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Comic Book / Sky Doll

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Sky Doll is a science fiction comic written, drawn and colored by Italian artists Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa (of W.I.T.C.H. fame).

In this story, sky dolls are sentient robots made for a multitude of jobs— mainly for the pleasure of males. Papathea, the planet the story begins in, is entirely dominated by a Theocracy that keeps power by a mix of manipulation of the masses, fake miracles and an iron rule. Oh, and by double standards: women on this planet are mostly oppressed and forced to conform to an impossible ideal of chastity but men are allowed to "sin" without guilt as long as it's with the dolls.

Noa is one of many dolls, working in the "Heavenly Carwash", car washes with some heavy fanservice. Noa is unusual for her kind as she dreams and feels she could do better — most dolls tend to take their virtual slavery situation quite lightly. Roy and Jabu are emissaries of the papacy on the road to Aqua for a peace treaty, who decide to make a quick stop on the carwash. Noa, after making a mess of a situation and deciding that enough is enough, stows away in the guys ship. After being discovered and with the reluctance of Jabu, she joins the expedition and learns more about herself and how messed up the situation on her planet really is.

So far books 1-3 have been released in French, Spanish, Danish, Japanese, Polish and English (the former by Marvel Comics), though Heavy Metal Magazine published all three books in a single issue about a year before the announcement. The fourth issue, Sudra, has finally come out, after about five years of Development Hell. Two volumes of short stories have been published; Space Ship Collection and Lacrima Christi, the first being a prequel about Noa's life before the story began, and the other being a bunch of side stories.

Tropes related to the series:

  • Almost Kiss: Happens twice in Book 3; first with Noa and Roy, and later with Jahu and Cleopatra.
  • Art Evolution: Quite noticeable on the small parts made for the space ship collection and Lacrima Christi.
  • Author Filibuster: Someone's got a problem with church and state not being separated, or with a church's power gone berserk. It's the tyrannical Ludovica who's apparently the big problem, and a significant population wants the more moderate vanished Papessa Agape to come back. There was a lot of such business way back in Ye Middle Agese, with occasionally pope/antipope fights between factions. See the Medici family and the Borgia family. Both authors have spoken about their huge dislike of organized religion, and in recent issues it has been revealed that Agape was no saint, and probably even more monstrous than Ludovica. Also, the treatment regime on Aqua is a not-so-subtle dig at Scientology's similar shenanigans.
  • Back from the Dead: Elianthe the Scrope and later Roy, thanks to the Swiss-Army Tears of Noa.
  • Beneath the Mask: Beneath Agape's serene purity, healing powers and kindness lies a sadistic sexual voyeur who desires to be a god.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: The masses are easily swayed by the Miraculatore's Clarke's Third Law compliant Miracles.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: When Frida Decibel interviews Jahu and Roy following their return from planet Aqua, she tries to spice the show up by bringing up footage of their everyday life during their mission, recorded using cameras hidden all over their ship, even inside the bathroom. Roy is not amused, especially since Jahu was apparently aware of the surveilance.
  • Bread and Circuses: who cares about the bread, the religious circus shows and fanservice are rampant! Especially religious broadcasts stuffed with fanservice.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Noa loses her healing powers after her encounter with Agape on Sudra... just as Cleopatra is injured during her circus act.
  • Cain and Abel: Papessa Ludovica and Papessa Agape, though Agape is already dead by Ludovica's hands by the time the story begins. Or is she?
  • Sibling Yin-Yang:Ludovica the impulsive, materialistic sister (as befitting someone who's supposed to represent carnality) and Agape the serene, spiritual sister (representing spirituality).
  • The Cake Is a Lie: In Lacrima Christi #1, a girl named Marie wins a contest and becomes the Papess for one day. At the end of the day, she is raped to insanity, with the high clerics and personnel watching and having a jolly good time. And sees afterwards, that her sister also "won" in the contest.
  • Clockwork Creature: The skydolls have to be recharged every few hours by winding them up via a key that fits in their back, each skydoll having one key that will only work for them.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Amusingly, not the typical hair-and-eyes example. When Roy touches Noa's hand for the first time, he's surprised at how soft it is. She is more than eager to point out that's not the only soft spot on her body, and given she's a Sky Doll, it's easy to guess where that line would've gone if her boss didn't interrupt her mid-sentence.
  • Do Androids Dream?: the Skydolls (gynoids) do not dream. Noa is the only exception. Makes us wonder...
  • Downer Ending: One in the Spaceship Collection and many of the stories in Lacrima Christi end this way.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Roy becomes attached to and protective toward Noa at around the same time she falls into his ship.
  • Enigmatic Minion: The Miraculatore seems to mostly service Ludovica's elaborate stage shows and her. In reality he uses that as a cover to set up a coup to bring down Ludovica's regime from the inside in the name of his beloved Agape.
  • Fanservice: In-universe, the skydolls—best to keep the populace distracted from the Dystopia, of course. They're even thematically named (sky vs heaven). Otherwise the story has a good bit thrown in for the reader here and there.
  • Fanservice with a Smile: Most of the jobs the dolls might have outside of prostitution.
  • Humanoid Popsicle: In the main Sky Doll comic #2 it seemed, that Jahu committed total genocide with just one shot by killing the "holy fish", the key to reproduction of the completely female race of Aqua. But in the side story comic Lacrima Christi #1 it's revealed that Agape somehow foresaw this genocide attempt by Ludovica and the main guru of the Aquarians was put into some kind of transformation chamber, that made "her" into a "him", so that the Aquarians may reproduce sexually. Off-screen fun, hinted at by one of the servant bots ("I have the feeling this new journey will be less spiritual and more ... lively.") ensues.
  • Hypocrite: In the series proper, the Miracle Genie calls Ludovica a "perverted psycho" behind her back. Lacrima Christi shows he has no right to criticize. NONE WHATSOEVER!
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy:
    • Noa has a very graphic hallucination where she is pregnant and her womb rips out. But it's all in a dream... or is it?
    • Not entirely. Noa seems to be the carrier of a clone fetus of Agape and is somehow possessed by Agape's soul/spirit.
  • Little Bit Beastly: The main cast appear to be cat people. The Aquarians have more fishlike facial features with very human anatomy (including boobs). Noa is pretty much a robotic Cat Girl, as are all of the other dolls.
  • Loving a Shadow:
    • Pretty much the only reason the Miracle Genie puts up with Ludovica is because she's Agape's flesh and blood.
    • The main reason Jahu is attracted to Cleopatra is because she (intentionally) reminds him of his ex-wife, Rose.
  • Madonna-Whore Complex:
    • Oh, lord, yes. Normal women have more comparative autonomy but are held up to impossible standards of chastity. Robot women, the Sky Dolls, are actively prevented from developing complex personalities at all and are seen as walking, talking boob and booty dispensers.
    • Seen at work with The Sisters: Ludovica is decried by the Miraculatore for representing earthly desire by being greedy, vain and lustful; Agape is exalted for being charitable, "modest" and virginal as the spiritual aspect. The Miraculatore willfully ignores the fact that Agape is just as, if not MORE SO, perverted note  and ambitious note  than Ludovica. The clergy may have actually done Papathea a favor having her murdered.
  • Marshmallow Hell: Noa does it to Roy at one point.
  • Messianic Archetype: Agape and possibly Noa with powers to back it up. Ludovica masquerades as this.
  • Mind Rape: In Lacrima Christi #1, done to Ludovica, to make her a docile figurehead of the high clergy. It is revealed at that point, that Ludovica's memory of killing her sister was a fake, injected at the "Genie of Wonders" behalf, making the question, who killed Agape or if she was killed at all in the conventional sense even more unanswered than in the main series.
  • Mission from God: Roy and Jahu are sent on a mission by Ludovica to try to convert the the People of Aqua. At least that's what Roy thinks. Jahu on the other hand was given more specific orders on how to deal with the heretics.
  • Mushroom Samba: In order to enter the People of Aqua's city you have to reach a higher level of consciousness. Noa and Roy are able to do this through meditation. Jahu on the other hand just pops some drugs and ends up hallucinating running through a hallway of breasts. This leads to a near-Marshmallow Hell moment of the most epic order.
  • Nipple and Dimed, Shirtless Scene: Ludovica, Noa and especially Agape who, unlike the other two, never covers her breasts.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Frida Decibel does an awfully good job of playing the dimwitted yes-man shill for Ludovica, but some in her employ are followers of Agape. And so is she.
  • One-Gender Race: The Aquarians are all female. This doesn't end well for them. Later events give them choose to become a boring ol' two sex race in order to reproduce again. Clownfish, anyone?
  • Only Good People May Pass: The story features Aqua, the world of (another) alien species who are devoted to harmony and peace. To keep aggression away, the method of entering Aqua expects that the individual seeking entrance can "purify their mind" through meditating in a specific place. It's proven not quite failsafe when an assassinator manages to enter by using a specific drug.
  • Parental Incest: The Miraculatore claims to be Noa's father. She has at least one dream where she made out with him. What's more, it's heavily implied in the first volume that this was based on reality. The man has issues.
  • Rape as Drama: Several moments in Lacrima Christi.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Roy and Jahu, Jahu is more laid back and somewhat cynical and Roy is more active and optimistic.
  • Religion Is Wrong: Or at least, religion:
    • distracts the masses from the issues in the now and here (as seen during the grand Ludovican show)
    • outright brainwashes these masses up to the point of minimising sensible and critical thought
    • is a tool for controlling these masses
    • makes gigantic business out of people's faith
    • is an undignified circus to maximise the loyalty of the masses
    • directs worship towards flattened, polished images of figures who in fact can be, and are pretty much anything as persons go
    • divides people into categories according to artificial definitions of worthiness
    • cultivates even more artificial and even laughable values (case in point: believer women are expected to wear highly concealing and obstructive pyramid-like robes, while any kind of wanton fornication with the Skydolls is never a sin because the dolls are not real people).
  • Robot Hair: Skydolls have bald heads, with helmet-like, very synthetic, wigs (some of which resemble normal hair and some which don't).
  • Scenery Porn: The gorgeous pans of the architecture and busts of crying angels in Ludovica's room, while the Miraculatore takes her from behind stands out.
  • Sexbot: The sky dolls.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Lacrima Christi is the name of an Italian wine.
    • A chapter from Spaceship has some dolls dress up as anime heroines. One of them is Sailor Moon.
    • "Age of Aqua" = "Age of Aquarius."
  • Stalker Shrine: The Miracle Genie has one to Agape. Kind of. Hard to stalk someone who's been missing and/or dead for many years.
  • Villain Has a Point: The Papathean clergy were wise to get rid of the megalomaniacal would-be-goddess Agape.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: This series has many but worthy of consideration is the fact that Noa had dolls killed on her escape from her creator.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Cleopatra gives Noa advice when she's struggling to choose between reuniting with the Miraculatore or running away with Roy.
  • Wrong-Name Outburst: During the scene in Ludovica's room the Miraculatore says "Agape," the name of Ludovica's counterpart who she thought she had killed before the story begins. She notices, but doesn't give him the audience expected hell for it.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once the Miraculatore, lover and devotee of Agape and the creator of the Sky Dolls, turns off Noa's AI in 'Sudra,' Agape's spirit escapes Noa's body to reunite with him... and rips out his heart. With Noa (temporarily) offline and the machine planet of Io relatively nearby, Agape no longer needs him.