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Comic Book / Aria (1979)

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Aria is a Belgian comic book series of Heroic Fantasy created by Michel Weyland. First published in comic magazine Tintin in 1979, the series later moved to Dupuis Edition.

Aria is a warrioress who lives in an Alternate Universe that functions a lot like a Medieval European Fantasy, more precisely in Medieval Spain or Portugal, given the look of the buildings in The 'Verse.

A war orphan, Aria survived by the skin of her teeth as a little girl, first being given as a sacrifice to a malevolent water goddess and then being taken in by a league of bandits constituted mainly of other orphans. The league was headed by an abusive caretaker who taught his wards how to pilfer property and pickpocket people. Boys were supposed to become large scale bandits, girls were supposed to become prostitutes, which made Aria quite averse to men and sexuality as a whole. One night, after escaping from the league's estate, Aria starts a new life as a Knight Errant whose main goal is to remain free at all costs. Free to go wherever she pleases, free from men, free from societal rules and offering her help wherever she sees injustice.

The series is a clear example of a Feminist Fantasy and can be quite Anvilicious about it at times, despite developing many themes.

The series is still ongoing to this day. It is not to be confused with the manga of the same name.

Aria contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Aria. She seems to have honed her skills by herself.
  • After the End: The plot twist of "Les Larmes de la déesse": the water that turns men into fish people are caused by a nuclear barrel polluting a river. Modern technologies show up in later books as well.
  • All Abusers Are Male: As said below, you will never find a male victim of abuse in this series, unless the abuse is perpetrated by another man. Female abusers don't exist.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Men in positions of power and soldiers especially are motivated by sex. But most men in Aria's world just can't keep it in their pants whenever an attractive woman is around.
  • All Women Are Prudes: Implied. You will hardly ever find any woman with a sex drive in The 'Verse. Only exception: a lesbian mercenary that Aria drives away quite quickly. Aria herself isn't shown enjoying sex either, despite often dressing provocatively.
  • Androcles' Lion: In "Les indomptables", Aria rescues a Taurok from an arena and later the Taurok rescues Aria who's about to be eaten by dragon-dogs.
  • Bat Out of Hell: In "Le Méridien de Posidonia" , Zonkre's pet is a giant bat named Srizi who catch anyone who attempt to escape the mines.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Surprisingly deconstructed. Because she always sides with the (seemingly) weak and the ostracized, Aria can at times end up helping the wrong people and obtain the opposite effect of what she meant.
  • Continuity Creep: With the exception of the two-parter "Les Chevaliers d'Aquarius"/"Les larmes de la Déesses", the earlier books are all standalones adventures. Starting with "Janessandre" (where the sculptor from "La Montagne aux sorciers" and Glore from the aforementioned two-parter come back), the series regularly references earlier storylines.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Works in conjunction with her Chronic Hero Syndrome. She sometimes help people that she doesn't even know or whose motivations she has no idea of.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Aside from Art Evolution, the first issue has Aria as a mercenary hired to train an army. Later on, she's a lone adventurer who avoids meddling with wars.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Aside from two misguided witches in "La Montagne aux sorciers" and an antagonistic priestess in "La septième porte" who eventually turns out to be not that bad in the end, you would be hard-pressed to find an actual female villain in the series. Women are depicted as either intrinsically more moral than men or harmless and defenseless victims of men or well-meaning but weak-willed followers of men. But there is virtually no evil woman in this series, bar the league leader's wife whose "evil" is entirely linked to her submissiveness to her husband, which caused Aria to call her a "sow".
  • Feminist Fantasy: A quite obvious example of this as all antagonists are patriarchal males, perverted soldiers and mercenaries, abusive husbands, men who want to have Aria all to themselves and male slave-owners. The series develops a lot of feminist issues, despite the Alternate Universe setting, and is quite heavy on the subject of women's place in a society that often relegates them to ancillary roles.
  • Fish People: The Knights of Aquarius lead by Glore, are men who turned into fish people after falling in a cursed lake.
  • Facial Markings: Arcana in "La septième porte" draws magical powers from her marks she paints with blue color.
  • Girl of the Week: Gender-Inverted Trope. Aria is often partnered with attractive young male companions with various degrees of Ship Tease. This usually never goes far as Aria is a rape survivor and unwilling to commit herself in a relationship at the expense of her freedom. By the 39th issue, she only has two major love interests: Tigron and Fiedberg.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: Aria's main motivation is freedom and having no strings attached. Becomes a plot point when she eventually gets pregnant in "La Fleur au Ventre" and she realizes that she won't be able to move for the next months which put her in deep distress but she eventually comes around and accepts becoming the mother of Tygron's child.
  • Marital Rape License: At the beginning of "Ove", the title character is forced to consume her Arranged Marriage. That traumatic event makes her remember her past life.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Invoked and defied. Aria's main goal in life is to prove this trope wrong, among other things. This is unfortunately undermined in "Le chemin des crêtes", where it's revealed that Aria was trained by a male Magical Asian.
  • Outdoorsy Gal: Aria is dedicated to staying outside as much as possible and cannot stand remaining indoor for too long.
  • The Patriarch: With some exceptions here and there, this Alternate Universe is mostly ruled by power-hungry patriarchs whose main goal is domination and subjugation of women.
  • Protagonist Title: Aria is named after its heroine.
  • Proud Beauty: Aria knows that she's attractive and will never miss a chance to flaunt her athletic yet voluptuous body.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Implied. While femininity isn't treated as bad per se in the series, women who willingly serve a man or submit to a man's authority instead of actively rebelling against men are always "rewarded" for it with something horrible happening to them (the priestesses in "Les Indomptables" and "La Septième Porte"), being abetted or forced by men to do something horrible (Orsalne and Nyarta in "Le Combat des Dames" and Pheonya in "Le Cri du Prophète") or having no choice but witness men do horrible things (Anamite in "Venderic" and Zorkof's mother in "Le Combat des Dames").
  • Recycled Script: "Le Diable recomposé" (the recomposed devil) has almost the same plot as the earlier "Chant d'étoiles" (song of the stars). Aria finds out her son Sacham is in trouble. She finds him suffering a strange illness and his girlfriènd Marvèle dumped him when it became too severe. Meanwhile villagers suspect Sacham of being an evil wizard so they plot to kill him. Aria manages to cure her son, put him in safety and both stories ends with Marvèle asking Sacham to take her back.
  • Revenge Against Men: Aria distrusts men as a principle, which dates back to her traumatic rape at the hands of her caretaker when she was still a teenager. She often encourages the women she meets to strike back against men and take revenge for whatever they did to her. However, she never acts against men who don't attack her.
  • Screw Destiny: In "Oeil d'Ange", Aria learns a prophecy that she and the titular Oeil d'Ange (Angel Eye) will be the parents of a prophet. The free and adventurous Aria refuses to follow the prophecy. Later, Oeil d'Ange adopts the prophet with Aria's look-alike Ganielle.
  • Status Quo Is God: In "La Fleur au ventre", Aria is seemingly forced to abandon her adventurous lifestyle when she learns she's pregnant with her boyfriend Tygron's child. In the next book, Aria gives birth to a monstrous child named Sacham. Tygron attempts to kill his son. Aria immediately dumps him when she learns that. Sacham himself undergoes a Plot-Relevant Age-Up and is Put on a Bus in the following book. After all of this, Aria is free to travel alone again.
  • Stripperiffic: Aria dresses mostly in light gossamer tunics that emphasize her legs and butt, one such example is on the work's illustration. But she seldom wears any armor, at most some furs to travel by night or during the winter.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: As a child, Aria preferred more masculine interests and would often hang out with boys rather than girls but always dresses with very feminine clothes.
  • Walking the Earth: Aria spends her time roaming the land in search of adventures and fighting off the men who want to chain her to a "woman's place".
  • What Is This Feeling?: Aria doesn't realize that she has fallen in love with Uthar in "Les Chevaliers d'Aquarius" until it's too late. But even then, she can't name the feeling she's experiencing at the thought of never seeing him again.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: At the end of "La Montagne aux sorciers", Aria refuses a monster's offer for immortality because she wants to keep facing death.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: In "La Fleur au ventre", after killing Aria's escort, Arobate injures himself to pose as a hero who saved her.