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Comic Book / Sillage

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Sillage (the English title is Wake, as in "the current caused by a passing ship") is a French science-fiction comic written by Jean-David Morvan and illustrated by Philippe Buchet.

The eponymous Sillage is a giant convoy of spaceships traversing the galaxy. The protagonist of the series is Nävis, the only human Sillage ever encountered. She was raised by robots on an uncivilized jungle planet after a spaceship crash. After initial difficulties — due to her lack of psychic powers she is not recognized as a person at first — she joins Sillage as a sort of special agent.

While there are bigger themes tying the series together — mainly Nävis trying to find out what she is — each album is mostly self-contained. Often using different planets that are visited as settings, the feel of the series can change a lot from album to album.


There are three spin-off series, but so far, none of them have been officially translated into English. Nävis has a humorous tone and deals with Nävis' childhood. Les Chroniques de Sillage (Wake's chronicles) is a series of short stories set between chapters of the main story. Sillage Premières Armes deals with Nävis' training to become a Sillage agent. There are also two art books, BlockBuster and 1000 Nävis, which literally has 1000 images of Nävis.


Sillage provides examples of:

  • Action Girl:
    • Nävis. In the first couple of stories she even qualifies as a Little Miss Badass; and if she no longer does in later episodes, it isn't for lack of badassery, but because she grows up into actual womanhood.
    • Wake in general employs agents from almost all of their species, spanning the entire gender spectrum(s).
    • Nävis' foat-like-ish friend Bassachy knows how to drive a Tank-Mech, is an excellent racer, and a Wake infiltrator.
  • The Alcatraz: One of Nävis's missions takes her in a space station used as a maximum-security prison.
  • Alien Blood: Probably spanning the entire spectrum, and the artist even keeps in mind that it affects skin tones.
  • Anything That Moves / The Casanova
    • Consul Enshu Atsukau uses his superlative, unblockable telepathy for two things: the most delicate (and therefore lucrative) of diplomatic missions... and getting himself a huge harem of women from virtually every sentient, somewhat humanoid species part of Sillage. This changes after meeting Nävis (even he can't reach her telepathically), and he becomes a creepy(er) Stalker with a Crush for her.
    • We later learn that his whole species used to be like that. Unfortunately, their psychic powers were much sought for by schemers within the fleet. When they failed to recruit them for their cause, some of them decided the species too dangerous to leave out of their control and had it purged by a bunch of One-Man Army assassins.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Yannsei, Nävis' son..
  • Awful Truth: At least one per volume. The Constituante has a lot of skeletons in its closet, and they're not the only ones.
  • Big "NO!": At the end of the first book.
  • Bittersweet Ending: So end many of Nävis's missions.
  • Bizarre Alien Sexes: One alien species apparently requires two "females" and one "male" for reproduction.
  • Blood Knight: Nävis' son, educated by Atsukau.
  • Blood Sport: In the 13th book Nävis is forced to take part in a series of extremely dangerous illegal races, a large event in which the racers are dropped on random planets, trying to get the best time while avoiding the local police and civillian traffic, with extra points for pulling particularly crazy stunts.
  • Boxed Crook: Nävis finds herself working with those on occasion, including old foes and old friends turned bad.
  • Cast of Snowflakes
  • Catchphrase: "Poukram!"
  • Censor Box: In the US version of the first volume, in which Nävis is topless. Conveniently for the censors, one of the white bars tattooed on her body (you'll see a couple of others in the page image) just happened to cover her nipples. All they had to do was black it out, and instant Censor Box.
  • Character Development: At first innocent and naive, Nävis becomes increasingly jaded and cynical as she matures ; before progressively learning to not let go and still hold onto her ideals.
  • Cigar-Fuse Lighting: One of the Armada agents does it while on a mission on an alien world, with the two fuses tied in front of his chest and a swivel gun under each arm. While riding a local equivalent of a pterodactyl.
  • The Collector: Enshu Atsukau is a weird one. Fortunately Nävis is immune to his Mind Control power.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Nävis. In one book she encounters a group of 7 hostile aliens. After quickly remembering what species and gender they are, she defeats them over a single page — each opponent with his/her/its equivalent of Pressure Point/ Groin Attack.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Enshu Atsukau, due to the nature of the technology he uses to control his harem, has a collection of eyes in jars.
  • Deadly Upgrade: The fleet agents use highly restricted and expensive implants to block unwanted telepathy. Terrorists need the same protection but can't afford implants... so some of them settle for a lethal brain parasite instead.
  • Designer Babies: It's implied within the main series and especially in the side-stories about her childhood that Nävis herself is one, part of a "special caste" that was artificially made. Book 20 reveals that Nävis is a "Whipe", an entire Servant Race of "imperfect" humans who are dedicated to labour and warfare.
  • Disability Superpower: Nävis's lack of psychic powers meaning, her mind can't be read or controlled.
  • Dub Name Change: In the American publications, Nävis is changed to Navee.
  • Evil Slinks: Consul Atsukau. It helps that as an alien he can push Lean and Mean further than any human could hope to.
  • Far East: One of the planets visited by the fleet is basically an alien version of early Meiji Japan, complete with samurais, geishas and badass martial arts masters. For added reference, the ships sent down as emissaries by the fleet are black (like Perry's "black ships").
  • Gentle Giant: The prolls by default and Bobo in particular.
  • Graceful in Their Element: Ehme-Ciss-Ron in water.
  • Gray-and-Gray Morality: Nävis becomes gradually aware that her employers' motivations are often as shady as those of the people she's sent against.
  • Horrifying the Horror: From his first appearance, the Yiarhu-kah is an alien horror, cutting a bloody swathe through secondary cast and coming within inches of taking Nävis' brain. What cements his reputation is when we see him pop into Atsukau's office, No-Sell his Psychic-Assisted Suicide and then lecture him about how he and his 9 clan kinsmen were the ones who wiped out Atsukau's entire species.
  • Hostile Terraforming: The first issue involves an alien who intends to terraform a jungle planet to suit his species, although in this case he's unaware that there's one sentient being (the human girl Nävis) and lots of semi-sentient animals already living there.
  • Humans Are Special: Nävis completely lacks psychic powers (meaning she's the only person whose thoughts can't be read). It has been hinted it's the same for all the human beings.
  • Humans Are Warriors:
    • A cyborg medic informs Navis how Wake met a particularly belligerent group of humans, implied to be members of her caste, which violently attacked the aliens and caused great casualties before being put down.
    • The degenerate humans encountered in issue 8. also qualify, along with being xenophobes.
  • I Can't Sense Their Presence: Nävis cannot be detected by psychic powers at all. This makes her useful as a spy.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: The core of Atsukau's unhealthy fascination for Nävis.
  • Immune to Mind Control: As stated above, Navis can't read thoughts or be mind controlled to any degree.
  • Jerkass: Enshu Atsukau in his first appearance. Nävis' male clone takes from him.
  • Jungle Princess: Nävis in the first volume.
  • Karma Houdini: For all he did, Atsukau only got a small scar on his lip.
  • Karmic Death: Princhard from book 3, Gearing Up. He recognises the trope and mocks it with his dying breath.
  • Last of Her Kind: Played with multiple times. She's the sole survivor from her planet, but we're pretty certain that she is NOT the last human being in the galaxy. In one of the spinoff's short stories, it is revealed that there was another human being who survived her spaceship crash. Sadly, he didn't last long.
    • By book 17, there is really only one single last Yiarhu-Kah living in the whole universe. And by book 19, he's dying.
    • Consul Enshu Atsukau himself is also likely the last living member of their species, courtesy of members of the above Yiarhu-Kah species.
  • Latex Perfection: When conducting undercover missions, Nävis uses advanced symbiotic disguises that cover her entirely with fake skin and serves as Translator Microbes.
  • Lean and Mean
    • The consul Enshu Atsukau takes this trope further than any human could hope to.
    • Additionally, Most extremely skinny, named aliens turn out to be assassins of some sort.
  • Lethal Harmless Powers: A protective power of radiating bliss, protecting the user by making anyone around him unable to perform violence... activated in the middle of a vast fleet where all the pilots are telepaths and many engines are psychic-powered, causing a cosmic pile-up that kills thousands
  • Loads and Loads of Races: Several dozens on Sillage alone, and more besides on the many planets visited.
  • Mars Needs Women: In the first volume, Nävis is complimented on her beauty by one of the aliens. Remember, Nävis is the first and only human they've ever seen.
  • Morality Pet: Atsukau might border on sociopathy in some cases and his stalker-like attention for Nävis is disturbing, but his concern for his son/protege seems genuine and is almost touching. Granted, the kid is almost as bloodthirsty as Atsukau used to be, but still...
  • Mysterious Backer: Atsukau later in the series.
  • Mysterious Protector: Again, Atsukau.
  • No Gravity for You: Pops up from time to time, since most ships use Artificial Gravity. Nävis was trained to remain efficient even in those conditions.
  • Obviously Evil: The Yiarhu-kah — hunched, Lean and Mean aliens with deep red skin and white carapace that make them look like a cross between a praying mantis and a human skeleton, covered with Spikes of Villainy which they can shoot at people. Subverted with the last of the Yiarhu-Kah, who looks almost the same except for the spikes, but has a much deeper sense of honour and morality ever since he was beheaded in battle. He also states that his brothers had lost their ways.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Volume 5's title looks like this. It is sometimes transcripted as "'J.VJ,..'\", and an outside source stated that it means "My life for my kin".
  • Off with His Head!: Many and varied. Of special note is the Yiarhu-kah, whose hand-mounted teleportation device allows him to Portal Cut his victims' heads open, sending their still living brains to his bosses' secret lab.
  • One-Man Army
    • Nävis under the right circumstances.
    • Exaggerated for the Yiarhu-kahs.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: It is later revealed that most of Sillage's spaceships are actually powered by psychic powers from people basically used as living batteries. Guess who powers hers....
  • Powers That Be: The Constituante, the secretive body that rules over the fleet and often seems to engage in murky schemes.
    • Book 14 brings in The Supra-Directory, who are this on a bigger scale and to whom the whole Constituante responds.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: In one of the later books Atsukau intimidates a gangster into helping him by entering his office and forcing the gangsters that surround him to shoot each other. On another occasion he inverts the trope, using mass suggestion to turn a battle between natives into an improvised football game... calmly commenting that in his old days he would have forced them to eat their own guts.
  • Raised by Wolves: Raised by a talking sabretooth tiger. (Not part of the trope, but earlier she was raised by a robot, before being subject to Laser-Guided Amnesia.)
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Magister may be a politician with all that it implies, but he is honest and sincerely willing to do good.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The human biologist Leboissard is approximately 3685 years old, maybe a century more since his last cryosleep.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Atsukau.
  • Retired Monster: Atsukau
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: One of Nävis's missions takes her to a planet that (superficially) resembles something between early 20th century Russia and late 19th century France, where she infiltrates a group of idealistic revolutionaries.
  • Robot Buddy: Snivel
  • Schizo Tech: Nävis lives in a treehouse in a spaceship. Yannsei uses bladed weapons more often than blasters.
  • Shark Pool: Played with by Ehmte-Ciss-Ronn. His race is naturally aquatic and his shark-equivalents smart enough to recognise him as their master. So instead of activating a trap door, the panic button under his desk instantly floods the whole office.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shrouded in Myth: The whole Yiarhu-Kah species.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The series begins more or less at the middle, but when comes the planet smuggling arc, it dives headfirst in full cynicism and keeps going further with each book. But once the arc concludes, the series starts regaining some idealism, and is now back to the middle.
  • Sleeper Ship: Humanity used these in the late 23rd century to start exploring and colonising the galaxy.
  • Space Opera
  • Spinoff Babies: Nävis
  • Suicide by Cop: Criscios in book 5.
  • Thank Your Prey: Right on the very first page.
  • Time Abyss: In Gears, the human biologist Leboissard left Earth on 17th May 2262 and spent roughly 3613 years in on-off cryo-stasis, making the current date of the story and the series around the year 5875 or 59th century.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: While he stays a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Yannsei visibly defrosts towards Navis and co after Great Colds.
  • Waif-Fu: Nävis
  • Wild Child: Nävis
  • You Have Failed Me: In the first book he appears in, Atsukau murders the last two of his Bodyguard Babes for damaging Nävis without permission.