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Webcomic / Shattered Starlight

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Sucks to be you, Magical Girl

Farah Shaughnessy is a Magical Girl. Or rather, she was a magical girl. Now that she's a young woman things don't seem so magical anymore. Instead of saving Montreal from the forces of Chaos and Entropy, she’s just trying to hold down a decent job, pay her rent and get her life together a decade after the breakup of her team. When strange things start happening around her and old enemies start to reappear, Farah has to make a choice: face the things she’s been running from all these years or put down her astral weapon and walk away for good.

Shattered Starlight is an online graphic novel by Nicole Chartrand, the creator of Fey Winds. The author promises it will eventually explore mature themes as it deals with the oft-ignored implications and ramifications of common magical girl tropes, mainly how an adolescence spent fighting magical monsters would not be a good preparation for a successful adult life.

Tropes found in Shattered Starlight include:

  • Alliterative Title
  • An Arm and a Leg: Farah's cat Tripod is missing his front right leg.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Faye runs across her ancient enemy's former dragon leaving flowers in the graveyard at what is implied to be the grave of one of Farah's former teammates.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Farah. Dark skin + straight pink hair + Irish name = ??? Considering her former teammate, she might not be entirely human herself.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Lily asks Aeslinn if Orion's presence means that his aunt Phaedes is back, hitting the nail on what she and Farah are worried about but are in too much denial about to say out loud. The second girl then admits that she doesn't know.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Farah learns she's being reassigned:
    Farah: What?! A transfer? You can't! W-where?! Space? Antarctica? The suburbs?!
  • Art Shift: The flashback at the beginning of chapter 2 is drawn to look like anime screencaps.
  • The Atoner: Farah volunteers as a bodyguard (and cuts off an enraged former teammate's objections) with" "It's the least I can do."
  • Big Bad:
    • Orion's aunt Phaedes, ruler of the Sidereal Empire was this to Farah's team, and appears to be making a resurgence on Earth.
    • Another group of magical girls is attacked by a mysterious woman that seems to be independent of Phaedes, implying another candidate for the role.
    • Later strips reveal that there have been multiple incidents of former minions of unrelated villains acting up recently as well, further complicating things.
  • Bilingual Bonus: A given because the setting is Montreal, the most cosmopolitan city in francophone Canada. All of the signs are in French as required by Quebec provincial law and all of the characters are bilingual. The author provides translations for the French in the comments if it's particularly important.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: Something happened to break Farah's team apart, but there aren't any details yet.
  • Broken Bird: Farah still hasn't recovered from the breakup of her team.
  • Covered in Scars: Farah has multiple scars on her legs, and presumably other body parts.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Farah's boss The Empress Celestial. Not that Farah doesn't give her cause.
  • Final Boss: Aeslinn refers to Phaedes as this for their magical girl team
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The background images in the prologue hint at why the surviving Flower Rangers and Star Guardians are all Shell-Shocked Veterans: ugly glimpses of blood and mayhem, lost teammates and slaughtered enemies, and horrified Reaction Shots, culminating in a battered and bloody Farah prostrate before someone wearing evil-looking Combat Stilettos. Each team has one member glimpsed in the prologue who is still unaccounted for in the narrative.
    • Later, Orion is seen leaving flowers at the grave of someone named Rachel Melrose, whom Farah apparently was coming to visit as well.
  • Frames of Reference: Aeslinn used to wear severe-looking square-lens glasses as a teen. These days she's either going* without or switched to contact lenses, though it's possible they were Purely Aesthetic Glasses to hide her Hellish Pupils
  • Gender Flipped: Frederique introduces Leon as "acting Ranger Peppermint". He does not appear amused.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Phaedes, who rules the Sidereal Empire. She was the Big Bad for Farah and her team, and is apparently making a resurgence.
  • Gratuitous French: The comic is set in Quebec and Farah apparently swears by bilingual profanity.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Aeslinn on her dad's side. She's actually distantly related to Orion through him.
  • Hellish Pupils: Aeslinn's pupils are vertical slits, like a cat's.
  • Hidden Depths: Lily appears immune to the Weirdness Censor that affects normal bystanders.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Farah's Astral Weapon (the Blade of Stars) is a hockey stick. One of her brother's old hockey sticks to be exact, and as he was at least a head taller than she is it's actually far too long for her and she'd have to cut it down considerably if she wanted to play hockey with it. The fact that her astral weapon magically imbued a battered old hockey stick instead of manifesting as itself is our first clue that she's not a typical magical girl.
  • Late for School: Referenced here, complete with "toast hanging out of mouth."
  • Magical Girl Genre Deconstruction: Has started to show some of the realistic results of a Magical Girl lifestyle, especially after growing up, with Farrah showing some signs of PTSD and having trouble keeping a regular job (being fired from her last one after she used a magical attack on her boss), the team aparently having broken apart after some event hinted to have ended with a member dying, and the former team mentor is now near-constantly drunk.
  • Magical Girl Warrior: Farah and several supporting characters are all former magical girls who grew up to find there's no career path for magical women.
  • Mentor Mascot: Lepus, Guide of the Skies (AKA "Bunny"), who has unfortunately become a washed-up drunk in the decade since the Star Guardians fell apart.
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • Farah was supposed to be the leader of the Star Guardians. That didn't go so well.
    • Bunny's in the same boat and appears to be handling it worse than Farah.
  • Our Elves Are Different:
    • Aeslinn: Pointed ears: check. Snooty Attitude? check. Hellish Pupils? check. Archaic sounding pseudo-Gaelic name? check, check and double check. (the conventional spelling is Aislin.)
    • There's also the Sidereal Empire, which the former refers to as Space Elves, she herself is half human half Sidereal on her dad's side, and Big Bad is the Empress Phaedes, with her nephew Orion as her Dragon.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Played with: with the Star Guardians evidently a lost cause (One teammate just got married, another recently gave birth to twins, the third hates her guts and the fourth goes unmentioned, either missing, dead, captured or perhaps even gone over to the other side) if Farah wants a new team she'll have to assemble a Rag Tag Band Of Misfits using other over-aged castoff magical girls.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Cafe Le Dead End as far as Farah's concerned, though she actually expresses a fear of literally being reassigned to Antarctica (or outer space) in chapter one.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Orion has red eyes, noticeable
  • Retraux Flashback: Farah and Orion's first confrontation is drawn like a subtitled anime from the '90s-2000s.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Phaedes and her forces were supposed to be sealed off from Earth, but Orion's presence and the Cthonians grabbing Lily's necklace hints that she's found a way to break that seal.
  • Self-Deprecation: in a meta example, when Farah objects to her new job at the Cafe, The Empress Celestrial replies "You were an art major, it'll be second nature."
  • Serious Business: baking muffins, apparently.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Farah exhibits some classic signs of PTSD. She's jumpy, hostile and quick to anger. Leon does too, threatening Farah and Aeslinn with a rather large chef's knife when they won't shut up and let him bake his muffins in peace.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Farah lost her last job after she used her magical powers to clobber the boss in a situation reminiscent of Bob Parr's departure from InsuraCare in the The Incredibles.
    • The walls of the Empress Celestial's office are filled with portraits of magical girls, each detailed just enough to be recognizable to the knowledgeable reader without infringing anyone's copyright.
  • Splash of Color: The art is largely monochrome, except for certain characters' hair and/or eye colors.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: One of Farah's new coworkers is her former Star Guardians teammate Aeslinn. They don't like each other much these days.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Farah always goes straight to her most powerful magical attack "Lance of the Northern Lights" regardless of the situation or the potential for collateral damage. It's probably appropriate to use it on an alley full of cthonic monsters; not quite so appropriate to use it on her annoying muggle boss for "acting like a bag of dicks".
  • Transformation Sequence: Played with. While there is an example of teenage Faye's transformation sequence in the prologue, these days Farah does just summons her weapon and does her magical girling in her regular civvy outfit of leather jacket, blue jeans and pink knee high Chuck Taylors.
  • Uncertain Doom: A mysterious villainous attacks a magical girl group, but we don't see what she does. It's not for a few strips that we learn that she only roughed them up a bit.
  • Unusual Ears: Aeslinn sports a pair of pointed ears that are almost anime-grade.
  • Urban Fantasy: Set in Montreal, where magical girl battles often delay the Métro.
  • The Watson: Lily's newness to the magical scene makes a convenient excuse for exposition.
  • Weirdness Censor:
    • "Bystander magic" apparently prevents muggle witnesses from remembering monster attacks, though it takes a while for it to kick in.
    • Aeslinn's non-human features don't seem to attract any comment or attention either.
    • As Farah notes, even the magical characters have to deal with enough weirdness on a regular basis that they tune background stuff out.