My dream is to be a Pacificator who helps people, just like my grandmother.
— Daryl Smithson
The world, due to an unknown disaster, has fallen into a second Dark Age, and only recently have some of the countries begun to climb out of it. Pacificators, people gifted with rare, "magical" Elemental Powers, are sent around the world to protect and mediate situations, and Daryl Smithson, an aspiring Pacificator of Light, has enthusiastically taken an offer of joining Commander Bismun Volborth’s unusual platoon of T-Pacificators. Her platoon’s assignment is to investigate an ancient sea oil platform rumored to be the supposed legendary "Gateway to the Heavens" for any technological relics that may either benefit or harm their peacekeeping efforts to end the Second Dark Age. In addition to this, much of the modern technology as we know it has been lost in the future; there is only a basic form of electricity, and boats and trains are steam-powered, so any technological artifacts discovered would have a huge impact. However there are evil forces who wish the world to remain in the Second Dark Age, and it’s those enemies that the Pacificators have to fight against for the future of the world.Daryl’s very first assignment, to her dismay, ran into problems. Two of Daryl’s fellow platoon members didn't show up, while the other two, Muneca Powell and Cinna Grossul, Pacificators of Gravity and Fire respectively, were being completely uncooperative with each other. To make matters worse, the Pacificators’ enemies - such as the rogue Renegades with their own elemental powers and the enigmatic Japanese businesswoman Nozomi - have taken an ominous interest in the Gateway. Will Daryl be able to get one of the worst Pacificator platoons ever assembled to work together to complete their mission... or suffer the grave consequences of their failure?An original webcomic by Jeffery Anderson (the author and artist). He has written the webcomic to pace more like a novel, so it starts off more slowly by building up the premise and introducing us to the characters. The first page can be found here, and an index can be found here. So far, there are 43 chapters split up into five volumes, and thirteen volumes are planned, though that may change. J.A. has recently posted the 43rd chapter (the first chapter of the sixth volume). He is now focusing on the story chapter-by-chapter, rather than volume-by-volume.A note to potential readers: J.A. is Deaf, and American Sign Language is his first language instead of English. Therefore, there are minor grammar errors in the story, as well as differences in pacing due to the way many Deaf people tell stories (for example, pausing to point out things in the background, or explaining things further). J.A. will occasionally put little comments between the panels to explain, but they can be ignored or serve as an insight into the storytelling styles of the Deaf. note Why is "Deaf" capitalized? That's how deaf people identify whether they are members of the Deaf community. If they are members, they capitalize the "d" in Deaf. If they're not involved, and doesn't want to be, they're 'merely' deaf.J.A.'s other works include: Three Guardians, in which the sisters and brother Energeia, Akosmia, and Pragma protect the very fibers of the universe; Namaka Hamou, in which some humans have evolved into mermaids and the star is a deaf mermaid named Gold; the Sailor Moon fan-manga which first put J.A. on the map, The Saga of the Orb of Time, The Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, and The Queen of the Kappa.You can also find him on DeviantArt, which contains additional artwork concerning his characters.Note from J.A. himself: he is fully focused on his geology job, and so sometimes he rushes through the artwork. But since the chapters are sort of a "storyboard," they're not fully finalized. One day, he'll draw a true final version to his full artistic ability.
Pacificators contains examples of the following tropes:
Achilles' Heel: Those with powers can’t infinitely use their powers; they use up energy, and if they overexert themselves, they can black out or even kill themselves.
Aerith and Bob: The names come from a broad selection of countries and cultures, such as Qamra Umar (Turkey) and Captain Invaov (Russia). Characters’ names are chosen from their counties and cultures in order to be as accurate as possible. A few characters are named after minerals, as J.A. is a mineralogist.
Burning with Anger: Those with fire powers can actually suffer from heatstroke if they get too angry.
Butt Monkey: Muneca is the favored target, though everybody else becomes fair game as some point.
Buxom Is Better: Lampshaded by Cinna and Qamra when discussing Rendo’s preferences while trying to decide who would be The Bait. Taffe won’t do, because Larima "stole so much from her chest," and Qamra herself stated that Cinna had to be "padded up" in order to be a successful The Bait.
Bilingual Bonus: The Torbern sisters occasionally speak in French. Sometimes the author/artist translates, but not always.
We also get a bit of Spanish in the scenes with Princess Belinda and her messenger.
In the later chapters, we start seeing some Italian here and there (most notably when Aphrodite and Cinna got into another Volleying Insults fight... in Italian).
Taffe, Larima, the Shadow Sleuth, Daryl, Egmond, Allan, and Amon appeared in various forms in J.A's earlier Sailor Moon fancomics (out of the bunch, Daryl and Allan has been the most changed from their original personas - and we don't know about Egmond yet).
J.A. is more than happy to put in cameos of fan-made characters, both Pacificators and regular people. None of them currently have played any role other than just appearing in the background.
Card Games: Breanne is renowned for the game she invented, The Way of the Fate, which is based on mythology and astrology.
Cast of Snowflakes: While some of the characters are more soft in looks than the others and the art style itself is relatively subtle - unless J.A. wanted the humor - they do have differences. A good example is the Spanish royal family - Princess Belinda and her brothers all share the (slightly) large nose, high cheekbones, and a strong chin, a combination which none of the other characters have.
The Chains of Commanding: Taffe is assigned leader of the platoon by Bismun, but she couldn’t care less; in addition to this, Muneca is very ambitious to gain power. This causes friction between Taffe and Muneca.
Character Development: Definitely occuring, especially in the relationship between Cinna and Muneca; by the end of the fourth volume, they hate each other slightly less.
Christianity is Catholic: Subverted; so far, we've only seen the nuns (in an off-handed reference), are told that Zeus was a Christian, and met Kathy Lee, who is Catholic, but judging from the amount of Shown Their Work in this story, we can safely assume that J.A. knows the difference between the Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox.
Combat Pragmatist: Some of characters, usually those with the powers of Fire or Air, but Taffe is an interesting case - while she doeshit below the belt, that doesn’t stand out. What does is that she takes advantage of her deafness, a fact that very few people know about her, since she uses her power of air to help her hear, as seen here (observe Gincoi's shock and confusion when his Make Me Wanna Shout attack failed).
Comes Great Responsibility: Implied to be why some of the regular Pacificators (and plain people) seem to be leery around the people with powers, and forced those to undergo rigorous training to become T-Pacificators or be labeled renegades if they refuse.
To elaborate, it was their very first day at the Academy, and thanks to crashing into each other (and getting distracted by their first ever fight), they ended up late for their classes... and in detention. They've come to totally hate each other ever since that day.
Also happened between Travisand Breanne. Luckily, Breanne forgave Travis quickly enough.
Cross-Popping Veins: One of the many methods J.A. uses to show anger, most often on Cinna. Sometimes he uses the anime-esque version, but sometimes he draws a more realistic one with the vein in the middle of the forehead and the one in the neck.
Ever since Daryl accidentally discovers Muneca's secret in chapter 37, Muneca has been a lot more flexible and warm around Daryl - for example in chapter 40, Muneca actually willingly touched Daryl!
Die or Fly: This seems to be how Daryl learns new tricks. She figured out how to flare the orb atop her staff brightly when her platoon was stranded out at the ocean, and she discovered how to use solar power to sting people when faced with real danger; after all, the Preservers had rifles and weren’t afraid to use them.
Downer Ending: Several chapters. The saddest one so far has to be the end to Chapter 32 - the female Preserver had just been murdered; she’s the first death we see on-screen, and to top it off, she was killed in front of her brother.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Based on science, however. A good example is water versus lightning - because water conducts electricity, the water user is vulnerable to lightning, but so is the lightning user as well, since being wet increases the risk of electrocuting themselves. Another good example is fire against wind; the fire users have to be careful when fighting wind users because wind can put out fire or spread it beyond control.
Enemy Mine: Briefly with the Pacificators and the Preservers in chapter 32, when the Shadow Sleuth attacked them.
Fake Boobs: In order to be The Bait, Cinna had to wear two large water balloons since she has a small bust. It actually served a double purpose - lightning users are vulnerable to water attacks, since it increases the risk of electrocuting themselves. It’s what Cinna used to capture Rendo.
False Camera Effects: A few times, especially blurring and fading, most usually when a flashback is unveiled. There’s also fade-out, done by a series of shrinking black panels.
Flipping the Bird: Cinna does this a lot, though often with censorship. The offending finger itself is usually off-screen, but her hand is on-screen, with just enough visible for us to be able to figure it out. These are most often aimed at Muneca.
Fridge Logic kicks in here, especially in the light of the later chapters. Muneca throwing a guy through the pier is pretty extreme for her, almost to the point where it's Out of Character. However, we now know several things: Muneca has really warmed up to Daryl (consider that the sleuth tried to hurt, and maybe even kill, Daryl), that she and Kathy are best friends (and Kathy had been seriously injured in this fight), and that she nearly got blown up by a cannonball (Muneca is terrified of fire attacks, and for good reason - she was badly burned in a fire as a kid). Mix those things together, and you've got one pissed-off lady.
Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Played with the Torbern sisters. Larima loves being a Pacificator, while Taffe never wanted to be one, and takes her duty very seriously, but she’s a bit more independent-spirited and whimsical when compared to Taffe.
Giggling Villain: Breanne. Subverted in that she’s not a villain, but still giggles like a snake: hss hss hss.
The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: We haven’t seen any serious confrontation between Larima and Taffe yet, but friction definitely is there - Taffe refused to hug Larima back, for example, when they are reunited in Basque. Word of God says that there is a rift between the sisters which Larima doesn’t realize yet.
In chapter 42, they had a big (off-screen) fight, apparently because Taffe was pissed that Larima had taken such a reckless action, note which makes sense when one realizes that Larima nearly died, and Taffe almost lost her only family whereas Larima thinks Taffe is overreacting.
Confirmed in chapter 45, where we get a flashback to the fight itself. It wasn't pretty.
There is a small dose of Fridge Horror in this - now we know that Muneca was caught in a fire as a small kid, and has extensive burn scars, thanks to that. Now, consider that she nearly got hit in the face with a firebomb. No wonder she went berserk.
Glowing Eyes: When those with powers use their abilities, their eyes glow. A good example is when Muneca pulled that trick with the warship. The Muscovite captain actually had an Oh Crap moment when he saw her eyes glowing.
This gives us a nice bit of Fridge Brilliance, too. Pay close attention to Taffe's eyes from the moment she's introduced - there's usually a very faint glow in her pupils. Why? She's deaf, and uses her power constantly to hear.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Bismun has a couple of the good variety on his face and chest. In chapter 40, he got another one thanks to Shiva.
Ferdinand the pirate now has one on his cheek (of the evil variety), thanks to Muneca.
Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: So far, the only character we see smoking is Benito, assistant manager to the sinister Nozomi. Nozomi herself doesn’t think Smoking Is Cool, however, and has been on Benito’s case to not smoke in her presence.
Breanne managed to deliver one to a man more than twice her size. She gave one, via fists, to another guy who punched out Christopher. Given her short size, the groin is a nicely easy place for her to reach on taller folks.
Large Ham: Shiva, though Larima and Enrique also have their moments.
Last Name Basis: Muneca, being the polite doll she is, addresses her platoon and commander by their last name, complete with proper titles. The fact that Daryl responded in kind without issue seems to be what warms Muneca up to Daryl so quickly.
Muneca is such a Proper Lady that she and Kathy Lee even address each other as Miss Powell and Miss Lee, despite being best friends in school and remaining very good friends afterwards.
Legacy Character: Daryl is implied to be this; her grandmother, Helen Churchill, was a very famous Pacificator of Light who helped to unite Italy and found many T-Pacificators. Bismun gambles on this when he asked Daryl to join his platoon, forgoing the usual four-year training.
Bismun: I’m placing my hopes on her.
Further supported in Chapter 43. Apparently, the Pacificators organization intentionally suppress those with certain types of powers by purposefully mislabeling their level and strength (most gets labeled as "feeblers"), which meant they end up with mundane jobs far away from fighting. Bismun suspects the superiors are afraid of another Castella Brandsford incident.
Oh, and by the way? Turns out Castella Brandsford had the same kind of power Helen Churchill did... and it's this exact power that Daryl inherited from Helen. That's right, they intentionally labeled Daryl as a weak Pacificator, whereas in reality, she's potentially another Castella Brandsford in making - which is why Bismun recruited Daryl immediately. He wanted to help her learn how to manage her powers and not go insane like Castella did.
Muneca likely wears a corset with her Victorian-era clothes, and she is very private, though Word of God have had confirmed that she has an impressive rack; Cinna also suspects this. (By the fifth volume, it's pretty much confirmed in-universe. Cinna mercilessly teases Muneca about it.)
Cinna also lampshades the trope when she gets her disguise:
Cinna: Damn! Why do they have to be so heavy?! There’s no way the superheroines in those crappy comics can run around with those weights!
Mundane Utility: Discouraged because excessive usage of powers can shorten one’s lifespan, but it still happens. Examples include Cinna burning Muneca’s butt for absolutely no reason other to pick on her and Osiris using his reflective power to "hide" the magazine Enlil and Aphrodite were reading to get their attention.
Taffe is a Voice Changeling, which was the special talent of her original persona. Likewise, her "special combo" (kick the knee, palm heel strike into the chin, then Groin Attack) was from the fanmanga.
Whether the platoon travels by train, we usually could see Hotaru (Sailor Saturn) and Makoto (Sailor Jupiter) in the background. In The Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, Hotaru and Makoto travelled to their destination by train.
The Shadow Sleuth seems to have retained his mysterious shadowy powers from his origins.
No Guy Wants an Amazon: Implied to be the case with T-Pacificators; Cinna had yet another failed date in which the guy bailed out on her right after he noticed "this stupid watch." T-Pacificators are required to wear watches with identifying seals and their initials.
Pirate: The "wanna-be pirate" Ferdinand Cook. He’s an annoying pest to the town of Lisboa, however. But in the fourth volume, it looks as he’s finally becoming more of a genuine threat. In the last pages of the fourth volume, he ended up with the Key to the Gateway, and he's really starting to shine in the fifth volume.
Perception Filter: An interesting take on the trope, as Osiris’ power◊ is that he can "reflect" surroundings to fool others into thinking they're seeing something that isn't there.
The Pigpen: Osiris to a degree. He’s not visibly dirty, but sometimes flies are seen buzzing around him since he doesn’t take enough baths; also the King of Spain. However, this symbolizes that he was dying from being poisoned.
Plot Device: The key to the Gateway to the Heavens; the Gateway itself; possibly Cinna’s bracelet which was made from platinum, one of the "legendary metals from the past".
Power Creep, Power Seep: Averted. The characters' powers are fairly consistant. They can and do learn new tricks, and can improve their stamina and endurance, but it could take years. It took four volumes for one of them, Daryl, to actually learn a new trick, The Power of the Sun.
Cinna and Kathy Lee (and others with the fire power) can’t create fire without fuel and oxygen.
Larima must have access to water (same applies to any with the power of water). She also knows it’s not ethical to leech water from a human body.
Power Strain Blackout: We see this twice because the characters only have a finite amount of energy, and have to rest to recover. The first time was when Muneca pulled her Crowning Moment Of Awesome trick with the ironclad warship. The second was when Larima (also a Crowning Moment Of Awesome) caught a cannonball and flung it back at the same ironclad warship. Worse, she was already running low on energy.
The Prophecy: Mentioned, but not addressed yet. Known as the "Prophecies of Ares."
Race Against the Clock: The mission in Northern Spain had to be done in a week (as per Princess Belinda's orders). Also, there was the race in order to stop the Preservers from stealing the ancient boat. They failed, and the Russians sunk the boat in the ensuring fight.
The renegades are from 1 to 10 with 1 being the weakest; for example, Yuma is a rank 7 Fire renegade.
The one for the Pacificators known so far is, starting with the weakest: novice, B, A, and Elite. Note "T" is not a rank; it's short for "telekinesis" and refers to how Pacificators activate their powers. In chapter 43, we discover that some of the T-Pacificators had been intentionally ranked much lower than their actual level, out of fear that they'll reach their true potential and go on a rampage like Castella Brandsford did.
Randomly Gifted: Possibly; so far, it's not known if the elemental powers are genetically passed down. Those with powers are pretty rare in the first place (there are only seventeen T-Pacificators... out of an organization with over 350 people), and it’s lightly implied that for a family to have two, like the Torbern sisters, is highly unusual.
Apparently, women are much more likely to have powers than men.
Rubber Face: Cinna pulls this on Daryl on the Chapter 12 cover.
The Runaway: Shiva ran away to escape Indian and family politics.
Samaritan Syndrome: Most obvious with Daryl; see quote at the top of this page. Larima is also frequently pulled into these situations. The others have traces of this, as well, though it's not necessarily their only motivation - Muneca is equally ambitious, for example.
Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Implied to be the case with Muneca and Kathy. While Muneca does follow the rules (and is pretty strict about it), her very good friend, Kathy (who apparently is in a considerably higher position), happily gives Muneca a hefty sum of support, such as commending her for being brave enough to face off the renegades, despite accomplishing nothing.
Scot Ireland: Kathy Lee is from Ireland; however her hair is a pale orange, rather than a straight red. Cinna averts the redhead stereotype by being Italian.
Self-Made Orphan: Princess Belinda, at least on her father's side. Their mother were killed a while ago by terrorists.
Shameful Strip: It happened to Shiva. At first, it's Played for Laughs, but became a plot point; the thief was after the contract paper in Shiva’s pockets.
Shout-Out: Occasionally we'll see cameos of characters from J.A.'s other works (Namaka Hamou and The Three Guardians).
In chapter 43, there was a shout out to Sailor Moon - in-universe, the story was considered an "ancient Japanese story." It's this very story that inspired Bismun to create a platoon consisting entirely of T-Pacificators.
Shown Their Work: There's quite a bit of research throughout, especially involving the main characters’ countries of Britain, France, Spain, and Italy; a good example is food. Cinna the Italian loves seasoning and spices, while Muneca the Spaniard doesn’t quite as much.
Cinna: (after Muneca stole a breadstick from her plate) Hey, you thieving doll... (Muneca bites into the breadstick and grimaces) Tee hee. That’s seasoned garlic bread. (Muneca throws the half-eaten breadstick into Cinna’s plate with a wince) Eww, doll germs!
Passes the Bechdel Test, and at level 5. Amusingly, the main characters, the Harem Pla...er, Platoon 113, are all girls except the commander, Bismun. There are many male supporting characters and it’s nicely balanced. The author has stated he enjoys making realistic, flawed characters, so you’ll see men and women of all kinds.
It must be admitted, however, that the numerous Funny Background Events tend to deal with men. J.A. seems comfortable with poking fun at his own gender.
Smart People Wear Glasses: Just for reading, though. Muneca appears to be able to see far things fine, so she may be farsighted. note Farsightedness means seeing far things just fine, while the near things appear blurry.
Stun Guns: Apparently, the ancients had some kind of anti-rioting taser-like weapons which radiates something that stings people. The Pacificators don’t know what they do, only that they work. Daryl took inspiration from this anti-riot weapon and discovered how to use The Power of the Sun for the same purpose.
Subject101: There's a full index on powers and how they work for both the Pacificators and Renegades.
Succession Crisis: Spain - the King was dying, and he hasn't named a heir, so a civil war nearly erupted before he finally does so. He named Princess Belinda the heir.
Super Registration Act: An interesting take on the trope. Rather than registering the people with powers, the people are forced to be either T-Pacificators or renegades. There’s no Take a Third Option at all.
Team Mom: Oddly, the seventeen-year-old (and the youngest) Daryl is this to her platoon. Daryl’s still settling into her role, but it’s pretty clear by the end of the fourth volume that she would definitely be this.
Teens Are Short: Averted. Daryl is indeed a little short, but she’s the same height as Taffe; also, she’s still growing, and she is taller than Breanne. Muneca is the oddball, being a Statuesque Stunner.
"The Reason Your Platoon Suck" Speech: Bismun gets one from Qamra, of all people, about his platoon in chapter 43. Here's the whole speech below (spoilered for those who don't want to see it).
Qamra: Taffe Torbern shows absolutely no motivation for the job. She doesn't care about getting her teammates to cooperate. She's not suited to be the leader of your platoon.
Qamra: Larima Torbern's too independent, which makes her a poor team player. Worse still, she've shown a refusal to learn from her mistakes with the platoon. She's better off as a freelancing Pacificator.
Qamra: I'm confident in Cinna Grossul's abilities, but she can't show what she can do as long as Muneca Powell is suppressing her.
Qamra: Miss Powell's unique power of gravity apparently has made her so arrogant, it's difficult to cooperate with her. Like Larima, she's a bad team player.
Qamra: Daryl Smithson, that poor young girl...
Theme Naming: The author/artist, J.A., is a mineralogist; you can see this reflected in the names of some of his characters:
Cinna is named after cinnabar◊, a famously bright red mineral.
Cinna (along with Shiva and Enlil - not that they know of each other's position) also didn't like the change of the rank names ("General" into "Chancellor," for example).
This is actually turning into a plot point - apparently, several Pacificators have quit over the name change (and many other policy changes), and Breanne is plotting to bring down the Chancellor.
Threatening Shark: Whenever there are deaths out on the ocean, there will be sharks coming for the meal.
Toilet Humor: Subverted in a sense. Muneca was upset that the ship’s bathroom had been blown up by the Russians; Cinna later tells the story to the Torbern sisters about how Muneca had to squeeze into a closet with a bucket.
Cinna: You should’ve seen her face when I told her that there was a second bathroom! (Cue Muneca glaring at Cinna.)
Token Minority: While there are characters of many backgrounds, Qamra is a special case, since the creator specifically wanted an Arabic person in the story.
Tomboy: Taffe. Lampshaded by Enlil, who calls her "Tomboy." Taffe does seem to like pegasi, however, since she seems flustered when Daryl mentions that Taffe wears pegasus hairpins.
Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Torbern sisters. Lampshaded by Enlil and Shiva; also played with by Cinna and Muneca.
Trick Bomb: Cinna, which goes with Power Crutch - those bombs contain the fuel necessary for Cinna’s power. Kathy Lee, another Fire Pacificator, specializes in this as well.
Shiva and Yuma also has those bombs, which implies that there is an underground black market concerning weapons.
Tricked-Out Shoes: Breanne wears a pair of tricked-out boots which have hidden daggers and pepper spray projectiles.
Twenty Minutes into the Future: As mentioned in the introduction, there was a second Dark Age in which much of the knowledge and technology has been lost - and it's not all. In addition, much of their history has also been lost… so they have no idea how much time has passed since - and it's implied to have been centuries. So, this is a weird example of the trope.
Victory By Endurance: How we would've expected the Wizard Duel between Taffe and Gincoi to end, since they were pretty much equals when it comes to technique. Taffe takes advantage of her deafness to catch Gincoi off guard.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Preservers seem to be this. They go to extreme measures to preserve the artifacts of the past, even going as far as to stealing from and shooting (and likely killing) the Pacificators.
Preserver: So much have been lost in the past, and we must obtain and preserve every relic we find regardless.
Will They or Won't They?: Breanne and Christopher. Lampshaded in a note Shirley gives Christopher: "One of my dreams is to arrange a big wedding ceremony. When you and Breanne decide to go for it, please give me a call!"