Forming is a surreal fantasy/sci-fi/comedy webcomic written and illustrated by Jesse Moynihan of Adventure Time fame. Beginning with the arrival of Ancient Astronauts on prehistoric Earth, the story follows along as gods, men and aliens all become involved in an epic struggle with cosmic implications. Orchestrating things behind the scenes is Lucifer (aka the Adversary), who has been scheming to escape the planet ever since being trapped there by the Archangel Michael, as punishment for successfully escaping the infinite manifestation of God (aka Ain Soph, the Absolute) at the dawn of time and creating the universe as we now know it.
The art and writing draws from the influence of Alejandro Jodorowsky, Jack Kirby, epic poetry, alchemy, the occult and Progressive Rock, leading to a hefty dosage of Mind Screw. The style is largely Sophisticated as Hell; despite the subject matter of religion, intergalactic empires, ancient history, and complex symbolism, it makes use of frequent sexual and scatological humor, and the dialogue is filled with slang and profanity. Nonetheless the narrative showcases an extensive knowledge of ancient and obscure mythology and mysticism, among other subjects.
Forming contains examples of:
- Action Girl: Rhea.
- A Death in the Limelight: In the middle of the climactic battle between Mithras and his children, a few pages focus on a pair of dying soldiers as they discuss the existence of a soul and what happens after death.
- Adipose Rex: Angra Mainyu shows signs of it.
- Aerith and Bob: Common Biblical names like Adam and Noah coexist with the likes of Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu.
- A God Am I: Cain's goal in life is "to live forever and dominate all lesser beings." Meanwhile, his enemy Iapetus has been led by Lucifer to believe that he is some kind of reincarnated version of Nommo, destined to rule the world. Nommo himself has been placed in a hibernation where he dreams of being god... unless of course, the dream is completely real.
- All Myths Are True: Greek, Kabbalistic, Zoroastrian, Biblical, Tarot... they all show up in one way or another.
- Ambiguous Gender: Serapis and the Nephalim Guard are variously described as transgender, hermaphroditic and androgynous.
- Ambiguously Evil: Iapetus.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Iapetus genetically engineers an army of idealized warriors under Lucifer's command.
- Ancient Astronauts: Two major alien factions, one led by Ahura Mazda and one by Angra Mainyu, make up a significant part of the cast. Their struggles over the earth drive the beginning of the plot before the divine entities enter into things.
- Archangel Michael: One of several angels to appear. Michael comes into existence only to defeat Lucifer, but finds himself unable to return to the Absolute once the universe has been created.
- Author Appeal: Geometric shapes, Kabbalah, mysticism, Greek mythology and Tarot are just a few motifs that recur throughout Moynihan's works.
- Bad Ass Family: All of Noah, Gaia and Mithras' children are powerful and imposing in one way or another, whether physically, mentally or both.
- Becoming the Mask: After Lucifer gives Iapetus the face of Nommo, Iapetus slowly seems to lose his identity and believe himself to be a different person.
- Big Bad: Lucifer and Ghob are the major contenders.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: The conflict between the divine/supernatural characters is largely based around whether Lucifer was right or wrong to isolate himself from God and thereby create the universe. That's right: God and his angels think the very existence of humanity is an act of evil.
- The Chessmaster: Lucifer manipulates pretty much everyone on prehistoric Earth to his own ends.
- Creation Myth: Features one, based off that of Kabbalah. In this case, the physical universe was actually created by Lucifer after he escaped the universal consciousness of God. Uniquely, almost every character is ignorant of this despite interacting with divine beings frequently; even the angels don't seem to fully understand it.
- Esoteric Motifs: Too many to count. This trope is a defining aspect of the comic's narrative and style.
- Evil Mask: For a certain definition of "mask": Lucifer replaces Iapetus' disfigured face with a copy of Nommo's face, which soon seems to have possessed him and taken over his identity.
- Gorn: In several instances, notably when when Rhea's arm gets eaten and when she is eventually cut in half.
- The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: How Lucifer first contacts Iapetus. See Mirror Monologue below.
- Meaningful Name: Every single character is named after a figure from some kind of myth or religion, whether a god, monster or human. These range from Biblical and Greek to Zoroastrian and Kabbalistic.
- Mind Screw: Tons of it, with plenty of time travel, dream scenes, and characters who blur the lines between aliens and gods.
- Mirror Monologue: Twice, both with signs of significant derangement. Atys gives himself a pep talk which includes masturbation and fantasies of raping his enemies. Iapetus, meanwhile, worries over his hair loss, until his reflection turns into Lucifer, who has a message for him.
- Noodle Incident: We never find out the full details of the war between Serapis and the animals.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: It's unclear if Canaan is supposed to be the same place referenced in the Bible, since its geography has no resemblance to the Near East. The other main location, Atlantis, is apparently across the ocean from Canaan.