Aquapunk is a science fantasy webcomic universe first conceived in 2008 by Milo "Lo" Keen. It has existed in its current incarnation since 2009. It is set on an ocean planet inhabited by magitechnologically-advanced merfolk called Esani, and their modern-day golems called Nosda. Currently, the only story in the series is The First Law.
The First Law the exploits of the serf caste of the Nosda, the Nosda Faithful. 1,600 years before the story began, the Esani beat death. Hard. They figured out how to resurrect souls from the dead and stuff them into golems, the first Nosda. As is natural for any race of short-lived mortals, everyone freaked out, went to war over what should have been a crowning accomplishment, and ruthless industry won the day. Megacorporations sprang up and founded the nation of Noarunosd, where the rich and powerful live forever in stone bodies among the neon-lighted streets. Then a century later, some of those spare bodies started waking up on their own. As they were technically the property of the upper classes, and suffering from mass-amnesia, the unknown revenants were declared a slave caste and sent out to do what giant hulking mechanized stone suits will always do best - work and kill.
Coron and his squad were a regular anti-terrorist unit sent to gun down illegal mining crews between work shifts. Coron's loyalty was bought in play-money and wrestling matches, and his subordinates Aogaur and Eieron just liked fighting. But over the course of a single week, everything went wrong. Coron talked to the wrong terrorist leader, and something in him changed. Then he had a vision about children being gunned down by a Nosda.
Then Aogaur went mad and ripped their commanding officer's stone heart out.
And now they're on the run - and the gods are doing far more than watching...
Aquapunk contains examples of:
- Achey Scars: Siai is sometimes seen rubbing the light scarring around her wrists from the heavy shackles she wore in prison.
- Action Mom: Esbe, Avimo's mom.
- Action Prologue
- Animated Armor: The Nosda can be seen as animated stone suits.
- Not quite an example of Living Statue, however, because they only become inanimate upon death have an internal structure.
- Cleavage Window: Siai has one, even though Esani, being non-mammalian, don't have breast tissue.
- Crapsack World: Noarunosd
- Conlang: Sennan. The dominant language spoken through the territories under Noarunod's rule.
- Yes, it's very fleshed out, and while it bears some similarity to English, it is almost completely original. A "Sennan 101" PDF is currently in the works.
- Conveniently an Orphan: Faithful come pre-packaged without any roots, relatives or responsibilities— they just appear.
- Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: Military, paramilitary and government personnel all have similar uniforms. Non-civilian magic workers usually incorporate the uniform into their ritualistic dress.
- Esoteric Motifs: Lots of them, though most have been made up and worked out into its own system of mysticism.
- Sometimes imagery is borrowed from some Mesoamerican cultures (almost guaranteed to be Mayan, as most of the comic aesthetic borrows from that anyways, though occasionally Aztec).
- Western symbolic systems are often avoided, though sometimes without success. The problem with using them is that they take away from the believability of the setting and culture (and sometimes just plain old make no sense), but creating an entire system of visual imagery from scratch can result in the alienation of the reader. So little compromises must be made.
- Facial Markings: Esani have symmetrical blotches and patterns on their face and bodies. Bluer Esani have white markings, and green Esani have darker green ones.
- Fantastic Racism: Siai politically advocates for the genocide of all Faithful, everywhere. Or so we're led to believe.
- Fish People
- Five-Man Band
- Flashback Echo
- Got Volunteered: Avimo. All the time. Especially when Coron rather selfishly volunteered his family to put them up for the night while on the lam.
- Gray-and-Gray Morality: The entire comic-verse. Everybody has an agenda, everybody's done something horrible, and everybody's absolutely convinced that they're in the right.
- Grew a Spine: Coron
- Gut Feeling: Coron. Weird things happen, and he's almost sure something is up.
- Harmful to Minors: Siai's childhood flashback in "Torchlighter"
- Henchmen Race: The Faithful to... everyone else.
- Granted, they were not created originally for that purpose. It was just sort of a happy accident, like stumbling upon a nugget of gold at Sutter's Mill.
- The Hero's Journey: Coron
- Humanoid Aliens: The Esani
- Informed Obscenity: "Cet!"
- Necessary Evil: Aluomoc claims he and the other trickster gods are this; if mortalkind always won, they'd bleed the world dry with overpopulation and unchecked consumption and pat themselves on the back for a job well done.
- One-Word Title: Portmantitle-style.
- Perpetual-Motion Monster: The Faithful
- Skilled, but Naïve: Coron, Aogaur, and Eieron, from their lives as a typical Faithful. (See below.) Thankfully, they have Avimo to provide street smarts.
- Super Soldier: The Faithful have regenerative capabilities and are a bit harder to kill than the average Nosda. Their special situation lends itself perfectly to lives of relative isolation in the care of the state, and education based solely on its relevance to military necessity.
- There Are No Coincidences
- Underwater City
- Water Is Air: Responsible for a Nosda's or Faithful's ability to move quickly underwater, and unrealistic depictions of melee combat and light, mostly.
- Though the trope is averted whenever possible: depth issues, language, movement, clothing, dissolution of things like blood and silt, food, and murkiness can be handled at least semi-realistically without negatively impacting the storytelling.
- Words Can Break My Bones: Aquapunk is based in a society run by magic and Magitek.