Follower is a Sci-Fi comic by Bugbyte and Delade about Half Human Hybrids called the chio (officially called vloxen) created by the U.S. military's Cottontail project, and the staff of the base where they were made. It is a prequel to Messenger.
Moral Guardians are in an uproar over a new organ cloning project, surveillance has taken new dark turn with the introduction of tracking chips with virtually unlimited range, and the U.S. seems to be getting closer to Civil War every day. Meanwhile, in a secret military base somewhere in the southwest, an initiative to create super soldiers has begun to yield results. The chio are the first success of this project. A new species made to be America's next super weapon. At the center of it all is a General who wants to use the chio to for their original purpose, the base research staff who (mostly) want to protect them, and the chio (vloxen) themselves are caught in the middle.
The comic was first published on October 14, 2012 and has updates weekly, although the exact day varies. It is illustrated by Bugbyte and written by Delade. It also has a spin off “Ask a Chio” tumblr where questions directed to the titular creatures are answered which can be found here.
Bugbyte and Delade have also started a semi-regular podcast, Chio Chat, where they answer reader questions about their comics and themselves.
Follower provides examples of:
- Animal Talk: The chio seem to have a language they are born knowing. The two chio main characters are able to communicate with absolutely no difficulty despite one of them having spent his entire life in isolation.
- Big Brother Is Watching: A newspaper clipping in the prologue mentions new implants that can track people via satellite.
- Black and White Morality: There isn't much ambiguity on who is in the right and who isn't. On one side are the childlike chio and the "good" humans who make their objections to the project known (With the Friend to All Living Things scientist and Reasonable Authority Figure colonel among them). On the other side are the "bad" humans who give their full support to the project (Including the project's head, a scientist with Four Eyes, Zero Soul and a Lack of Empathy, and a General who has no problem with deploying his new weapons against people he had previosly sworn to protect).
- Black Site: Aside from seemingly being mostly underground, the base where Follower takes place is not known to the public.
- Civil War: Much of the U.S. appears to either on the brink of civil war or actively up in arms. Well armed and organized rebels assault the base in Chapter 4.
- Crapsack World: Unemployment is up, the military is cracking down on dissent, and the internet has been shut down via kill-switch. Things aren't looking good for the U.S. and the rest of the world is implied to be doing just as bad.
- Creating Life: The chio are a new species created by the U.S. military for use as soldiers.
- The Dragon:
- Aaron Carvan is this for Gen. Richart.
- Dr. Tolio may count as well. He is committed to the project and readily accepts General Richart's orders, but there are hints that he may have some plans of his own.
- The Eeyore: Geedy is this at the beginning of the comic. He's slowly improving after meeting Dia.
- Elaborate Underground Base: The military base where the vloxen project is being carried out appears to be mostly underground, and holds a large medical wing, barracks, and training area.
- Foregone Conclusion: It is a prequel to the After the End Long Runner Messenger
- It is inevitable that at some point society will collapse.
- At least some of the chio will escape the facility and eventually make it to upstate New York.
- General Ripper: General Richart
- Genki Girl: Dia
- Half-Human Hybrid: The chio
- Herr Doktor: Dr. Tolio.
- Hologram: Victor is a hologram chio used as a guide in combat tests.
- Information Wants to Be Free: Drs. Calway and Wolzarski see a news broadcast that exposes the casualties of a claimed chemical spill in Montpelier, Vermont as to have actually been caused by a violent military crackdown on a peaceful protest. It's implied the anchor and her accomplices are arrested or killed for this.
- Instant Sedation: Zig-Zagged with Dia. The first injection has no effect on her, but the second knocks her out cold instantly.
- Improperly Placed Firearms: When the rebels assault the base in chapter 4, one of them is armed with what looks like an RPG-7. This is despite the story taking place in the United States, and the rebels (as we've seen so far) being entirely U.S. based. Word of God says that the weapon choice was intentional.
- Just Before the End: This comic is the prequel to Messenger which takes place After the End. The situation is clearly deteriorating in this comic's time with much of the U.S. on the brink of civil war.
- Just Between You and Me: Defied. Colonel Harren holds General Richart at gunpoint and demands to know just what the General has been doing. Rather than give an answer,the General just shoots him.
- Language Barrier:
- Played Straight between humans and chio. The 1st generation do not know English, while some chio from the 2nd generation have the vocabulary of young children.
- Averted between the chio themselves, who have their own language that they appear to be born knowing.
- La Résistance: Mentioned in the backstory, and a small group of them ambush an army patrol toward the end of Chapter 3. It remains to be seen what their goals are and how far they are willing to go to achieve them.
- Leet Speek: Geedy and Dia. It's not used by them, but their formal designations are G1D33.23-3 and G2D12.57-17.
- Moral Guardians: The organ cloning project that spawned project Cottontail is mentioned as being opposed by several religious groups.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Tolio. His character bio mentions an incident that ended with him being offered the choice between working for the FBI or life imprisonment. He also seems fully supportive of using the chio as super soldiers.
- Motherly Scientist: Dr. Calway
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Dr. Wolzarski's suggestion leads to General Richart getting his first successful combat test, which is exactly what Col. Harren and Dr. Calway were trying to prevent.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Outside of some clearly heroic characters (like Dr. Calway) and villainous ones (like Dr. Tolio), most of the scientists and soldiers appear to be this. The scientists aren't show to be particularly cruel to the chio, and most of the soldiers are unaware of their existence.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Colonel Harren is a downplayed version of this. He is respectful to his superiors, but he is actively trying to delay the weaponization part of the project with Dr. Calway.
- Self-Destruct Mechanism: In chapter 3 it's revealed that the base has a nuclear self-destruct system. General Richart activates it after the rebels attack in chapter 4.
- Super Soldier: The intended use of the chio.
- Tranquilizer Dart: Used by the base's staff to sedate the chio for transport. Justified due to the staff likely knowing which sedatives would be most effective, and what the optimal dosage would be for whichever chio they are sedating.
- Villainous Breakdown: In chapter 4, Dr. Tolio has one of these after finding out the 2nd generation chio aren't controllable through the intended means. He ends up ordering the entire project terminated, and holds Drs. Wolzarski and Calway at gunpoint when they don't immediately comply.
- Wham Episode
- Chapter 4 has Dr. Tolio find out that the 2nd generation chio are immune to the chemical that would have been used to control them. In response He orders that the entire project be terminated. This is followed by the doctor almost shooting Dr. Calway just for questioning him, and her only surviving by tackling him when he is distracted by the base's emergency alarm]. At the same time, the base is assaulted by rebels, leading to General Richart to activate the SelfDestructMechanism. By the end of the chapter, both of the main human protagonists are dead.
- You Are Number 6: The chio at the base have formal designations consisting of numbers and a few letters. They do have names that they use among themselves. Geedy, in the beginning is only known as Subject 23-3, and even then only to the scientists who he doesn’t understand.