Robert Rankin's Empires
(first page found here note
) is a pulp Science Fiction
webcomic by (you guessed it) Robert Rankin
. Like most of his work, it relies heavily on Mind Screw
and strange elements to drive the plot.
Said plot is centered around tales of a masked vigilante named Lady Raygun, on a quest to defeat the enemies of the glorious interstellar British Empire, almost all of whom share the name Jack. The one non-villainous Jack is a young servant, and the whole story is presented as this Jack's grandson sharing the stories his grandfather used to tell
. Naturally, it only gets stranger from there.
This webcomic provides examples of:
- Action Girl: Lady Raygun, as the equivalent of a super heroine.
- Alternate History: One based loosely on the events of The War of the Worlds actually happening, and the British Empire becoming an interstellar power as a result.
- Baleful Polymorph: Dawkins gets turned into a chicken briefly. This was a test run, as the crux of One-Eyed Jack's Evil Plan was to turn all of Parliament into chickens so he alone could rule with his dark magic. He succeeds...and they don't get turned back after he is beaten.
- Big Damn Heroes: Spring-Heeled Jack, saving Lady Raygun and the Venusian ambassador from One-Eyed Jack's magic.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Lampshaded by name, as this is apparently bad form for a story according to Dawkins.
- Brown Note: Whatever Lady Raygun's real face looks like, it's enough to drive Jack McMad insane.
- Groin Attack: Lady Raygun demonstrates that it's really nasty to do this when you wear heels.
- Heel-Face Turn: Lady Raygun, prior to the story's start. See The Mole.
- Jack the Ripper: Yeah, he's one of the villainous Jacks (the first one to be defeated, in fact).
- Kick Chick: If she isn't using a raygun, this is what Lady Raygun is doing.
- Long-Lost Relative: Spring-Heeled Jack certainly seems to think that Lady Raygun is his sister. Unfortunately for him, she pulls a Stealth Hi/Bye before he can finish his sentence.
- Magic Skirt: Lady Raygun wears a fairly short one, but readers never get to see anything. However, within the comic itself...
- Male Gaze:
- When Lady Raygun is banished to the dimension of Phelamanga, a little male...creature gets to look directly up her skirt, and goes wide-eyed as a result.
- The servant Jack also quite enjoys watching Lady Raygun kick One-Eyed Jack around brutally, mainly because she has said short skirt.
- Meaningful Name: Lady Raygun does prefer a certain type of weapon, of course.
- The Mole: Lady Raygun herself was specifically raised and reshaped (through experimentation) to serve as this. She fled to Earth, switching sides in the process.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Lady Raygun after being freed from Phelmanga delivers a nasty one to One-Eyed Jack.
- One Steve Limit: Averted from the get-go. In fact, it causes the servant Jack much anguish, knowing that the name is often associated with villainy.
- Secret Keeper: As it turns out, the servant Jack knew all along that Lady Raygun's civilian identity was the upstairs maid he worked with.
- Shout-Out: One block of narration is a paraphrase of the opening lyric from Edwin Starr's "War".
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: The servant Jack is only ten years old when these events take place, and yet Male Gaze (see above) is in full effect for him.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Heavily lampshaded, as the servant Jack specifically left out quite a few details when telling the story, only to get called out on it by his grandson.