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Webcomic / The Last Cowboy

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The Last Cowboy is a webcomic by Zoe Coughlin. In an alternate history, Earth's first contact with aliens goes horribly wrong: a disease carried by one of the aliens renders nearly everyone on Earth sterile. Very few women are capable of getting pregnant, and those who do tend to have only one child their entire lives. Now Earth's population is rapidly dwindling with each generation. With no other options, the human race builds a series of schools to teach the aliens as much as they can about human culture before it disappears forever.

The Galactic Alliance, determined not to have the same thing happen again, has decided to hold off making first contact with another inhabited world they've discovered. They send a team to study it from orbit instead, unaware that a group of humans have already illegally made landfall, and accidentally left behind a nine-year-old girl.

The girl is found and adopted by a family of the planet's natives (who resemble giant centipedes) but of course they have no idea what she is. And now a deadly disease never seen before on this planet has begun to sweep through its population.

The story ended in March 2020, and can be found here.

This series provides examples of:

  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: In a flashback, the police force on earth is shown to consist primarily of aliens, and humans who prefer aliens to other humans.
  • Fantastic Racism: Humans aren't too happy about the fact that they'll be extinct soon. They tend to be rather bitter towards the other races who will survive beyond them.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: The "Human Studies" schools.
  • Improbably Female Cast: So far, all of the major human characters have been female.
  • Interspecies Romance: Between the human female Adsila and bird-like male alien Gabeross. Fans had been shipping the two for some time before it actually happened.
  • Layman's Terms: Done by Eve out of necessity because she's speaking to beings who don't have a word for "space ship" in their language.
    Eve: They rode... inside... stomach of metal monster.
  • The Plague: Both Humans and the new planet they're studying.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The androids in this universe - at least those in the "Iron Maiden" line (the only type we see) are capable of imagination, curiosity... and even clumsiness.
  • Space Whale: It's only a minor point in the comic (so far, at any rate), but there are creatures that somehow live and move in the vacuum of space, and they're even called "Space Whales". Really, almost nothing is known about them.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Eve. When we first see her, she's getting lost on an alien world. Two years later, she's killing wild animals for food.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The narrative switches back and forth between Eve on the planet Red Garden, and the people studying Red Garden (who have not yet discovered Eve). Adsila's team later find evidence of Eve's presence, but by that time Mari has already taken matters into her own hands and landed on the planet.