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Webcomic / My Life at War

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My Life at War is a Webcomic written by Luther Patenge and illustrated by Matt Materniak. It updated every Friday, but has not updated since 2021.

It is a mecha comic that follows the pilots of the 1st Investment Recovery Battalion, mecha pilots fighting to guard the recently acquired territory of Mega Fun Foods.

You can read it online here.


  • All There in the Manual: The supplemental material explains the backstory of the four nations in the world of Cread, the fall of the old Roman-like Clansept Empire, the last World War (called The Impossible Wars), and what the other two nations are busy doing note .
  • Armies Are Evil: How the Free Marketeers (especially the main cast) view the Dhuvalian army. The Dhuvalians share the same sentiment, but for different reasons. See Your Normal Is Our Taboo below.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Henry Macon's briefcase full of stock certificates counts.
  • Broken Win/Loss Streak: What Dhuvalia is trying to prevent, as they have never lost a war since their founding but are growing dangerously close to losing against Mega Fun Foodsnote . This gets deconstructed, as Dhuvalia's officers would rather gas their own citizens with bioweapons than be the first to lose a war for Dhuvalia by cutting acceptable losses, no matter how silly the war's caesus belli was.
  • Chameleon Camouflage: Dhuvalian LIMBs
  • Corporate Warfare: Mega-Fun Foods Inc has hired mercenaries to defend their Dhuvalian acquisitions from local governments that object to the sales.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • The Free Marketeers have distinctly southern/Texan feeling to them, from the way people talk to the cowboy hats.
    • On the contrary, the Dhuvalians have something of a quasi-18th century French culture and aesthetic, mixed with African martial culture.
    • Ghantatar sounds like North Korea reclaiming South Korea.
    • Salbhaca seems based on the Aztecs, as they use futuristic-macuahuitls and have a great grasp of astronomy. Though the would-be conquistadors died from tainted water, preventing the Salbhacans from mistaking them for gods and allowing them to reverse-engineer their stuff.
  • For Want Of A Nail: Supplemental material reveals that Salbhaca was considerably behind the other nations technologically, similar to the Aztecs and invading Europeans, until some explorers made the mistake of drinking contaminated river water on their border and died. Their deaths by gut-worms conveniently precluded any mistaking them for divine and their gear was quickly reverse-engineered.
  • Hired Guns: The main characters are members of a mercenary company.
  • Inherent in the System: Dhuvalia has a long history of patriotism and pride in their war winning(and/or tying) streak - which means they refuse to back down from a war they could easily negotiate their way out of, and would rather deploy untested biowarfare weapons on their own country than lose a single war. The officer who promoted the idea as a tactical option is left as the potential scapegoat for the fallout, unable to protest publicly against her own retrospectively-bad idea because her influence is limited by gender.
  • Killed Off for Real: Vulture is killed when his LIMB is destroyed and Dhuvalian soldiers crack open his ejection pod and shoot him.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Dizzee Jenkins has a tendency to lose LIMBs due to his recklessness, in the chapter 3 battle he apparently lost two. It catches up to him.
  • Loophole Abuse: Dizzee's contract with the 1st Investment Recovery Battalion means he stays employed with them until he pays off the LIMBs he lost or he dies. So Ulysses S. Sumner gives him a heart transplant that leaves him clinically dead long enough to get out of the contract.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Terrence Uzzard was referred to as "Vulture" by his squadmates.
  • Mega-Corp: Mega-Fun-Foods. It's practically in their name.
  • Metaphorically True: An old Dhuvalian creation myth claims that their version of Satan is incapable of directly lying due to a curse, so he's mastered the art of whispering a twisted form of the truth to his followers.
  • Mildly Military: Free Market private military companies. Justified; they're not regular army, and even the "soldiers" of the PMCs are treated more like employees, with them treating each other as co-workers.
  • Mini-Mecha: The LIMBS are too small to be called Humongous Mecha and far too big to be called power armor.
  • Mirroring Factions: Dhuvalian officers decline a salary as a show of patriotism. As the officer corps is composed almost universally of wealthy aristocrats, they can easily afford to do so. Meanwhile, in the Free Market rank within the PMC's is determined by how much stock someone owes in the company. In both systems, this means the wealthy elite are in charge of the army.
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon: As mentioned above the Dhuvalian's infantry are armed with gun-spear-crowbars.
  • More Dakka: The "Chainsmoker", four barreled machine gun available as one of the many possible attachment to the LIMB's chest coaxial mount.
  • Nepotism: Dhuval intends to promote its 3rd crown prince to the top of his class, even though he's fumbling with standard LIMB training, because they need their crown royalty to look good for PR. Subverted once Betsy-Lee starts tutoring the prince with professional mercenary tactics, which awakens his talent as a team leader.
  • Never Learned to Read: Vulture, meant he couldn't tell what was in the employee handbook and because every line on his employment paperwork just read "X" it was too difficult to find his next of kin.
  • Oral Fixation: Vulture usually had a piece of straw in his mouth. While going through his stuff after he died the rest of the team found a box of pre-cut "max relax" hayseeds.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: THE BLESSED PEOPLE‚ÄôS UTOPIA OF GHANTATAR is a totalitarian state with forced conscription and Thought Crime.
  • Powered Armor: The Bulls.
    • Mind you, literally powered. With a cable. From a truck.
    • Except when they initially put it on and they ceremonially walk in it under no power. Bulls are strong.
  • Pretext for War: A Dhuvalian duke's appointed mayors sold some of his land to Mega-Fun-Foods behind his back. Then at some point, said noble lost a significant portion of his holdings and was forced to return his lands to the Dhuvalian state.note  Mega-Fun-Foods refused to return their portion of the land because it was their private property now. Unfortunately, the Dhuvalians refuse the idea of free market ownership, so they saw it as an act of aggression and moved their army to retake the land. Mega-Fun-Foods hires several PMC groups to defend their assets. It sort of escalates from that point. It's heavily implied from the sunken costs of open warfare that either (A) there's something important in that specific patch of land, or (B) the Free Market is making a move on a country that hasn't fought since the last world war. Failing that, it could be (C) Both sides being too proud to back down, since Dhuvalians having never lost a war, and the Free Market being unwilling to give up what they view as their territory, given how precious territory rights are in their society.
    • International Lawyers are apparently not a thing in MLAT. Maybe they all got used as cannon fodder.
  • Privately Owned Society: The Free Market is pretty much anarcho-capitalist. Supplemental materials state that local laws are made by whichever corporation owns the land and can thus vary from building to building.
  • Private Military Contractors: The 1st Investment Recovery Battalion are just that. A few chapters in they begin joint operations with two other companies hired by Mega-Fun Foods.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: One type of weapon the Free Market mechs often seen wielding are basically mech-sized revolvers.
  • Robbing the Dead: Mercenary companies have specialists for that job.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Salbhaca was hit the hardest during the last World War, with most of its farms irradiated, and they seek to colonize another planet and leave the other three factions to their next war.
  • Serious Business: The Free Market and House Rules. If you stand (or God forbid, trespass) on someone else's legally-owned space, and break their rules? They have free reign to shoot on sight, or sue you into Indentured Servitude, or fleece you of everything you own and then some. This is how a megacorporation gets away with starting an international incident by waging a private war against an entire state; the state's diplomat trespassed first with apparent hostile intent. This comes from the only cultural tradition that the early colonies could collectively agree on: Stay on your own property.
  • Show Within a Show: Vulture was inspired to become a LIMB pilot by a show following a fictional mercenary called The Southpaw.
    Vulture: It isn't fictional! It's Based. Awn. Uh. True. Story.
  • Speech Bubbles: The comic seems to use differently shaped speech bubbles to indicate accents. Round for Free Market and boxy for Dhuvalian.
  • Tattooed Crook: The Clansept bandits cover themselves in ritual tattoos. This is meant to honor their heritage and imperial ancestors - who, as expies of Rome, used a Fantastic Caste System to exploit everyone else. Naturally, they spend their time attempting to exploit and raid other nations.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Averted, The 1st Investment Recovery Battalion and the other two PMC companies Mega-Fun-Foods hired are taking heavy losses that their client has needed to subsidize. Macon says it himself:
    • As the story progress, it is pointed out in-universe that there is no simple way a mega-corporation, even one with military-grade PMCs, can win a war against a nation state with a regular army, due to the inherent numerical, organizational, and resource superiority a nation can have, while the strongest corporation is bound by their obligation to generate income for their shareholders. A nation can afford a lengthy and destructive war, but a corporation can not. This generates paranoia fuel for said PMCs, who are deeply suspicious of the continued funding they get from their megacorp-sponsors for defending a war-degrading piece of dirt with PR-destroying tactics.
    • Played straight for the day-to-day stock traders, as the Free Marketers have a stock market based on battles. The corp fighting the war certainly can't make a profit, but the people playing the market as if they're gambling on blood sports? They can make bank.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After Betsy-Lee explains that she joined a PMC and killed dozens of soldiers so she could pay her father's debts and study at a university, Christophe treats her like filth for killing that many people just for personal gain. His friend Henri immediately explodes, and swears to their goddess that he will beat Christophe with his mother's cane if he doesn't apologize for his arrogant, borderline-misogynistic insult, especially since they're supposed to be anti-misogynistic.
  • Work Off the Debt:
    • Dizzee is driven into debt due to the LIMBs he's lost, forcing him to stay with the company for good. It takes a deep toll on his sanity and drives him to start installing cybernetics on the company dime so he can try for more combat bonuses. Until another company gives him a better offer.
    • Betsy-Lee got into the mercenary business to pay off her father's debts and her student loans.
  • Your Normal Is Our Taboo: At some point Dizzee talks about how the Dhuvalians are a bunch of sadists for fighting in the name of something like their country, instead of something more apparent like wealth.
    • Of course, the Dhuvalians views the Free Marketeers as murderous bastards who slaughter for short-sighted profit and fun, instead of something more honorable like their country. To that extent, the state expects all officers and above to refuse payment for their military service, something that would anger the Free Market. Then again, the Dhuvalians' officer corps are pretty much universally wealthy aristocrats, so they can afford to refuse payment For the Free Market, rank in the army is literally determined by how much stock you own in the company, so high ranking officers likewise tend to be wealthy individuals themselves.