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Webcomic / Modest Medusa

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The titular character.

Modest Medusa is a webcomic written by Jake Richmond and featured on The Duck, although it got its own website on July 29, 2011.

On the night before Christmas, Jake comes home and finds that the toilet has overflowed and flooded his bedroom. While moving his stuff to a different room, he finds a gorgon child hiding in the closet. Because she cannot return to the land she came from, Jake and his niece Marah have to take care of her.

The comic starts here and shares a universe with Ghost Kiss.

It spawned a Kickstarter funded RPG, The Magical Land Of Yeld about children who pass through a mysterious door and find themselves trapped in the world of Yeld. A series of miniatures were also funded through a campaign.

Tropes featured in this webcomic:

  • Abusive Parents: Medusa's mother. She's introduced devouring her daughters — and from the terrified reactions of the other Medusas, she does this all the time.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: When Medusa's snake hair is used to break open Jake's shackles, Jake wonders how that even works. Medusa's response?
    "Why wouldn't it work?"
  • Alpha Bitch: The mermaids.
  • All There In Themanual: A significant amount of information about Yeld can be found in The Magical Land Of Yeld. This includes information about the different races, the war between the Deep and the Prince, the origin of the different aquatic races, and much more. This includes the death of the Prince years before it was revealed in the main comic. It's really more like 15 manuals at this point.
  • Alternate Timeline: The Tower of Autumn is connected to several timelines and said to allow travel to 100 worlds. While looking for the Arsenal of Winter, Marah meets the keeper to explains the different outcomes and offers her a chance to slip into a timeline where her counterpart is missing. She also encounters to adult versions of herself, one who chose to return to Earth and the other who kept wondering Yeld rather than facing the Prince. They try to talk her out of fighting him, as all the other Marahs who tried that died.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The mermaids are shown to have a wide variety of skin tones, with Jenny and Deb having blue and purple skin respectively. Other mermaids are shown with pink or yellow skin, as well as other shades of blue and purple.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Charles, Jake's housemate, gets his arm sewn off by the chainsaw unicorn. In the first season, nonetheless!
  • Apologetic Attacker: Medusa, when her hair snakes' venom petrifies a mermaid.
  • Art Evolution: Enforced: The author began taking the comic's art seriously following some criticisms weeks before.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The snakes of Modest Medusa's mom are HUGE. She normally shouldn't be able to keep her head straight.
  • Author Avatar: Jake
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: When the Medusa has to tell Emergency Services about the Chainsaw-corn incident, she is asked to start from the beginning. She assumes that they meant the start of her life.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Medusa's response to being called a raccoon.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Home". Marah dies after realizing she couldn't have gone home again anyway, but she manages to save her uncle and Medusa by winning her duel with the Prince, and we see the Drudge Angel taking her off to Heaven.
  • Blank White Eyes: The reaction of some characters when they first see the medusa.
  • Bond One-Liner: Marah seems to be attempting them with increasing frequency, all in a similar vein...
    Marah: I've got a sword I'll stick so far up your butt, everyone will call you "Sword Butt"!
    Marah: Why don't you save [the cash] so you can buy a new butt? 'Cause your old one won't work so well after I kick the crap out of it!
  • Brand X: Mostly Averted, the products. From Chocodiles to Arizona Greentea, the food products are real. Portal and Pokémon have also been mentioned, and even played. Jake even said Reshiram looks like a space chicken.
  • Bus Crash: We largely only see the Prince in season 3. Memory construct aside, we never see him again. In season 8 we learned he has died, which is a year and a half later in universe and nine years IRL.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Jake has one that signals that things are about to go downhill.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Lampshaded in strips #156 and a companion to strip #1057.
  • Chainsaw Good: The unicorn sent after the Medusa has a chainsaw for a horn.
    • Called "The Knight of Chains", he may be unkillable.
  • Creatures by Many Other Names: With a bit of Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff", the titular character's species is referred to as "hydra" by the Prince of Yeld. Modest's mother's name is Gorgon, and her daughters all call themselves Medusa until they decide that's too confusing. They're mostly just the author's own invention.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Jake. He's an all-around geek and bit of a loser, but damn, can he hold his own against chainsaw-unicorn!
    • According to Word of God, this was done as a Take That! at a reviewer who accused Jake of being a Marty Stu because he was an Author Avatar. So he did this to show what a Marty Stu was really like.
    • The hair snakes. Sure, they may not talk much and they will eat anything, but if you threaten the Medusa, they will deal with you.
  • Cthulhumanoid: the Ghost.
  • Cute Monster Girl: The Medusa.
  • Death of a Child: Suddenly and disturbingly. At the beginning of Season 3, Medusa realizes she has hundreds of identical sisters...who are then devoured en masse by their mother. At the end of Season 3, Marah dies fighting the Prince of Yeld.
  • Discount Lesbians: Despite apparently being five years old, the Medusa giggled when reading an issue Jake's Playboy Magazine. Don't forget that her freakin' hair has been caught staring at a mermaid's chest.
  • Dramatic Irony: When Medusa tells her mother "I love you, but I will never be like you," her mother cries. Not just because of the note, but because she knows that Medusa will one day be just like her, and that her efforts to avoid it happening will likely be just as futile as hers were.
  • Ear Ache: A fairy takes an arrow to the ear in Yeld-centric chapter. It's just as painful as it sounds.
  • Ear Fins: The mermaids.
  • Emergency Transformation: The boy who lives with Gorgon. After staying to long in Yeld, he begins to turn into a monster. Gorgon turns him into a horse instead.
    • By accepting Urano's title. Marah ends up turning into a vampire.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Medusa's mother does love her. When she reads her final note, she cries.
  • Extreme Omnivore: The hair snakes may not eat much, but what they do eat, they usually shouldn't.
  • Eye Scream: Marah gouges out one of the mermaids eye's with a kitchen knife.
    • Also happens to a fairy during a return visit to Yeld. Twice!
  • Facepalm: Jake does it a lot.
  • Fisher Kingdom: "In my kingdom, everything good and pure becomes a monster eventually"
  • Foreshadowing: The green mermaid's curse, after Marah gores out her eye and her friend turns to stone after being bitten by Medusa's hair.
    " You ruiner! I hope everything you love goes bad! I hope your mother eats you! And I hope your friend never gets to go home again!"
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Both of the mermaids are cigarette smokers, and jerks. However, Marah's mother is pretty cool, despite also smoking them.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Urano dies saving Marah and Medusa from the vampire knights. Marah perishes in a duel with the Prince, letting her uncle and Medusa go home.
  • Immortality Immorality: Medusa's mother sustains her life by eating her own children.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Medusa. She gets upset when she realizes she's the only one naked, but doesn't really comprehend what it means, and the matter is dropped after the Pokémon arc.
  • Inspirational Martyr: As the green mermaid says, Marah's death fighting the prince serves as proof to the people of Yeld that living in a cruel land under an evil prince doesn't excuse their actions.
  • Jail Bake: When Jake and Charles are in jail, the latter accused of killing the former, Modest pretends to be Jake's lawyer and gives him a store-bought swirly cake with a visible hole in it, hinting at its "special ingredient." The police had already checked it and found it was just full of Pokémon cards.
  • Karma Houdini: In the short term, the Prince gets away with absolutely everything. The only thing that ends up happening to him is that he gets a slightly bruised ego, but he's still the ruler of Yeld, so countless innocent people are going to be oppressed. Not to mention the whole killing Mara thing. Later, however, her death is shown to have lasting consequences to his reign.
  • Kick the Dog: The Prince was ready to go back on his word and throw Jake back into the dungeon and Medusa back to her mother even after Marah defeated him in their little duel. The sight of a Drudge Angel carrying her away causes him to reconsider.
  • Killer Rabbit: Yeld sheep are surprisingly vicious, able to swarm and devour an armored fairy.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Everything's all funny and witty and then suddenly, chainsaw-unicorn!
  • Limited Wardrobe: Mildly lampshaded here.
  • The Lonely Door: There is a free standing door that connects Earth and Yeld. It is notability harder to leave Yeld than enter it.
  • Male Gaze: The Medusa's hair snakes fall victim to this. This is foreshadowing as to their evil nature.
  • Medusa: Guess who. In an aversion to the standard portrayal, she's prepubescent, cute, but very socially awkward. And it's not her eyes that petrify things, it's her hair-snakes' venom. The medusa is actually the larval stage of a hydra. When they're young and cute, their human sides are in charge. But, as the snakes grow, the human part of them shrivels up and dies like an unneeded limb.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: The Green Mermaid when accepting an award.
  • Murphy's Bed: Not knowing what the purpose of a toilet is, Medusa chose it as her bed. Cue both parties being shocked when Jake unknowingly pees on her.
  • My Beloved Smother: The medusa's mother wanted her to come home so bad, she sent a chainsaw unicorn to slaughter her new friends.
  • No Name Given: The medusa is only known as "the medusa" or, less often, "Medusa". This was only practical because she was the only medusa present... until she got back home and met her dozens of sisters, all of which were apparently named "Medusa", too. This is just in time for her mother to reveal her real name: Modest.
  • Oh, Crap!: One of the mermaids, when she realizes she's turning to stone.
    • Medusa's sisters have a bigger one when they realize Modest has awakened their mother. And it's not played for laughs.
  • Organ Autonomy: Modest's hair is made of four snakes that have minds of their own.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Rather than be little winged humans or child-like creatures, these fairies are more like bear-cats the size of a tool shed. They're also nigh-invincible unless you go for the eyes or ears.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: They are still incorporeal as you'd expect from a ghost, but they are Cthulhumanoids, mind-readers, and they put people in cocoons to eat them.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: They smoke, can use "the magic of their pure hearts" to grow legs, and are, at least initially, dicks. But the green one ends up getting a lot of Character Development.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Medusa's species' (Yeld's equivalent of an hydra) life cycle and biology are kind of weird. To begin with, they share their intellect with their snakes. The human body deliberately invokes cuteness as a defense mechanism. As they grow up, it is progressively discarded for a giant snake body. In the process, hydras keep memories and sapience, but lose emotions and feelings. If they need a male partner or not to reproduce is left deliberately ambiguous. And while they normally biologically expire rather early, they can sustain their existence practically forever... if they eat right.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Urano is part of a band of vampire knights who rebelled against their general when the old king died, in an attempt to save the princess from imprisonment (an act that would give him the nickname "Oath Breaker"). He's unbothered by sunlight, but he doesn't sparkle. Marah becomes one herself after inheriting his power as the Oath Breaker.
  • Planet of Steves: All the medusas except the main character are named "Medusa". Lampshaded here.
  • Power Incontinence: Medusa's hair snakes tend to act of their own volition and when their bites start to petrify a mermaid she doesn't know how to stop it.
  • Psychopomps: Drudge Angels, like Valkyries, carry away the slain heroes of Yeld into the afterlife. Urano is led away by one once the force of the kingdom kill him. Marah is taken away next once the Prince kills her in their duel.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "You are...such...a huge...jerk!"
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Generally averted. Played straight with Medusa's mother's snake hair. The eventual fate of all hydrae is to have their morals shrivel up and die with the rest of them, until only the snakes remain.
  • Running Gag: Medusa's hair eating things she's holding. Lampshaded and subverted in this strip, where a hair snake steadfastly refuses to eat the ghost residue Medusa has.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Toyed with. The monster under the school who animates the giant inflatable Halloween cat turns out to be controlled by the mermaid Deb. This isn't revealed until they cut away the disguise. Downplayed that we had seen Deb before, but there was no indication she was involved until the end.
  • Seashell Bra: The mermaids, of a particularly Stripperiffic variety.
  • Shout-Out: To the first season finale of Heroes here.
  • Sore Loser: The Prince after Mara manages to draw first blood and win their fight. He pretty much goes ballistic on her afterward only stopped when the Drudge Angel threatens to interfere if he doesn't cease.
  • Talking to the Dead: In times of stress, Modest likes to talk to an imaginary Marah. However, it turns out that it was actually the snake inside of her starting to take over.
  • Taken for Granite: The Medusa lacks her kind's trademark petrifying gaze. Her hair snakes' venom has that effect, though.
  • Take Up My Sword: Urano of the Oathbreakers gives his title and charge to Marah in his dying breath.
    • This however has the side effect of turning her into a vampire.
  • Tin Tyrant: The Prince.
  • Toilet Humor: It starts with Jake's toilet getting backed up thanks to the Medusa. And goes on from there.
  • Tomboy: The Medusa quickly took a liking to video games. Jake's niece, Marah, seems to be one too.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The mermaids managed to convince Medusa to come with them so what was the point of the net?
  • Trademark Favorite Food: The Medusa loves Chocodiles.
  • Unicorn: With a chainsaw-horn, no less!
  • Weirdness Censor: Marah's mother completely ignores the fact that the Medusa's, well, a medusa. Lampshaded by Jake, who mentions that most people don't really seem to care that she's green, has a tail instead of legs, and has snakes for hair. The few who aren't cool with it just seem to mind their own business until she leaves.
  • Was Once a Man: The chainsaw unicorn used to be a boy from our world who got trapped in Yeld. And he used to be just a horse. Marah likewise has this happen to her as well.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The introduction of Medusa's mother.
    • "The Kingdom Strikes Back". In rapid succession, Medusa's mother corners the heroes with both her chainsaw unicorn and vampire knights, Marah's weapon is destroyed, Urano, their strongest ally, dies, and Medusa willingly goes back to her mother to avoid anyone else being killed. Literally the only positive aspect of this arc is that Urano apparently transferred his power of the Oath Breaker to Marah just before he died.
    • "Home". Marah fights the Prince in a duel to first blood. She manages to beat him moments before he all-but cuts her in half, killing her.
    • "Return to Yeld". Modest visits her sisters who are in the care of her aunt, Naga. While visiting Naga's cave with the first of her sisters to transform Modest learns the startling truth: because she has 'boy hair' she will NOT turn into a giant snake. Instead she is a rare type of medusa that will simply grow up, becoming a woman with snake hair and a snake lower half, skilled with spells and able to help her sisters have children.
      • When battling one of the Prince's goons Modest FINALLY taps into her magic... and creates a Pikachu that battles and defeats her enemy.
      • Finally, with Aunt Naga dead, all hope looks lost until Marah, now a Drudge Angel herself, arrives and resurrects her. She then later reveals that she can't return home yet but that Modest will see her again.
  • Wham Line: From "Eat a Bug": "Your stupid hair bit me!" Followed shortly by "You're not Marah!"
    • "You have boy hair. Didn't you know?"
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The "Wither away" arc.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: "A hydra can grow more powerful... can live forever... for a price."
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Marah, based on her experience with videogame and RPG depictions of vaguely medieval fantasy kingdoms, assumes that copper coins are the currency of Yeld. So she brings a bag of pennies, and is surprised when no one will accept them as payment.
  • You Can Talk?: The Medusa. It is later revealed that she didn't talk at first because she was too scared of Jake.
    Jake: I spent hours trying to communicate with you! I fed you an entire box of Chocodiles! And you could talk the whole time?
  • You Didn't Ask: After the medusa finds out the concept of clothes and nakedness. She actually slaps Jake for not telling her sooner. He counters he thought she knew.
  • Yuri Fan: As seen here, the Medusa ships Korra and Asami.