Ruby Harrison, age 17, is a high school student whose exceptional GPA belies an unhappy life. Her mother committed suicide two years ago for mysterious reasons, her father sublimates any affection into academic pressure, and she has a dysfunctional relationship with her childhood best friend. On top of all of that, a freak accident at the lab her father works for has transformed her into a superhuman giantess, nine feet tall and radiating magnetic power.
And that's just in the first chapter.
Ruby's predicament sends her into a much darker secret history, where she learns that the science that transformed her was not only part of an illicit super soldier program, but one conducted in part by her late mother. Joined with other young people that have received such genetic tampering, Ruby tries to bring to the world the human testing from Beagle Labs to light. But the more she tries to make sense of the world, the more complicated—and brutal—her world gets.
The series is concluded as of June 2011, but the storyline continues in Ruby Nation, which deals with the titular character building a refugee nation for young super soldier test subjects— and funding it by doing black ops work for the US Government.
You can read the entire series here.
Tropes in this Webcomic
- The Ace: Jiro, on account of his cybernetic body and brain. Deconstructed in that he was a disabled autistic prior to the gene therapy, and finds himself even less happy as a Super-Soldier.
- Adults Are Useless: The only adult character who isn't corrupted or incompetent is Ruby's dad Hal, and even he drops the ball tremendously trying to deal with Ruby's Condition.
- All There in the Manual: The text pieces at the end of more recent chapters expand heavily upon the characters' histories.
- Animal Motifs: For the villains. Buzarde' has vulture-like features and becomes quite enraged when attention is called to this resemblance. Dr. Carcharria's last name is derived from the Latin name of the great white shark, befitting a cold, merciless demeanor.
- Amazonian Beauty: Ruby, post-transformation
- Ambiguously Brown: Alexis. Justified in that she has no idea who her biological father is, other than the fact that he's not white.
- Badass Normal: Subverted by Jens, who often has insights the others don't, but lacks any quantifiable combat skills.
- Break the Cutie: The entire series and to some extent the prequels, in regards to Ruby.
- Broken Ace: Jiro, whose super-soldier capabilities did nothing to make him more connected to the world.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Played with regarding unlucky Jens, in that he did date Ruby for a while, but the relationship was troubled and unhealthy for both parties.
- Child Soldiers: Most of Beagle's super-soldiers. The main cast are somewhat older, but are still very young to be living lives of combat.
- Cool Shades: Played with in a very depressing fashion (natch). Jiro uses them not only to hide the fact that his eyes are inhuman-looking, but also that he's neurologically incapable of making eye contact.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Dr. Carcharria fits into this trope.
- Crapsack World: In which the War on Terror went more effectively, but only because of super-soldiers created by abducting, vivisecting, and brainwashing children.
- Deconstruction: Of the Wake Up Go To School Save The World formula. The characters are all just out of high school, they're fugitives from the system, and the world doesn't really seem to want their help.
- Dysfunction Junction: Ruby is a clinically depressed girl turned into a giant, Jiro is a moody autistic boy whose every cell was painfully replaced with machines, Alexis is a distinctly unusual girl with mysterious empathic powers and no knowledge of her biological father, and Jens is a normal boy whose abrasive sarcasm hides a massive inferiority complex.
- Evilutionary Biologist: Dr. Carcharria sees herself as improving on nature, intending to correct its mistakes. The beings she creates are superior and deserve to live, while the flawed creatures they replace must die.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: With the exception of Ruby, all the super-soldiers either have glowing eyes or red pupils.
- Groin Attack: Jens does this to a bully in the flashbacks, justifying it as being necessary.
- Halloween Cosplay: Twice in homage to other comic/cartoon characters, 2009 and 2010. Characters included range from Ginny Weasely to Solid Snake to Rei Ayanami to Wolvie with Whiskers.
- Hannibal Lecture: Buzarde' was hired partly for his ability to give these.
- Heel–Face Turn: Opal Carcharria.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Ruby's father Hal, subverted in that it was completely unnecessary and was more a suicide than anything else.
- Huge Schoolgirl: Though no longer in school, Ruby has this complex in spades.
- Idiot Savant: Jiro before his transformation was quite obviously autistic. Though his capabilities have been enhanced far beyond neurotypical humans, he still has his autistic traits (though they're also skewed because of his mechanical nature).
- Inelegant Blubbering: Almost every character who cries does it this way, but Ruby is particularly adept.
- Kill It with Fire: Buzarde', upon getting his own cybernetic enhancements.
- The Lancer: Jiro meets most of the characteristics.
- Nanomachines: Gene therapy facilitated by nanobots is the source of almost all the super-power in the series.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Ruby's father has a resemblance to another certain jerkass patriarch in a labcoat.
- No Social Skills: Opal Carcharria, on account of her artificial creation.
- Parental Substitute: Hal Harrison is heading into this territory for Alexis, whose original father figure was a bigoted asshole.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Jens is hot-tempered and emotional, while Jiro is cold and analytical.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: Jiro, who actually was human before his body was converted into machinery, and Opal, who was created from a spare human body and a programmed brain.
- Robot Girl: Opal, in addition to the above trope.
- Run for the Border: Ch. 6 has the cast camping out in the wilderness of Baja California, avoiding civilization altogether (except to steal supplies from local markets).
- Shout-Out: Jiro is named for [[Kikaider another existentially conflicted teen robot]].
- Start of Darkness: Evie Harrison's diaries.
- Statuesque Stunner: Ruby represents a particularly extreme example.
- Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Alexis, whose feelings are skewed due to her empathic nature, but is ultimately a good friend to Ruby and the others.
- Super-Soldier: Pretty much the only way super-powers come about.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Jiro (6' 2"), though he's only tiny compared to Ruby (9' 1").
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Ruby tries to follow this rule, and feels intense shame over having killed a batallion of US soldiers (NOT super-soldiers, either) in self-defense. Her comrades don't bother with this rule, but admire Ruby for following it.
- True Companions: The only redeeming aspect of Ruby's new life is that she's joined by friends who are unwaveringly loyal to her, sympathizing with her differences and admiring her kindness.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Dr. Carcharria intends to free humanity of many of its weaknesses and advance it to a higher state of being...whether it wants to or not.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Jiro and Jens cross into this territory on a number of occasions.