Webcomic / Pulse
is the story of Annie Chang, a young robotics engineer and "battery" (a person who can store and discharge electricity) in training to become a superhero named Pulse
along side her designated partner Tabitha (aka Bolt)
. And, um, a few other things
is something of a legacy character for the author, Lightfoot; although the current strip dates to 2010, it's actually a continuity reboot of an older strip called Pulse, the Blue Bombshell
that began in 1999; although the original is no longer on the net, some of Lightfoot's earlier work is available on his DeviantArt page (NSFW stuff is flagged, but there's lots of fanservice)
. The current iteration begins in the wake of a mass slaughter of superheroes; Annie's father works for a secret government project near the Great Lakes to find and train a new generation of superheroes. Annie has a natural talent for controlling electricity, and has always aspired to be a superhero, but until recently never had enough power; when she does, develop, though, she develops
to a nearly ridiculous degree. She's paired up with caustic test pilot and fellow battery Tabitha "Bolt" Greene, and they're given matching power suits and the ability to heal each other. The story so far is of Annie trying to get used to being a hero in training, as well as the awkwardness of her new body.
This webcomic provides examples of the following:
- Author Appeal: Lightfoot actually plays the breast expansion fairly realistically for the setting, although it's still pretty clear what's going on here.
- The original strip was far more blatant and less realistic.
- Blessed with Suck: Annie, pre-powering up; Annie's friend Lucy, who has a power that she refuses to reveal.
- Breast Expansion: After gaining increased powers (or increased power), skinny Annie becomes buxom Annie overnight.
- This trope was far more prevelent in the pre-rebooted comic, before Lightfoot decided to focus more on story and characters than fanservice.
- Brick Joke: Pinky swear. Ouch.
- Creepy Twins/Brain in a Jar: Mira and Arim Robbins, the cyborg twins. They behave similarly until provoked, at which point Mira has a substantially worse temper. You wouldn't want to mess with Arim either, though; they're very tough. And by tough, we mean they've had multiple sparring matches ending with one of them needing a full body transplant. This is treated as disturbingly routinenote , at least for them and Lucy, who's a cyborg herself (two artificial legs).
- Curious as a Monkey: Annie is known to almost compulsively take things apart, throughout her life, even her new armored suit, and it's something she has to resist on elevators.
- Deflector Shields: Both armored suits have repulsive shields that can be turned off and on. They bounce objects away, but the wearer is not immune to the recoil or reaction of the object.
- EMP: Annie's choice of superhero name.
- Fanservice: Annie in a checkered bikini is a once-a-year treat by the artist for fans, though sideboob and cleavage are everyday treats, or at least every third or fourth strip.
- Forceful Kiss: When Annie thought she might be about to die.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Annie is 5' 3", her love interest Thomas is 6'.
- Instant Armor: (Also Shapeshifter Baggage) Both suits armored super suits can collapse down into a ring. And then return in a flash of light.
- Lady Swears-A-Lot: The writing doesn't demonstrate much, but Tabitha is extremely foulmouthed off camera.
- Mad Scientist: Nigel Robbins works in the same facility as Annie and her father, in a different section (and is also Lucy's supervisor). He's cyborged his daughters (Mira and Arim, the Creepy Twins from above), used to build spy gear, and has a reputation as a slapdash and unethical experimenter.
- Most Common Superpower: Deconstructed. It's not that Annie minds having developed a major case of superhero boobs, but having been flat-chested all her life, she finds it incredibly awkward and embarrassing. (Tabitha does catch her showing off in front of the mirror, though.) note
- Powered Armor: Both Pulse and Bolt have powered armor that allows them to fly, makes them stronger and makes them more durable- and they power them themselves for up to an hour of continuous use.
- Shapeshifter Baggage: Pulse and Bolt's power armors hide (Witchblade-style) in rings.
- Show Within a Show: Annie is a big fan of a pulp heroine named Jungle Girl.
- Superhero School: The US Government built an entire city in Michigan (Port Braddon) in order to hide the underground complex where Annie and Tabitha are training.
- Teen Genius: Implied; Annie is only 20 but has been designing robotics (including Lucy's artificial legs) for years.
- Understanding Boyfriend: Annie's boyfriend Tom.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: What Tabitha's initial gruffness towards Annie turns out to be.
- Wrench Wench: Annie's previous job was repairing old equipment, she sometimes returns to that as therapy.
- "World of Cardboard" Speech: Whatever Lucy's power is, it's apparently terrifying.