"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.
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.
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.
The Empath: Jonas is a variety of this. He reportedly makes other people feel 'safe', something he admits to using to his advantage.
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.
Love Triangle: One was built up between Robyn, Anya and Jonas in the beginning; however, Robyn very soon gave up.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.