In 1991, the eponymous character of Evil Ernie (a comic written by Brian Pulido for Eternity Comics) encountered a beautiful, pale woman in his delusions. He fell in love with her, and she exhorted him to commit Megadeath, the extermination of every human on Earth, so they could be together. She was Lady Death.
In 1994, Pulido gave her her own title (or more accurately, several limited-series stories, with one flowing into the next) with his own imprint, Chaos! Comics. In this, hers was the epic story of a young woman in Sweden named Hope. Her mother died when she was young; her father, a warlord named Matthias, was callous and brutal, and even consorted with dark powers, which eventually provoked a rebellion from the people. When he escaped by summoning a demon, she was included in the mob's ire, and was burned at the stake. In desperation, she uttered an incantation she'd heard him use, summoning a demon who offered her a bargain: serve the powers of Hell and renounce humanity, and he would spare her from death. She woke up in Hell, in the midst of a civil war between Lucifer himself and her own father. Corrupted by her surroundings, her skin, hair, and eyes turning white, Hope sought allies, at first finding only an exiled blacksmith—one of Hell's finest. In preparation, she set aside entirely her mortal name and self, and declared herself Lady Death, before leading a rebellion against the lords of hell. She rebelled, and defeated Lucifer by casting him through a gate to Heaven, assuming the throne of Hell as Queen of the Damned. Or did she...? In any case, as a last curse, Satan told her she would never be able to return to Earth as long as the living walked. She decided to circumvent this pronouncement, and declared she would exterminate every living thing on Earth if she had to.
In 2001, Chaos! Comics folded. Pulido lost the rights to all of his characters except Lady Death. He licensed Lady Death was picked up by CrossGen Comics, who took the character in a new direction. In Lady Death: A Medieval Tale, an ongoing series, which takes place entirely on Earth, humanity is at war with the Eldritch, who raid and pillage human cities bordering their lands. Though quick and powerful with magic, they are kept back by a relative lack of physical strength and their aversion to Christian iconography. During one raid, a noble (as in high-ranking) Eldritch finds himself intrigued by a human woman, who accepts him for a time. Nine months later, the woman gives birth to a girl, whom she names Hope. As she grows up, strange things happen around her, and one day in the market, a man notices her eyes briefly turn white, looking like those of an Eldritch. Asking her mother, Hope is told of her father. Before much more can be revealed to her, though, the townsfolk, riled up by the man who noticed Hope's eyes earlier, storm their house. Defending her mother, Hope is injured, but the wound heals instantly. Seeing this as proof of her evil, the townsfolk take them to the river and drown them. Soon after, Hope's father arrives, and tries to heal them, but is apparently unsuccessful...yet after he leaves, she is revived, and now her appearance matches that of her father's lineage—pale as death, with hair and eyes to match. Desiring revenge, she attacks the town, but they are too many for her. The intervention of a wandering warrior named Wolfram von Bach saves her, and they leave. After burying Hope's mother, Wolfram begins to teach her all he knows of Eldritch and swordplay alike, and warns her that sooner or later she must choose a side...
When Crossgen folded in 2004, Avatar Press picked up the license, and not only continued CrossGen's take with Medieval Lady Death, but also created a new series that returned the character to her roots. A young woman named Hope was the daughter of Mary and Marius. Marius was a crusader who had a tendency to return from battles without any of his peasant levies, only his most loyal soldiers surviving with him. Hope came to realize the evil that her father was doing, and along with her mother followed him to secret tunnels where they found him summoning dark wraiths, who refer to him as Sagos. Sagos is offering a sacrifice of masses of peasant in exchange for a domain in The Labyrinth, a dark world of the afterlife. When he spots them, Sagos, revealing himself as a being possessing Marius, steals Mary away through a portal, leaving Hope behind. At this point, the peasant rebellion finally catches up, and when they find that Marius has escaped, settle for attempt to execute Hope for his crimes. She utters the incantation Sagos used, and the dark wraiths agree to let her through the portal if she pledges her soul to The Labyrinth. When she passes through, her skin, hair, and eyes become white, the mark of those who willingly go through, and she ends up in a waste called the Blacklands. There she meets a man named Wargoth, who after seeing the natural inclination she now possesses towards magic, agrees to help her in her travels. He also recruits a sorceress named Satasha to teach her, and trains her in battle himself, though every weapon she handles melting due to the uncontrolled magic she possesses slows this process considerably. Over two years, they find that Sagos's army is conquering the Blacklands and turning its denizens to undead, converting them to his cause. They finally track him down, but he is more than a match for all of them, and escapes, leaving them for dead. They survive, and Lady Death not only recovers a sword made for her that can withstand her touch and channel her power through it, but learns great mystic power... and that Sagos not only plans to conquer the Blacklands, not only plans to conquer Earth itself, but has the means to do it.
Relatively little had been done story-wise with the character by Avatar since 2007, though reprints of old stories and new Fanservice books had been published, and in late 2009, it was announced that Lady Death would be changing publishers again, this time to Boundless Comics, a publisher that in fact has been created by the founder of Avatar Press specifically to publish Lady Death (though they aren't against expanding in the future), with another reboot in 2010. In this take, a young thief in medieval Spain named Iladra is attacked by demonic warriors, and from there must find out why... only to learn that she was once the Queen of Hell, her powers, memories, and soul stripped way by a creature calling herself the Death Queen, whom Lady Death knows nothing of, but who seems to have a personal grudge against her. It turns out that it is not a reboot at all, but a continuation of the Avatar story, with the same characters... and that the Death Queen is Hope's mother. After this terrible revelation and gathering most of her powers, Lady Death reunites a rebellion against Death Queen's tyranny. After her victory, she travels to the Void, located at the distant corners of the Underrealm and makes a discovery about her true nature that will change her forever.
Due to issues with Boundless trying to eventually cut Pulido out of the process in working on Lady Death, and after various lawsuits by Pulido, the Avatar/Boundless version of Lady Death ended with the "Lady Death Apocalypse" series in 2015. The character rights were finally given back to Pulido, and the tales and adventures of Lady Death are now being continued with Pulido's new company, Coffin Comics. There was a Kickstarter campaign created, which resulted in the recently released Lady Death Chaos Rules, which sees the return of Lady Death descending back into the depths of Hell itself. While at this point the truth of her background remains a bit of a mystery, we find Lady Death being awakened with altered memories of her past, as these new publications are a follow-up to the Chaos! publication.
The new story sees the return of a few familiar faces from her original Chaos comics run, and of course a brand new sword, Chaos. There is a follow up that is currently in the works, Lady Death Damnation Game.
In the storyline, Lady Death, by edict of Pulido, could suffer setbacks and even defeat, but was not and would never be a victim. The medieval story has her dressed more believably, in black armor and clothing that covers her from the neck down, and was less explicitly violent, but still sold fairly well.
- Abdicate the Throne:
- Satasha, who has become Queen of New Aberffraw in the 2010 series, abdicates her position following a disastrous decision to let rebels inside her kingdom, which lead to their enemies invading, razing it and murdering her queen consort which pushed her through an Despair Event Horizon.
- Following Death Queen's defeat, Lady Death, who is the Underrealm's rightful ruler and technically the usurper's heir, surrenders the throne to her younger sister Tormina.
- Abusive Parents:
- Matthias (Hope's father in the Chaos continuity) was a very cruel man who sacrificed his wife to gain power, was physically and emotionally towards Hope and became her Archnemesis Dad after both of them went to Hell.
- The Death Queen acts extremely dismissive towards her daughter Tormina at best, and downright physically violent at worse. And since she is driven towards destroying everything Lady Death holds dear, one could argue her treatment extends to her as well.
- A God Am I: Several villains do make a godhood claim and they usually have the power to match the heroine's own power.
- Adaptation Distillation: "Kill all humans" was completely removed from this version, playing her as a straight hero. Her father Matthias and Lucifer also were made the same person instead of two characters fighting each others.
- Animated Adaptation: In the form of Lady Death: The Motion Picture, animated by Koreans and distributed by ADV Films.
- Ambiguously Gay: Azlando is heavily implied to be gay when he tells Lady Death that she is "not his type". When she later talks about him with his close friend Salacia, she reveals she has unrequited feelings for him, but knows he doesn't return them. That is all indication we are given about him, as he is not seen with any confirmed lovers.
- Angelic Beauty: Aquiessence◊ in The Rapture was an female angel sent by Heaven to bring the eponymous protagonist to their side by seducing her with her intoxicating scent.
- Archnemesis Dad: Hope's father is not Dad of the Year material, being the one responsible for her current condition in the classic and Avatar continuities. Note that is only that in the original Chaos! comics, whereas in the Avatar continuity, he is shown to be a loving father and husband, and revealed to be under the possession of a demon who killed him and took control of his body to carry out his atrocities.
- Bad Boss: Being a insane ruler, the Death Queen naturally fits this trope. She has no qualms in killing allies being used as shield by enemies or executing her warriors for failing her. When Behemoth fails her too many times, she arranges to have him killed by informing Wargoth of his weak spots. Too bad it does Wargoth no good as Behemoth kills him anyways.
- Big Bad: Lady Death herself served this role in the original Evil Ernie comics, being the driving force behind the eponymous Villain Protagonist. In her own titles, she faced various threats:
- Satan in the classic continuity.
- Sagos in the Avatar comics.
- The Death Queen in the 2010 revival.
- Satyricon for Apocalypse.
- The Blacksmith: In the classic series, Cremator. There was also a mute blacksmith known as the Silent One in the Avatar series, but he wasn't nearly so important.
- Blob Monster: Stigmata, one of the recurring adversaries of Lady Death, had the power to turn herself in liquid blood, was nearly invulnerable and had the power to take control of other people's body by invading them.
- Breakout Character: Lady Death started out as a supporting villainess in Evil Ernie, essentially the Lady Macbeth to its undead Serial Killer protagonist, before getting her own title that also retconned much of her motives and background. Nowadays she's probably far more well-known than Evil Ernie himself.
- Cain and Abel: Sagos and Wargoth are revealed to be brothers, and the former succeeds in murdering the latter (albeit temporarily).
- Continuity Reboot: The character went through many reimagnings as she changed publishers, with each being treated as their own different continuity.
- Crossover: Quite often. The "Nexus of All Things" in hell, through which she searched for an Earth she could go to, made most of them possible.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: In the Avatar Comics, Maklu is the primary deity worshiped in the Blacklands, resembling a demonic version of Buddha. Oddly, he never appears in the story, but its established that he is a benevolent figure.
- Dark Action Girl: Purgatori (a powerful vampire goddess), Stigmata (a Humanoid Abomination who happens to be female) and the Death Queen (God Save Us from the Queen! incarnate), just to name a handful. The list of female villains goes on.
- Despair Event Horizon: Satasha suffers a devastating one in the 2010 revival when her kingdom is assaulted by Death Queen forces looking for the rebels and her wife is murdered in the attack. She abdicates Aberffraw's throne, blames the attack on Wargoth and provides his rival Behemoth with the means to kill him, which he succeeds in doing so.
- Doomed Hometown: Satasha's kingdom is razed several times by the villains.
- The Dragon:
- Cremator to Lady Death in her Villain Protagonist days, not only being her right-hand man, but closest follower and father figure.
- Behemoth for Death Queen as general of her armies. Interestingly, in any other situation he would have been The Brute since Death Queen has General Belial and her daughter Tormina, but the former is in fact The Mole to the good guys and Tormina pulls a HeelFace Turn, leaving Behemoth as the most loyal to her.
- In Apocalypse, Razarac served as one not to Tormina, but to her adviser Satyricos.
- Dressed Like a Dominatrix: Lady Death's outfit consists of black leather thigh-high boots, opera gloves, lingerie adorned with skull emblems, and a cape. She's pretty consistently portrayed with a domineering personality, going from a Lady Macbeth in her first appearances in Evil Ernie to a Dark Action Girl in her own series.
- The End of the World as We Know It: The Megadeath, her plot to kill all life on Earth.
- Easily Forgiven: Despite Satasha providing Behemoth to kill Wargoth in revenge for Fenn's death, Hope never holds her accountable for it. In fact, a evil spirit in form of Wargoth torments Hope for not doing anything about it, indicating that she holds some regret deep down over it.
- Eldritch Location: The Void, located at the far limits of the Underrealm, where demons are believed to have come from. A giant barrier separates the Underrealm from it and once someone crosses it, they are trapped there. From the other side, it looks like a typical fire and brimstone hell with demons that simply don't die.
- Erotic Dream: A dark variation: while inside the Void, Lady Death has a vision where she has sex with Mr. Fanservice Azlando and she wakes up next to his corpse, having killed him with her bare hands.
- Evil Matriarch: The illusive Death Queen who is revealed to be none other than Mary, Lady Death's mother. While she has a sympathetic backstory (see Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds), she is a pretty deplorable mother to her other daughter Tormina.
- Fallen Angel: A few of them become separated from Heaven and end up in Lady Death's service.
- Feudal Overlord: Lady Death's father Matthias/Marius was a textbook example: a brutal nobleman that forcibly conscripted his peasants to fight in the Baltic Crusades (all while secretly dabbling in dark magic and worshiping the devil). His cruelty ended up triggering a uprising that lead to Hope being captured and executed as witch.
- God and Satan Are Both Jerks: While the forces of Heaven have been consistently portrayed as antagonistic towards our main protagonist mainly because of her demonic nature, they are shown to be no better than Hell, as they harvest the souls of mortals who ascend paradise in order to fuel their machine against Lucifer and his demons. God himself appears in Judgment War as a Dirty Old Man who hits on Lady Death and offers to "create the next Messiah" with her, though it turns out that was an illusion by Lucifer.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Lets just say that Death Queen really lives up to her name.
- Go-Go Enslavement: An early subplot, though she manages to escape before anything untoward happens, but included in the art:
- Grand Finale: The Avatar continuity as a whole receives a proper closure with Lady Death: Apocalypse.
- Groin Attack: Lady Death disposes of a burly captain trying to force himself on her by stabbing him in the crotch. Really Tempting Fate there, since he already noted that she successfully fought off similar advances from the rest of his crew during the journey.
- Heroic BSoD:
- When Lady Death finds out pretty much everything after Satan's "death"" was his manipulating her, she suffers this and gets transformed into another creature, Lady Demon.
- Satasha suffers one: first in Lady Death: Cursed when Sagos destroys Aberffraw, kills her father and brother and seemingly vaporizes Hope, as she loses the will to live and would have allowed Sagos' monsters to kill her if not for some allies' timely rescue.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Several villains tried to pulls this on Lady Death many, many times. But due to creator's edict, they never got away too far:
- Satan suspended Hope on chains and tried to break her will and reduce her into his bride, but she broke away free and slayed him (again).
- When she was restored to life and returned to Earth in Alive, she ran into a villain that turned women into his mindless Sex Slaves with his branding iron and attempted to do the same with her. She instead branded him with his own weapon.
- Hope is not the only one who is a victim of this too; her mother Marion was kidnapped by Sagos in Abandon All Hope after he became fond of her while masquerading as her husband.
- Incompatible Orientation: A couple of examples:
- Insane Troll Logic: Satasha gets hit with this pretty badly in the 2010 revival when she blames Wargoth for the attack on Aberffraw by Death Queen's forces which lead to her wife's death. Her reasoning is that if she hasn't allowed Wargoth and his allies (who are fugitives from Death Queen) inside the city, none of this would have happened - but to her credit, she admits having as much fault for letting them in the first place. Regardless, her hatred for him is so intense that she provides Behemoth with a crystal capable of destroying Wargoth which he succeeds.
- Intercontinuity Crossover: With Top Cow, among others.
- Interplay of Sex and Violence: Perhaps the whole point of Lady Death, and by extension a lot of other "bad girl" comic characters. A Dark Action Girl Ms. Fanservice character, pale as a corpse and dressed in leather fetish gear, hacking up demons and other monsters by the dozens every other issue. The covers will usually make this extra blatant by showing her in a pin-up pose on top of a pile of skulls.
- The Legions of Hell: Since the comics are set mostly in Hell, demonic invaders play a role either as LD's servants or enemies.
- Light Is Not Good: The angels are hardly better than the demons. And then there is the eponymous character herself...
- Lipstick Lesbian: Satasha is every bit the Ms. Fanservice as Lady Death, and is revealed in the 2010 revival to be in relationship with a woman called Fenn. Sadly, her girlfriend is killed by one of Death Queen's monsters, as soon as she is introduced.
- Looks Like She Is Enjoying It: More than a few parts where she was in trouble were drawn like something else entirely, such as one scene where she was very sick, lying naked on a bed with red silk sheets, sweating and groaning as her muscles apparently underwent uncontrollable "painful" spasms...
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Death Queen is Lady Death's mother.
- Magical Land: The Labyrinth in the Avatar Comics is a Dark Fantasy realm where Hope is sentenced to by the Specters after making a deal with them. It's populated by human residents and demons, though sometimes individuals from our world end up there as non-human or monstruous like Sagos or Stigmata.
- Male Gaze: ...have you been paying attention to this page at all?
- Malevolent Masked Woman: The Death Queen wears a white mask with a permanent grim to obscure her identity as Hope's mother.
- Nipple and Dimed: Even in the few treatments where other female characters showed it, Lady Death herself has never been completely exposed.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Barring the main protagonist in her Villain Protagonist days, several villains were inclined towards this trope.
- Sagos who planned to wipe the Blacklands of all life, using it as sacrifice to gain his own domain in Hell.
- The Death Queen wanted to use an infernal device that would kill everyone in the Underrealm except for her followers, who were branded with her protection.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Behemoth so entitled towards killing Wargoth that he strangles a monster that swallowed his rival whole and forces it to spit him so he can kill him himself.
- Pirate Girl: In the aptly named Lady Death: Pirate Queen one-shot comic, she is re-imagined as captain of her own pirate ship called "The Requiem", crewed by both humans and zombies and yes, she also spoke with the distinctive accent. While published under the Avatar print, its not canon with any other stories and takes place in its own self-contained continuity.
- Ninja Pirate Robot Zombie: As a result, she also doubled as an female undead pirate necromancer.
- Psycho Lesbian: Purgatori, one of Lady Death's many enemies during the Chaos! days, contemplates her seduction when she's not plotting her destruction.
- Replacement Goldfish: While not brought up, but one reader can notice that Evil Ernie bears an uncanny semblance to Hope's first boyfriend Niccolo. This is one of the reasons why Lady Death chose him as his lover.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: One member of the resistance betrays them to the Death Queen revealing where is their hideout. She executes him almost immediately as one of her advisers put it "today's opportunist is tomorrow's traitor".
- Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: What few truly heroic characters there were usually adhered to the trope, while Lady Death herself is pretty typical of how much fabric most villains wore.
- Sexy Scandinavian: In the original comics, the main protagonist and her half-sister Vandala◊ originated from Medieval Sweden and they embodied the "tall, blonde and beautiful" stereotype of Swedish women.
- Shopping Montage: Used when she arrives in the modern world and has to blend in.
- Smells Sexy: In Rapture, Heaven tries to get her on their side, so they send Aquiessence, an angel whose scent is intoxicating. A female angel by the way.
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Wargoth, Lady Death's mentor in the Avatar Press comics. He pledged himself to teach her how survive in the Blacklands, but he makes it clear that he decides how to do it and it often involves putting Hope against great dangers without warning that would likely kill anybody else. One particular asshole example: in order to acquire an Infinity +1 Sword held by a local king, he arranged to sell Hope and Satasha as concubines to him, placing them in a very degrading situation with the possibility of them getting raped. When they succeed in fighting them off, its revealed Wargoth and the king were working together the whole time and have set up the whole situation as a test for Hope. She was most definitely not amused when she found out.
- The Eldritch in Medieval Lady Death pays homage to Elric of Melniboné, being an entire race based on him down to being albinos.
- To Hellraiser; in the Avatar Press continuity, the story takes place in a dark world of the afterlife called "The Labyrinth" named after the Cenobites' home dimension of the same name. Though rather than humanoid abominations in bondage gear, its governed by a sect of demonic wraiths that act the same way and can turn humans into undead beings, such as the main protagonist who could arguably qualify as an Cenobite expy herself.
- Waterfall Shower: Very frequently depicted this in the cover art, and sometimes in the storyline.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Death Queen in spades. Originally Hope's mother Marion, she was kidnapped, raped and tortured by demons for years, until she had resurfaced as a powerful witch with the intent to take over the Underrealm and gets revenge on the people she felt had abandoned her to her grievous fate.
- World of Buxom: Its pretty hard to find a female character that isn't below D-cup in this series. Their number could be counted in one hand.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: The Void does this to whoever crosses it. When Hope enters the Void, it looks like the typical fire and brimstone Hell and its discovered her powers don't work there and the enemies don't die. Then she is subjected to several different visions, including relieving the moment of her death and facing the ghosts of her fallen allies. An entity that lives there called "Agony" reveals that everything around her is molded by her mind - even her two allies who accompanied her and seemingly died along the way are revealed to be visions as well, having died the moment they crossed the portal.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Several different variants of this trope are found in this series.
- Lady Death raises an army of dead warriors from across the ages to fight against both demons and angels in The Rapture.
- Sagos raises an undead army out of the enemies he had killed and increases their number each of his conquests.
- Apocalypse features a more common kind with the blood-fever zombies that spread their infection through bites. Only humans are affected by it and they turn almost instantly.
Statler: Y'know, at our age, jokin' about The Grim Reaper probably isn't a good idea...
Waldorf: Huh. Ya got a point there. Guess it's not that bright to tempt Death.
Statler: ...of course, I might not mind if it was her!