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Webcomic / Ruby Nation

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Elise Sasaki-Garcia is a 17-year-old girl who’s a huge fan of anime and young adult fantasy. Having woken up with metal wings on her back, she and her friend Ruby Harrison (who has been similarly transformed, in her case into a nine-foot-tall giantess) appear to be living out one of those stories, having joined other post-human teenagers in the fight against the twisted experiments of Beagle Labs. But Elise doesn’t remember how she got her wings, and the truth about her transformation may spoil her fantasy, if not her entire existence.

A sequel of sorts to Ruby's World by Neil Kapit, Ruby Nation is a long-form story-driven webcomic that intentionally deconstructs many tropes of the young adult superhero narrative. The characters around Elise, most of whom starred in Ruby’s World, are just out of high school, horribly scarred by their experiences, and grudgingly devoted to saving a world that doesn’t seem to want the help. Elise herself is more optimistic, but whether that’s due to a genuinely good heart, a complete lack of experience, or something entirely different has yet to be determined.

Unfortunately neither the comic nor its wiki are still being hosted.

Ruby Nation provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The main action is supplemented by in-universe textual ephemera like therapy transcripts and diary pages, all of which go a long way towards fleshing out the characters' backstories.
  • Affably Evil: Kaluga is kind and protective of Elise, genuinely caring for her.
  • America Saves the Day: Deconstructed. It's more like "America recruits Ruby and her crew to clean up their mess".
  • Anachronic Order: Very much so, with numerous flashbacks, dream sequences, and expository journal entries.
  • Animal Motifs: All of Beagle's super-soldiers use code-names based on animals. There's Moray, two as-yet-unknown characters called Kaluga and Ratel, and apparently they refer to Elise as Bateleur.
  • Anxiety Dreams: Elise appears to suffer from these, seeing violent and provocative imagery interrupt what would otherwise be straightforward flashbacks.
  • Anti-Climax: When the Ruby Nation finally meets Dr. Carcharria in her upgraded form for a final battle, she goes down in one shot by Jiro shooting her in the kidney.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Ruby, when she gets Pregnant Badass from her posthuman fetus, gets even BIGGER.
  • The Atoner: Jiro seeks to atone for his sins so that he can have a better life in a better world.
  • Ax-Crazy: Elise slips into this mindset during battle, due to her apparent "programming".
  • Babies Ever After: Sort of. Ruby is still pregnant by the end of the story, so this is presumably in store for her in the near future.
  • Beast Man: Ratel, who looks like a honey badger, because that's exactly what she was before she became a posthuman.
  • Berserker Tears: Jiro when is torturing a confession out of Ratel. Lampshaded in the author comments.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ruby is compassionate and gentle, but she’s also a force to be reckoned with.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The villain is a mad scientist who uses unwilling test subjects, mostly the very young and very poor, to build her private army of super-soldiers. The heroes are a group of teenagers who are all emotionally broken and willing to kill if needed. The only character who sees any heroism in what they're doing is Elise, who is too naive to know otherwise.
  • Blood Knight: Elise.
  • Body Horror: So many examples. Poor Ruby is on the receiving end of most of it.
  • Break the Cutie: Happened to the cast in the previous strip, seems to be where Elise is headed.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: The Apex State is more or less this, especially from the point of view of the Big Bad.
  • But We Used a Condom!: Jiro literally says this when he finds out Ruby is pregnant.
  • Cartesian Karma: averted. Despite being responsible for Alexis' death, Jens isn't held responsible for his actions while under the influence of the Apex State. The reaction to his return is mostly one of relief instead.
  • Child Soldiers: Beagle tends to use the very young for their experiments.
  • Combat Tentacles: Moray's body is filled with thousands of razor-sharp nano filaments, but he tends to wield them as large columns that fit this trope.
  • Cool Shades: Jiro, to conceal his Glowing Eyes of Doom.
  • Crapsack World: People in this story get killed, experimented on, brainwashed, kidnapped, and injured on a regular basis. Posthumans have it especially bad, but pretty much everyone comes out worse for the wear.
  • Cyborg: A baboon cyborg, that is. Comes equipped with a machine gun.
  • Enfant Terrible: Played with. Dr. Carcharria looks like a child, but is actually 49 years old.
  • Evil Former Friend: Elise was this to Ruby, at least until her memories were erased and she joined Ruby's team.
  • Face–Monster Turn: Which is exactly how the Apex Unit got Elise to attack Ruby in the first place.
  • Fan Disservice: Elise's brain chemistry is altered so she gets an endorphin rush when she she kills people, effectively making killing feel like sex to her. She tells this to Kaluga, who reveals his severe facial tumor to her, and she kisses him. None of this is remotely sexy.
  • Final Speech: Dr. Carcharria gives one as she's dying.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: The Apex event causes this to happen to all normal humans except for Alexis, with a heavy dose of Hive Mind.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Ruby refuses to consider abortion when her post-human fetus is threatening her health.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Ruby is kind and warm-hearted, but nevertheless extremely powerful and not one to be taken lightly.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Elise reveals the nasty-looking scar hidden under her Eyepatch of Power, but when she does, the moment signifies character development instead of a turn towards villainy.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Elise is far from the patient type. Some of the villains have pretty sharp tempers of their own too.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Dr. Carcharria Olivia Schruke delivers a particularly withering one to Ruby.
  • Healing Factor: One of the many powers nanos have.
  • Heel Realization: Elise undergoes a mild version of this once she figures out her past. Even though she’s long since left Beagle, she shows conflicted feelings over having been a part of them.
  • Heroic Willpower: Ruby is able to detect the mood-altering chip in her brain and use the sheer force of her own metabolism to destroy it.
  • Hive Mind: The Apex event has this effect on humans.
  • Hope Spot: The Apex event has rendered normal humans helpless. Jiro is past his breaking point. Ruby is in custody of Dr. Carcharria. And suddenly, Alexis snaps out of her comatose state just long enough to give some important information...
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Jiro’s justification for erasing Elise’s memories after she was brainwashed into attacking Ruby and the gang.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Jiro tortures Ratel to force a confession out of her.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The story forms with scenes and textual ephemera from various points in the timeline, often revealing information out-of-sequence (such as with Elise's brainwashing).
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Most of the cast, but especially Jiro.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: Ruby, who surrenders herself to Dr. Carcharria in order to protect her friends — and her unborn child.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The mood-altering drugs the Not-So-Good Doctor prescribes to her captives work this way.
  • Lotus Position: The way Ruby is sitting in the cover to chapter 9-A evokes this, which is fitting, given her introspection and refusal to let her mind be taken over by the Lotus-Eater Machine in this chapter.
  • Meaningful Name: The Apex Unit, in which all the members are named after apex predators.
  • Medium Blending: An unusual example where the mediums in question are Sequential Art and text. After each chapter, there is a short interlude, journal, or scrapbook instead of the usual comic intercut with a little comic art.
  • Mook Debut Cutscene: In the prologue, a Mook overseeing the captive Elise looks at a locket with a picture of his daughter, and wonders if what he's doing to support his family is the right thing. The same Mook is later killed in a very brutal fashion to cover Moray's escape.
  • Mythology Gag: An extremely meta example—Jiro makes a reference to Poet Kitties, a webcomic by the author of Ruby Nation.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Beagle's human guards. Crosses over with Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain , as most of them aren't treated as bad people, and they're basically paid to be cannon fodder against super-soldiers way out of their league.
  • Sadistic Choice: Jiro’s rescue attempted are stymied by humans under the influence of the Apex Event. His choices? Accept capture and lose his chances of rescuing Ruby, or fight back and let Alexis and the rest of his team get taken down. He accepts the former option.
  • Sanity Slippage: Elise becomes progressively more unhinged as the story goes on.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Dr. Carcharria sees Ruby's views on freedom and positive change for the future this way, but ultimately even she admits Ruby might not be entirely in the wrong. The story itself seems to subvert this. Despite the fact that they live in a Crapsack World, the most villainous characters are the ones who let their bitterness and cynicism drive them to totalitarian extremes, while the characters who don't lose hope are staunchly on the heroic side.
  • Shout-Out: The comic has numerous references to video games, songs, comics, TV shows, and the like.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Delivered by Elise via spit take.
  • Spiteful Spit: Elise spits in Moray’s face ostensibly to show she wants nothing to do with him. As it turns out, she was actually spitting out a device to short out the power.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Elise (5' 10") is a more believable example, Ruby (9' 1") takes it to a fantastic degree.
  • Stress Vomit: Happens to both Jiro and Duncan, despite the former's digestive system being very much unlike a normal human's. It seems to be a reflex.
  • Stylistic Suck: Elise's diaries are sloppily handwritten and contain very simple writing, as the character herself is not really a great author.
  • Super-Strength: A good number of characters, most notably Ruby.
  • Tender Tears: Ruby does this early on in the comic as part of her Establishing Character Moment.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Ruby talks to a psychologist towards the end of the prologue.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jiro gives one to [[Dr. Carcharria after shooting her.]]
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Jiro and Ruby are this type of couple.
  • Transformation Comic: In that almost all of the main characters have been genetically altered, and most of them cannot pass for normal.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Presumably Elise suffers from this, thanks to the experiments that gave her those wings.
  • True Companions: The cast established one prior to Elise's arrival, and she thinks herself part of their group. Whether she is depends on who you ask.
  • Wardens Are Evil: They certainly are when your warden is Dr. Carcharria.
  • Wham Episode: The Insomnia Interlude, though it's not apparent until the end.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Ratel's fate after Jiro is finished with her is never fully explained.
  • What If the Baby Is Like Me: Ruby worries about this greatly when she discovers she's pregnant.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Duncan, who is normally very passive and shy, pulls this on Jiro when he goes too far.
  • World-Healing Wave: Of a psychic variety. Thanks to Ruby, the Apex State has lost its grip on humanity, though they still retain their memories of what happened—which mean they know who saved them.