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Webcomic / The Phoenix Requiem

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"It's important to believe in something, don't you think?"
Jonas Faulkner

The Phoenix Requiem is a finished Victorian-inspired supernatural fantasy comic created by Sarah Ellerton, creator of Inverloch.

A peculiar man by the name of Jonas Faulker is discovered in the small village of Esk, unconscious and dying of a gunshot wound. The resident doctor-in-training, Anya Katsukova, manages to save his life not long before the townsfolk begin to die of an unknown flesh-eating disease. Malicious ghosts known as Shades begin to appear, and Anya soon finds herself entwined in both Jonas’ troubled past and a centuries-old conflict between two divine races: revered psychopomps known as Spirits, and the condemned Hellions.

The Phoenix Requiem provides examples of:

  • Blessed with Suck: Jonas. His supernatural powers culminate when he's on the brink of complete physical or mental collapse, they're destroying him from the inside out, and it turns out that the Spirits and the army want to use them for their own corrupt purposes, whether he likes it or not.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The reason Ksendra picked Jonas? He was "the prettiest of all men." He's fairly ticked off when she tells him this.
  • Book Ends: The story begins and ends at the same festival.
  • Break the Cutie: Jonas, prior to the events of the comic. Aaaand further, throughout the comic.
  • Call to Agriculture: In Robyn's backstory. He was a soldier, and now he has a farm in Esk.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Jonas here.
  • Cessation of Existence: Ksendra sacrifices her soul and ceases to exist to give Jonas her powers.
  • Chair Reveal: When Anya arrives home from Aubeny, she finds out that Dr. Blythe is dead this way.
  • Charm Person: Jonas initially appears to be The Charmer—it's very easy for people to like and trust him, and he admits to taking advantage of it sometimes. His wife Ksendra was once considered a goddess of love, and she put some of that into him.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Jonas, but, well...
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Petria jokes that Anya always talks to her patients when they're asleep.
  • Creepy Shadowed Undereyes: Jonas has these when thing get rough for him. And in the epilogue, because while he's immortal, he can't always eat as much as he needs and occasionally drugs himself into a stupor to cope.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: Subverted with the shade child. However cute it looks, it's still a shade that tries to kill you.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Jonas obviously, because of the insane asylum and his wife. Also Robyn, though not as much is made of it; he has some bad memories of his time in the army, and sees ghosts ever since he was gravely wounded.
  • Dead All Along: Jonas. The Spirits have been keeping his soul and body together because he's useful to them. He finds it quite uncomfortable. The only way he could die for good would be if Ksendra took him to the place where the Spirits and Hellions are imprisoned. Even then he couldn't reach the afterlife. In the end, Ksendra makes sure the Spirits have no more hold on him, and does something herself to keep him in the world. It's a Bittersweet Ending, since even though he gets to be with Anya, it's still an unpleasant state, and he may be permanently barred from the afterlife.
  • Death of a Child:
    • Jonas' wife murdered their son in the backstory because he held some of her essence, and she needed it back.
    • Anya's little brother Slavik dies from the plague after she and Jonas visit the Katsukova household.
  • Divine Date: Jonas's late wife turns out to be a Hellion.
  • Dr. Jerk:
    • We don't see much of Dr. Blythe's manner with patients, but with Anya he can be very brusque. However, he also defends her when Armand makes sexist comments about her choice of profession and is mainly just fussy.
    • Dr. Tambur is a genuine jerk. Although he takes great personal risk in his research, he's most concerned with making the discovery first. He was also involved in the torturous "research" Jonas was subjected to in the asylum.
  • Due to the Dead: The only way to deal with a body is to cremate it. Bodies that aren't cremated before they've significantly decayed risk their souls becoming lost, and staying earthbound as ghosts. The skeptics merely think it's practical since land isn't wasted on graveyards...even though later in the comic it's shown that some people bury the ash in graveyards anyway.
  • Emotions Versus Stoicism: When Robyn warns Petria that she needs to stop flirting or she'll be destitute her old age, she says that he's going to be the lonely one because he's afraid to show people how he feels.
  • The Empath: Jonas is a variety of this. He reportedly makes other people feel 'safe', something he admits to using to his advantage.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: page 595.
  • Energy Beings: The Spirits.
  • Expy: Doctor Pedro Tambur seems to be one of The Medic.
  • Face Palm:
  • Gaslamp Fantasy: Set in a place that looks like Victorian England.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Jonas, after he learns what the spirits are really up to, but not to worry. He got better.
  • Good All Along: Ksendra, and the Hellions in general.
  • Have You Seen My God?: The conflict between Hellions and Spirits began when the Hellions—that is, the Medheia—started to indulge in mortal pleasure and gladly let the Spirits take over their duties without question.
  • Head Pet: On Page 701, a chicken appears on Petria's head for one panel (she was feeding hens and one apparently decided to perch...) This instantly became famous among fans.
  • The Heartless: Shades are formed by the negative emotions of someone suffering a traumatic death.
  • Here There Were Dragons: Magic disappeared along with the Spirits. Now that the Spirits have shown signs of returning, people want the magic back. Well, Utopia Justifies the Means...
  • Heroic BSoD: Jonas has a full-on mental breakdown when he realizes the Spirits are evil.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ksendra dissipates herself in order to sever the spirits' link to Jonas.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: In chapter 24, we find this is true of the Mehdiea.
  • Idle Rich: Jonas has a significant amount of money at his disposal but no actual job; Anya's father disapproves.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Or rather, "you need a freaking drink," a judgment made by Robyn when Jonas shows up at his house because he's supposed to be dead, the spirits' use of him as a gateway is torturous, and he's really trying to stay off of morphine.
    Robyn: Here. [hands Jonas a glass]
    Jonas: I don't indulge in the hard stuff.
    Robyn: You do now.
  • Inspector Javert: Even Armand's name sounds intimidating! He's not above threatening and practically stalking Jonas, despite the fact there is no evidence against him. Well, other than that the plague seems to follow him around. Armand does think he has evidence, of course.
  • I See Dead People: Jonas can see lost souls, as well as "visiting" his dead wife in dreams. He also tells Robyn that those closest to death see things that others do not, explaining why Robyn can also see ghosts, and why some of Robyn's army comrades who (like him) had been severely wounded could. Jonas has a double reason: he's dead-and-resurrected himself, and he's also a gate to the afterlife.
  • It Is Not Your Time: Inverted in the beginning. Jonas, who is close to death, envisions himself with his wife urging him to move on. He decides that he's rather not up to dying at the moment.
  • It's All Junk: Jonas throws his wedding ring into the lake, which he had been keeping in his pocket after the death of her wife.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Ksendra's final decision. She could have taken Jonas away with her forever, as was her intention all along, and was tempted to chance that the Spirits might get free in the process; but she realized that he no longer loved her, and instead sacrificed herself, locking the Spirits away and allowing Jonas to be with the one he really loved.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Anya is particularly dedicated to her career and feels responsible for her patients at all time. With the arrival of Jonas she started to relax somewhat.
  • The Lifestream: It is revealed that instead of an afterlife, the dead souls merge into a pool from where they can later be reborn. The spirits were actually eating these souls instead of letting them enter this pool, giving people magic in exchange. The heroes argue that this pool would dry up over time, so they refuse to free the spirits.
  • Love Triangle: One was built up between Robyn, Anya and Jonas in the beginning; however, Robyn very soon gave up.
  • The Magic Comes Back: Through the Spirits.
  • May–December Romance: Anya and Jonas. He's permanently young-looking, but nearly 30 years older than her in chronological years. Even though much of that time was the lost unremembered period in Hyde Asylum, he's still gone through a whole lot more than she has, including a previous marriage and child, and many horrific events. By the end of the story, since he's now become the Grim Reaper, he'll likely never die either - and Anya is still a mortal woman.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: As a Shout-Out to Inverloch, the da'kor return as animals: a wolf/goat hybrid.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Robyn keeps doing things that seem to be the right action at the time, but will later on prove to be horrifically wrong.
    • Using water to battle shades which then washes into the town water supply and spreads the plague faster.
    • Convincing Jonas to return to Hyde so he'll stop spreading the plague. Well, the plague destroys the town it's in, Jonas loses his mind again, and when Robyn forces him to dispel the large population of shades the Spirits are greatly strengthened and suddenly that is a very bad thing.
    • Convincing people to hide in the church only worked the first time because Jonas dispelled the shades. When they learn that the shades are trying to get everyone together to infect them and Jonas isn't around, it's not so good. Admittedly, someone else probably would have thought of this anyway.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Petria has a habit of draping herself over her friends, which she says is from when she used to drape herself over men professionally.
  • The Nothing After Death: The spirits claim that there is no individuality or conscious thought in the afterlife, it's just an ocean of pure soulstuff. Reincarnation is still possible, though, and the spirits could be lying.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Played with. Jonas wants to get back to Hyde Asylum because, despite how horrible place that is, he feels safe there (see Anti-Magic). When he apparently speaks to himself, which Armand takes as he is either genuinely crazy or faking it, he actually talks to the spirits.
  • Odd-Shaped Panel
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Anya when she finds out that the plague is spread by ingesting the ashes of the dead, after they've already washed some of the ash shades into the river they get their drinking water from.
    • The spirits when Robyn threatens to kill Jonas in strip #653.
    • Anya gave out one when she saw the gigantic shade moving towards them from the horizon.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Most people swear by the spirits.
  • Older Than They Look: Jonas, who appears to be in his mid twenties, is actually something closer to forty or fifty.
  • Our Demons Are Different: The Hellions/Mehdiea.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: People who are not cremated before they've decayed become ghosts. There are two varieties: Lost souls, who are invisible to most people and are waiting for a chance to be reincarnated, and shades, who are the angry spirits of people who've suffered traumatic deaths, and are visible to everyone.
  • Our Spirits Are Different: See Psychopomp below.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: The doctors in the Medical Research Committee certainly have.
  • Parasol of Pain: Li-Hua starts hitting Jonas with her umbrella.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Jonas's parents did not approve of his bride because she worshiped the Hellions. They disowned him when he married her anyway.
  • The Plague: A particularly nasty one that causes its victims to decay while still alive. It turns out it's caused by the Spirits, in a bid to create more shades to consume.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Jonas is highly secretive and tries to deal with his troubles on his own, but if he had sought some help in his efforts, they might have figured out some important truths a lot sooner.
  • Posthumous Character: Ksendra, Jonas's deceased wife.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Magic is fueled by the remnants of the souls the spirits feast on.
  • Pretty Boy: Jonas, In-Universe even. This is even the reason why Ksendra picked him. He isn't happy about this.
  • The Professor: Moretty.
  • Psychopomp:
    • The Spirits serve to ferry the souls of the dead to the afterlife. Or at least that's what they want you to believe. The Awful Truth? They eat disembodied souls.
    • In chapter 24, we learn that the Hellions/Mehdiea are actually this trope, played straight this time. Not that they actually want to do it.
    • The ending reveals that this is Jonas's ultimate fate. Forever wandering everywhere to put the restless spirits to rest.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Ksendra, at the end.
  • Reincarnation: Souls that haven't moved on may do this, and may be distinguished from other new souls by their premature maturity. Jonas theorizes that Anya is the result of reincarnation for this reason.
  • Religion is Magic: The presence of Spirits allowed people to use magic. However, since they've been trapped for seven hundred years, magic is mostly a forgotten art.
  • The Reveal: The Spirits are the bad guys.
  • Running Gag: Jonas losing his shoes seems to be a theme... Though this is given a dark twist when it was revealed that when he was incarcerated in the asylum, they kept taking his shoes due to the fact that he kept trying to strangle the doctor with the shoe laces. His room at the asylum was full of shoes he stole from the nurses hanging from the ceiling.
  • Seeking Sanctuary: Subverted. The people think that they are safe from the shades in the church, but they are wrong. On the other hand, Hyde Asylum is a real "asylum" from shades and Spirits, though not from human evil.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: While not that serious, Robyn has been seeing ghosts since he fought in the war. It is explained that it often happens to soldiers in war.
  • Shipper on Deck: At the beginning, Petria thinks that Robyn should keep courting Anya, which he refuses because she's turned him down for being kind of overbearing and needing a farm wife instead of a doctor. Later, Petria starts shipping Jonas with Anya.
  • Shirtless Scene: Robyn has a brief shirtless moment to dispose of some shades, to fans' delight.
    • The scene in question starts here for your viewing pleasure.
  • Shout-Out: To Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
    Petria: Don't you go saying nothing about Robyn being a girl's name. He'll challenge you to a duel.
    Jonas: Don't be daft, of course it's not a girl's name. Haven't you ever heard of Brave Sir Robyn?
    Petria: No.
  • Show Some Leg: Petria gets very close to a soldier to try and get some more information.
  • Skeptic No Longer: Anya didn't believe in the Spirits in favor of a deity her home country believes in. Then Spirits started showing up.
  • Slut-Shaming: A drunk man threatening Jonas calls Petria the "town toffer." She's quite hurt, as she thought she had left that behind.
  • Smoky Gentlemen's Club: The "Society For the Preservation of Natural Order." Their mission is to prevent the release of the Spirits and the Hellions. They use their connections to send anyone with a sincere shot of doing so to Hyde or execution. Armand and the Katsukovas' butler are both members.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Most scientists dismiss spirits, ghosts and such as superstition, when it becomes obvious that they not only exist, but they are the ones responsible for the plague, dr. Tambur and Anya start finding a cure by using pure scientific methods, but taking the ghosts into account. They find that the plague is spread by the ash that once belonged to a shade, and later find that the shade still occupies the ash even after the creature itself is destroyed. This is something that Anya can see but dr. Tambur can't, because she is able to see ghosts.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Jonas.
  • Tomboy: Petria wears trousers and a man's cap, though the clothing is tailored to flatter her figure. She also has unusually short hair at the start, but that's only because she sold it (it grows out over the course of the story).
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Spirits.
  • Visible Silence
  • Voice of the Legion: The Spirits talk in chorus, which is represented by grey words just visible behind the more legible ones. They seem to all say similar things with different phrasing, which must add to the maddening effect they have on Jonas.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: A townswoman wants to recover the ashes of her husband, which were buried to prevent them from being shade fuel. But she can't read the headstones... so she digs up all of them and pours them out, thinking that it will reunite her with her husband's ghost... instead, it becomes a gigantic shade that starts the plague all over again when people accidentally ingest its ashes.
  • Waif Prophet: Jonas is a rare male example.
  • Walking Wasteland: Where ever Jonas goes, the plague seems to follow...
  • Wham Line:
    Jonas: Don't free...the spirits...
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In Chapter 23, Anya calls out Jonas big time for running away from all of his problems and trying to pretend they don't exist in the first place.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Jonas, again.
  • Workaholic: Anya, a nurse, is a non-corporate example.
  • Wrench Wench: Petria.