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Literature / The Descendants

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"They are heroes. They are people. This is their story. A comic book universe in prose."

The Descendants is a Web Serial Novel, written by Landon Porter. It can best be described as an all text comic book, as it is presented in the form of issues, annuals, one shots and mini series just as if it was any other comic book universe.

The main series follows a group of superhumans called descendants on the run from a the group behind a villainous Superhero School called the Academy. Events conspire from there to turn them from basically a Secret Project Refugee Family into a Super Team.

Miniseries on the site also follow characters in other corners of the Descendants Universe such as the heroes who live in New York, or the students in a non-evil Superhero School.

The entire series revels in playing with Comic Book Tropes and rejecting The Dark Age of Comic Books. Word of God even states that early versions were a blatant Take That! at Marvel's Civil War and that as a whole, it strives to find the sweet spot between the Silver Age and the Bronze Age.

Mostly, it sticks to Teen Hero books and family themes.

An ebook was recently released: Welcome to Freeland House, which edits and collects the first eight issues.

Not to be confused with the novel which was the basis of the 2011 film. Or the unrelated Disney Channel franchise Descendants.

This series provides examples of:

  • '90s Anti-Hero: Deconstructed, any character that has the motivation and personality of one is a straight up villain here. See Samael: His defining characteristic? Pouches, lots of pouches.
    • His fandom seems to share his views, in the PbP RPG they're playing on the website's forums one of the characters comments on a hulking man with tiny feet and, of course, pouches.
    • Even Vorpal, who is the most woobish of the villains, gets a Shut Up, Hannibal! by the Knight in Sour Armour Hope, of all people.
  • Affably Evil: Most villains. Even the demons are polite. That does not mean they're nice however.
  • Alice Allusion: Vorpal. Besides her Code Name, her friend Mr. Voice calls her Alice for lack of a real name to call her by.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Subverted. One issue actually riffs on the idea in its name, but in the end, the girl decides that she likes the quiet guy.
  • All There in the Manual: Zig zags a bit. Reading only the main series is fine, and you get 99% of the stuff. However for all the small trivia about the future world, the prelates, faerie and everything else you need to not only read all the side stories, but the Q&A thread on the forums has stuff in it not answered anywhere. The RPG played on the forums (and set in the same universe) has some additional information too, but it's already more than 3,000 posts long.
  • Alpha Bitch: Lily Goldenmeyer and with the new school comes Betty "Rapunzel" Sinclair
  • Anti-Villain: Vorpal, clearly. Liedecker to a lesser degree.
  • Badass Normal: Liedecker manages to fight a freaking demon to a standstill. But the cake goes to George, who single handedly stops Rehenimaru's plan, and without any kind of weapon or battle training.
  • Big Bad: Simon Talbot and Project TOME
    • Morganna might yet turn out to be an even Bigger Bad.
  • The Chessmaster: Brother Wright
    • Simon Talbot is starting to show signs of this too.
    • And Thunderhead.
  • City of Adventure: The fictional city of Mayfield, VA.
  • Code Name: Academy students had a tradition of giving themselves these. It's also implied that British descendants working for the government also have them following the pattern of Verbing Noun.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: The characters often reference villains who haven't appeared in the series.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Freaque, Rehenimaru, and Joy Duvall. If it's female and non-human, it will be one of these.
    • Phineas (Xylem) actually thinks it might be a part of descendent powers.
  • Dark Chick: Shine and to a lesser extent, Impact
  • Deadpan Snarker: Whitecoat and Sneak Thief.
  • Death by Origin Story: Whitecoat's favorite professor
  • Differently Powered Individual: The superheroes are called "prelates" by the media, but many of the heroes (as per the page quote) know exactly what they are. At one point, a character asks when it will be okay to call bad guys supervillains.
  • Eagleland: Starts out looking like a Type 1 largely because the series is very US-centric until Volume 5. But Fridge Logic sets in when you realize that none of the core conflict would even exist without massive corruption and/or incompetence in the US government.
  • Enemy Civil War: Most apparent with the Brother Wright/Project TOME split, but Morganna/demons and demons/demon baboons, too. This seems to be a way of life in Faerie.
  • Enemy Mine: Even demons intent on hunting down and consuming the emotions of humans don't like Morganna.
  • Escaped from Hell: While she wasn't in "Hell", Morganna, the mystical Big Bad, managed after falling into Faerie. She mustered an army by defeating and cowing various creatures until she had a big enough army to challenge the local demons — who decided to cut a deal with her.
  • Expy: Liedecker is essentially Diniverse Luthor played sane and much, much more dangerous.
    • Batman has two: Barn Owl who is a Millionaire Playboy who Crime Fights With Cash and even has a Older Guardian in New York.
    • And Umbrage/Shadow in Chicago, who is a Antiheroic cop on disability after being tortured. He goes after criminals at night and while he uses his powers to torture mobsters who got away with their crimes, he doesn't kill and has a sidekick who he admits is helping him to pull back from the edge.
  • Feather Flechettes: Samael launches these with his Magitek wings. Also Barn Owl (in the Whitecoat and the Second Stringers mini-series).
  • For Want of a Nail: Apparently according to George if Alexis didn't see the memo and breakout the descendants in stasis the world becomes a crapsack one within six months or so. Since she did, it looks like the world is instead heading to a Golden Age.
  • Future Slang: Shiny is used probably as a Shout-Out to Firefly.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Laurel and Tink, Warrick's formerly non-powered girlfriend.
  • Generation Xerox: Played with, a lot. Cyn and Warrick more or less are Alexis and Ian as kids, and thanks to stasis they even have the same roommate. In the "possible future" issue they even get their own super-group in the future. However it looks like they're not going to end up together, and the more Character Development there is, the more what looked like a Generation Xerox at first gets less and less xeroxy.
    • Word of God says that originally, Cyn and Warrick were supposed to get together, but then the author ended up developing Tink, who was originally supposed to be a Romantic False Lead (along with Liz Von Stoker and presumably a few others, but they were cut when Tink became a permanent fixture).
  • Genre Savvy: Warrick swings between this and Wrong Genre Savvy from issue to issue.
  • Golem: In the issue Emet.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: The Book of Reason (and presumably the rest of the 4 books) spontaneously spawns new material. Even in digital copies.
  • Instant Runes: Occult uses these. Notable in that she has to prepare them ahead of time to get the 'instant' effect.
    • They take 2 hours to create, but the non-instant runes take half an hour. In battle the two hours ahead of time makes them much faster in the moment.
  • In the Hood: Occult wears one. It casts magical darkness over her face.
  • I Was Just Passing Through: Odd heroic sample with Hope 'helping' Vorpal with some smugglers when she just wanted to get to a transceiver.
  • Kid Sidekick: strangely enough, for all the gold and silver age feeling, deconstructed. The Whitecoat doesn't really want Damascus (Warrick's old prelate name) around, and finally has a chat with his parents to stop him after he accidentally slags key evidence. This leads them to enroll him at the Academy to train.
    • Even more deconstructed with Kay and Occult, since they're both kids.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: usually done in a positive way. All the people misguided or forced into villainy manage to get an happy end of one sort or another. It does help that most of the antagonists are overall positive characters.
  • Magical Girl: Occult is a Magic Warrior.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Wordof God describes Cyn as this.
  • Meta Origin: Most heroes and a good number of the villains are descendants.
  • Mind Control: Both Avatar and Thunderhead's MOs. Morganna doesn't hesitate to apply it when needed.
  • Mutants: Called 'descendants' here. An interesting case in that while descendants are born with their powers, those powers are the result of experimentation during World War II, hence the name- because they are the descendants of the people experimented on.
  • Mysterious Watcher: We had to wait for 49 issues before discovering who 'George' was.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Juniper has moments of this, casually commenting one things like how easily she could simply be shot and killed immediately after Cyn had a hallucination about all of her friends being killed horribly.
  • Orichalcum: The nearly indestructible metal orihalcite and its refined form, orihalcon.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Trolls and Demons especially.
  • Parental Abandonment: Mostly averted. We've met almost all the main characters' parents and know why they're allowed to stay at Freeland House.
    • Played straight in Cyn's case. Her family drove her out with their abuse over her Big Eater tendencies 'costing too much'.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Discussed by Alloy and Facsimile in issue #67. Alloy transmutes more metal than ever before, the effort does make him weak for a moment but he doesn't get a nosebleed.
    Facsimile: That’s a lot of metal. You’ve never done this much at once.
    Alloy: I never tried to push it at all before.”
    Alloy: But hey, if I get a nosebleed and faint or something, you’re right here, right?
  • Public Domain Character: Morganna. Only not really.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Rare, but all the more grating for it.
    • The author has gone back and done a lot of editing.
  • Secret Identity: Played with. The Big Bad knew their identities from the start, their families mostly find out early on, but they still maintain their secret identities because of all the new enemies they've made.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The names of Alloy's sentient, metal tentacles, Isp and Osp are a reference to Sluggy Freelance, who had two talking snakes attached to a demon's head with the same name.
    • The Bechdel Test is referenced in one conversation that has been 100% about dating and boys, ended by a character mentioning that she's probably going to fail the test she's studying for, administered by a Professor Bechdel.
  • Show Within a Show: Malady Place. Many of the characters are fans and the pilot is in the extras area.
  • Sixth Ranger: Primarily Juniper, but also Lisa, to an extent. Also Tink, and sort-of with Callie, because even though she's now officially part of the team, whether or not she'll actually become a main character is debatable.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Firmly on the idealism side and consciously taking a stand against cynicism.
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: In Rust Buckets, Juniper points out that it wouldn't make sense for her to be racist against non-descendants because she's only ever dated non-descendants.
  • Start of Darkness: The Liedecker: Life and Times miniseries is this for Liedecker and Rise of Morganna shows this for Morganna in flashback.
  • Super Hero
  • Super Hero School: And how! The Academy, the Brunswick School, Voice's School, the Liedecker Institute
  • Superpower Lottery: Some people control universal forces, some people... are prematurely bald.
  • Take That!: The briefly seen villain Wartorn more or less *is* Mark Millar and paraphrases Millar as a justification of his villainy.
    • His real name is 'Mark Miller' in French.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Constantly. It's rare to even have a villain kill someone. Not for lack of trying on their parts, though. Morganna seems to be immune to this rule.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The 4, each of which contain the source code for the universe's local magical laws. All have their own force of will, are extremely dangerous, and perhaps most worryingly, can be photocopied or digitized with both copies retaining those attributes. One of them is called the Book Of Madness.
    • The Book of Passions in seems to think it's perfectly okay to sic monsters on its Chosen One.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Liedecker. He's managed to get the heroes to name a school after him!
    • Not him, his father.