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Literature / The Crusaders

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"... Let's get crusading."

The Crusaders, written by Pancake Overdose, is a Web Serial Novel centered around, well... The Crusaders, a superhero team created by a government agency to combat the rising threat of supervillains in their world.

10 years have passed since the Age of Supers ended, and the world has found new ways to defend itself. Yet, for reasons unclear, the DSA has decided to kick-start the Second Age of Superheroes by forming a brand-new superhero team. Unfortunately, since they got rid of all the good heroes, they'll have to settle on whatever they can find.

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So far, that superhero team includes a rich and highly procrastinating alien immigrant and complete superhero fanboy who dreams of using his energy powers to be like his childhood idols, but has no real applicable skills; a blind martial artist monk with psychic powers and an optimistic outlook that disguises the struggles he's faced his whole life; an overly-talkative genius engineer whose sociable tendencies don't keep her from getting sucked into her own little world of strange science; a high school student whose power to heal others can't fix her soft-spoken stuttering and social anxiety; a childlike shape-shifting creature made out of living lime jelly who wants no part in any violence despite being a living weapon; and, a centuries-old vampire who has grown to resent everyone and everything around him, but fights for mankind for reasons unknown.

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Earth is surely in good hands.

The story follows the adventures of Kon Dui, the young, wealthy, alien immigrant struggling to fulfill his life-long aspirations to superheroism instilled in him by the first Age of Superheroes, and the team of inexperienced psychological train-wrecks he was assigned to. The Crusaders, at first, find themselves lacking any villains to fight and struggling to co-exist together. However, they soon end up with a lot more than they originally bargained for on both those fronts, and find themselves changed, as a result.

Family and Teamwork are the major themes in regard to the character development of the team, as they slowly come to view themselves as more than a group of individuals fighting crime.

Volume One of the web serial has been completed, spanning over 250,000 words that the writer intends to go over and edit to improve, for the benefit of his fans, future and present. He has also written a prologue featuring the events leading to the formation of The Crusaders, and a crossover with Tiamatty's The Champions.

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Soon after Volume One's completion, Volume Two of The Crusaders was started, and is currently ongoing.

The writer is very open to discussion, and will gladly answer any questions you have about the verse, provided it won't spoil the story, of course.

Not to be confused with the video game.


This series provides examples of:

  • The Alcatraz: The Maximus Supervillain Containment Facility is where the more dangerous villains are held and it, thus, this. Doctor Anarchy managed to escape, though.
  • Alternate Timeline:
    • The story is set in alternate history universe where the past is littered with occurrences of the supernatural and the strange. In the present, an alliance between the collective governments of Earth and various alien planets in the Andromeda galaxy rule together over the civilised universe following their joining forces to prevent a race of alien warriors from invading Earth in the early 1970s. The introduction of alien elements and fantastic new technologies after this war led to the rising up of superheroes and supervillains, and the period of their struggles - the Age of Supers - reigned for decades, until the final battle between both sides leveled New York City. After this, the government-run Department of Superheroic Affairs turned on both heroes and villains, driving the leftover good guys into retirement or disappearance with new anti-superhero laws and the bad guys into prison.
    • During the events of The Second Planetary War, Moscow was destroyed.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Glorien, at the beginning on the story.
  • And I Must Scream: Christos, after Anarchy turns him into a monster.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The Crusaders continue fighting crime at the end of Volume One.
  • Anti-Hero: Nocturne, originally. Justified, considering what he's been through.
  • Appeal to Force: The characters are somewhat prone to violence, save Gunk. Even Suzy becomes a bit punchy, after being trained by Nocturne.
  • Armor Is Useless: Techsmith's armor, being made out of XO-10, makes her basically the most durable person on the team. Alchemistress, so far, has been the only one able to affect the armor. The first time, it was laughed off. The second time, it wasn't.
  • Asshole Victim: Kenomo drains the life forces of a bunch of cultists who had no problems with worshipping a demon who tried to destroy Japan, and bombing Tokyo.
    • Anarchy, the insane lunatic that tried to send Earth spiraling into chaos multiple times, gets sliced and diced by his own android.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Starbolt and Techsmith fighting the Nazi Robots at the White House.
  • Badass Normal: Lizzy's badass without the armor, what with her being a genius and all.
    • Red Cross falls under this, after being trained by Nocturne and depowered.
    • Jimmy Nomad, as well.
  • Bank Robbery: Kon gets arrested for stopping some bank robbers from getting away in Rising Star.
  • Batman Gambit: Kenseijin pulls a slight one on Akuma in Chapter 53 of Volume One.
  • Big Bad: Glorien, who upstages Anarchy, treats him like an insufferable lapdog for the remainder of Volume One and nearly destroys the Earth.
    • One could argue that the DSA was the true villain of the story.
    • The hidden villain of Volume Two has been confirmed to be this.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Nocturne has a habit of saving people right in the nick of time, normally in the form of his knocking the villain away with a flurry of bats.
    • Happens three times in the Revenge Of The Oni arc: First, Nocturne saves Umi from being killed by Kenomo, then Mind Master and Starbolt pull one in the resulting fight. Then, The Crusaders pull a final one, as Red Cross heals Nabu after he gets stabbed by Kenomo.
    • A major one happens in Chapter 55, with Techsmith disabling Glorien's trump card before deliberately invoking the trope.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At the end of Volume One, Glorien was stopped, but he had already succeeded in destroying Moscow, ending millions of lives.
  • A couple of the story arcs ended this way, including when Thomas and Hikaru's tension finally blows up, Lizzy is put in a critical condition, and Gunk quits The Crusaders.
  • Blessed with Suck: Gunk. Being a living blob of jelly has effectively limited his opportunities for social interaction. Poor guy.
  • Blood Knight: An alternate character interpretation for Kenseijin, taking his apparent obsession with fulfilling his desire to be a superhero again and relive his glory days.
  • Break Them by Talking:
    • Starbolt apparently tries this with Doctor Anarchy, but the good Doctor was too far gone for it to have any effect.
    • Almost every character attempts this in one way or the other. Everyone, not just The Crusaders.
  • Breather Episode: The earlier arcs had these.
  • Bury Your Gays: Averted. Nocturne and Jimmy Nomad live to the end.
  • Cardboard Prison: Kenseijin suggests that the DSA may have let Glorien escape in Volume Two to stir up trouble for The Crusaders. It is possible that they may have done so for less dangerous villains in the past.
  • Character Development: The group of individuals Volume One started with is vastly different from the family it ended with.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The agony serum Anarchy uses on Mind Master in Chapter 1 becomes important in the story's climax.
    • Anarchy's Hammer Space and portal technology is later used to send the Oni to Earth en masse.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Nocturne and his ability to ignite the sword of an Oni.
    • Abigail Newman, a girl that was bullied in Suzy's school, ends up joining The Crusaders after the climax.
    • Christos, the billionaire whose gala The Crusaders were assigned to protect, ends up funding The Crusaders when they cut ties with the DSA.
  • Cornered Rattlesnake: Kaleb thought he was one when Starbolt and Techsmith headed to his house to recruit him. They ended up having to resort to plan B as a result, and even that didn't work out as planned.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Crusaders utterly destroy the Nazi Robots attacking the White House.
    • Starbolt, a Novon, versus a bunch of human kidnappers who took his best friend.
  • Darkand Troubled Past: Nocturne, being a vampire.
  • Death from Above: How Red Cross saves Nocturne in Chapter 27.
  • Decoy Getaway: Doctor Anarchy presumably had androids for this exact purpose.
  • De-Power: Red Cross uses up all of her healing powers in saving the collective realms of the Crusader-verse from a powerful Necromancer.
  • Differently Powered Individual: There are quite a few ways of gaining powers in the Crusader-verse. One can have extranormal abilities via:
    • Being an alien.
    • Augmenting your abilities with extra-terrestrial technology.
    • Gaining powers from radiation from supernatural or extra-terrestrial sources.
    • Intentional or accidental mutation of genes, or organs.
    • Practicing sorcery or magic.
    • Enhancement from divine beings.
  • Door Stopper: 250,000 words. A quarter-million.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The team.
    Nocturne: And can't anyone else smell the desperation that went into this group's formation? I mean,really. Our team includes a living weapon who doesn't like fighting and thinks like a child, an engineer who seems more occupied trying to beat the record for most amount of words ever spoken in a single sentence than much else, a teenager whose power is almost entirely useless in a full-on fight, and a Citizen Justice fanboy so blinded by the ridiculous fantasies of a boy playing in his backyard to see the facts raising the middle finger to his face.
    * Every One Can See It: With the possible exception of Gunk, everybody knew that Kon had the hots for Lizzy.
  • Extra Normal Prison: Maximus, designed for the exact purpose of holding the more dangerous villains.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Despite this being a somewhat light-hearted, reconstruction of the superhero genre, almost every notable death has been very gruesome.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The effect electricity has on Gunk comes back to bite The Crusaders in the butt.
    • Before leaving to fight Anarchy's monster, Starbolt makes a crack about the team getting captured.
    • Nocturne's defense of Jimmy Nomad, considering he usually took on an apathetic role regarding the team, makes more sense with the reveal that he's gay.
    • The lack of the DSA's involvement with The Crusaders' dealings makes more sense reading back.
  • From Bad to Worse: The entirety of Volume One took place in less than two months, with barely any time for The Crusaders to rest.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Word of God implies that, due to the influence of the planet 'Rochen', there are quite a few on Earth.
    • Techsmith is one, along with being a Technopath.
    • Gistreth, the dwarf that accompanied Red Cross on her quest to save the realms, is one as well.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Lizzy ended up making the potato lifeform she wanted to create... It didn't end up so great for the team afterwards.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Jimmy Nomad, largely due to his boyfriend.
  • Hero of Another Story: Naturally, a lot of characters not part of the main team fall under this.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: Kenseijin's mecha, Sukui, is this.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Starbolt destroying the Helios machine leads to Techsmith being put in a critical condition.
  • Noodle Incident: Something apparently happened with a possibly naked Lizzy and a bathroom.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: As of Glorien's attack, Moscow has been destroyed, the world is left reeling from both that and the Oni attack, and The Crusaders have cut ties with the DSA.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain:
    • At first glance, you'd have to wonder why Doctor Anarchy is such a threat. He certainly doesn't act like one.
  • Not So Different: Glorien says this of himself and Starbolt.
  • Odd Friendship: Considering Nocturne's initial personality, this applies to his friendship with anyone.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Played Straight. Especially with Kon.
    • Andrew gets in on the fun a bit in Volume Two.
  • Police are Useless: Possibly Averted. We don't see much of them, but they kept the peace before The Crusaders were formed.
    • Played straight on Novos. The justice system leaves a lot to be desired. Acknowledged by the Crusaders themselves.
  • Power Trio: Starbolt, Techsmith and Mind Master. Acknowledged by Hikaru.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Defeating Glorien did not come without its costs.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Powers aren't random, or widespread. Typically, one has to work to get extranormal abilities.
    • Vigilantes are promptly tracked down and arrested by the DSA.
    • Members of the team regularly have arguments, due to their conflicting personalities and ideals.
    • The heroes aren't a team of vigilantes running around with free-reign. They work for the government.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: At least one of these gets given out to the villain of each arc.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Averted.
  • The Reveal:
    • The DSA had been manipulating The Crusaders and fueling their individual and collective problems in order to reap from the resulting chaos they were bound to cause.
    • Nocturne is bisexual, and he has feelings for James.
  • Running Gag: Quite a few.
    • The Crusaders LOVE to make speeches.
    • Gunk's innocence and obliviousness to Earth's customs.
    • Nocturne's tendency to get impaled through the stomach by swords.
    • Nocturne's tendency to attack the villains with his chiropteran sorcery.
    • Hand-to-Hand fighters have a habit of tripping their opponents by jerking on their ankles.
    • Kon getting flustered when asked about Lizzy in the early chapters.
    • Andrew and Umi's 'relationship'.
    • In-universe, Lizzy apparently ends up naked a lot.
    • "A Larp? What is this creature?" note 
    • This:
      "Thank you, sir."
      "Don't call me sir."
      "Oh. Right."note 
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