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Comic Book / Druuna

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Druuna is an Italian sci-fi erotic graphic novel series written and drawn by Paolo Eleutieri Serpieri.

Its protagonist Druuna, a beautiful woman with a Mediterranean appearance, is living amidst the ruins of a post-apocalyptic city that is being wrecked by a viral plague as she tries to save her beloved Shastar and reach the mysterious levels above. While the erotic content is an integral part of the comic, it's pretty Troperiffic as well.

The released albums, in order, are:

  • Morbus Gravis, Part 1 (1985)
  • Morbus Gravis, Part 2 (1987)
  • Creatura (1990)
  • Carnivora (1992)
  • Mandragora (1995)
  • Aphrodisia (1997)
  • The Forgotten Planet (2000)
  • Clone (2003)
  • Anima: Origins of Druuna (2016)
  • Came From The Wind (2018)

It also received an obscure videogame adaptation in 2001, Druuna: Morbus Gravis, and has been featured in Heavy Metal magazine.

In 2022, Serpieri officially handed the reins over to writer Alessio Schreiner and artist Eon (Joseph Viglioglia), with their first album, Druuna: The Beginning, released in French on February 16.

This comic provides examples of:

  • Body Horror: A frequent result of the viral plague. Poor, poor Shastar.
  • Book Ends: The (seemingly) final comic references Druuna's near-entirely naked Establishing Character Moment with Druuna finding herself someplace with mountains and rivers.
  • The Bus Came Back: The Doctor and a woman named Terry reappear in the tenth album, Came From The Wind, both having last appeared in the sixth, Aphrodisia.
  • Cloning Blues: In the last album, Clone, Druuna herself is cloned by a group of machines residing on Earth After the End who are trying to understand humanity. The clone discovers the truth by the end, and immediately starts angsting about whether or not she's really human.
  • Distracted by My Own Sexy: In Clone, Druuna emerges from a pool when she notices her reflection in a nearby mirror. She stops to admire herself before making out with her own reflection (metaphorically, note—her reflection doesn't jump out or anything).
  • Dream Apocalypse: In Aphrodisia, a mental clone of Druuna is created by Captain Lewis when she travels into his mind to find a cure for the Viral Transformation. She tries to overwrite the original Druuna and steal her body since she doesn't want to cease existing.
  • Earth All Along:
    • Inverted in the original story, Morbus Gravis. What appears to be planet Earth sometime After the End turns out to be a giant Colony Ship that left Earth centuries ago.
    • The setting of Clone may or may not be Earth, eons after humans have gone extinct on the planet.
    • Inverted again in the (possibly) final story, Came From The Wind. The Doctor's hypothesis is that the setting here is a recreation of Earth within a pocket dimension, populated with either clones or machine-duplicates of humans.
  • Earth Is Young: Discussed in the series. However, while it turns out to be true that Earth is young, it also turn out that It's not really Earth! In the first album, the humans have forgotten that they are aboard a spaceship, and in later albums Druuna keep forgetting that she's trapped in a Dream Within a Dream which is trapped in a telepathic Hive Mind which is trapped inside a crazy computer. The third album starts with the words "In the beginning there was chaos. Then God created the supreme being... first among all creatures: Himself." This turns out to have happened quite recently, but one need to question the concept of "universe" anyway.
  • Fan Disservice: It's mostly about the adventures of the self-confident and driven Druuna...ending up in sci-fi-ish sexual situations. Unfortunately, half the time she's being raped by all sorts of disgusting mutants and monsters.
  • Fanservice: And the other half, she's just a beautiful buxom woman having erotic sex with equally handsome men.
  • Fanservice Pack: Druuna started out as a very beautiful but fairly lithe young woman. Over the course of the series, her figure became increasingly more voluptuous, perhaps because of in-story aging.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: Some of the more elaborate philosophical meanderings of various characters can come across as overwraught attempts to pad out the more action- or sex-focused parts of the comic.
  • Genius Loci: In the third album, the crew of a spaceship runs into an asteroid entirely covered by some sort of organic lifeform, which turns out to be sentient when it variously traps them or gives them free passage to different locations on the asteroid. It turns out to be the city-spaceship that Druuna's people used to live on, and the Virtual Ghost residing in the ship's computer, Captain Lewis, is controlling the organism to allow the visitors to rescue Druuna.
  • Girl of My Dreams: Commander Will starts to have prophetic dreams about Druuna wherein he has passionate sex with her before he actually meets her in real life. It turns out that these visions were sent by the Virtual Ghost protecting Druuna specifically so that the Commander and his crew would rescue her from her centuries-long stasis on an artificial asteroid.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: This and even being raped seems how Druuna finds the wherewithal to endure existing in one nightmarish Crapsack World after another.
  • Gratuitous Latin: Most of the albums in the Druuna series are subtitled with Latin terms: Morbus Gravis, Creatura, Carnivora, Mandrogora, Aphrodisia, and Anima.
  • Hermaphrodite: In Clone, Druuna encounters a bio-robot who is trying to understand human nature through experiments in pain and pleasure. It's somehow able to change into both female and male forms to pleasure Druuna.
  • Homage:
    • Much of Carnivora (see Kill and Replace below) appears to have taken heavy influence from the 1982 film The Thing.
    • In Anima, Druuna flies on a giant bird/pterodactyl-type mount, which seems to homage both the work of French graphic-artist Mbius, and also Taarna, another cult-favorite, erotic sci-fi female-character (itself inspired from Moebius).
    • In Came From The Wind, Druuna encounters Native Americans on horses, making this a Meta-homage and a Call-Back to Paolo Serpieri's own early work creating Western comics.
  • Infinite Supplies: Food, drinkable water, and breathable air never come up as concerns, even though the settings are putrid, decaying "cities", and ships in the vacuum of space.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: The fifth album "Mandrogora" is all about Druuna going inside the dreams of Lewis, whose mind still exists buried deep within the ship's computer, to find the cure to The Virus that he inadvertently brought with him. A lot of these are distorted re-enactments of scenes from her earlier adventures.
  • Kill and Replace: Carnivora revolves around a malevolent Hive Mind lifeform infecting the crew of a ship traveling in deep space and replacing them with replicants that are so real that they forgot that they were even fakes.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The Doctor, who is the writer's Author Avatar, tells Druuna that "if you weren't real, I would have to invent you".
  • Left Hanging: Druuna's ultimate fate is never resolved. The last reliable thing we see of her, she's still trapped inside a dream inside a dead person's mind inside a computer onboard a spaceship adrift in the cosmos. Everything that happens afterwards, including the whole clone story, is probably part of the Lotus-Eater Machine, given how various elements from her past make unexplained reappearances.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: A number of Druuna comics deal with human characters being trapped in a lifelike simulation so real that at some point they forgot that they were even in one to begin with. For example, Druuna is placed inside an endless dream of her old ruined city by the mind of the ship's former captain for centuries after he put her body into stasis until another ship would pick up his distress signal.
  • Man in the Machine: In Morbus Gravis, it is revealed that the entire city is actually a giant spaceship fought over by a malfunctioning A.I. and its former Captain Lewis, who is nothing more than a head floating in a box that is plugged into the ship. Whenever he wants to talk with Druuna, he does assume A Form You Are Comfortable With by projecting an image of his younger, handsome self directly into her mind.
  • Merger of Souls:
    • After the demise of Shastar and Captain Lewis, their spirits continue to live on as a Virtual Ghost, with their minds folded into each other in transient stages of consciousness.
    • The last volume suggests that Druuna's spirit merges with her clone into one being.
  • Mind Screw: The first few albums were reasonably straightforward pulp sci-fi, but as the series went on they became increasingly convoluted. The penultimate one, Anima, is virtually devoid of dialogue and largely runs on Rule of Symbolism, followed by Came From The Wind being on a world inexplicably populated with Native Americans, Spanish Conquistadors, and a few survivors from Commander Will's ship.
  • Naked on Arrival / Naked on Revival / Out-of-Clothes Experience: Constantly with Druuna in every volume.
  • No Dead Body Poops: A variant in the album Mandragora. During her Journey to the Center of the Mind, Druuna has sex with several men at the behest of a mutant tribe who are then killed in the moment of climax. This is because of an old myth about hanged men experiencing the most intense orgasms of their lives.
  • The Plague: The Morbus Gravis is the horrible degenerate mutant version. There's no known cure, although certain medicines can slow down the mutation or temporarily reverse its progress.
  • Prequel:
    • Subverted with the Serpieri-penned album Anima, which is subtitled Origins of Druuna. It features a blonde woman (eventually revealed to be Druuna in disguise) traveling from one Mind Screw situation to another, but because of its highly metaphorical plot it doesn't help the reader understand anything about Druuna's origins.
    • The Druuna: The Beginning trilogy is ostensibly a straight example, showing the collapse of human society before Captain Lewis took his Generation Ship into space.
  • Protagonist Title: Druuna, of course, is the main character. However, in the third album Commander Will can more accurately be described as the viewpoint character.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: In The Forgotten Planet, Druuna runs into a group of Octopoid Aliens who control human corpses to move around. They appear to save her from a bunch of malfunctioning killbots, but actually want to bring her to their Hive Queen so she can suffer a Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Druuna: The Beginning, ostensibly a Prequel to Morbus Gravis, introduces Kartes, Druuna's lover before Shastar.
  • Reset Button Ending: Carnivora concludes with the entire crew of the spaceship having been killed and replaced by clones, minus the Doctor. He saves the ship by piloting it into a mirror dimension where time runs backwards, which somehow resets everything to several months before all the bad things started happening. As a consequence he is the only person with any recollection of what happened, though it's implied that Druuna might have too.
  • Seeker White Blood Cells: A variation in Aphrodisia where Commander Will goes into a Journey to the Center of the Mind to find Druuna, but runs into antibodies which manifest themselves as insectoid monsters crawling out of the ground. He injected himself with a serum that causes them to ignore him at first, but later on it loses its effect and he has to make a break for it.
  • Sex for Services: In Morbus Gravis, the protagonist Druuna has to endure the Sexual Extortion variant: Her boyfriend is very ill, and in her desperation for medication she begs a disgusting old doctor to have sex with her. This doctor reappears in a later album in one of Druuna's fantasies... only now he's an even more disgusting ape-man... thing.
  • Sex Slave: In part 2 of Morbus Gravis, Druuna and a young woman are "rescued" from the wastelands by the fascistic soldiers who police the ruined city. Druuna wakes up in the commander's bed, and after asking him what happened to the girl she was with, is shown evidence that the girl has been forced into sexual slavery. Meanwhile, Druuna herself is offered "protection" by the commander in exchange for sexual services the alternative being death.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: Captain Lewis enjoys psychically having Druuna in virtual recreations of a beach where she emerges naked from the water. This also becomes her favorite place, and she's giddy at finding real beaches in the last volumes.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: In some of the later albums, Druuna spends a lot of time inside the disembodied Hive Mind of Captain Lewis to find a cure for the mutant disease. She eventually discovers that there is no cure, as the disease is tied to the human genome itself. She wakes up with everyone else on board either dead or in hyperstasis in hopes that somebody will save them someday. Druuna chooses to go into an endless dream to forget about it.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sole Survivor: When Captain Will and his crew find her, Druuna is the only survivor of her original starcraft, which was built to sustain thousands. This is because Captain Lewis (who is in love with her) had kept her in stasis while letting the other inhabitants die off.
  • Spoiler Cover: The cover of Anima spoils the last-page reveal that the main character is actually Druuna in a blonde wig.
  • There Is No Cure: Druuna spends much of the comic trying to find a cure for the Morbus Gravis plague that took the life of her lover Shastar and many others, horribly mutating them into barely-sentient monsters. By the end of Aphrodisia, she deciphers a message from the ghost of Captain Lewis that Morbus Gravis cannot be cured. Despondent, she goes back into the dreamworld she just woke up from, praying that someday it will be different.
  • Tomato Surprise: In the first album, Morbus Gravis, Druuna seems to be living in some sort of post-apocalyptic city, but at the end this is revealed to be a massive spaceship that left Earth centuries ago.
  • Transformation Horror: The "Morbus Gravis" is a viral disease that turns people into horrible mutants and has no known cure. Even worse, some people who are affected by it are still completely lucid after the transformation, human souls trapped in a monster's body.
  • Traumatic C-Section: In Carnivora, Druuna has a nightmare where she's heavily pregnant and trying to run away from a bunch of scary monsters before being rescued by a sinister group of Mad Doctors who proceed to cut open her belly.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: Towards the end of the first album, Druuna is rescued from the wastes by a patrol after she loses consciousness, then wakes up in the captain's bed stripped of her clothes. He's intending to make her his concubine, so he'd obviously do this, and also to make her try on lingerie that he kept in storage.
  • Viral Transformation: There are diseases that change people into tentacled monsters. But, this being a Porn with Plot comic, you can probably guess what happens next.