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Webcomic / Supermassive Black Hole A*

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Supermassive Black Hole A* ("A star") is a sci-fi webcomic telling stories from a human civilization in the center of our galaxy, and more specifically, the covert search for a particularly powerful bit of Lost Technology, and the lives ruined by it. Here, energy and raw materials are abundant and life is cheap. Initially, the story mainly focused on Vero Plank—a former employee of Solvan Mars—who became rogue after an incident from radiation leak that claimed the life of his friend. Then the story changed when he met Selenis Zea and became her unwilling accomplice to her goals, which led them to an abandoned Perriman cloning facility that led to Selenis' demise except for the fact that she had a clone to be activated upon her death. The rest of the comics from that point became focused on Selenis and her continuing goal for perfect cloning technology.A* is in a cinematic widescreen format, and updates Monday through Friday.

Supermassive Black Hole A* contains examples of:

  • Anti-Hero: Selenis seem to fall between this, Unscrupulous Hero, and Villain Protagonist.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Selenis has been the protagonist of the comic since her her 32nd clone's death from Plank.
  • Action Survivor: Vero Plank, our hero, is a simple tramp freighter crewman. But the instant shit got real, he Took a Level in Badass.
  • Arbitrary Weapon Range: Apparently, the 'boomships' have a greater laser range than standard Mega-Corp fighters. Possibly justified, because they are stated to be faster, and therefore more capable of dodging incoming laser fire, and therefore capable of engaging effectively at greater ranges than a slower, less dodgy opponent.
  • Art Shift: The webcomic started out as a project for animated clips, thus explaining the first comics' cartoonish art style before its transition to a more realistic style. Also, it also used pink, blue, and white as its main color.
  • Asshole Victim: Thierry, one of Selenis' clients, caused problems for Selenis because he tried to skip out her payment for assassinating Kol Andiran. It took five episodes time for Selenis to root Thierry out from his hiding, where the head of Treban corporation revealed his location in exchange for a favor on an investigation of their issues. Once Selenis got a hand on Thierry, she then shut off his brain and made him into her clone lackey.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Since Episode 22, Selenis' antagonist became Corrupt Corporate Executive and his group despite her character status.
  • Body Backup Drive:
    • Selenis has a cloning facility with dozens of bodies in reserve. However, the process is... inexact.
    • Chapter 27 also used this with Selenis overriding the clone activation to transfer her consciousness to the clone in her hideout when it was discovered by a squad of soldiers while she was stuck in orbit against an intruding ship.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: because the stars are much closer together at the galactic core than they are out in the vicinity of Earth, this is possible despite the lack of Faster-Than-Light Travel.
  • Character Development: Selenis seem to gain some positive aspects after her time in a cult colony led by Hierophanta Episode 22.
  • Clones Are People, Too:
    • The entire Episode 14 displayed Selenis' prototype clone being terminated without remorse despite already displaying emotions and personality.
    • Entire story arc involving Luna who was cloned as an adolescent in order to create a more stable clone, starting from this strip.
  • Clone Degeneration: The cloning technology had been less-than-stellar since all of the clones had short lifespan and imperfect memories that they are used for temporary cover-ups. Selenis Zea possessed Perriman cloning and memory transfer technology from destroyed facility where she worked centuries ago that allowed her to become virtually immortal, but she suffered from few flaws from incomplete process—ranging from missing parts of fingernail to memory integration problems—which she had to create a protocol on culling clones below the acceptable levels of growth, which led to early death of her 34th clone in Episode 12 and had to resolve issues with her clones' defects centuries before the comic's timeline.
  • Colony Drop: A ship 10 times the size of a Galaxy-class freighter, moving at 10 percent light speed, hits a planet. Only those important enough to get on the few evacuation ships survive.
  • Corporate Warfare: Occasionally happen in SMBHAX-verse.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Solvan Mar gets the most screen time, but he's far from the only one.
  • Crapsack Galaxy: As the comic's description says, " an area of space dominated by a gigantic black hole, where energy is abundant and life is cheap."
  • Cult Colony: Ended up in this trope in Episode 22, one led by benevolent priestess and another rival and possibly malevolent cult led by Selenis' acquaintance.
  • Decoy Protagonist: It's been many chapters now since we last saw Vero Plank (not that Selenis is much of a protagonist to begin.)
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • At the end of episode 20, Selenis jump off from Treban's apartment to prevent her corporation from tracking her after she finished their works. Though she had a secret cloning facility that allows her to be brought back.
    • Episode 35 also had her commiting suicide again, which she crunched the poison implanted in her teeth when she was prevented from able to return to her ship after confronting Perriman over his remote infiltration into her console.
    • An episode later, she detonated her entire secret base after a bloody confrontation with Perriman's Oswalt..
  • Earth That Was: Suggested throughout. There's a historical society dedicated to collecting artifacts and data about Earth. They even have something called a "tree." Whether the humans of Sagittarius A* come from Colony Ship or Perriman's cloning technology is debatable.
    • Though Episode 35 revealed that not only the inhabitants in Sagittarius A* descended from the clones but the creator, Perriman, is still alive and observing his creations, which he also snooped into Selenis' cloning programs out of curiosity.
  • Expendable Clone: Zig-Zagged Trope. While Selenis' cloning system meant that she is willing taking high-risk missions along with self-termination in case of her compromised status, her cloning process's expense and imperfection meant that she had to account for the potential payout to cover her expenses whenever she chooses her assignment. As of Episode 36, Perriman's discovery and attack on her cloning facility before its self-destruct sequence meant that her 39th iteration had to keep a low profile while focusing on reestablishing her hideout.
  • Fanservice: Selenis can be seen as this in swim suit, space suit, or without clothes.
    • Ms. Fanservice: The above-mentioned clothing usually gives the comic with consistent sex appeal whenever Selenis appears.
  • Femme Fatale: Selenis, complete with seduction and moral flexibility.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Selenis' newly activated clone, who recently came out naked from one of the vats, fight a squad of soldiers in this strip.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Chapter 25 ended with the leader of pirates who took over the station later got mutinied by his own subordinates when Selenis leaked his information on giving a large portion of profits to Corporation that funded his operation.
  • Generation Ship: Mela was colonized by a fleet of Seed Ships maintained by the crews for many generations and later supplemented with clones when they landed. Some of the ancient ships would dot across the planet, one of which was laid underneath the city of Knos.
  • Immortality Immorality: Due to her constant cloning, the already-morally scrupulous Selenis is effectively an immortal.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: Justified, according to Ben Chamberlain's post, since Selenis' pregnancy may complicate the cloning process.
  • Immortality Seeker: Selenis's various research, artifact hunts,and covert assignments are the result of finding perfect cloning technology made by Perriman, who was believed to be the creator of humanity in the Core.
  • Latex Space Suit/Sensual Spandex: Most of her appearance in space suit is form fitting enough to see her curves.
  • Lightworlder: Justified Trope due to the majority of habitable areas in the settings are low-gravity and those coming from few areas with higher gravity can jump higher. According to Word of God, Selenis had to keep in shape for adaptation to both Earth-like and low gravity settings.
  • Lost Technology: Perriman's 'perfected' cloning technology.
  • Mega-Corp: Many, and powerful. Conventional government has been mentioned only once, and only in passing.
  • Naked on Revival: The activation of Selenis' clone upon her death(s) can result in this due to being formed in vats. Full-Frontal Assault ensues when she have to override the command to fight off a squad in this strip
  • Neural Implanting: Selenis' brain contained implants that transfer her previous memories to another clone after her death. This effectively made her "immortal" as she is basically a same person in a series of bodies. Furthermore, she can also override the on-death command to activate a clone though only used as a last resort due to side effects.
  • Older Than She Look: Thanks to her using cloning technology for decades, if not centuries, she looked younger than appearance. Lampshaded in this comic.
    • Really 700 Years Old: How old she would be if her original form had lived beyond the time of this comic without cloning technology or natural death. Even "her" previous visits to Pearl up to a century hadn't gone unnoticed by the current point. As of Episode 32, she would have been old enough to operate a functioning Perriman technology, which was lost by the comic's present time.
  • Pleasure Planet: The Pearl in Episode 22 provided entertainment based on historical periods, including Medieval European Fantasy with an animatronic dragon and 1920's Americana.
  • Put on a Bus: Plank, since the end of Episode 10 after shooting Selenis (who later took over most of the comics' plot) in the cloning facility.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Thanks to her cloning that revived her after each death, she experienced fruitless and fatal setbacks multiple times, let alone ending her story.
    • Episode 11 and 12, the result from Selenis' assault on Solvan Mars' facility ended in her death, which the prompt culling of her 34th clone—who fell victim to the system's protocol on culling "imperfect" clones for Selenis' long-term survival—and the activation of her 35th clone further contributed her expense that sidetracked her infiltration plan for the location of Perriman's technology for 6 episodes.
    • Episode 17: Selenis' search for cloning technology on the planet's turned fruitless when the database isn't available on its archive and ended with the facility's nuclear bombardment.
  • Stealth in Space: Fusion engines leave a radiation trail that can be easily tracked, while chemical engines do not.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Distances in the core are much smaller, as noted above, but at best that would mean a journey of years between stars instead of millennia, and definitely not the days depicted.
  • Space Pirates: Episode 24 had a group of them led by a Corrupt Corporate Executive who recently captured a space station with Selenis' aid. see Hoist by His Own Petard for its end.
  • Taking You with Me: Episode 36 ended with Selenis activating her base to self-destruct to destroy all of Oswalt's soldiers along with herself to safeguard her last clone as she was launched on a rocket to a safe place.
  • There Are No Good Executives: There was one.
  • Vapor Wear: Whenever Selenis wears skin-tight outfit, which she shows her naked body beneath her Latex Space Suit to the point where the outlines of her bare feet can be seen.
  • We Can Rule Together: Selenis tried this trope with Vero in this strip when both of them were trapped in Perriman's cloning facility by an armed starship, which ended with her death and a Cliffhanger on Vero's indecision to whether he should clone himself or not.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: This comic subverted this trope, especially the somber mood of Selenis' clone over her realization as a copy of her creator and her termination.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Selenis Zea, further emphasized by the minimal colors of the comic that made her hair white.