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Webcomic / City of Reality

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From right to left, the front-most characters are Todo, AV, and Hawk of SUEPR Team Five. (source)

"Welcome to the City of Reality"

"Greetings, citizens! Mayor Rabbit here! It's another great day in Reality! SUEPR has gotten monster attacks down 30% this week. Yay for them! Trade with Magic World continues despite a few accidents with curses — don't worry Mrs. Crabapple, we'll get you and your husband's brains swapped back right quick. Our new treaty with Scifi World goes into effect next week, make sure you remember to give our new alien visitors a big Reality Hello!"

City of Reality is a webcomic by Ian Samson, best known before this for his work as a guest artist for The Wotch and other Transformation Comics. He also has an online portfolio of various transformation art, including Idle Minds and QT 3.14.

The titular city is set in a world that is virtually free of crime and unhappiness, where all the inhabitants have seemingly learned to get along without strife — in other words, a perfect Utopia. The mayor is a puppet — literally. Everyone is nice, all the time, even if their homes are being destroyed by a tornado or they're discovering their wife is having an affair. And the government? It's literally the mayor, and no one else. And the strangest thing: as wrong as it all seems, it's just as bright as it appears to be: a carefree world where everyone is happy and friendly and nobody lets anything change that. But that may be a problem in itself, for people accustomed to things that constantly go right may find themselves at a loss when things finally go horribly wrong...

The stars of City of Reality are the kid members of SUEPR Team Five, an organization of superheroes tasked with protecting Reality against any threats — and rescuing puppies or helping old ladies cross the street in their spare time. Todo, the team leader, is a native of Reality. AV and Hawk, the newest members, are both immigrants to Reality who must overcome their fears and uncertainties to truly fit in. In turn, they help the idealistic Todo learn to deal with other worlds where people aren't so nice.

Originally releasing multiple pages every 1st and 15th of a month, updates became more and more sporadic until the comic went into an infinite hiatus. It used to be hosted here, but for some reason the host website went down for several years, and while it's returned it has little of the old content. The aforementioned portfolio site has gone down as well, and his Tumblr has been inactive for a few years, however Ian's DeviantArt is still up and active as of December 2021.

Tropes in this webcomic:

  • The Ace:
    • Todo, at least according to Hawk. And he's nice about it, which makes it even worse.
    • Newcomer Hawk thinks that SUEPR Team Five leader Todo is this: idealistic and generous to a fault, skilled enough to defeat any challenge, and recipient of general acclaim and affection. However, as the entire story is a Deconstruction of a Utopia, Todo's idealism is sorely challenged by the world outside Reality.
  • Action Girl: AV
  • All There in the Manual: Hinto, Danny, and the Manumitor are all from earlier one-shot comics, as well as a recurring victim who was turned into water by a jealous lover (probably Hinto, although the art is too sketchy and the characters too prototypical to tell). Danny and the Manumitor once burst in on a couple from an earlier miniseries. More importantly, at the beginning of chapter 7 and again halfway through, there's a link to the version that was originally posted, before the villain went back and changed the archive; you'll have to read it to understand a number of things.
  • Alpha Bitch: According to AV, the schools in Walk World are fairly loaded with these types of girls.
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: Averted.
  • And I Must Scream: Revealed as the outcome of Hinto Ama's transformations; subjects frequently go mad as their consciousness is imprisoned, intact, in whatever they've become... for years.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: A woman's description of everything that's wrong with Magic World.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Device. It seems harmless enough at first, until it's revealed to be causing the storm that's killed dozens. Then on Magic World, outside of civilization, it becomes sentient and prescient, and no longer needs a power source. Whether it's malevolent or not is up for debate: it certainly has a sadistic sense of humor, but it saves the heroes whenever you/they make the wrong decision, and the one time it resets time regardless of your decisions seems malevolent in the short term, and its stated reason is pure sadism, but depending on whether it was telling the truth in a certain Bad Ending, may or may not have saved their lives.
  • Artificial Limbs: Clubber has a robotic arm, complete with interchangeable attachments, like an Arm Cannon.
  • The Atoner: Hinto Ama, in the form of the Manumitor. Unfortunately, Manumitor still has a very poor connection with humanity and has become a Knight Templar.
  • Author Appeal: The artist and writer also does transformation fetish comics. Can you tell?
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Both the leader of Dark World and the leader of Magic World. Justified in both cases... Dark World is ruled by whoever's tough enough to kick all the ass on the way to the top, and the leader of Magic World was using magic drained out of the rest of the world to power up.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: That, or sentient shadows.
  • Batman Gambit: Hawk's plan to stop Robber Will, once he knew that he possessed the rewind device.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: At some point while the group is surrounded by hostile Pazcats, Todo resorts to grabbing a weapon and taking a young Pazcat hostage by shoving it in their mouth. All surrounding Pazcats are horrified by this (though they wouldn't have been had the hostage not been a Pazcat)... Then to Todo's horror, the hostage yells "Pazcats don't lose to fodder!"note  and bites down on the weapon, explosively discharging it.
  • Break the Cutie: Todo. Magic World has not been kind to him. Fortunately, he's strong enough to take it.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: One of the elite dragons sent to Reality ends up bonding with the young girl from the first comic. At the end of the chapter, he becomes a kindergarten teacher.
  • Bus Full of Innocents vs Always Save the Girl: Sorry AV, that's not how Todo rolls.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Averted - citizens of Reality will step in when they think they can and need to help. It's even expected - an applicant from another world who's hoping for citizenship gets rejected when footage of him in the waiting room shows him clearly ignoring multiple opportunities to help people in need, including a crying child.
  • The Cameo: After some trouble in the World Of Magic, the SUEPR agents run into a pair of wizards tracking down the victims of a supervillain named Hinto, characters from an older group of comics Ian Samson drew.
  • Cassandra Truth: On a worldwide scale. Every other world refuses to believe Reality wasn't responsible for sabotaging its own peace conference, and many won't even look at proof in any shape or form.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The comic starts out really lighthearted, only to take a darker turn when the SUEPR enter the Magic World. Then it gets even darker in "Second Impressions".
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Todo has this, in spades.
    • Victor too. In one scene we see dozens of people asking him to do all sorts of tasks from moving furniture and fixing cars to passing along insults and being guinea pig for the Mad Scientist. His helps them all, and then remarks "I love my job!"
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Aura Stones appear to each be this for their respective worlds. A major plot point is made of SUEPR Team One's plans to mess with Magic World's stone.
  • Crapsack World: Walk World, definitely. To a lesser extent, Dark World and Magic World. Most especially, any place the Pazcats have occupied.
  • Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: Has a few of these.
  • Eyes Always Shut: The Manumitor (The first and only time his eyes are seen at all is when he blows a hole in the wall of the Hierarchy Spire and transforms the Hierarchy into small animals to save Danny.)
  • Forced Transformation: Hinto Ama's main power is to turn people into whatever she wants, usually inanimate objects.
  • Fun with Acronyms: SUEPR and STEP.
  • Flat "What": That awkward moment when the good guy gives you permission to pursue his ladyfriend
  • Gamebooks: A portion of Chapter Five is like this, thanks to the intelligent and possibly malicious rewind device.
  • Government Conspiracy: In Magic World, the Hierarchy is out to control all magic for themselves through use of the Etherea Stone.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: After one of Hinto Ama's transformations is reversed, here.
  • Harmful to Minors: No one seems too concerned with younger teens being exposed to sex in Reality: when AV is touring Reality, a couple tells her a very frank story about their love life, and a prostitute makes a case for her to become one at a later date; AV buys a whip (for fashion) at a sex shop without anyone batting an eye; and when Danny and the Manumitor burst in on sex they think is a rape, no one seems the least concerned at Danny being exposed to it. No one in Reality seems too worried about violence, either, with SUEPR, comprised mostly of teenagers, being the ones sent for missions on more dangerous worlds, something that shocks Magic World. It's presented as part of the same Incorruptible Pure Pureness that lets small children take rides from strangers and train with guns without worry.
    • Kimmy, who doesn't look a day over ten, is tortured in both timelines, and either murdered in the old timeline or controlled by a Puppeteer Parasite in the new.
  • Harmless Villain: Robber Will. He actually caused dozens of deaths in one incident, but it was so unforeseeable that no one holds it against him.
  • Hero Insurance: Literally and explicitly. One family is happy to have gotten their belongings smashed because they'll get a vacation out of the insurance payout.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Hinto Ama disguises herself as the Manumitor out of fear of this. It turns out not to be necessary, mainly because the disguise is unveiled to SUEPR.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Hinto Ama.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: AV appears to have met one in this page. Who apparently is recruiting. Considering how Reality works, it's likely that this is typical.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Reality's residents. They don't seem capable of negative emotions — something that creeps Hawk and AV out.
  • Inherent in the System: Apparently, The Government and society of Walk World.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: "Reality" takes as its demonyms "Realist" and "Realistic," which, due to the city's hat, generally mean extreme idealism.
  • Ironic Echo: A villain character, after explaining how Reality's recent change on its isolationist policies has allowed him to easily enter the city and get away with kidnapping a young woman, states "I, for one, greatly enjoy change." A second later, a dragon punches through the wall of the apartment and apprehends the villain, and when the villain indicates surprise that there's a dragon in Reality, the dragon says, "Things change, scum! And I, for one, greatly enjoy change!"
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Hinto Ama at first used her powers only on villains, and only to incapacitate them. Then she started leaving them that way. Then she started using them on petty criminals, annoyances, and finally, whoever she wanted.
  • Kid Heroes: Most of SUEPR. Although the ages of the main characters are not specified exactly, recruits may join immediately after high school, as an alternative to college or apprenticeship. By the apparent adolescence of most and the preponderance of precocious younger children, it's probable that high school ends earlier in Reality.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Didly.
  • Knight Templar: The Manumitor, obsessed with undoing transformations of any sort, is willing at first to kill AV rather than allow her to remain digitized.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!
  • Loved I Not Honor More: Todo admits that, as much as he cares for AV, his duty and desire to help the people is more important to him. AV is willing to accept that.
  • Made of Iron: Victor. In his first appearance, he was crushed by a gigantic monster's foot.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The rules of each world are governed by their respective Aura Stones. When people from one world travel to another, they become subject to the new rules unless they bring a piece of their own Aura Stone with them. Chapter Seven is dedicated to Reality's attempts to formally investigate the interactions of the various stones.
    • One of the rules of the World of Magic is that magic is consensual. With enough willpower, you can resist any spell. Hinto Ama's transformation powers are so frightening because they aren't subject to this rule.
  • Meaningful Name/Shout-Out: Magic World has Eldritch Street and Omelas Street (a possible reference to "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas", a short story about a utopian city where the happiness and perfection only exists because one child is trapped in a dark closet, starved and filthy).
    • The exact definition of "Manumitor" is a slave-owner who frees his own slaves. The Manumitor really is a perfectly apt name.
  • Mental Time Travel: The rewind device accomplishes this, but only for its user. It's more than enough to wreak havoc when used by Robber Will, never mind the much darker turn it takes in Chapter Seven.
  • Mythology Gag - Tons to the author's previous and current transformation art, and several of them count as Shout Outs as well. This is why Kimmy resembles a female version of Naruto (and another person on her team resembles a female version of Impulse). Another example would be right after the Magic World arc, when the Manumitor turns an ordinary looking pot in the leader of Magic World's office back into a girl: this the direct reverse of an earlier transformation comic the author made (and the girl is Annie from The New Batman Adventures).
  • Nice Guy: Just about every citizen in Reality, and one of the major requirements of being able to move there.
  • Only the Pure of Heart: The strength of Todo's idealism makes him virtually immune to the spells of the Hierarchy. This is actually a principle of the World of Magic.
  • OT3: invoked A random couple explain to AV that they chose this when the husband walked in on the wife with another man. Literally minutes after they met her. This squicks out AV, which the woman then hangs a lampshade on by murmuring that it was perhaps not the best story to relate to a teenager.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: What Hawk's people on Dark World prefer to be called.
  • Painting the Medium: When time is changed, it's usually represented by first showing the initial version, then having a Flash button to replace the comic with the new version. Later, when it was changed much more extensively, it was represented to those reading along at the time by going back and changing the strips; new readers are expected to first read the current version, then read the villain's backstory in the original timeline, in a series of pages linked under the strip representing the point of collapse.
  • Phrase Catcher: The people of Dragon world salute their leader, Big Boss, with "Hail to the fire that runs the machine!"
  • Planet of Hats: Several mentioned so far. Hawk comes from a Crapsack World full of Might Makes Right types called "Dark World"; AV comes from "Walk World", a world so small you can walk everywhere; "Magic World" is a dystopia where every random fantasy and Transformation Comic trope is real. All of them are interconnected and wrapped in giant bubbles.
  • Planetville: Reality and Magic World are suggested to be at least the size of Earth continents, and while Magic World is appropriately diverse, Reality is one big city with some countryside.
  • Principles Zealot: The Manumitor is this, and needs to be reminded that he's supposed to be in this to help people rather than to eliminate transformations in general.
  • Poke the Poodle: Robber Will, constantly.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: A villain uses one of these to control Kimmy and the rapist from Shadow World in the changed timeline.
  • Quirky Town: Reality
  • Red Herring: Todo, AV, and Hawk are told the story of Hinto Ama, who was driven mad by the power of transformation, which she would use to turn people permanently into inanimate objects for petty reasons; before this, in the main path of a Gamebook segment, they'd come across an insane witch resembling Hinto with green skin, who turned AV into stone, intending it to be permanent until talked down, whereas other paths would have lead to the whole trio being permanently turned into flowers, all-female angel statues, water, or miscellaneous objects. Naturally, she's not the one.
    • Also, the very first chapter starts with a shadowy man abducting a little girl under the pretense of giving her a ride home. Contrary to what you would expect, he is just giving her a ride home out of simple kindness, thus quickly establishing what the people of Reality are like. (He's later seen herding a group of children around a museum.)
  • Reset Button: Literally, in the form of a magic device that allows the user to rewind time, undoing all memories except their own. A bit of Flash is used for an interesting effect: the reader clicks on a reset button on the bottom of a page, and the actual page is overwritten! In a more extreme example, a villain resets half a chapter.
  • Sadistic Choice: This trope is analyzed with the Bus Full Of Orphans vs Hero's One True Love choice. We get a look at what it would be like if the hero took the selfish choice, telling his one true love that he couldn't bear to be parted with her... while they both watch a bus full of orphans drown. There's a good reason why most of the examples of this trope end with the hero taking a third option.
  • Sarashi: AV wears one as a top in the second half of chapter 2, when she's recovering from a chest injury.
  • Saying Too Much: When Hawk gloats over having defeated Robber Will, he inadvertently reveals the existence of the rewind device, leading to the admission that he used it to cheat at a video game earlier.
  • Secret Test of Character: The test to see whether or not a person can immigrate to Reality. And they never do the same test twice. There's actually multiple tests, each of them really simple things that any nice person would do, but a jerk would overlook. And since they also employ mind readers in reality when possible, they can tell whether or not you're genuinely nice, or just pretending.
  • Sexy Mentor: Danny's attraction to The Manumitor after seeing her as Hinto.
  • Shout-Out: The mayor is a rabbit. What other rabbit was a political figure at one point?
  • Sky Surfing: SUEPR's hover boards.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The comic contains both extremes in its various Alternate Universes. The comic itself, however, is very idealistic, with even Magic World being a case of Grey-and-Gray Morality.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: A variant, here, when Hawk demands to see Reality at its worst.
  • Stepford Smiler: Todo. Played up to terrifying lengths in "Do you Believe In Magic: Part 3", where he keeps a smiling face even as AV is dying from a gunshot wound. Only this time, we get to see his real thoughts at the same time...
  • Stepford Suburbia: Subverted. Immigrants to Reality are sometimes intimidated by the kindness and generosity of the inhabitants, so much so that they assume a darker side beneath. Except there really isn't; everyone is just that nice. Which then makes the conflict with the other worlds so much more dramatic, and in a Double Subversion, acts as a justification for SUEPR Team One's attempt to destroy Magic World.
  • Super Strength: Victor is a lot stronger than most folks, a LOT stronger.
  • Taken for Granite: AV, briefly; Hawk and Todo as well, all permanently, in one of the Bad Endings to the Gamebook segment.
  • Taking the Bullet: AV, for Todo, in Magic World.
  • Transformation Comic: Not to the degree that you might expect from the author, but multiple major subplots still center on transformation, and one of the heroes has transformative "zappy-hands" as his main attack.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Quite literally done by Hawk to beat Todo's score, thanks to the rewind device.
    • Also, part of the fifth chapter is structured like a Choose Your Own Adventure game, and there's absolutely no rule of thumb for which action won't get someone killed or permanently transformed. You'll just have to keep trying until you find it.
  • Uncanny Valley Girl Guy: Hawk, who acts nice but is constantly chafing at Todo's perfection.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Just about everything SUEPR does in the comic, to the people of Reality. They're used to this sort of thing.
  • Utility Magic: this work is full of this. It looks just like modern-day Earth, in fact, they just use magic instead of electricity. So the beautician uses magic to make your hair color change, or they use magic to make cars float an inch off the ground to drive around, and so on.
  • Utopia: An attempt at a Reconstruction. The grimmer and more complicated elements of such a world are addressed in almost every chapter, but the answer is nearly always much more idealistic than most other works addressing the problems would be.
  • Vague Age: No ages are ever mentioned, and the art style is intentionally cartoonish and vague as to drive this point home. The author has stated that this is intentional, so he doesn't get tripped up trying to write romantic subplots; however by direct inference from the comic the main characters must be at least old enough to graduate high school, but young enough to surprise people who meet them on other worlds, and to have an apparent growth spurt between chapters 5 and 6. It's probable high school ends earlier, with the apparent precocity of nearly all the younger children.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: SUEPR Team One are set up as villains for wanting to destroy Magic World, but... are they right?
    • Also, the Manumitor, AKA Hinto Ama, who is trying to make up for her past villainy. She refuses to use her powers out of guilt, and is so full of self loathing and obsessed with reversing the transformations she caused that she cut herself off from humanity. However, the mixture of both means that she is willing to kill those trapped in altered forms rather than have them suffer such fates, but won't use her powers to reverse the changes, basically condemning those her technology can't fix.
  • What You Are in the Dark: The reason an immigrant was rejected from Reality.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Not domestically, as some new immigrants think; order is maintained simply by using empaths to screen immigrants. Internationally, though, Reality has its problems with less incorruptible states.
  • Wham Line: To those reading along at the time, "send me back," which caused her to go back in time and change the chapter, with the actual archive changing to reflect this; to those on an Archive Binge, it's a Foregone Conclusion.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Transformation magic. Hinto wound up Jumping Off the Slippery Slope after years as a hero, leaving her very close successor horrified by such magic, even for good; Danny seems to be heading in a similar direction, with his first reaction to an apparent rape being joy at having a "real criminal" to transform, and his trigger-happiness sending a bad but possibly salvageable situation out of control.
  • You Didn't Ask: The citizen's reaction to Hawk when he snaps due to them not falling apart from his "experiments" (really attempts to get the citizens to react with a negative emotion).