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Say you want a revolution?

"I'm too cool to kill."
"Bojemoi!"
"Diavolo!"
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In the year of the Tsar 2666 AD, Imperial Russia once again entered a time of troubles. The rule of Vladimir the conqueror, Tsar of all the Russias, had been unopposed for five decades. Now it was being challenged by the house of Romanov, the most powerful imperial dynasty beside the Tsar's own.

Warfare on such a scale had not been contemplated since the last revolution, from which the Mafiya clans rose to power. On the ashes of that conflict, they founded a new empire based upon the underworld principles of the ancient Vorovskoi Mir- the Thieves world.

In such a world, a single man could rise to prominence if he was a fool and an adventurer, a gambling man whose only stake was his life. Of course, this could only happen if he survived long enough and didn’t get his throat slit in the boudoir of some lady of dubious morals first…

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Nikolai Dante is the eponymous hero of a comics series published in the weekly British science fiction anthology 2000 AD. Created by writer Robbie Morrison and artist Simon Fraser, Dante first appeared in 1997. Fraser was the primary artist for the first three years of the series, with support from artists such as Charlie Adlard, Henry Flint, Chris Weston and Andy Clarke. From 2000 the majority of the stories were painted by John Burns, until Fraser returned to the character in October 2006, when the two artists began to alternate on different stories. The current stories as of early 2012 have been confirmed by Word of God as the last arc of the series; with Sympathy for the Devil being its last story, though a story set during the strip's early days was published in 2017 and a Spin-Off is reportedly in the works.

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Set in the twenty-seventh century after a resurgent Imperial Russia has seized absolute control of both the entire Earth and an interstellar domain, the series follows Dante, a swashbuckling young thief and ladies' man, as he discovers he is an illegitimate scion of the Romanov Dynasty, aristocratic rivals to the Tsar, Vladimir the Conqueror of the House of Makarov.


Nikolai Dante provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Several. Jena Makarov and Elena Kurakin stand out with both being capable swordfighters who fight hard in wars and revolutions.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Tsar Vladimir is this vis-a-vis Dimitri Romanov. Both are horribly casual about casualties and generally regard their underlings as tools to be used and discarded, but Vladimir loves at least some people genuinely and would never even consider hurting them, and was himself considered a hero at some point; Dimitri, on the other hand, not so much.
  • Amazon Brigade:
    • Katarina Dante's pirate crew and Monique le Fanu's Vampires
    • And the army of the nation of Amazonia.
  • Anachronism Stew: Nikolai's universe is apparently a combination of the far future and some part of pre-World War I. Alien shapeshifters and cyberorganic technology coexist alongside concubines and duels to the death.
  • Ancestral Weapon:
  • And I Must Scream: Poor, poor Valentine. His Flawed Prototype Weapons Crest has left him massively scarred and in constant pain, which has turned him into an Omnicidal Maniac. When he links the Dark Star to his Crest and is shot with it, he ends up fused with it, turning him into a localised singularity.
    • Konstantin is placed in a stasis tank with Lulu's cyberdemons and his crest deactivated just to keep him in perpetual agony.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Dmitri/Arkady and Jena. And Nikolai has to watch the ceremony.
  • Animal Motif: The Romanovs have the hawk/eagle and the Makarovs have the raven.
  • Anti-Villain: The Tsar of all people qualifies. He was once the hero of his own revolution but became worse than his predecessor. However, he never truly ever stopped loving Jocasta Romanov and constantly asks her to be together again. After he falls from power, he becomes an almost pitiable individual, especially after the death of Jocasta, which he weeps at.
  • Anyone Can Die: And boy do they....
    • Major characters include Andreas Romanov, Count Pyre, Nastasia Romanov, Arkady Romanov, Jocasta Romanov, Nikolai's crest, Dmitri Romanov, Katarina Dante, Konstantin Romanov, & Vladimir Makarov, while supporting and recurring characters include the Grozny Gang (Boris, Foma "the Coma", & Ursa), Marguerite Dumas, Akita Sagawa, The Kraken, Khara, Madame Di Giorgi, Lauren Stone, Papa Yeltsin, Galya Romanov, & Lord Peter Flintlock
    • Only three minor characters had deaths which made a lasting impact, emotional or otherwise, on the series; Eloise de Janissaire in "The Great Game", Julianna Makarov in "The Courtship of Jena Makarov", and Major Liberty in "Amerika"
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The aristocracy tortures, starves and kills the poor, often for their own amusement.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: Trope Namer.
  • As Lethal as It Needs to Be: Nikolai Dante's Huntsman 5000 rifle is like this. It fires the optimum ammunition to eliminate its target at any time, but Nikolai's used it to shoot to wound on occasion.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Amazonia's genetic engineering programme has bred a fifty foot woman named Titania who Nikolai ends up duelling.
  • Avenging the Villain
  • Awesome, but Impractical: When Major Liberty was first created by the American government in the 21st century, he was genetically enhanced to become a Super Soldier. However, the sheer cost of the gene therapy meant that they couldn't actually risk him getting killed in combat, so he was used for propaganda purposes instead.
  • Back from the Dead: Examples of this are Lulu, Konstantine, Dmitri and Viktor.
  • Badass Beard: Several characters, notably Nikolai and The Tsar.
  • Badass Boast:
    • The Tsar tells Dmitri, "You may have been born to rule, but I was born to conquer."
    • Nikolai often claims that he can outfight, outdrink and outshag any man, woman or alien in the empire.
  • Badass Normal: A fair few, but notably Dante himself after he is stripped of his crest by Dimitri Romanov.
  • Badass Princess: Jena Makarov is a skilled swordswoman, having trained under a Master Swordsman in her youth. She's probably better with a sword than Nikolai, but since he's a Combat Pragmatist with a cyberoganic battle computer any time they have squared off, he's got an edge. Still, Jena gets a fearsome reputation on the battlefield both during the Tsar Wars and later during the revolution against her own father.
  • Bad Liar: As he's dying, Andreas Romanov asks Elena Kurakin if the people he's tried to save made it. She tells that they did, but Andreas knows she's lying. He tells her that she's a bad liar and that he would have loved her for that.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: Two major examples.
    • During "Thieves' World", Dante is standing over Papa Yeltsin after a parlay-turned-battle and fires his gun, implying that he killed him. It's revealed a few episodes later that Nikolai fired into a fairground statue and struck a deal with Papa against the Countessa DeWinter.
    • Elizabeth Hawksmoore gives the order to her Power Armor clad Mooks to kill Dante and Odessa, two of them turn their guns on the others. The two turn out to be Spatchcock and Flintlock in disguise.
  • Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: Gender flipped. Akita Sagawa orders for Nikolai to be washed and shaved before being brought before her so she can have sex with him.
  • Batman Gambit: Nikolai is fond of these when he isn't using the Indy Ploy. For example, for his duel with Konstantin, he uses the same nanovirus used to previously disable his own crest, fights dirty when Konstantin attempts to fight him with more conventional methods, then shoots him in the back. On top of this, he manages to refill the Imperial coffers by taking what was left and betting on himself to win.
  • Bearded Lady: All members of the Devil's Martyrs, a cult devoted to Rasputin, must all sport beards, women included. In Russia's Greatest Love Machine, Nikolai is shown to be reluctant to sleep with Lady Eudoxia Looshin because of this until his Weapons Crest taunts him for being insecure about his sexuality at which point he goes straight to the deed after inadvertently snogging her butler.
  • Berserk Button: For Nikolai, when Konstantine mentions that he started the war. Plus when the Tsar nukes Amerika off the map after Nikolai promised to save the city
    • Generally, slaughtering of innocents and abuse of those outside the aristocracy is a good way to piss Nikolai off.
    • When the Imperial Palace is attacked and Jena is injured and almost kidnapped, Nikolai slaughters the perpetrators. You don't hurt someone Nikolai cares about.
    • Slavery is this for Katerina Dante. Mostly because she was born on a slave ship and her own mother died in childbirth while standing up.
    • Early on, when Dmitri tells Nikolai the circumstances behind his birth, Nikolai's response is to attempt to kill him.
  • Best Served Cold:
    • Dmitri waits for several years inside the body of Arkady before making his move on the Tsar and does so when Nikolai has done all the legwork.
    • Nikolai attempts this trope when appointed as Sword Of The Tsar. While working for Vladimir, he starts building up contacts, funding, and his Army of Thieves and Whores in secret in order to undertake another revolution. Unfortunately, when the Tsar nukes New York off the map, Nikolai loses it and attempts to assassinate Vlad.
  • Betty and Veronica: Lauren Stone, the Veronica, is a more consistently Fanservicey character due to the fact that she wears hot pants and Dangerously Short Skirts to show off her pins, while Jena as the Betty, naked appearances aside, dresses more conservatively as befitting a princess. The pair of them come to blows in "How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life" over Nikolai.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: The major ones has always been his more personnel foes, consisting of his father, Lord Dmitri Romanov, half-brother, Konstantin and the Tsar Vladimir "the Conqueror" Makarov. Initial foe Count Pyre and arc villain Sir Richard Hawksmoore from "The Courtship of Jena Makarov" have also made an impact on him in some way, while the White Army & their agents are the Greater scope villains of the series and the Arbatov family are almost always seen as a universal joke by Dante and his allies.
  • Big Damn Kiss: When Nikolai proposes the Jena, she asks why. Nikolai's response is a kiss.
    Jena Makarov: Good answer.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Romanovs, thanks to their history, are some of the most ruthless killers in the empire with a variety of personal issues and quirks.
    • Dmitri and Jocasta were kidnapped by the previous Tsar at a young age and kept as hostages along with Vlad. When Ivan attempted to take Jocasta by force, the trio escaped and started a revolution when Ivan had their families slaughtered. Dmitri became cold and ruthless, craving power at any cost, while Jocasta became increasingly withdrawn, especially when Dmitri forced her to have his children through a cloning programme.
    • Valentine, as the eldest Romanov sibling, was the first to bear the Romanov Weapons Crest. Unfortunately, his was a Flawed Prototype that gave him the abilities of a Crest user without the Healing Factor. The process drove him insane and caused him to become an Omnicidal Maniac.
    • Konstantin has something of an Oedipus Complex, since he asks that all seductresses sent to him take on the name Jocasta while he has sex with them. He also has a Cain and Abel relationship with Nikolai.
    • Andreas is a serial gambler, adventurer, and womaniser not unlike Nikolai. His exploits have essentially brought embarrassment to the house of Romanov. As such, he's considered the black sheep of the family. He's also the only one to stand by Nikolai to defend Rudinshtein at the end of the war.
    • Lulu is a vampish Dominatrix who takes control of the Cadre Infernale by murdering one of its members and placing the blame on Camilla Le Fanu, while also making it look like Camilla was framing Nikolai. She also possibly has incestuous feelings towards Nikolai, judging by her goodbye kiss to him. She has driven countless lovers to the verge of suicide and insanity.
    • Aleksandr and Aleksandra are so in love with each other that their main abilities are to merge into a single being.
    • Nastasia is a Narcissist who habitually kills anyone less admiring of her own looks than she is. She also kills an ex-boyfriend because he broke up with her before she could finish with him herself.
    • Viktor tends to keep to himself, living in a loft at the top of the Winter Palace and doesn't speak until the final episode. He's utterly broken when Dmitri kills his peasant wife.
    • Arkady is Dmitri's youngest and favourite son. Because Nikolai got the Weapons Crest intended for him, he and Nikolai share a mutual dislike. Dmitri transfers his own Crest and consciousness over to Arkady at the end of the war.
    • Finally, of course, there's Nikolai Dante, the bastard of the family. Conceived when Dmitri raped Katarina Dante, Nikolai was later abandoned by her at a convent when he began to remind her too much of her rapist. Nikolai escaped, burning the convent down, and went on to become a thief and adventurer. As such, he has issues with both of his parents, but at least manages to patch things up with his mother down the line. Most of the Romanovs merely tolerate him at best and are outright hostile to him at worst.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Nikolai's Weapons Crest allows him to create bio blades from his hands, meaning that he's never unarmed unless his Crest is deactivated or destroyed. White Army Reivers, Valentine Romanov, Andreas Romanov, and Dmitri/Arkady also have this ability, with Andreas being capable of throwing his at variable lengths, reputed to have once decapitated 27 men with one blade.
  • Blood Bath: The High Priestess of the Cadre Infernale, Camilla Le Fanu, took these to rejuvenate her youth and beauty. See Also: Kill the Poor.
  • Blood Knight: Many, but Elena Kurakin stands out.
  • Body Horror: Valentine Romanov's crest has left him physically scarred and mentally deranged.
  • Bond, James Bond: Nikolai tends to introduce himself as "Dante, Nikolai Dante" in as over the top a manner as he can.
  • Book-Ends:
    • Nikolai's Captain Morgan Pose from the start of the first installment is repeated at the very end, as well as the opening blurb.
    • There are two stories titled "Love And War"; One is the epilogue to "The Courtship Of Jena Makarov" that also serves as the prologue to "Tsar Wars" and the other is Book Two of "Tsar Wars" itself. They both end similarly with Jena walking away from Nikolai and a closeup of a jaded Nikolai, though the circumstances are different. In the former, they had sex. In the latter, they duelled.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Jena starts using Nikolai's exclamations of shock like "Fuoco" and "Diavolo". Nikolai lampshades it asking her to use her own curse words.
  • Bounty Hunter: Since Nikolai ends up as the most wanted man in the empire on several occasions, there's always someone looking to claim the ridiculous bounty on his head. Most notable of these is Drago "The Decapitator" Krasny, who not only always decapitates his bounties, but is also not above killing other bounty hunters just to claim the bounties they are escorting as well.
  • Brought Down to Normal: In "A Farewell to Arms", Nikolai's crest is destroyed, forcing him to fight as a mundane for the rest of the comic.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Arbatov family are an entire clan of Butt Monkeys. Every one of them has some misfortune happen to them upon meeting Nikolai.
  • Cain and Abel: Nikolai has always had friction with most of his Romanov siblings due to his ancestry. Most of them do come to accept him apart from Konstantin. Over the years they come to blows and it begins to come to a head during the war when Nikolai literally stabs Konstantin In the Back.
  • The Captain: Nikolai is commissioned as a captain in the Imperial Raven Corps at the beginning of the story. He maintains the rank throughout the strip after he joins the Romanovs.
  • Captain Ersatz: Janus Stark, Catwoman, Crusher Creel, Luther Arkwright, Captain America, Sláine, Wonder Woman and Sinister Dexter all appear fairly thinly veiled.
  • Carpet of Virility: Nikolai is depicted as having a manly chest rug, except when drawn by John Burns or Steve Yeowell.
  • The Casanova: Nikolai has women pretty much throw themselves at him. His Establishing Character Moment even depicts him having sex.
  • Catch-Phrase: Nikolai has several:
    • "Heroes/Honour be damned" tends be used when someone calls him a hero or tells him to act with honour.
    • "I'm too cool to kill" is something of a Badass Boast when someone threatens him.
    • He tends to introduce himself either as "The name's Dante. Nikolai Dante" or "Dante's the name, X is the game."
    • "Fuoco", "Diavolo" and "Bojemoi" are generally exclamations of surprise, though "Bojemoi" gets phased out after "The Courtship of Jena Makarov".
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Spatchcock and Flintlock finally manage to get a way out of trouble that Elena Kurakin sets up for them before the final battle. When they get to the edge of the battlefield, they actually feel remorse for running out and actually go back to help Elena against Elizabeth Hawksmoore. This uncharacteristic act of bravery costs Flintlock his life.
  • Chekhov's Gun: At the beginning of the series Nikolai promised that he would raise an army of thieves and whores to crush the Tsar. Something which happened in the series nearly 13 years later.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • The Countessa de Wynter manages to manipulate everybody in order to further her schemes.
    • Dmitri Romanov, upon losing the war, manages to hide within Arkady so he can worm his way into command of the Scarlet Wraiths and take control of the empire from Nikolai and Jena after they've done all the legwork against Vlad.
  • Child by Rape: After Katarina tries to steal some treasure from Dmitri that she had already stolen for him, he feels that he "has to break her." Nikolai is the result of this. When told that he wasn't conceived out of love, he tries to cut Dmitri's head off.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: In spite of being known lothario, Nikolai will not take a peasant girl simply because it's his right as a nobleman. During "The Courtship Of Jena Makarov", he refuses to sleep with Julianna Makarov because of his feelings for Jena.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:
    • The Countessa De Wynter will get various people to help her with heists and then try and have them killed.
    • The Romanovs are expected to be utterly ruthless. Dmitri encourages this, but has a safeguard in having the ability to override all of the Weapons Crests.
    • The Tsar pretty much encourages the other noble houses to backstab each other. If they're too busy squabbling amongst each other, they can't put up a united front to challenge his rule
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Henry Windsor-McKray, King of Britannia. He's the only monarch in history to have retained power by pleading insanity.
    • As Nikolai points out, while His Royal Highness is pants-on-his-head mad, he has nothing on real maniacs like the Tsar and Dmitri Romanov.
  • Character Development: The entire saga sees Nikolai go from devil may care wandering thief to jaded leader of an eventually successful revolution. Two major events shape his character during this time: The death of his wife, Eloise de Jannisaire, makes him more introspective and mourning and the war between the Romanov and Makarov dynasties turns him into a hardened killer.
  • Church Militant: The Church Of Skopsky are a fundamentalist sect that violently oppose anything they see as sinful. Naturally, Nikolai is a natural example of everything they oppose. Male members wear harnesses that send an electric shock to their genitals should they think impure thoughts and their own Amazon Brigade of Flagellators are essentially nuns in fetishy outfits, carrying whips, who are, ironically, responsible for more impure thoughts than they could ever hope to expunge.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The House of Makarov has purple as its Imperial colours, while the House of Romanov prefers red.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Nikolai is frequently described as the dirtiest fighter in the empire.
  • Cool Airship: The Imperial Palace is a literal flying fortress, bristling with BFGs, Strikehawk squadrons, and missile batteries, including nukes, but also including living quarters, the Tsar's court and dungeons, and plenty of troops. It also makes assassination attempts against the Tsar extremely difficult because any would-be assassin would need an aircraft, or at least a jetpack to both get on board and escape. Escaping from the damn thing is extremely difficult, with only two people ever being successful, one of whom was rendered comatose for twenty five years as a result and the other being Nikolai Dante. It's not known if it's spaceworthy, because the sheer size of the thing would probably be impossible to accelerate to the velocity required to escape the Earth's atmosphere.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Papa Yeltsin frequently drowns people in vodka.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Sure, Tsarist Russia has a vast empire and imposes its own brand of law & order within its domain BUT in doing so the media is now under the control of a corrupt & uncaring aristocracy, Mongolia has since descended into brutal warlord-ism, America is now a third world nation, Vampires exist and serve as the Tsar's elite assassins, the Yakuza are fighting for supremacy in the Pacific against both the Kraken's forces & Katarina Dante's pirates, and the Romanovs are currently jockeying for supremacy of the empire, which by the start of the series, have been engaged in a Deal with the Devil scenario with the remnants of an inter-dimensional superpower in return for highly advanced "Weapons Crests". The Tsar reinstates the practice of serfdom and spins it as a good thing.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Despite their extreme cowardice and their reputation as the worst soldiers in the empire, Spatchcock and Flintlock manage to survive two revolutions and even save both Dante and Elena on different occasions. Even during the final battle against the Imperial army, they charge into the battle and distract Elizabeth Hawksmoore long enough for Elena to stick a grenade onto her.
  • Cruel Mercy: Vladimir Makarov and Dmitri Romanov duelled for the title of Tsar at the end of their revolution. When Vlad won, he spared Dmitri's life so he would have to live with the shame of defeat.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: The conflict between the Red Guard and the White Army is over preserving organic existence versus abandoning humanity in favour of cybernetics. The White Army is much more powerful and has essentially wiped out the Red Guard. Even Khara, who gave Nikolai the Huntsman 5000, has been assimilated by the time she returns in Sword Of The Tsar.
  • Cyborg: The Romanovs all have cybernetic implants giving them various abilities. Nikolai's gives him cyber blades, computer hacking abilities and a limited Healing Factor.
  • Darker and Edgier: While "The Great Game" is where the strip starts to get serious, the "Tsar Wars" arc is notable for killing characters off and changing everything forever.
  • Dating Catwoman: Akita Sagawa is essentially the Big Bad for the Hell And High Water arc. Doesn't stop Nikolai from sleeping with her.
  • A Day in the Limelight: In addition to the stories where Nikolai is paired off with each of his siblings, there are two storylines set from the point of view of other characters. "The Tsar's Daughter" focuses on Jena learning the truth about her mother's death and "Lulu's War" deals with Lulu facing opposition from within her own Cadre Infernale and Monique Le Fanu and her vampires.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Nikolai's Weapons Crest never wastes an opportunity to insult Dante for his impetuous actions, often quipping about the situation he's stumbled into.
  • Decapitated Army: Discussed. During the meeting between Jocasta and Vladimir at Archangel, Nikolai corrects Jocasta when she states that the war will not end that day. Nikolai puts a blade to Vlad's throat, only for Vlad to point out that killing him would only drive Jena to continue the war and have another reason to hate Nikolai.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Lulu.
  • Destructo-Nookie: Nikolai and Jena destroy the supports of a shack when they start slapping each other around before they have sex.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Konstantin is periodically sent seductresses (and whatever their Spear Counterpart is called) to his fortress of Castle Kronstadt as "a passing amusement". He always incinerates them after doing the deed to preserve his secret identity as the Lord Protector.
  • Dominatrix:
    • Lulu has a domineering personality and both the men and women of the Cadre Infernale line up to be humiliated by her. One guy is shown being picked at by her cyberswarm and is ordered to clean the toilets with his tongue.
    • Spatchcock tells Elena Kurakin that she'd be good at this. She's not amused.
  • Do Not Call Me Eugenia: Jena's full name in Eugenia Vladimirovna Makarova. Simon Fraser asked a Russian friend to help him come up with a suitably pompous sounding name for her for Nikolai to make fun of. It took him until "Sword Of The Tsar" to convince Robbie Morrison to use it.
  • The Dragon: Count Pyre starts out as Lord Protector until Dante kills him during the war. Konstantin is appointed Lord Protector in his place. Elizabeth Hawksmoores becomes Arkady /Dmitri's dragon later on. Nikolai himself becomes a Dragon with an Agenda / The Starscream when the Tsar recruits him as "Sword of the Tsar."
  • Dragon Their Feet: Major Elizabeth Hawksmoore and Konstantin Romanov outlive their master, Dmitri Romanov.
  • Elite Mooks: The Raven Corps.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: The Romanov weapons crests give their users a wide range of abilities beyond the level of normal humans. Nikolai's bio-blades and reduced Healing Factor compared to his siblings are on the lower end of the scale with Konstantine's fusion powers and Dmitri's crest's ability to override all the other crests being the most powerful.
  • Enemy Civil War: One breaks out around halfway through the series, between House Romanovnote  and House Makarovnote . It ends badly for House Romanov.
  • Enemy Mine: During "The Great Game", the houses of Romanov and Makarov join together when Valentine threatens to destroy Earth with the Dark Star. Dmitri even tells Vladimir that even though The Great Game is at an end, at least they had played with style.
  • Evil vs. Evil: The war between the Romanov and Makarov dynasties can be seen as this with Nikolai and Jena as their respective Token Good Team Mates.
  • Expy: Dante is essentially a combination of Errol Flynn's portrayal of Robin Hood and Flynn himself.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Katarine Dante. Although which eye depends on the artist.
  • Fake Defector: Lulu delivers Nikolai as a Trojan Prisoner in order to get him into the Imperial Palace to stop the wedding between Jena and Dmitri.
  • Fallen Hero:
    • The Tsar tells Nikolai that he used to be called a hero when he deposed his predecessor. Unfortunately, Power Corrupts and he became more ruthless than the man he deposed.
    • Sir Richard Hawksmoore was once a respected knight but the Tsar betrayed him and he became nothing more than a mercenary with an obsession with Jena.
  • Fanservice: The series is full of it, particularly in its early days. In fact, the opening scene features Nikolai having sex with a seductress.
  • A Father to His Men: Nikolai is the only member of the Romanov dynasty to show any kind of respect to his soldiers. Even a hardened bunch of criminals like the Grozny gang come to respect him when he fights alongside them.
  • Feuding Families: The Romanovs and Makarovs have been this way since the last revolution. Dmitri believed that, as a Romanov, being Tsar was his birthright and challenged Vladimir's claim to the throne. After their duel, Vlad let Dmitri live just to humiliate him and they spent the next half a century in a Space Cold War. Jocasta chose family over her romance with Vlad.
  • Femme Fatale: Lulu Romanov seduces people and does horrible things to them either for personal gain or for her own amusement.
  • Field Promotion: Nikolai promotes Elena Kurakin to Sergeant when she helps him subdue the Grozny gang.
  • Flawed Prototype: Valentine's crest was the first to be developed for human use. As a result, the Healing Factor is absent and he is massively scarred, both physically and mentally.
  • Flayed Alive: The first Arbatov that Nikolai comes across is skinned by the Tsar for seeking the services of a seductress while courting Jena Makarov. The Tsar tells him that if the skin grows back, it will prove his innocence.
  • Gayngster: Papa Yeltsin is fairly open about his sexuality. He's apparently even tried it on with Nikolai, who went along with it long enough to rob him.
  • Gentleman Thief: While Nikolai is recovering from his wounds suffered in a duel with Lazarev in Rudenshtein, he runs up an extravagant bill in a massive hotel. When informed that he would be forced to bankrupt Rudenshtein in order to pay his bill, Nikolai resorts to robbing other hotel guests as a masked highwayman, which gives him not only the reputation, but also the moniker of The Gentleman Thief. Of course, he uses this opportunity to steal kisses from women as well as money, although this leads to a situation where he is forced to have sex with an Abhorrent Admirer.
  • Glove Slap: Subverted in an early story. Captain Arbatov does this to Nikolai to challenge him to a duel. Nikolai simply responds by kicking him in the balls.
    Jena: He was challenging you to a duel.
    Nikolai: Well, he lost.
  • Glorious Mother Russia: A somewhat twisted take on this trope, but the resurgent Russian Empire is not only a land of adventure. But also encompasses the entire planet by the the time the series takes place.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Akita Sagawa notes that the Tsar is "all take" in the bedroom. Konstantin is unable to orgasm. Nikolai, on the other hand, is a classic Sex God.
  • Go-to Alias: Dante tends to use the name Quentin Durward when he needs to go undercover. It never seems to hold for long.
  • Gratuitous Russian: Given how most characters are actually Russian, it's justified.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Alexandr and Alexandra Romanov. See Also: Twincest.
  • Healing Factor: The weapons crests given to members of the family Romanov allows them to heal injuries in seconds. It takes immense firepower, another crest user or the Huntsman 5000 to so much as cause any lasting damage to them. Downplayed with Nikolai's crest. He heals slower (though much quicker than any normal human) than his siblings due to his not being a purebred member of the house of Romanov. Averted with Valentine, whose prototype weapons crest harms him every time he uses it.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: When Nikolai is (briefly) commissioned in the Raven Corps, he disdains wearing their signature helmet. One of the ravens sent with him and Jena to investigate a crashed ship calls him out on this.
  • The Hero: Nikolai has no less than three nicknames that have "Hero" in the title. He becomes known as the Hero of Rudinshtein when he kills the previous governor who was torturing and generally slaughtering the populace. The Hero of the Romanovs is a name given to him during the civil war because he's the Token Good Team Mate of the Romanov army. Finally, he becomes the Hero of the Revolution when he leads a revolution of his own against the Tsar.
  • Heroic Bastard: Nikolai is the son of the head of an imperial dynasty and a pirate queen. By rape.
  • Heroic BSoD: Nikolai has a major breakdown after Dmitri destroys his crest. He hides out in an abandoned tavern, drinking the remains of its cellar. He recovers after his mother tells him that she disowns him.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The Tsar reveals himself to have become this, even quoting the Trope Namer word for word. He advises Nikolai to do the same to maintain power.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: In "The Great Game," when a spy suggests to Jena Makarov the existence of a superweapon that the Makarov Dynasty does not know about as a means of raising his "bargaining power," Jena responds by hanging the spy over a high balcony by his nostrils and demanding he tell her everything he knows about the weapon or be dropped. The spy is killed by intervening assassination droids shortly after he begins spilling the beans.
  • Hive Mind: The Kraken becomes this when Akita Sagawa uses his DNA to create an army of clone ninjas.
  • Hollywood Acid: Nastasia Romanov's weapons crest allows her to produce this.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Tactics have apparently regressed to nineteenth century levels. Dmitri lampshades this, stating that there was a time when the rules of warfare were changed to be more humane and how pointless that was.
  • Hope Spot: "Love And War". Nikolai and Jena, finally consummate their relationship and it looks like they're finally going to give things a go. When they start meeting civilians retreating from war zones, Jena learns of her sister's death and tells Nikolai that they can't run from who they are. The next time they meet, they end up duelling.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Perhaps the most prominent turning point in Nikolai's Character Development is the death of his wife, Eloise de Janissaire. Up to that point, Nikolai had been recklessly carefree. From then on, something inside him is lost forever and he becomes more jaded as the strip goes on, which is only compounded by the later "Tsar Wars" arc.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Dante's Huntsman 5000 rifle. Coded to his gene print, has internally created ammo and adapts to fire the optimum ammunition to eliminate its target. Should anybody else attempt to fire it, the round will seek out and kill them.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: After shooting Katarina, Vlad explains to her that he'd been a sniper in his youth and has just deliberately shot her in a way that would ensure a slow and painful death. She has just enough left in her to kill Dmitri before she succumbs to her wounds.
  • Incest Is Relative: There's a huge incest subtext within the family Romanov. It's implied that Dmitri is in love with Jocasta and he makes her have his children via genetic engineering. Konstantin may be as well, given that he requests prostitutes to take her name for the duration. Then, there's Aleksandr and Aleksandra, who are so in love with each other that their crests' abilities allow them to merge as a single being. And, of course, there's also a fetishy artwork cover of Lulu dominating Nikolai as well as the goodbye kiss she gives him during the last story to which he responds with shock and a desire to get plastered.
  • Incoming Ham: Nikolai is very fond of making grandiose entrances if not outright Dynamic Entries. Usually while spouting one of his catchprases.
  • Indy Ploy: Nikolai tends to make up plans on the fly, especially in battle. Flintlock lampshades it in a debriefing noting that Nikolai's strategy seems to involve hurling himself at increasingly large numbers of enemy guns.
  • Inter-Class Romance: Galya is a poor peasant girl, while Viktor is a member of the aristocratic Romanov family. Dmitri doesn't take it well.
  • It's Personal: Count Pyre's enmity towards Nikolai is purely personal after Nikolai killed his consort. He claims that he doesn't let it interfere with dynastic business, but infects the genepool of a genetic engineer in order to attempt to assassinate Nikolai.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Arguably, Nikolai. He's a serial womaniser who steals, brawls and boozes his way through life, getting on the nerves of the aristocracy and (at first) looks out only for himself. However, he only steals from those who can afford it and genuinely cares about the poor and downtrodden, helping them wherever possible.
  • Kill the Poor: Nikolai once encountered a countess heavily based on the legends of Elizabeth Bathory who insists that the blood she bathes in is "happily donated" by young women in return for tax exemptions. After Nikolai uncovers a secret lair belonging to the countess in which dozens of young women are being held in captivity and bled for all their worth, it turns out that these particular women are all unemployed and, therefore, couldn't pay any taxes so they get drained wholesale.
  • Klingon Promotion: The title of Tsar Of All The Russias seems to be passed over through revolutions and rebellions many, many times. Nikolai invokes this trope in Rudinshtein in order to save its people.
  • Kryptonite Factor: The Romanov Weapon Crests make them formidable forces on the battlefield. Normal human beings armed with standard weaponry will be slaughtered by them. However, they are not completely invulnerable and there are ways to deal with them. Intense artillery bombardment, overpowered superweapons, other Romanov Weapons Crests, nanoviruses that disable Crests, and, of course, Nikolai's Hunstman rifle are all good ways around the Romanovs' Healing Factor.
  • Ladykiller in Love:
    • For all Nikolai's womanising ways, he is (mostly) devoted to Jena Makarov when their relationship does eventually come to fruition. He even refuses to sleep with her younger sister when Julianna pretty much throws herself at him. Julianna isn't offended, though, as she thinks it makes Nikolai a better man and makes her wonder if he's too good for her older sister.
    • Andreas Romanov, of all people, who has a reputation of even more of a ladies' man than Nikolai, falls for Elena Kurakin late into the war. When he stays behind to defend Rudinshtein when the rest of the family have fucked off, he and Elena sleep together and, as he's dying, laments that he would have loved Elena if he were to live.
  • Lady Land: Amazonia is basically an entire nation of Straw Feminists, where men are considered second class citizens. Nikolai is sent in to convince them to hold a referendum on giving equal rights to men. The men choose to retain the status quo.
  • Large and in Charge: Konstantin is physically larger than the rest of his siblings. In any other work, he would actually count as a Heroic Build and he actually resembles Superman. This especially counts in his Lord Protector armour.
  • Large Ham: Nikolai.
    • Valentine Romanov becomes one when he unveils his plan. He decides that years of playing cloak and dagger have finally caught up with him and he decides to be hammy For the Lulz.
  • Legacy Character: Before the revolution Major Liberty was a role taken by various genetically engineered Super Soldiers who were only used for propaganda due to the sheer cost of genetic engineering. After the Tsar takes over Amerika, he kills the last official Major and the role is taken on by various Rebel Leaders instead.
  • List of Transgressions:
    • In "The Memoirs Of Nikolai Dante", the Tsar is shown with a list of Nikolai's crimes, which describe him as a bandit, a brawler, a conman, a duellist, a thief and a gigolo.
    • Every time Nikolai meets a new Arbatov, the Arbatov will list the fates of all his previous brothers that Nikolai was responsible for, either directly or indirectly.
  • Locked Away in a Monastery: After the war, Jocasta chooses to live in a convent instead of taking up the Tsar on his offer of living by his side.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Around "Sword Of The Tsar", grey hairs start appearing on Nikolai's temples. This is likely a deliberate way of showing Nikolai's Character Development, as he's matured as a result of his experiences especially during the war. His face is even contrasted with his a poster of his younger self, showing how jaded he is becoming.
  • The Lost Lenore: Nikolai was never the same after the death of his wife, Eloise. Every year, he disappears on the anniversary of her death to mourn her in private.
  • Loveable Rogue: Nikolai. He's a notorious thief and lothario, but he also has a strong sense of right and wrong, especially in regards to how commoners are treated by the aristocracy.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: Nikolai's Hunstman 5000 rifle is encoded to his geneprint, meaning that it can only be used by him or a close relative. Anyone else who tries to use it gets a bullet to the face.
  • The Mafiya: The Russian aristocracy by and large trace their descent to the Mafiya clans that arose from the ashes of the Soviet Union. Elements of their code have thus endured as part of courtly tradition. In particular, Vladimir is the major character who came from a Mafiya clan compared to more royal-descent houses like Romanovs.
  • Magnetic Hero: Nikolai is incredibly charismatic, especially with women. In spite of several smear campaigns by the Tsar, he becomes a hero to the people. Probably because he fights for the common folk, as opposed to oppressing them like the aristocracy.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings:
  • Master Swordsman: Caius Zacharovich is widely considered to be the greatest swordsman the Empire has ever known and was Jena's tutor. When Nikolai inadvertently pisses so many people off that he is challenged to enough duels for the Tsar to turn into a tournament, Caius is ordered by the Tsar to fight Nikolai on his behalf. While Nikolai defeats all the others through sheer cunning, Caius has Nikolai completely outmatched, even giving Nikolai tips throughout the duel. However, when Caius refuses to kill Nikolai after drawing first blood, the Tsar has him shot. Nikolai does learn from the experience, improving his fencing skills after that fight alone to the point where a White Army Reiver compliments his ability.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Dmitri Romanov's gradual posession of Arkady via his weapons crest
  • The Mentor:
    • Nikolai was the apprentice of "Slippery" Jim DiGrizov who taught him how to be a thief.
    • Jena had several tutors growing up, but only two of them she considered to be relevant to her: Her fencing tutor, Caius Zacharovich and her arts tutor, Leonid Tarasov. Nikolai notes that if Caius had been Tsar instead of Vladimir, the empire would be a better place and he gives Tarasov a Mercy Kill when he learns that he's dying instead of allowing the Tsar's torturers to break him first.
  • Miles Gloriosus: When attempting to steal the Romanov crown jewels, Dante is confronted by a man who claims to be the greatest swordsman in the empire. Dante just shoots him. The Tsar even notes that the swordsman was an arrogant braggart who had nothing to brag about, implying that he used him just to draw Dante out.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Elena Kurakin is the daughter of a Mongolian warrior and a Russian aid worker. As a result, she's subject to racism from both Russians and Mongolians and finds it difficult to integrate into society as a whole. It's probably the main reason she's a Blood Knight.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong
  • Ninja Pirate Robot Zombie:
    • Nikolai is a Cyborg Gentleman Thief who happens to be the bastard son of the patriarch of a powerful noble dynasty. He's also been a Pirate, an Imperial troubleshooter, an officer in the Raven Corps, and the leader of a successful revolution. And eventually poised to become Tsar.
    • The Kraken already has the ninja pirate part covered when he's introduced, but also becomes fused with a shapeshifting bioweapon and is later cloned into a Hive Mind army of enhanced clone ninja pirates.
  • Not So Different: The son of a notorious criminal rebels against a despotic, tyrannical tsar and leads a revolution eventually overthrowing said tsar and taking the position for himself. Now are we talking about Nikolai Dante or Vladimir Makarov?
  • The Musketeer: Nikolai, due to his preferred combination of bio blades and the Huntsman rifle. Many other characters also, as tactics have regressed to the Napoleonic era.
  • Oedipus Complex: Konstantin Romanov is heavily implied to be in love with his own mother. He makes every seductress sent to him take the name Jocasta before he sleeps with them.
  • Off with His Head!: Due to a resurgence of swords and axes as battlefield weapons, decapitations are quite common occurrences in the strip. Notably, this happens to Lazarev at the end of his duel with Nikolai and Papa Yeltsin by Dmitri/Arkaday.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. There are two female characters named Elena; Elena de Janissaire, Eloise's mother, and Elena Kurakin, Nikolai's lancer.
  • One World Order: By the 27th Century, just about the entire planet is under direct or indirect Russian rule. Although rebel groups still persist in what was once America.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires are not susceptible to garlic, crosses or any of the usual methods. The only ways to deal with vampires are sunlight, fire and steel.
  • Painted-On Pants: Lulu tends to wear liquid latex, making this trope almost literal.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The Lord Protector's identity as Konstantin Romanov is fairly easy to deduce, since the Lord Protector's use of fusion powers and his physical size are dead giveaways. The story doesn't keep up the pretence from the reader for all that long, as he removes his helmet to reveal himself to Jocasta in the same story in which he is introduced. Lampshaded by Dmitri/Arkady when he unmasks himself on the battlefield, who notes that it was hardly difficult to deduce.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Konstantin's fusion powers mean that he can wipe out entire armies with the wave of a hand.
  • Pet the Dog: Unlike Dmitri Romanov, Tsar Vladimir the Conqueror actually has people that he cares about. The great love of his life was always Jocasta Romanov and he does genuinely love his daughters. It's Julianna's death that drives him to war with the Romanov Dynasty.
  • Phrase-Catcher: Nikolai. Damn you, Dante! Damn you to Hell!
  • The Pig Pen: Spatchcock. To the point that when he's attacked by a vampire, his poor hygiene saves his life due to his blood "tasting like piss". and yet he gets a happy ending as he flies off in the sunset with Flintlock's Sister
  • Pirate: Katarina Dante is a notorious pirate queen, who plunders the Pacific from her headquarters at Escondida, using all female crews. Nikolai joins her under pressure from Akita Sagawa in order to bring her down from the inside, but Nikolai has qualms about this and is only doing so to keep a pair of children alive.
  • The Plan: Lulu's manipulation of the Cadre Infernale involves framing Camilla by framing Nikolai for the murder of another member of the Cadre.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Nikolai Dante and Elena Kurakin. Dante promotes Elena to Sergeant after she helps him subdue the Grozny gang (and gets them to fight for him). She's his Lancer throughout the war and he later frees her from a gulag and appoints her as his bodyguard when he is appointed Sword Of The Tsar. They continue to fight together right up until the strip's finale where she even accompanies him to his final showdown with the Tsar.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Spatchcock and Flintlock
  • Powered Armor: The Order Of The Dragon wear massive powered suits of armour in battle. Both Richard and Elizabeth Hawksmoore, as heads of the Order, favour their signature battle armour. Elena Kurakin finds a workaround thanks to Spatch and Flint and a grenade.
  • Power Corrupts: Vlad was a hero once. His time as Tsar has made him worse than his predecessor. Jocasta saw the turning point as when he defeated Dmitri in a duel for the throne.
  • Power Nullifier: Dmitri's Crest has the ability to disable the other Romanov Crests, making it impossible for any of his children to kill him with their own powers.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Katarina Dante, when she kills Dmitri.
  • Private Military Contractors: The Warlords are probably the most infamous mercenary outfit in the empire. Entry requires recruits to duel each other, though Eloise wonders if it would be just cheaper to actually train them rather than patch them up. Of course, her second in command has higher ambitions, though his ambitions are trumped by Valentine Romanov.
  • Psychic Powers: Psychics of various forms exist. A number of the Devil's Martyrs, a cult devoted to Grigori Rasputin, are capable of reading minds. Captain Luther Emmanuel is also capable of reading minds, in addition to being a practitioner of telekinesis. The Tsar also has a precog in his employ until she betrays him in favour of Nikolai.
  • The Purge: Vladimir regularly holds purges of his court to keep potential traitors from usurping him. Notably, during Sword Of The Tsar, Khara gives him a fake list of people who were alleged to be turned by the White Army. When the Lord Protector informs him that the first batch of people being purged tested negative for cyberorganics, Vlad orders the purge to continue regardless.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: The Rudinshtein Irregulars consist of convicts taken from the gulags. Lampshaded by Nikolai's weapons crest, who notes that Dante is the first commander in history to be in more danger from his own troops than from the enemy.
  • Really Gets Around: Nikolai. Deconstructed in one of the final stories where it turns out there are dozens of paternity cases against him.
  • Recycled In Space: The strip is a combination Space Cold War and the Russian Revolution using Napoleonic tactics set in the 27th century.
  • Red Baron:
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Generally, if a member of the Romanov family's face starts showing their cybernetics, run away. Dmitri does this constantly and Nikolai does it just before he stabs Konstantin in the back.
  • Return to Shooter: Anyone who hasn't got their geneprint coded to the Huntsman 5000 that tries to fire it ends up with the bullet turning around and hitting them in the face. This includes telekinetic psychics that aren't even physically firing the weapon themselves.
  • La Résistance:
    • Vladimir Makarov was this alongside Dmitri & Jocasta Romanov during their fight against Vladimir's predecessor
    • Skarnote  for the Mongolian Horde
    • The Amerikan Resistance had various front-line military commanders such as Major Liberty, alongside a network of high-ranking and strategically placed agents such as Carmen Suarez, who initially severed as the intelligence and financial leadership for the various New York branches.
    • Neo-Communists are shown making an attempt on the Tsar's life at one point.
    • Nikolai Dante, Jena Makarova, Lady Jocasta Romanov, Lulu Romanov, Papa Yeltsin, Katarina Dante, & Arkady Romanovnote  for the Revolutionary forces, until The Reveal. Afterwards, Katarina Dante briefly replaces her son following Dmitri's return, alongside Sergeant Elena Kurakin until the latter manages to help find him until he recovers from his Moral Event Horizon. After which, he re-joins the revolution again alongside Katarina, Sergeant Kurakin, and the remaining Romanov family membersnote 
  • Riches to Rags:
    • Flintlock's backstory has him disowned by his family. He was also previously a captain in the Britannian army until he was imprisoned for reneging on a drunken wager with Andreas Romanov and drafted into the Romanov army as a convict soldier.
    • Somewhere between the civil war and Nikolai's appointment as Sword Of The Tsar, the Devil's Martyrs lost their dynastic status and have been reduced to banditry and kidnapping.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Jena Makarov was schooled in the arts of war from a young age and is very good with a sword. Like Nikolai, she has no problem fighting on the front lines of a brutal and bloody conflict.
  • Russian Roulette: Nikolai and Vlad play in the finale. Vlad loses.
  • Sensual Slavs: Justified, as Russia is the main setting.
  • Shapeshifting: Count Pyre and his consort, Marialis, belong to a species of humanoid shapeshifters. Their abilities make them ideal as both spies and assassins, as not only can they infiltrate any locale with ease, but they can also take the form of a variety of predators of any size and can even No-Sell attacks like sword thrusts by changing their body shape around the weapon in question. Pyre is the commander of the Scarlet Wraiths, the Tsar's intelligence service, for a good reason.
  • Sharing a Body: Dmitri passes his weapons crest and consciousness over to Arkady. Whilst Dmitri is very much in control, Arkady is still in there and Dmitri does indulge him in some of his fantasies, such as his crush on Jena.
  • Shout-Out: Several. Notably, narrators have included names like Georgi Lucasovich and Edward Krilly.
  • Sinister Shades: Dmitri Romanov's transluscent shades, which fail to hide his near permanent Death Glare. When he comes forward as having total control over Arkady, he wears them again.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: The essence of Nikolai and Jena's relationship. It's taken literally in "Love And War", which serves as both the epilogue to "The Courtship of Jena Makarov" and the prologue to "Tsar Wars". Nikolai storms into Jena's shack, complaining that Jena didn't wait long enough for him to surface from the wreck of Deriabin's airship. They start slapping and punching each other until they just end up having sex.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: The strip has many lighthearted moments, owing to its inspiration from adventure serials, which are often counterbalanced by the horrors of war, megalomaniacal tyrants, and characters dropping dead left, right, and centre.
  • Space Cold War: The entire main story arc right up until Tsar Wars involves sabre-rattling between the houses of Romanov and Makarov, as the Romanovs, as the most powerful dynasty next to Vladimir's own, attempt to undermine the Tsar's rule through diplomacy, espionage, assassination and propaganda. This all goes out the window when Konstantin Romanov burns Julianna Makarov to death on the orders of Dmitri Romanov just in case Nikolai succeeds in rescuing Jena from Sir Richard Hawksmoore. The whole thing is even referred to in universe as "The Great Game".
  • The Spymaster: Jocasta Romanov's position within the dynasty is as head of its intelligence services. Even after the war, when she's Locked Away In A Nunnery, she maintains considerable influence.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Vladimir and Jocasta grew up together and fell for each other. However, after their revolution, Dmitri and Vlad duelled for the throne and Jocasta was forced to side with her brother. Over the years, Vlad asks her to join him again, something she always refuses. Vlad is forced to watch when Dmitri burns her to death.
  • Start of Darkness: Vladimir Makarov and Dmitri Romanov started out as somewhat decent people until their families were targeted in The Purge. As a result, the revolt they changed both of them into taking scrupulous methods that latter caused rifts as Vladimir proclaimed and kept the Tsar title.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: After the war, Nikolai still wears his Romanov uniform as an act of defiance against the Tsar. At this point, the narration states that the Romanov name is a mark of the damned.
  • Straw Feminist: The nation of Amazonia runs on the notion that men are inferior. As such, men are second class citizens and the only reason Amazonia allies with the Tsar is so their soldiers can go out and kill men. As such, Nikolai is probably the worst choice of ambassador to the country, though this doesn't stop their leader from eventually seducing him.
  • Strolling Through the Chaos: Viktor often does this in the middle of a battle and won't fight unless he's really pissed off and certainly won't use his powers unless absolutely necessary.
  • The Silent Bob: Viktor Romanov. The longest Silent Bob in history, completing the trope just 6 episodes before the end of the saga. The only other noises he makes are belches and screeches when he activates his Crest and becomes a huge Romanov Eagle.
  • Super Senses: The Romanov Weapons Crests bestow heightened senses to any individual to which it is bonded. In addition to natural senses being enhanced, the Crests can also perform electronic scans of the vicinity. For example, Nikolai's Crest diagnoses Jena's mentor, who was speaking out against her father, with terminal cancer while Jena is talking to him.
  • Super Soldier: There are various characters who have been enhanced in some way, either through chemical means (Lazarev), genetic engineering (Major Liberty, The Kraken), surgical enhancement (Skar), or cybernetics (The Romanov family).
  • That Man Is Dead:
    • Viktor Romanov taking the name Viktor Dante, after Dmitri/Arkady kills his wife Galya. Also Nikolai, after civil war breaks out and he sides against the ruling house of Makarov, taking the name Romanov.
    • Forced on Nikolai by his mother Katarina, when she finds him a broken man, having been de-crested by Dmitri/Arkady; powerless to stop the head of the Romanovs taking Jena Makarov as his own, Nikolai loses himself in the bottom of a bottle, losing all motivation to fight for what he believes in. She refers to him as Nikolai Romanov, disowning him as a son; this turns out to be the kick up the jacksy he needs.
  • They Would Cut You Up: Upon receiving his powers from the Romanov Crest, Nikolai is reluctant to return to the Tsar Makarov for fear that the Tsar's scientists and researchers would do exactly this in order to develop a similar crest of their own.
  • Token Evil Team Mate: Lulu is this to Nikolai's revolution. As a Romanov, she's naturally ruthless and particularly cruel in her campaign of terror against the Tsar.
  • Token Good Team Mate: Nikolai is this to the Romanovs. To a lesser extent, there's Viktor and Andreas pulls a Redemption Equals Death.
  • Trading Bars for Stripes: The original Rudinshtein Irregulars were a penal battalion commanded by Nikolai during the "Tsar Wars" arc. Nikolai notes that they haven't even been given a stay of execution, as Dmitri treats them like Cannon Fodder, almost hoping that they'll be wiped out.
  • Troll: The Tsar deliberately stirs up a nation of Straw Feminists by sending Nikolai in as an ambassador to campaign for equal rights for men. Further still, he and Arkady enjoy a glass of wine while watching footage of Nikolai struggling with the mission and has plans to release it as a feature film.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: Ursa reveals to Nikolai that she is female.
  • Uplifted Animal: Animal rights groups genetically modified several species of animals on the African continent, giving them human intelligence and physical characteristics. The animals rose up and took control of the continent, slaughtering their human masters. The three dominant species, gorillas, lions, and elephants were granted dynastic status by the Tsar, taking the names of Kong, Numa, and Tantor, respectively.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Several, but Flintlock stands out.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Dmitri, Jocasta, and Vladimir were quite different when they were kept as hostages for the previous Tsar as children. They were idealistic persons until Start of Darkness hits after rest of the Romanov and Makarov families were executed and revolt started as a result.
  • Vague Age: Nikolai is not quite sure of his exact age, as Katarina never really celebrated any of his birthdays. A flashback in one of the later stories establishes him as having been born in 2640, making him 26 at the beginning of the saga.
  • Vasquez Always Dies:
    • Averted with Elena Kurakin. She's one of the most combat capable females in the strip, which is saying something when compared with the likes of Lulu and Nastasia Romanov. She's one of the few members of the original Rudinshtein Irregulars to survive the war and she fights by Nikolai's side again once he becomes Sword Of The Tsar. She even helps Dante track the Tsar down at the finale.
    • Inverted with Lauren Stone. She is one of the most skimpily clad females in the strip, yet she dies during the second revolution.
    • Played straight with Katarina Dante, but not before she takes out Dmitri Romanov first.
    • Played straight during "The Great Game" where Nikolai's estranged wife, Eloise, gets run through by Valentine, while Jena Makarov gets through it.
  • Viking Funeral: Nikolai sends off his mother in such a fashion after she succumbs to her wounds.
  • Villainous Widow's Peak: Gender flipped with Elizabeth Hawksmoore. Her very high forehead is clearly visible and she is a very brutal Sociopathic Soldier. These are both traits she inherited from her father, though he was more Bald of Evil.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Nikolai and his Weapons Crest. The Crest denounces him at every opportunity, but later begins to warm to him, even coming up with ideas that are very much along Dante's own line of thinking. When the Crest is destroyed, he has a major Heroic BSoD.
  • Vodka Drunkenski: Nikolai is rather fond of the drink. Generally when he has a party, it ends up being drunken debauchery of epic proporations. On the flip side of things, he's been known to climb into the bottle when depressed as well. When Camila Le Fanu bites him, she notes that his blood tastes of alcohol.
  • Voice Changeling: Nikolai's Weapons Crest gives him a strong Scottish accent when he assumes the identity of a Scottish lord when trying to rob a casino. It almost works too, until Lauren's jealousy blows his cover when another woman tries to determine if he's Going Commando underneath his kilt. When under attack, Nikolai tells his Crest to drop the accent, which it gladly does, noting that "Nikolai Dante: Man Of A Thousand Voices" is not his best career move.
  • Weapon of Choice: Each of the Romanovs is given specific abilities, based on their personalities.
    • Nikolai gets bio blades from his hands and a limited Healing Factor. The Hunstman rifle is a later given to him by Kara.
    • Lulu gets a cyber swarm, which she can use to devour people alive or as surveillance equipment.
    • Nastasia can create Perfect Poisons and Hollywood Acid.
    • Konstantin has fusion powers, making him a literal walking nuke.
    • Andreas is able to generate throwable blades. His personal best stands at 26 decapitations with a single blade.
    • Viktor's abilities are unknown early on, but it is later revealed that he can transform into a giant eagle.
    • Aleksandr and Aleksandra can deploy nano mines and can merge into a single being.
    • Valentine gets the prototype crest, so only gets blades without the Healing Factor. See Body Horror.
    • Dmitri gets the most powerful crest of all, being able to override all of the other crests. He's also able to use bio blades and fusion powers.
  • We Have Reserves: Warfare has regressed to Napoleonic tactics complete with massed charges. Aristocrats don't seem to care about the bodycounts of battles. Some of them don't even care about Unfriendly Fire.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Vladimir says this word for word to Dmitri before Dmitri's suicide. They once stood together against the previous Tsar until they disagreed on who would rule after their own revolution.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The Courtship Of Jena Makarov/Love and War storyline starts off like a typical Dante storyline. Lots of humor, some violence, some serious moments such as Tsarina Jena getting kidnapped and Dante under trial. Then it starts ramping up with the Tsar and Dmitri drawing battle lines. There is a hope spot, Nikolai is able to escape and track down Jena and rescue her. However only for a mole, one Dante was forced to help blackmail, is forced to reveal the location of Jena's little sister. Kronstantin then assassinates her on Dmitri's order to ensure that there is war. Ending even more bitterly just as Nikolai and Jena starting a relationship just to put it on hold to go back to their families.
    • "Heroes Be Damned" takes place at the very end of the revolution. We get to see the wedding between Viktor and Galya, Nikolai's proposal to Jena, Vlad and Konstantin's imprisonment, and a general feeling of hope for the future. Then Vlad's trial happens. Dmitri reveals himself to have been Sharing a Body with Arkady for many years and then goes on the rampage, declaring himself as Tsar, killing Galya, Papa Yeltsin, and Jocasta, throwing Elena from the Imperial Palace, kidnapping Jena, and stripping Nikolai of his weapons crest.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Nikolai and Jena's Belligerent Sexual Tension is a major plot point throughout the strip. Neither can remember if they did have sex after the destruction of the Dark Star because they both consumed a lot of alcohol but they finally do after Nikolai rescues Jena from Sir Richard Hawksmoore. Sadly, their relationship is short lived, as their families go to war immediately afterwards and it's years before they get back together again.
  • Worthy Opponent: Vladimir keeps the weapons of enemies who have earned his respect. Elena Kurakin is one of those enemies, with Vlad even telling her so and offering her a chance to join him at the end of the war. When Nikolai releases her from a gulag, he brings her swords from Vlad's private collection to entice her to work with him again.
  • Wretched Hive: Rudinshtein starts off as this, being the poorest city in the empire. New Moscow later becomes one with the Kremlin having being converted into a casino.
  • You Have Failed Me: The Arbatovs are usually on the receiving end of this. Of particular note is the one Nikolai humiliates in the first story, as the Tsar skins him alive.
    • Dmitri decimates one regiment (as in the Roman version of killing ten percent of the troops) when they lose a battle.
    • Elizabeth Hawkesmoore kills a subordinate officer she had been sleeping with because he finished too early and referred to her by her name in the process.
  • You Killed My Father: Elizabeth Hawksmoore confesses to Elena Kurakin that she killed her father. Elena severs her spine not too long after. During the final battle, Elena destroys Hawksmoore's Powered Armor with a grenade and finishes the job with her father's sword.

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