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Comic Book / Nnewts

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Nnewts (yes, that is the correct spelling) is a fantasy graphic novel trilogy by Doug TenNapel. It takes place in a world divided into two groups: amphibians and reptiles.

Our hero, Herk, is a young Nnewt living in Nnewtown with his family. Herk's father is a magician who rarely has time to be with his family, and Herk was unfortunately born with crippled, shrunken legs that leave him unable to walk, but otherwise, he is happy. But everything changes when the village is suddenly attacked by the Lizzarks, an evil reptile army that decimates the village. Herk is forced to swim for his life, taking him on an adventure in which he makes new friends, learns magic spells, learns dark secrets about his family, and takes on the Lizzark army.

There are three books in the series:

  1. Nnewts: Escape From the Lizzarks (2015)
  2. Nnewts: The Rise of Herk (2016)
  3. Nnewts: The Battle for Amphibopolis (2017)

Tropes found in this series include:

  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: There are red lizards and a snake, a pink lizard/pig hybrid, and amphibians coming in a variety of bright colors, including orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, and purple.
  • Animal Jingoism: Amphibians are good, reptiles are evil, and both sides hate each other. Justified because, in this world, reptiles are just amphibians that were put under an evil, brainwashing spell and grew scales.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: In the end, Anthigar chooses to go into the afterlife with Orion, appointing Launa as the new Queen of the Nnewts
  • Big Bad: The Snake Lord/Denthigar, the leader of the Lizzarks who initially seems like he wants to take over the universe, but actually wants to destroy it.
  • Big Good: Anthigar, the first Nnewt, who is still alive and leads the heroes in fighting the Lizzarks.
  • Big Red Devil: Invoked. While they are reptilian minions rather than literal demons, the Lizzarks are red creatures with hornlike appendages. Considering the Christian motifs seen throughout the series, this was likely not a coincidence.
  • Body Horror:
    • In Book 2, Zerk says that the Snake Lord gave him a new, strong body as Wizzark. You would expect it to be a simple shapeshifting spell, but Wizzark opens his robe to show how it really works. Wizzark's body has a big, gaping seam haphazardly stitched together in the middle of his torso, and Zerk's real eyes can be seen peeking out from the darkness inside.
    • As the Snake Lord is being Brought Down to Normal in Book 3, his body melts in a rather gruesome way.
  • Brought Down to Normal: In Book 3, the Chillingwrath's death causes the Snake Lord to be turned back into his original form as Denthigar.
  • Consummate Liar: The Lizzarks are brazen liars, but are able to convince most of the Nnewts into believing their twisted philosphies. For example:
    • Wizzark claims that Orion divided Herk's family, and the Lizzarks brought them back together. Herk and Sissy believe this, forgetting that the Lizzarks killed the rest of their family. Although Herk and Sissy may or may not know this, their parents are now Together in Death under Orion's protection. Orion was the one who really brought them back together.
    • In Book 3, the Snake Lord claims that Orion doesn't care about his people and that he (Orion) caused Launa and Herk to be cripples. However, he also revealed in Book 1 that he was the one who made Herk a cripple, and let's not forget that later in Book 1, Orion directly interfered to save Herk from the Snake Lord.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted. In Book 3, after being Brought Down to Normal, Denthigar falls from the sky, but he survives with only Amusing Injuries. However, he is still "defeated" and unable to pose a threat after that, so it follows the same principle as this trope.
  • The Dragon: Wizzark/Zerk, the Snake Lord's top enforcer.
  • Evil Laugh: In Book 3, the Snake Lord does an evil laugh after proclaiming himself ruler of the sky.
  • Evil Old Folks: The Snake Lord turns out to be Anthigar's brother Denthigar, who like Anthigar, has been around since the beginning of the world.
  • Evil Overlooker:
    • On the cover of the first book, Wizzark is the overlooker.
    • Averted with the cover of the second book, where Anthigar is the overlooker.
    • On the cover of the third book, Herk's Lizzark form is the overlooker.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: In Book 3, the Snake Lord claims that he wants to take over the planet, and promises to let Zerk, the brainwashed Herk, and their sister rule over Nnewtown if he succeeds. However, he later reveals that he lied, and he actually intends to destroy everything. This incident turns the three against him, and after that, it just takes a little help from Anthigar to help them make full Heel Face Turns.
  • Famous for Being First: Played for Drama. Anthigar and Denthigar's eggs were formed at the same time at the beginning of the world. Anthigar hatched first, and so he was crowned king of the Nnewts and given a large Cool Crown. Denthigar hatched second and was given a smaller crown. This caused Denthigar to become envious of his brother, which led to him becoming the Snake Lord, the Big Bad of the series.
  • A God Am I: In Book 3, the Snake Lord gains a new body made of stars. He fights Orion and wins, declaring himself ruler of the heavens.
  • The Great Serpent: The Snake Lord is a demonic serpent who is already larger than most of the characters, though his supernatural powers enable him to grow even larger at times. He grows to kaiju size when he attempts to kill Herk in the first book, and later becomes even bigger when he goes One-Winged Angel as a constellation in the third book.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: Orion, the story's God archetype who loves his subjects, the Nnewts, and wants to protect them.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Chillingwrath, the Satanic Archetype of the setting who made the Snake Lord into what he is today. The Snake Lord plans to release him from the temple in which he's sealed.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Anthigar's brother, Denthigar/the Snake Lord, turned evil because he was jealous of Anthigar for being born first, being declared king of the Nnewts, and getting a bigger crown.
  • Kid Hero: Herk, the protagonist, is a young boy.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Zerk regrets his actions and rejoins the heroes after Anthigar destroys his Wizzark body with a Beauty spell.
    • Urch, though still half-Lizzark, switches sides when Orion offers him a chance to hunt with him.
    • Herk himself is Brainwashed and Crazy by the Blakk Mudd late in the series, and he is so far gone that he starts to willingly support the Snake Lord. When Anthigar sees how miserable Herk is, Anthigar promises to help Herk if Herk can remember Anthigar's name. Herk takes a few seconds to remember Anthigar's name, but he says it, and Anthigar purges the evil from Herk's body, turning him back into the hero we know and love.
    • All the remaining Lizzarks are turned back into friendly Nnewts when the Chillingwrath is killed.
  • The Hero Dies: In the end, Herk dies putting all his energy into a spell to destroy the Chillingwrath. He is reunited with his parents in the afterlife.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • In Book 1, Herk's dad dies using a magic spell to destroy a weretoad that was threatening his friends.
    • In Book 3, Herk himself dies using a spell to destroy the Chillingwrath.
  • I Lied: The Snake Lord promises to let Wizzark, Sissy, and Lizzark!Herk rule Amphibopolis after he takes over the sky. The Snake Lord later reveals that he actually intends to destroy Amphibopolis, and laughs at the three for trusting him.
  • Laughably Evil: Despite their murderous tendencies and wicked plans being taken seriously, both the Lizzarks and the Snake Lord have surprisingly frequent funny moments. For example, the Snake Lord spends most of Book 2 and part of Book 3 trapped in the form of a turnip.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: The death of the Chillingwrath in Book 3 causes the entire Lizzark army to turn back into Nnewts, and the Snake Lord to be Brought Down to Normal.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Pigzark, a Lizzark general, seems to be a lizard/pig hybrid.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: The Lizzarks seem like goofy minions at first. When they are first introduced, two of them are having an argument about one of the two having bad breath. However, it's not long before the Lizzarks are wreaking havoc on an entire village and slaughtering nearly all of its residents.
  • Ominous Obsidian Ooze: Blakk Mudd, a black liquid that turns any Nnewt it touches into a Lizzark.
  • One-Winged Angel: In Book 3, the Snake Lord transforms into a constellation, which are divine beings in this universe.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Pikk, a friend that Herk makes on his journey, is goofy, comical, and not too bright. He's also the only source of Toilet Humor in the series, although it only comes up a few times.
  • Red Is Violent: Most of the villains are red, while the heroes can be pretty much any other color of the rainbow.
  • Redemption Rejection: In Book 3, after he is Brought Down to Normal, Anthigar offers Denthigar a chance to rejoin the Nnewts, even giving him his old crown back. Denthigar refuses to work with Anthigar and walks away, throwing his crown to the ground.
  • Reforged into a Minion:
    • In Book 1, Wizzark transforms Urch into a reptile, naming him Lizzurch and ordering him to hunt down Herk.
    • Blakk Mudd, introduced in Book 2, turns any Nnewt it touches into a Lizzark. This actually happens to Herk himself.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Reptiles are the evil species, and the natural enemies of amphibians.
  • Reused Character Design: Pikk looks very similar to Willie Trombone, another comic relief character from a previous Doug TenNapel work.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Chillingwrath, the Greater-Scope Villain, lost to a fight to Orion, the Greater-Scope Paragon, long ago. The Chillingwrath was sealed inside a temple. The Snake Lord releases him in Book 3.
  • Sibling Rivalry: It's revealed in Book 3 that the Snake Lord actually used to be Anthigar's brother, Denthigar. Denthigar felt unimportant because he was the second to hatch from his egg, so the Chillingwrath persuaded him to make a Deal with the Devil, turning Denthigar into the Snake Lord and making him the leader of the Lizzarks.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: The Snake Lord, a giant red snake, is the Big Bad who leads an army of evil lizards.
  • Spoiler Cover: Downplayed. The cover of Book 3 shows Zerk running alongside Herk and Pikk, This would spoil his Heel–Face Turn in that book, but Zerk is shown covered in hair because of the magic mustache that Anthigar gives him, concealing his identity for those who haven't read the book.
  • Toilet Humor: Pikk, the Plucky Comic Relief, is so named because he likes to pick his nose.
  • Together in Death: In Book 1, Herk's parents and their unhatched eggs are killed by the Lizzarks, but they reunite in the afterlife.
  • Wise Old Turtle: In Book 1, while running from the Lizzarks, Herk meets a turtle-like creature. Herk is suspicious of the turtle, because of the Animal Jingoism between amphibians and reptiles, but the turtle turns out to be friendly and wise, and gives Herk some advice.
  • Wise Serpent: The Snake Lord is a giant, magical serpent who serves as the Big Bad. In addition to his deep knowledge of spells and rituals, he is also a Consummate Liar who excels at manipulating others to do his bidding. It helps that since he is actually Anthigar's brother Denthigar, the second born Nnewt in the world, the Snake Lord is almost as old as the world itself.
  • Wizard Classic: Anthigar, the Big Good, is an elderly Nnewt (the very first one, in fact) who practices good magic. He wears a robe and has a long, white beard. Instead of the typical wizard hat, though, he wears a Cool Crown, since he is king of the Nnewts. However, he is hidden deep underground until Herk finds him in Book 1.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Anthigar and Denthigar, who were born at the creation of the world, are both still alive in the present day. Denthigar survives the final battle and simply walks away after his Redemption Rejection, while Anthigar decides his time is up and willingly goes into the afterlife.
  • World of Funny Animals: All the speaking characters are anthropomorphic amphibians and reptiles.