Nogg: This is the bridge of the I.A. Star Banger. As you can see, you are now in outer-space.
Dustin: A spaceship in space. You aliens are just full of surprises, aren't you?Spacetrawler
is a science fiction webcomic by Christopher Baldwin, creator of Brüno
and Little Dee
.Six humans from six continents get knocked out and abducted by a fish-like alien named Nogg
. When they wake up aboard his ship, Nogg explains that he's shanghaied them into Interplanet Amity
—a galactic activist group aiming to end the exploitation of the Eebs
. It won't be easy: the Eebs are the only species capable of understanding and building the technology on which the entire galaxy depends, so attempting to liberate them will quite literally tick off every single government in the Galactic Organizational Body.
In spite of the odds, five of the humans agree to fight the good fight for their own reasons... and the sixth sort of tags along anyway.Hilarity Ensues
. As does some darker stuff.
You should start at the beginning
The comic is now complete, and the artist has started a new comic called One Way
Provides examples of:
- Acquired Poison Immunity: Dimitri is convinced that he can condition himself to be stun gun resistant... by repeatedly shooting himself with a stun gun. It works.
- Alien Non-Interference Clause: The undoing of Nogg's Plan A. If the humans claim Earth's seat at the G.O.B., then Earth is no longer considered a "dark planet", and is open to exploitation by any planet in the G.O.B.
- Always Need What You Gave Up: Yuri's therapist robot erases her memory of torture at Flineous's hand in order to bring her back to sanity. Not long afterwards, she runs into Flineous again, so the therapist is forced to restore Yuri's memories, causing her to revert to her scary, violent self.
- Anti-Advice: Dustin thoroughly establishes himself as a dumbass, so when he tries to warn Pierrot against trusting Curn, it convinces Pierrot to do exactly the opposite.
Pierrot: Dusty thinks it's a bad idea, it must be sensible.
- Anticlimax: Kuu-Drahc is played up as a major antagonist and personal rival to Emily, culminating in the Combat by Champion scene described below. A random rockslide crushes Kuu-Drahc before the fight even begins. Even Emily is disappointed by this.
- Much later, one of the unclamped Eebs is revealed to have survived. He's found and disposed of within five pages and without any fanfare.
- Action Girl: Emily is one from the get-go, while Yuri and Martina evolve into the role.
- And I Must Scream: How Spacetrawlers are made.
- Animal-Eared Headband: Yuri wears one, initially.
- Animal Wrongs Group: Pierrot borders on a one-man version of this.
- Apocalypse How: Planetary Extinction: The unclamped Eebs melt the surface of planet Carpsellon to slag. They do the same to several other planets, off-screen.
- Arm Cannon: Emily has one of the arm-mounted wrist blaster types.
- Artificial Limbs: Yuri now has
six four of them. Martina later gets a prosthetic arm and eye to replace the ones the unclamped Eebs burned off, which unlike Yuri's are practically indistinguishable from the originals.
- Asshole Victim: Major spoiler! The Eebs. Back when they had free will, they were violent and capricious; their own laziness and the other species' lack of challenge was the only thing keeping them from ruling the galaxy with a telekinetic crush-grip.
- Dustin. Victim, then asshole, then both simultaneously and continuously for the rest of the comic.
- Asteroids Monster: A Ditherker will spawn multiple copies of itself just before dying.
- Asteroid Thicket: Brograhm's Teeth, slightly justified in that it's a miniature Big Bang constantly spewing out debris that's often the size of a planet into a black hole.
- Badass Longcoat: Emily. She even wears it over her spacesuit. Later, she upgrades it so that it can also be used as a hang glider.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: Yuri's upgrades include a built-in space suit, allowing her to survive the near-vacuum of space without any external help.
- Berserk Button: Don't hurt animals around Pierrot. Don't talk about hurting animals near Pierrot. And don't try to force Pierrot to eat meat.
- Beware the Nice Ones:
- Yuri seems sweet, but if you tick her off, she will mess you up. Just ask Flineous.
- Martina is morally conflicted about killing, even in self-defense—but she's not afraid to stun-gun her own captain to insure that No One Gets Left Behind. And, when backed into a corner, she is willing to kill if it's the only way to save more lives.
- Big Damn Heroes: Pierrot does this, capping it with a Big Damn Kiss. And it is EPIC.
- Bio-Augmentation: In addition to having her limbs replaced with bionics, Yuri has a cat-like alien's ears and Eeb brain tissue grafted to her. The latter of which allows her to use telekinesis and understand Eeb technology.
- Bishonen Line: Yuri's cyborg upgrades cause her to look increasingly inhuman—then her most powerful, "A God Am I" upgrade returns her to humanoid form, just with different skin color.
- Black Box: Eeb-derived technology is this to non-Eebs, almost without exception. Even if another species could understand the tech, the Eebs are terrible at explaining it, and everyone else just relies on Eeb slave labor rather than bothering to learn how anything works. And in the specific case of spacetrawlers, the G.O.B. goes to great lengths to hide the truth of their construction and functioning, because this information is very politically volatile.
- Blown Across the Room: Here, Pierrot is spacewalking and the recoil from a handgun sends him flying. In the comments below, Baldwin admits that he sacrificed realism for humor on that count.
- Boldly Coming: Dimitri.
Dimitri: [regarding a bug-alien he slept with] Pheromones and ventral revealing outfits. Way hot.
- Brain Bleach: Yuri seem to give Dimitri reason to ask for some here. Or at least some... uncomfortable cleaning implements. It's worth noting that disgusted/horrified as he is, he's still willing to try it out.
- Brain in a Jar: Show up in the spacetrawler construction facility.
- Briar Patching: Played straight for a few pages when Yuri's being "tortured" by the bounty hunters, before being subverted here.
- Brick Joke: Russian tea cookies. Also kind of Nogg's promise to Martina, but that isn't really funny...
- Gurf's aptitude for fleet commanding. Mentioned by Gurf's mom in #88. Comes up again in #172, squeaking in at just under a year later. Not bad, eh?
- Broken Pedestal: Rickshaw Boans, founder of Interplanet Amity, is a huge inspiration to Krep. When Rickshaw returns from parts unknown, he's even more zealous than he used to be, while Krep has undergone Character Development and is no longer so gung-ho about Rickshaw's "shoot first, ask questions later, and take no prisoners" approach.
- Burial in Space: Martina.
- Catch a Falling Star: Emily and Growp fall out a several-story window together; they both steal passing hover-bikes on the way down.
- Cats Are Mean: Flienous the Rhilzzan, then Yuri.
- Catgirl: Yuri starts off with costume ears, but eventually surgically implants real cat-alien ears.
- Centipede's Dilemma: Krep is great at multi-wielding laser guns... as long as he doesn't think too hard about what each of his tentacles is doing.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The Man Behind the Man hides in plain sight (both for the readers, and in-universe), well before his true importance to the plot is revealed. He's that nameless guy standing behind Kuu-Drahc at G.O.B. meetings.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Dimitri gives Dal many opportunities to sever her G.O.B. ties and prove her loyalty to him. Every single time, she uses the opportunity to try to kill Dimitri.
- Clip Its Wings: Martina doesn't like killing, and suggests shooting the wings off enemy spacefighters as an alternative. Emily, the one manning the guns, thinks it's stupid.
Martina: That said, is there any way out of this without killing them?
Martina: Don't suppose you could just aim for their wings?
Emily: I'M NOT GOING TO FUCKING AIM AT THEIR WINGS!
- Combat by Champion: When Emily realizes that her side is outgunned in the space dogfight with the G.O.B., she goads Kuu-Drahc into halting the battle so the two of them can fight one-on-one and hand-to-hand.
- Combat Pragmatist: Emily, oh, Emily. Yuri has raw firepower, Emily has raw cunning.
- Crapsack World: Ask any question about this verse. Imagine the most horrifying answer you can think of. Chances are, the real answer will be even worse.
- The Cuckoo Lander Was Right: The crazy Conspiracy Theorist seen here. Four of her theories on that page have already been proven true, and the rest aren't completely implausible either, given the nature of the strip.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Possibly more symbolic than literal, but Yuri's descent into PTSD is accompanied by her cyborg implants becoming less human and more monstrous.
- Inverted at the end: Martina tells Yuri that if they're going to stay friends, she needs to remove all her weapons. This process along with getting brain-clamped brings Yuri more-or-less back to her senses.
- Did You Get a New Haircut?: Some people take longer than others to notice Yuri's aforementioned transformation.
- The Ditz: Dustin.
- Don't Think. Feel: Martina's approach to space combat during the fight with the Bollycks.
- The Dragon: The Affably Evil lizardlike bodyguard Growp.
- Dumb Muscle: Gurf.
Nogg: He's kind of like a mascot, but can lift things.
- Dying Race: The Harlzoids, who briefly appear in the backstory. Nogg and Choan try to save them; Kuu-Drahc gives them an improperly-calibrated food synthesizer which poisons them all.
- Embarrassing Old Photo: Gurf's mom is armed with one of these.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In the story of Brograhm's Teeth's namesake a group of ruthless killers saw the destruction by acid bombs of an entire planet's population, they were so shaken they gave up their life of crime and took low-stress office jobs. The G.O.B. station in the stellar phenomenon known as Brograhm's teeth is staffed by convicted criminals, mostly mass murderers, and the process of making Spacetrawlers has them breaking down in tears.
- Everyone Has Standards: Brekt, the loony-sounding conspiracy theorist, is offered a place in Nogg's crew. She turns it down: "I may be nuts, but I'm not that crazy!"
- Evil Laugh:
- Exact Eavesdropping: Deliberately employed, so that "prisoners" can think they're "escaping" when they're actually being set free.
- Extreme Doormat: The Eebs literally have no willpower. And the Qiyemps are Suicidal Pacifists.
- Fake Weakness: Easy to pull off when one's torturer knows nothing of human physiology. "No! Dear God, don't make me eat chocolate! It burns!" Until they decide to start cutting off limbs instead...
- Faking the Dead: Dimitri uses holograms to convince the G.O.B. that their assassin succeeded in killing him.
- Fantastic Racism: In the Spacetrawler universe, grounds for legally declaring a species non-sentient include lack of willpower and bad fashion sense. (On paper, at least. Political expediency seems to be the real reason: non-sentient species are easier to exploit.)
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: Spaceships travel at greased light speed, whose technobabble may be some of the silliest ever written.
- A Fate Worse Than Death: What happens to the Eebs involved in spacetrawler construction.
- Finishing Stomp: Twice an antagonist tries to crush Emily's head under their boot. Both times, someone rescues her before they can finish.
- Foregone Conclusion: In the framing story, Nogg says that Martina has died.
- Framing Device: The entire story is being related by Nogg to Mr. Zorilla after the fact.
- Friends with Benefits: Dimitri and Choan.
- Gadgeteer Genius: The Eebs, good lord.
- Genius Ditz: Gurf may act and sound like an idiot most of the time, but he has a hidden talent for space combat.
- "Gift of the Magi" Plot: "This is very similar to the story of 'The Bowthwit and the Carnunkle's Bum'." "If that's anything like 'The Gift of the Magi' on acid, I'd have to agree."
- Guns Akimbo: Emily does that a lot.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Averted with the majority of the alien women Dmitri sleeps with. Except Red-9 since Eebs are related to humans.
- The Hedonist: Choan's a self-admitted one.
- Hoist by His Own Petard:
- When it becomes necessary to forcibly restrain Yuri, Martina uses a bomb that Yuri herself asked the Eebs to make.
- Major spoiler! The Eebs invented the brain clamp technology, and they were the ones who started using it on themselves. By the time the rest of the galaxy decided to enslave them, only a half-dozen of them remained unclamped.
- Humanoid Aliens: Rather few of them actually.
- Humans Are Warriors: Shaix makes that assumption.
- Hyperspace Arsenal / Walking Armory: Emily.
- I Lied
Flineous: Wait a second. How is that sporting ?
Yuri: It's not. I lied.
- I'm Standing Right Here: King, here.
- Intelligent Gerbil
- Interspecies Romance:
- Shuar genuinely loves Dimitri; Dimitri doesn't care.
- Dimitri loves Dal, and she might reciprocate, but she's more committed to the G.O.B.
- Dimitri and Haldeyis have a strong relationship until his new job with the G.O.B. leaves him unable to spend time with her.
- Curn and Oohlooh.
- Martina and Luunock. Nogg does some hasty backpedaling when he realizes Mr. Zorilla doesn't want to hear how far they went.
- Pierrot is briefly courted by a Qiyemp female. He breaks up with her on Carpsellon and leaves her to comfort the dying Kuu-Drahc, shortly before the destruction of the planet.
- Irony: Of the Situational variety. Rickshaw Boans suspects that Krep is not sufficient committed to the cause, so he kicks Krep out of Interplanet Amity to prevent him from undermining the latest mission. This act finally convinces Krep that Rickshaw isn't such a great guy after all—and prompts him to go and deliberately undermine Rickshaw's mission.
- It Tastes Like Feet: Dimitri points out that the coffee tastes like asteroids. After all, it was synthesized from space debris.
- Jar Potty: The potty-bot's entire raison d'etre.
- Just a Machine: The robots themselves admit as much.
- Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Bollyck pirates are immune to lasers. Dimitri's primitive bullet-firing handgun, however, not so much.
- Klingons Love Shakespeare: Dimitri licenses his recipe for Russian tea cookies. It becomes wildly popular on multiple planets, and Dimitri makes a fortune.
- Lampshade Hanging: Mr. Zorilla calls out Nogg for the way his narrative jumps between plot threads willy-nilly, and for the gratuitous cliffhangers.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: It's a relatively trivial procedure to erase (or restore) memories. The subterranean Mihrrgoots make liberal use of this to prevent the outside universe from learning of their existence. And the therapy-bot (who used to be a bar-bot) speeds up Yuri's counseling by erasing her traumatic memories.
- Latex Spacesuit
- Laughing Mad: Yuri, with her psychotic persona.
- Mad Scientist: Eebs, when given vague instructions to build something, can have some odd ideas. I.e. when Dmitri told a group of them to construct a means of leaving the hotel without being seen adding legs to the hotel and floating it out on a river of lava have to be shot down before one of them suggests a tunneling machine, that makes beer.
- The Man Behind the Man: Qwahntoo is the real brains behind the GOB, and Kuu-Drahc, the apex speaker is just the public face. Amusingly, in his first appearance Qwahntoo is literally standing behind Kuu-Drahc.
- Manipulative Bastard: Dimitri piles on ranks of this late in the story through a mix of The Charmer and High School Hustler, in his project to seize control of the GOB.
Dimitri: "What can I do in 20 minutes, right?"
- A Man Is Always Eager: "Xenophile" might be a polite word for Dimitri. It's not clear how flexible his standards are when it comes to his own species, but when he's finished trying to chat up all the other abducted human women, he assesses every alien species he meets for compatibility.
- Matter Replicator: Ships have on-board replicators, which can manufacture anything from gathered space debris.
- Military Mashup Machine: The Purfin M-32, coolest all-terrain boat-jet ever.
- Missed the Call: Nogg never meant to take Dusty on the Eeb liberation mission. He was trying to recruit Dusty's twin brother, Bill.
- Moment Killer: Pierrot manages to do it to himself, by taking a break from smooching with Emily to apologize for the love triangle that he just ended.
- Mood Dissonance: The style is a colorful, classic "space-adventure" look, but the world and events are rather darker.
- Mood Whiplash: Frequently.
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The Mihrrgoots.
- Mutilation Interrogation: How Yuri lost her limbs.
- No Biochemical Barriers: Handwaved by the approxiscan devices, which scan the biology of encountered creatures to identify compatible foodstuffs, atmospheres, and (to Dimitri's great interest) romantic partners.
- No One Gets Left Behind: The humans mostly feel this way. Nogg thinks this attitude will get them all killed.
- Note to Self: Pierrot finds out some important information about the Eebs just before he's scheduled to receive some Laser-Guided Amnesia, so he writes himself a letter summarizing it. Post-amnesia, he reads the letter and almost immediately dismisses it.
- No Transhumanism Allowed: Cyborg prosthesis is treated as normal, though not apparently common. But when Choan asks Yuri about her bioaugmentation, Nogg's indignant response suggests that bioaugmentation isn't well-regarded by some folks.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Everyone knows the Mihrrgoots are violent, smelly brutes with a taste for other sentient beings. That's just the surface population who are inbred descendants of a few drunks. The subterranean population is sophisticated and has more advanced technology than the Eebs.
- Oh, Crap: Panel eight, here. Somewhat literal, in this case.
Eeb: As an example of our power, we will rain down fire on the nearby planet of Carpsellon and melt every last thing on the surface to slag simply by using our minds. From the information we now have, this "rain of fire" will be analogous to one's morning poo after enjoying a really satisfying spicy meal.
Everyone on the planet's surface: O.O
"I mean... the implications... are..." *blank stare
- Omnicidal Maniac: The unclamped Eebs.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Growp's thoughts on Emily. It's his twisted way of saying that he loves her. Taken to its logical conclusion - He takes a laser blast for her.
- OOC Is Serious Business: What clues Martina in to the fact that Red-9 is an unclamped Eeb— she exercises free will, up to and including dishonesty and defying orders.
- Pass the Popcorn: Potty-bot offers the Ditherkers popcorn while watching Emily and Pierrot "negotiate" with Qwahntoo.
- Patriotic Fervor: Dustin.
Dustin: Long live the Australian federal constitutional monarchy under a parliamentary democracy!
- Planet of Hats:
- The Eebs are a species of telekinetic gadgeteers with zero willpower. Major spoilers!The lack of willpower is eventually justified—it's a result of the artificial brain-clamping that Eebs receive at birth. However, the unclamped Eebs are capricious, and range from amoral to complete assholes.
- The Flimboulxians (i.e. Krep's species) artificially bred stupidity out of themselves. This had a side effect of making them all jerks.
- The Tornites all have terrible fashion sense.
- It's implied that the Bollycks are all violent and ill-tempered.
- Qiyemps are all pacifists, to the extent of being completely spineless.
- Playful Hacker: Yuri.
- The Pornomancer: When introduced, Dimitri is entertaining two bikini-clad women in a rowboat. Over the course of the story, he first propositions all the human females, then proceeds to seduce every remotely compatible alien female he can find, regardless of looks or shape.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: How spacetrawlers work, and the real reason why details on their construction are so carefully guarded. It's so bad, that only the most vicious and horrific criminals in the galaxy are used as (brain-clamped) labor on the space station that creates the trawlers, and they each have a moment when they break down and cry like a baby when they see how it is done.
- Power Strain Blackout: Eebs (and Yuri with her Eeb brain implants) will black out if they strain their telekinesis by moving objects that are too massive. Too much of this strain can outright kill them. It's later revealed that this limitation is a result of brain-clamping — we've yet to see an upper limit on how much matter an unclamped Eeb can move telekinetically.
- Press-Ganged: Nogg's recruitment drive.
- Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: Qwahntoo tries this line on Emily when he has Pierrot as his hostage. Emily knows that complying will get them all killed, so she just shoots Qwahntoo instead.
- Psychic Powers: Eebs have telekinesis (as does Yuri after having one's brain tissue implanted), though they pass out and risk dying.
"Plus it's boring."
- Pyromaniac: The unclamped Eebs prefer to use pyrokinesis to kill their enemies. And they have a lot of enemies.
- Raised by Wolves: Or coyotes, in Emily's case. As a result, coyotes are the only creature she feels any kinship towards, and she prefers a loner's life.
- Recursive Creators: The Mihrrgoots mastered nanotechnology by building robots, who built smaller robots, who built even smaller robots...
- Restraining Bolt: Brain clamps, capable of robbing the clampee's free will and reducing any psychic powers they may have.
- Sarcastic Devotee: Krep has nothing but disdain for everyone around him, but he's 100% committed to the cause.
- Set The World On Fire: The unclamped Eebs do this first to Carpsellon and then to every other inhabited planet they come across.
- Serial Prostheses: Yuri.
- Shoot Out the Lock: "Hmm. No luck. That always works in movies."
- Shoot the Dog:
- When it becomes undeniable that Dal is dangerous to Interplanet Amity and simply cannot be trusted, Dimitri kills her.
- When the situation aboard the spacetrawler construction facility gets really bad, and all Martina's attempts to prevent further bloodshed fail, she realizes her best remaining option is to blow up the station, killing everyone aboard. So she does it.
- Slave Liberation: The main plot of the comic.
- Slave Race: The Eebs.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Emily and Pierrot.
- Smug Super: The unclamped Eebs. Who saw that coming?!
- Space Opera: The whole nature of the story.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Curn and Oohlooh are biologically incompatible species. Each of of them breathes gasses that are toxic to the other, and they can't touch each other without dying.
- Static Stun Gun
- Stupid Sacrifice: Played for laughs when Gurf intercepts a laser blast to protect Emily. Emily then points out that it was a stun-ray, and that the now-unconscious Gurf is the heaviest member of their squad.
- Super-Persistent Predator: The Ditherkers that an assassin siccs on Emily are modified to chase their target, and only their target, until they bring it down or starve to death trying. They track by scent, cling to the hull of a spaceship moving at greased-light speed (and don't suffocate), and asexually reproduce when killed.
- Take a Third Option: Emily in her fight against Growp.
- Taking the Bullet: Growp dies protecting Emily this way. Then Gurf gets knocked out, also protecting Emily this way.
- Tell Him I'm Not Speaking to Him: The comic has a variant where it's less about refusing to speak, and more about recruiting the third party to bolster their argument, and the third party is an Extreme Doormat.
Nogg: Cardinal62. Tell them we're the good guys.
Cardinal62: (To Emily) We're the good guys.
Emily: Well, tell alien-fish that I know a dozen good seafood recipes he'd go lovely in.
Cardinal62: (To Nogg) She knows a dozen good seafood recipes you'd go lovely in.
Nogg: Well, you tell her that —
- There Are No Therapists: Zig-zagged. Nogg does have a Therapy-bot for his crew, but it's terrible at the job. Later, Martina recognizes that the crew needs a good therapist, so she replaces Therapy-bot with Bartender-bot, ordering the latter to study and utilize human methods of psychology. He makes some decent progress at first, then the guy who mutilated Yuri shows up and they're back to square one.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Qwahntoo realizing the purpose of Emily force-feeding him her own severed fingers... as he's surrounded by baying Ditherkers. Gory Discretion Shot ensues.
- Throwing Your Dagger Always Works: Well, except if it hits handle-first. [[Spoiler: Which keeps the target complaining about it hurting long enough to get over there and stab them.]]
- Toilet Humor: The potty-bot.
- Too Dumb to Live: Dustin. Trust in the authorities can be taken too far.
- Too Kinky to Torture: In the process of trying to immunize himself to stun gun shots, Dimitri starts enjoying it... a bit much.
- Transhuman: Yuri.
- Translator Microbes: A brain-implanted language chip.
- Trash Talk: Emily, but that should hardly come as a surprise given her You Fight Like a Cow antics with Growp.
- Ultraterrestrials: The Eebs diverged from humanity a couple hundred thousand years ago, and used their telekinesis to leave earth when they got tired of dealing with non-telekinetics. The obvious physical differences are due to Eebongbong's higher gravity and something in the food.
- Unplanned Crossdressing: Choan accidentally shredded Dimitri's clothes, so he has to make a daring escape in one of her nightgowns.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Mr. Zorilla's reaction to Nogg.
- Vodka Drunkenski: Dimitri.
- Weapons-Grade Vocabulary: When some Eebs were asked to "tell us a joke", they built a computer to synthesize the funniest joke ever. The result is so hilarious that the punchline wiped out the asker's entire species. Fortunately for the rest of the universe, the punchline depends on a nuance of language that gets completely lost in translation, so no one else gets it.
- Who Shot JFK?: According to the (possibly-correct) ramblings of a conspiracy theorist, "J.F.K." was an alien shape-shifter and a fugitive member of the secret society (the same one that controls the G.O.B.). He went into hiding by becoming a president on Earth, and the secret society sent an alien assassin to kill him.
- Worthy Opponent: Emily becomes one for Growp. That's why he fell in love with her.
- Year Inside, Hour Outside: Dmitri goes to the alternate universe on the far side of the Draak-sim and comes back in an hour, with grey hair.
- You Fight Like a Cow: Every fight between Emily and Growp involves much back-and-forth quipping.