"It's important to believe in something, don't you think?"
— Jonas Faulkner
The Phoenix Requiem is a finished supernatural fantasy webcomic written by Sarah Ellerton, the author and artist of Inverloch.Seven hundred years prior to the start of the comic, two types of ethereal entities known as the Spirits and the Hellions waged war on each other. We're told that the Spirits, in desperation, imprisoned the Hellions, but in the process had to imprison themselves as well. There have not been spiritual presences or magic in the world since.The comic starts when a critically wounded man, Jonas, reaches the small town of Esk. The resident doctor-in-training, Anya saves his life, but soon the townsfolk begin to die of an unknown flesh eating disease. Malevolent ghosts known as Shades begin to crop up, and suddenly, a Spirit appears in the woods. That seems like it would be a good thing, doesn't it? Well, there's more at play.The Phoenix Requiem provides examples of:
Action Survivor: Petria, Robyn, and for that matter most of the population of Esk, when the shades start to become a problem.
Armies Are Evil: The army wants magic on their side, and apparently a little immorality isn't beneath them if that means attaining it.
Art Evolution: Originally it was in a cel-shaded, animesque style much like Inverloch, but now is more like a Victorian-era painting. The original cel-shaded pages have now all been re-done in the latter style.
Blessed with Suck: Jonas. His supernatural powers culminate when he's on the brink of complete physical or mental collapse, they're destroying him from the inside out, and it turns out that the Spirits and the army want to use them for their own corrupt purposes, whether he likes it or not.
Blue and Orange Morality: The reason Ksendra picked Jonas? He was "the prettiest of all men." He's fairly ticked off when she tells him this.
Book Ends: The story begins and ends at the same festival.
Break the Cutie: Jonas, prior to the events of the comic. Aaaand further, throughout the comic.
The Charmer: Jonas, to supernatural levels. He admits later to taking advantage of it.
Dark and Troubled Past: Jonas obviously, because of the insane asylum and his wife. Also Robyn, though not as much is made of it; he has some bad memories of his time in the army, and sees ghosts ever since he was gravely wounded.
Dead All Along: Jonas. The Spirits have been keeping his soul and body together because he's useful to them. He finds it quite uncomfortable. The only way he could die for good would be if Ksendra took him to the place where the Spirits and Hellions are imprisoned. Even then he couldn't reach the afterlife. In the end, Ksendra makes sure the Spirits have no more hold on him, and does something herself to keep him in the world. It's a Bittersweet Ending, since even though he gets to be with Anya, it's still an unpleasant state, and he may be permanently barred from the afterlife.
We don't see much of Dr. Blythe's manner with patients, but with Anya he can be very brusque. However, he also defends her when Armand makes sexist comments about her choice of profession and is mainly just fussy.
Dr. Tambur is a genuine jerk. Although he takes great personal risk in his research, he's most concerned with making the discovery first. He was also involved in the torturous "research" Jonas was subjected to in the asylum.
Due to the Dead: The only way to deal with a body is to cremate it. Bodies that aren't cremated before they've significantly decayed risk their souls becoming lost, and staying earthbound as ghosts. The skeptics merely think it's practical since land isn't wasted on graveyards...even though later in the comic it's shown that some people bury the ash in graveyards anyway.
Emotions Versus Stoicism: When Robyn warns Petria that she needs to stop flirting or she'll be destitute her old age, she says that he's going to be the lonely one because he's afraid to show people how he feels.
The Empath: Jonas is a variety of this. He reportedly makes other people feel 'safe', something he admits to using to his advantage.
I Need a Freaking Drink: Or rather, "you need a freaking drink," a judgment made by Robyn when Jonas shows up at his house because he's supposed to be dead, the spirits' use of him as a gateway is torturous, and he's really trying to stay off of morphine.
Robyn: Here. [hands Jonas a glass] Jonas: I don't indulge in the hard stuff. Robyn: You do now.
Inspector Javert: Even Armand's name sounds intimidating! He's not above threatening and practically stalking Jonas, despite the fact there is no evidence against him. Armand does think he has evidence, of course. Well, other than that the plague seems to follow him around.
I See Dead People: Jonas can see lost souls, as well as "visiting" his dead wife in dreams. He also tells Robyn that those closest to death see things that others do not, explaining why Robyn can also see ghosts, and why some of Robyn's army comrades who (like him) had been severely wounded could. Jonas has a double reason: he's dead-and-resurrected himself, and he's also a gate to the afterlife.
It Is Not Your Time: Inverted in the beginning. Jonas, who is close to death, envisions himself with his wife urging him to move on. He decides that he's rather not up to dying at the moment.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Ksendra's final decision. She could have taken Jonas away with her forever, as was her intention all along, and was tempted to chance that the Spirits might get free in the process; but she realized that he no longer loved her, and instead sacrificed herself, locking the Spirits away and allowing Jonas to be with the one he really loved.
Letting Her Hair Down: Anya is particularly dedicated to her career and feels responsible for her patients at all time. With the arrival of Jonas she started to relax somewhat.
May-December Romance: Anya and Jonas. He's permanently young-looking, but nearly 30 years older than her in chronological years. Even though much of that time was the lost unremembered period in Hyde Asylum, he's still gone through a whole lot more than she has, including a previous marriage and child, and many horrific events. By the end of the story, since he's now become the Grim Reaper, he'll likely never die either - and Anya is still a mortal woman.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Robyn keeps doing things that seem to be the right action at the time, but will later on prove to be horrifically wrong.
Using water to battle shades which then washes into the town water supply and spreads the plague faster.
Convincing Jonas to return to Hyde so he'll stop spreading the plague. Well, the plague destroys the town it's in, Jonas loses his mind again, and when Robyn forces him to dispel the large population of shades the Spirits are greatly strengthened and suddenly that is a very bad thing.
Convincing people to hide in the church only worked the firs time because Jonas dispelled the shades. When they learn that the shades are trying to get everyone together to infect them and Jonas isn't around, it's not so good. Admittedly, someone else probably would have thought of this anyway.
No Sense of Personal Space: Petria has a habit of draping herself over her friends, which she says is from when she used to drape herself over men professionally.
The Nothing After Death: The spirits claim that there is no individuality or conscious thought in the afterlife, it's just an ocean of pure soulstuff. Reincarnation is still possible, though, and the spirits could be lying.
Our Ghosts Are Different: People who are not cremated before they've decayed become ghosts. There are two varieties: Lost souls, who are invisible to most people and are waiting for a chance to be reincarnated, and shades, who are the angry spirits of people who've suffered traumatic deaths, and are visible to everyone.
Reincarnation: Souls that haven't moved on may do this, and may be distinguished from other new souls by their premature mental and physical maturity. Jonas theorizes that Anya is the result of reincarnation for this reason.
Religion Is Magic: The presence of Spirits allowed people to use magic. However, since they've been trapped for seven hundred years, magic is mostly a forgotten art.
Running Gag: Jonas losing his shoes seems to be a theme... Though this is given a dark twist when it was revealed that when he was incarcerated in the asylum, they kept taking his shoes due to the fact that he kept trying to strangle the doctor with the shoe laces. His room at the asylum was full of shoes he stole from the nurses hanging from the ceiling.
Seeking Sanctuary: Subverted. The people think that they are safe from the shades in the church, but they are wrong. On the other hand, Hyde Asylum is a real "asylum" from shades and Spirits, though not from human evil.
Shipper on Deck: At the beginning, Petria thinks that Robyn should keep courting Anya, which he refuses because she's turned him down for being kind of overbearing and needing a farm wife instead of a doctor. Later, Petria starts shipping Jonas with Anya.
Shirtless Scene: Robyn has a brief shirtless moment to dispose of some shades, to fans' delight.
The scene in question starts here for your viewing pleasure.
Skeptic No Longer: Anya didn't believe in the Spirits in favor of a deity her home country believes in. Then Spirits started showing up.
Slut Shaming: A drunk man threatening Jonas calls Petria the "town toffer." She's quite hurt, as she thought she had left that behind.
Smoky Gentlemen's Club: The "Society For the Preservation of Natural Order." Their mission is to prevent the release of the Spirits and the Hellions. They use their connections to send anyone with a sincere shot of doing so to Hyde or execution. Armand and the Katsukovas' butler are both members.
Tomboy: Petria wears trousers and a man's cap, though the clothing is tailored to flatter her figure. She also has unusually short hair at the start, but that's only because she sold it (it grows out over the course of the story).
Voice of the Legion: The Spirits talk in chorus, which is represented by grey words just visible behind the more legible ones. They seem to all say similar things with different phrasing, which must add to the maddening effect they have on Jonas.
Unwitting Instigator of Doom: A townswoman wants to recover the ashes of her husband, which were buried to prevent them from being shade fuel. But she can't read the headstones... so she digs up all of them and pours them out, thinking that it will reunite her with her husband's ghost... instead, it becomes a gigantic shade that starts the plague all over again when people accidentally ingest its ashes.
Younger Than They Look: Anya, who is reportedly in her teens. Much to the creator's dismay, many readers felt she looked and acted as if she were at least in her 20's. (Ellerton has said that she never officially states any of the character's ages due to those who felt the characters didn't look or act their age back during Inverloch.) This was later explained by Jonas who thinks Anya looks and acts older as a result of being reincarnated, however, whether this was planned or a retrospective explanation is uncertain.