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Webcomic / Ghost of the Gulag

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The Shadow Walker sees without sight.

Ghost of the Gulag is a webcomic by David Derrick Jr., set in the Russian wilderness of the Taiga in a post-World War II setting, centering around a blind Amur Tiger, known as the Shadow Walker, who becomes involved in the royal war between the Clan of the Wolf and the Clan of the Boar. With the prince of the wolves at his mercy, the Shadow Walker is forced to embark on a quest to determine the fate of the Taiga, with the aid of his "eye", a raven that has come to guide him and become his "sight".

The comic can also be read here, while thecreator's official Instagram can be found here.

  • Animal Talk: All the animals seem to be able to speak with one another, though not with humans.
  • Animal Jingoism: Between boars and wolves.
  • Appease the Volcano God: The boars believe that sacrificing the wolf Tsarovich to the geyser inhabited by the boar twins will bring order back to their kingdom.
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  • Body Horror: The Boar Chief's twin sons are a conjoined two-headed freak of nature whose two heads are partly fused and share an inner eye.
  • Blind Seer: Iosef and Grigori, conjoined boars who share an eye, are capable of psychic abilities and the ability to enter other creatures' minds.
  • Break the Cutie: Shadow Walker, as a cub, is adorable and innocent. Then his mother is killed and he is captured as a pet by a Russian concentration camp, and it all gets worse from there.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The animals are referred to by more mystical-sounding names: wolves are "slypaws", lynxes are "softfoots" and tigers are "shadowwalkers".
  • Cats Are Mean: The Shadow Walker holds no loyalties to anyone and is unpredictable in his actions. Even when forced to side with the Slypaw, he constantly reminds the wolf that he will eventually kill him "sooner or later".
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  • Cats Are Snarkers: Soft Paw the lynx is this in spades.
  • Conjoined Twins: Iosef and Grigori, the oracles of the boars, are such a case.
  • Clever Crows: The Shadow Walker's "eye" is a raven, who is cunning and intelligent, and helps the Shadow Walker survive with his disability.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: The foxes are viewed with such prejudice by the Boar Clan, seeing them as "thieves" who take from the natural order and give nothing in return.
  • Duality Motif: Iosef and Grigori's shared body is split evenly down the middle between brown-furred and hairless.
  • Eye Scream: A lot. Notably the Shadow Walker losing his left eye to his owner's whip, while his right is branded with the Communist symbol.
  • Full-Boar Action: The main antagonists are the clan of boars, depicted as being massive even compared to a tiger.
  • Glorious Mother Russia: The setting of some of the flashbacks, showing a Communist-era concentration camp in which the Shadow Walker was once kept as a mascot.
  • Handicapped Badass: The Shadow Walker. Despite being blind, he still retains his fearsome strength and agility, and relies on his raven companion to help him navigate during combat.
  • Humiliation Conga: The Slypaw Tsarovich, heir to the throne, is ambushed by the Boar Clan, abandoned by his pack, stuffed into a dead moose, gets chained by a barbed wire around his neck and ends up being the chew toy of a blind tiger who takes joy in reminding the poor wolf that he'll eventually kill him.
  • Human Sacrifice: Well, technically animal sacrifice, but the boars sacrifice their enemies to a geyser in a volcano, where they are impaled on a stalactite above.
  • Husky Russkie: The boars are somewhat this trope.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The poor fox. Narrowly averted by the Slypaw Tsarovich.
  • Large and in Charge: The chief of the boars is the biggest among them, and has the largest tusks.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Soft Foot the lynx, who manipulates the Shadow Walker into becoming the Boar Clan's personal bodyguard by promising him freedom.
  • Mind Rape: A tactic of the psychic boar twins.
  • Multiple Head Case: Iosef and Grigori, while sharing a body, do not share their opinions on the Shadow Walker: while Iosef sees him as a bringer of death who will destroy the Taiga, Grigori views him as a restorer of peace and balance.
  • Psychic Powers: Iosef and Grigori can communicate telepathically, manipulate objects around them, and create false images in the minds of others.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Shadow Walker as a cub, as seen in the flashback.
  • Savage Wolves: Subverted with the Wolf Clan, who are shown to have beliefs about being the ones who "restore balance" by preying on the herbivores that destroyed the Taiga with their overgrazing.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Iosef, one of the conjoined boar twins, is a Babirusa, a type of hairless wild pig notable for its upward-pointing tusks, while his twin Grigori resembles a European wild boar.
  • Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: Taken hostage by the Shadow Walker, the boar twins psychically conjure an image in his mind of his deceased mother to distract him. It works for a while until the raven plucks out their shared eye, destroying the illusion.
  • Shown Their Work: The creator took great detail in describing the nature of the setting, from the post-war Russian scenes to the references to its culture and traditional mythology.
  • Squick: Oh boy. A wolf hiding inside a bloody hollow elk carcass, a bird plucking out boar's eyeballs, a boar getting impaled in the eye by its own broken tusk, a tiger graphically ripping out a boar's trachea...
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The Slypaw Tsarovich and the Shadow Walker are forced to work together, even though it's clear that the two greatly dislike one another.
  • Unusual Animal Alliance: Between a tiger, a raven, and a wolf.
  • X Meets Y: The Jungle Book meets Animal Farm.

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