withdrawn and sullen in response to Earth's friendliness but is nonetheless correct in most of his assertions), Venus is the Realist (focuses on getting the best results, keeps a level head) and Sun is the Apathetic (too aloof to be involved in most conflicts between the planets, has enigmatic motivations and goals, and is a different species entirely from the rest of the characters).
    • And arguably the outer planets: Jupiter is the Optimist (believes completely that he'll be able to kill Sun one day despite no actual plan, stubborn and utterly self-confident in personality), Saturn the Cynic (keeps their distance from the rest of the planets, thinks that if their moons were alive they would hate them), Neptune the Realist (acts as a mediator between Uranus, Jupiter, and Venus, remains quietly in the background most of the time), and Uranus the Apathetic (unconcerned with everyone else's problems, has far different priorities than the people they interact with and screws with people for no reason but It Amused Me).
  • Flat "What.": Uranus after Jupiter just grabs one of their moons and eats it.
  • Friendship Denial:
    • Jupiter flatly refuses Uranus' claims of friendship, though this doesn't really do much to deter them.
    • Earlier, Mars to Earth's... though it's implied that he's more bark than bite.
  • Hearing Voices: Both Earth and Pluto can hear Black Hole's voice in their heads, though only Pluto seems to be listening to what she says.
  • Horror Hunger: It's heavily implied Sun has a desire to eat the planets, but thankfully he hasn't acted on it. Yet.
  • A House Divided:
    • The fact that there's something out there waiting to kill them if they leave the saaefty of the area close to Sun only exacerbates the problems between the members of the solar system (several of whom disliked each other already).
    • Taken even further with Virginis and B, who have been stuck with no one around but each other after everyone else was killed trying to go through the void. And Virginis makes no secret of the fact that he resents her for it.
  • I Was Just Passing Through: Jupiter claiming he was just hungry when he saved Earth from the meteorite, and brushing off her thanks.
  • Implied Death Threat: "Do you want to be safe?"
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: Earth is one planet out of a multitude, and isn't regarded as anything different by the rest of them. She's often the viewpoint character, sure, but that doesn't mean she's particularly special.
  • Interquel: "Nix" is a short story from Pluto's POV, and takes place some time between #10 and #14.
  • It's Probably Nothing:
    • Earth's response to Mars getting worried about how Sun has been acting. Unusual in that Mars does actually get her to take his concerns at least a little bit more seriously.
    • Pretty much everyone's reaction to Earth freaking out over the meteorite.
    • Also Sun's reaction to the planets' concern over Black Hole.
  • Klingon Promotion: Jupiter wants to kill Sun, which in his mind automatically would mean that he would take Sun's place as leader.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: The planets literally and painfully start falling to pieces when Ceres arrives.
  • Living Forever Is No Big Deal: They're planets (or stars, or dwarf planets)— all of them are eons old and it's regarded as a matter of course.
  • Metaphorgotten: It doesn't exactly endear Uranus to Jupiter.
    Uranus: C'mon! For real, fuck that Sun guy, right?
    Jupiter: Stop.
    Uranus: Like, what's his deal? Thinking he's all hot shit? Well, in a literal sense I guess but—
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • #8 is a lighthearted comic about Uranus' attempts to befriend Jupiter... followed by #9: Sun's confrontation with Mars and the introduction of Black Hole.
    • #13 is humor about Jupiter and Sun completely failing at having a non-awkward conversation with each other about dinner... and is followed by #14 and #15, which are Black Hole trying to convince Pluto to join her and the planets nearly being painfully murdered.
    • #15 itself, which switches back and forth between showing Pluto's joy at discovering he isn't alone to the horror and agony the planets are experiencing as Sun frantically tries to save them.
  • Motive Rant: From Virginis, ranting about why he refuses to let B go and what happened to the planets that he did.
    "They're dead! Because they thought they could just float out into the void like it was nothing. And I told them! B! Just like I tell you! I begged them to stay! And nobody would listen. And now they're dead. All I've ever wanted was for you to not end up that way, B. [turns away] That's all. "
  • Multi-Part Episode: #14 and #15, which was originally one comic but had to be split in two due to length.
  • Never Split The Party: Mars and Earth agree they should try to play this straight with the rest of the planets in case something happens with Sun.
  • New Era Speech: Jupiter delivers a fairly hammy one to Venus and Neptune about how Sun can't stop him and how his day will come— until Venus points out that while he was monologuing, the comet ran away.
  • No Ontological Inertia: The effect that Ceres has on the planets stops as soon as they're killednote .
  • Non-Indicative First Episode: In the first comic, everyone is far more openly dismissive of Earth and her (justified) panic over the meteor, and are just generally reluctant to interact with each other at all while in later installments they actively seek each other out. Only Mars really remained that way, and he's turned into more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Not Himself: Sun hasn't been himself since the third comic, and the planets have noticed.
  • Not So Different: Uranus attempts to claim that they're very similar to Jupiter and that they'd therefore be great friends if he gave them a chance, but he really doesn't care and just wants them to leave him alone.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: Even before things started going bad, the solar system could barely agree when they met to discuss anything.
  • Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation: Just what is their job anyway? Mercury, and to some extent Mars certainly seem to think of the other planets as coworkers they have to tolerate with gritted teeth, but what it is they're actually doing (apart from surviving) isn't explained.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: The distortion that appears whenever Black Hole speaks. Taken even further when Ceres appears and the entire background changes to glitchy pink and blue spirals.
  • Opening Narration: Most comics begin with "Really far away. Really long ago"note  over a shot of the main character(s) of that comic. Occasionally, this is changed:
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The stars, who are far, far bigger than planets, and who are also permanently on fire. They're just as intelligent and humanlike as planets, though it's obvious to everyone involved that they're a completely different species.
  • Painting the Medium:
    • Black Hole's dialogue appears directly onto the page with no word bubbles around it, is very large, is shown in a pixelated font, and usually has some kind of glitch effect around it.
    • Ceres' dialogue/thoughts appear the same way Pluto's do, but are a garbled jumble of letters overlaying each other so thick that they're impossible to read.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Though for once, it isn't really the characters' fault. Dwarf planets and planets are physically unable to communicate with each other, but Pluto and the rest of the solar system doesn't know that. This leads the planets to assume that Pluto is lurking silently and ignoring their greetings deliberately, and for Pluto to think that the planets have never tried to talk to or befriend him at all.
  • Power Fantasy: Jupiter's daydream about how things will be different once he's in charge, featuring him as king of the planets and everyone bowing and scraping to him. Also, he's inexplicably on fire. It crosses over with Dream Sue, with how the rest of the dream characters act like he's the single greatest thing to ever grace the world with his presence.
  • The Promise: Mars asks Venus to promise to break his moon if he dies, no matter what it takes. She agrees.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    Sun: We. Move. On.
  • Put on a Bus: Pluto, who has presumably been hanging out there alone in the dark since the second comic.
    • The Bus Came Back: While that apparently was what he was doing the whole time, he's been brought back into the main plot after Black Hole started talking to him.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: You've got a planet who is almost physically unable to keep her nose out of everyone else's business (Earth), her more mature younger sister (Venus), an office worker who can barely start a conversation without insulting everyone else in the room (Mercury), a melodramatic Leader Wannabe with more ambition than brains (Jupiter), a moon-thief and borderline con-artist (Uranus), a recluse who would really just rather not interact with people in general (Saturn), a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who speaks Cassandra Truth like a second language (Mars), an often spoken-over voice of reason (Neptune), and a member of a completely different species who's barely suppressing the urge to murder all of them (Sun).
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mars delivers one to Earth when she tries to find out more about him, with him accusing her of not really caring about what he's like, and that she's just trying to befriend people to satisfy her own curiosity. Earth doesn't really have a reply or rebuttal to it.
  • Red Filter of Doom: The last few panels of comic #3 are silent shots of the other characters, all tinted red, and then Sun's final lines.
    Sun: ...Hungry. I'm hungry.
  • Right Behind Me: Sun interrupts in the middle of Jupiter's rant about how he needs to do more to try to surpass him. Since Sun's not exactly inconspicuous, it might double as Failed a Spot Check on Jupiter's part.
  • Rotating Protagonist: The focus characters switch comic to comic, with the various plotlines (Black Hole lurking, Sun getting sick, Jupiter...being Jupiter) slowly being progressed from multiple POVs.
  • Science Fantasy: There's a mix of accurate science elements mixed with some fantastic ones- everybody's sentience, for one.
  • Second Episode Introduction: The first comic introduces Earth, Mars, Uranus and Jupiter, while the second one introduces Mercury, Venus, Saturn and Neptune (plus Sun and Pluto).note 
  • Small, Secluded World: The solar system (and star systems in general); no one new comes in, no one who was born there has ever been outside of it, and no one really knows what's beyond it or if there's anything at all.
  • Society-on-Edge Episode: #11, which is Venus and Mars reflecting on how tense things have become in the solar system, what with everything going on with Sun, Earth, and Jupiter.
  • Something Completely Different: #16; unlike all the other comics, it's about space characters who aren't affiliated with or who interact with the solar system or Black Hole at all.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Averted completely with Earth, and played with in regards to Sun- weirdly enough, only Jupiter calls him "the Sun". AKA, the one person who completely despises him.
  • Split-Screen Reaction: To all the planets (and Pluto) on one side and Sun on the other after Earth says she thinks that Black Hole is talking to her.
  • Stealth Pun: Sun tells Mercury that he needs some space.
  • Stylistic Suck: The daydream sequence that Jupiter has is notably lower quality than the regular comic, complete with scribble art and really clumsy out-of-character dialog.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Mercury is less than impressed by the rest of the planets and initially assumes that Sun takes this view of them too. It's ambiguous if Sun's dismissal ("No. It's not that.") is a subversion, or if he agrees with Mercury and that it's just not what he was talking about.
  • They Were Holding You Back: One of Black Hole's justifications for Pluto to join her and leave the solar system.
  • Thought Caption: Dwarf planets, including Pluto, use them instead of speech balloons.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Sun, who's just been staring out into the dark, looking at nothing. Mars finds it incredibly unnerving, especially since Sun doesn't seem to hear when he tries to talk to him.
  • Two Girls and a Guy: Earth, her sister Venus, and their friend Mars.
  • Used to Be More Social: Mars mentions that Sun's suddenly become a lot more withdrawn, never seeming to interact with the others anymore and being distant when he does. While Mars himself admits he doesn't know why, the readers can surmise that it ties into what Sun admitted at the end of #3 about being 'hungry'.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: Trying to make Ceres stop or back off through talking has absolutely no effect at getting them to stop hurting the planets. The only thing that ends up stopping them is Sun ripping his hand through their torso.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Earth and Mars, though the vitriol is only on Mars' side.
  • Void Between the Worlds: The void, which is the light-years of empty space that surrounds every star system, and is what keeps them all separate: nobody is allowed to stray very far from their stars because of the danger involved, making it pure speculation to them whether or not other people even exist besides their group.
  • Volleying Insults: Uranus and Neptune's debate during the meeting about Pluto starts to quickly devolve into this, but Sun cuts it off.
    Uranus: I think Jupiter is right.
    Neptune: No, Jupiter is loud.
    Uranus: Neptune is fat
  • Wham Episode:
    • #9: Black Hole makes her first appearance.
    • #15: Sun kills Ceres, and Pluto leaves the solar system to join Black Hole.
  • Wham Line:
    • "I'm hungry." (#3) Up until that line there was no way of knowing what exactly Sun meant about being sick, as he himself admitted he didn't really how to explain what was wrong with him; that line revealed it was Horror Hunger. That single line changes how all his subsequent interactions with the planets are viewed.
    • "It's like it's coming from... inside of me?" (#9) Earth reveals that not only does Black Hole have an active interest in the planets, she has outright supernatural powers.
    • "...Yeah." (#15) Pluto agrees to leave the solar system behind and join Black Hole, giving up his idealistic dreams of becoming friends and cementing Ceres' death as his Cynicism Catalyst.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Black Hole convinces Pluto that the others in the solar system are violent monsters for killing Ceres, whom she sent to die in the first place and who provoked the others by attacking first.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Poor(?) Ceres: they get sent to die by their own commander in order to prove a point to Pluto.

...Next time.