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Webcomic / The Specialists

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Have you done your part for victory?
The Specialists is an alternate-history webcomic that Deconstructs the tropes present in many WWII era propaganda Comics. In this universe the Nazis discovered how to make ubermenschen using magic — and are now starting to do so with science as well. World War II is still going on in 1946, though Japan still surrendered after the use of the atomic bomb.

In Germany a scientist known as "Mad Doctor Metzger" runs a facility known as "The Asylum" where he experiments on identical twins to create new, genetically engineered Ubermenschen. Hartman Lowe is the first experiment for the test, he turns into a Beast Man and Metzger orders him to be executed. He escapes, runs off into the forest and hides out in France where he's picked up by ? (Question Mark, or just Mark).

Meanwhile, in America, Maksim Finklestein is a young, super-clever teenager. His uncle Ida has connected him to General Hightower of the OSRD and given him a grant to create "The Golem", a heavily armed robot war machine. However, with time pressing and Max unable to program the robot's artificial brain to do anything other than talk and fall over, Max is forced to convert it into a suit of Powered Armour instead.

These two men join forces with Captain Luke Jansen (Captain Victory), Agnes Deveraux (Lady Liberty), Dr. Kate Smallwood (Lightning Lass), 1st Lieutenant Walter Jones (The Bombardier) and Henry Whitney III (Jack-Be-Nimble), the only surviving test subjects of failed military experiments. But are they superheroes? Or just propaganda tools?

Starts here

This show provides examples of:

  • Animal Eyes: Hartmann's. Especially when he's about to go berserk.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Balmung. At first, it's just a sword that happened to be used by Siegfried. Then Crossbones shot magic into it. Then it started killing unworthy users instantly. Turns out the sword spirit was female, or prefers secretaries.
  • Atom Punk: Combined with a wee bit of Diesel Punk.
  • Badass Boast: Max gets one after he paints a star of David onto the Golem.
    Max: "But you know... I didn't come here to hide. I came to fight. You with me?"
  • Badass Longcoat: Mark's signature trenchcoat, which folds out into an SS uniform when he needs to sneak around in Nazi territory!
  • Badass Normal: Mark, unlike the other Specialists, doesn't have any superpowers.
  • Berserk Button:
    • His name is Baron Johann Von Schadel not Baron Crossbones
    • Hartmann has a rather more literal and defensible one: he loses control when he's in danger, and is disgusted with the violence he metes out in self-defense.
  • Breaking the Bonds: When Question Mark offers to release Hartman's bonds "As a peace offering" Hartman calmly just snaps them to prove he could do it at any time.
  • Evil Counterpart/Good Counterpart: Like any good comic book, many of the Specialists are matched up to a equivalent Ubersmensch.
    • Captain Victory and The Aryan, are the most obvious, both being CaptainPatriotics and SuperSoldiers.
    • The Golem and Panzer, towering, bulletproof metal men armed with BFGs.
    • Jack-Be-Nimble and Max Schnell, cocky speedsters.
    • Lady Liberty and Die Hexe, the standard "Woman with quasi-magical abilities". Lady Liberty has Psychic Powers while Die Hexe is a straight up witch.
    • Question Mark and Geist, their team's respective stealth expert and infiltrator.
  • Evil Twin: Heinrich Lowe/ The Aryan is this to Hartman Lowe/ The Brute. Though they look a lot different from each other now ...
    • Heinrich used to be Hartman's Good Twin (Um ... Good-er). He traded goodness for honor.
  • Meaningful Name: Max's robot is called "The Golem" he's Jewish and built it to fight Nazis.
  • Mirroring Factions: The Ubermenschen and The Specialists do have a lot in common. Aside from the obvious ... y'know, superpowers. The original projects (bio-engineering for the USA and magic for the Nazis) were ineffective and created very few soldiers, so they moved on to different methods of creating them.
  • Must Make Amends: Hartmann will lead them back to the lab he was made in — to save his brother, yes, but he seems to be coming aware that he, and the Nazis, are very evil.
  • Naďve Newcomer: The ubermenschen are properly introduced through the arrival of the Baron's new secretary.
    • Similarly The Specialists are introduced from Max's perspective.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Apart from Baron Crossbones, Panzer (as in Tank), Hexe (Witch) and Geist (Ghost). "Mad Doktor Metzger"'s testing facility is called "The Asylum".
  • Noble Bigot: Jack-Be-Nimble ... probably, he's not been that "Noble" yet but he is one of the good guys.
  • Old Retainer: The butler talks with Jack-Be-Nimble when he calls, since his father doesn't take them. He also expresses approval of him, much to his father's displeasure.
  • Parental Substitute: The butler expresses some warmth and support toward Henry.
  • Play-Along Prisoner: Hartmann. Then, La Résistance doesn't kill him out of hand.
  • Powered Armor: The Golem is probably the straightest example though Jack-Be-Nimble's running suit is technically one as well.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Ox and Schnell. Though the latter's a dick (but still liked by SOME of his teammates so this still counts).
  • Sand In My Eyes: "It's just allergies."
  • Sherlock Scan: Mark deduces that Hartmann was a Nazi from his posture, the fact he refuses a cigarette and because only a loyal Nazi would be allowed to become a Superhuman.
    Hartmann: Smart.
    Question Mark: Well, I am in the intelligence business.
  • So Proud of You: The butler tells Henry this for himself and his employer, Henry's father. It would help if it were plausible about his father.
    • Played straighter with Max's father.
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy: Dr. Smallwood describes the continuation of the Specialist program as a result of this.
    Dr. Smallwood: In the end, the only thing that saved the project was that they'd already spent so much money and they wanted something to show for it.
  • Spell My Name with an S: The official way to spell Question Mark's name is with a "?" symbol.
  • Superhero: Deconstructed so very much ...
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: What happens when you take a team of superheroes who have been grounded from active duty for years, developed friction as a result of media humiliation and personal grudges/vices, and throw them straight into a heavily fortified complex? Comic books would tell you that they succeeded with no casualties in a roaring first mission accomplished. They did manage to complete the mission with minimal casualties, but all the superheroes manage to either commit at least one war crime or freak out at least once at all the death they're churning. THEN the supervillains show up, Curb Stomp the inexperienced Special Squad, and STILL manage to take casualties (both of which are Fridge Horror) because they weren't taking the fight seriously. The team ends up with nightmares.
  • Survivor Guilt: Captain Victory over "PROJECT: ARES" and Lightning Lass over "PROJECT: ZEUS"
    • Inverted with Walter. He's a little proud that he was able to get through "PROJECT: PEGASUS" unscathed because everyone else thought he'd never do it on account of him being black.
  • Talk About the Weather: Henry thinks Agnes's coming outside means more than wanting to do this. In reality she's making sure that Henry doesn't find out Kate and Walter sleeping together
  • Treasure Chest Cavity: Seems to be where the Baron is now keeping his ioun stone.
  • Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: Despite his racism and his snobbery, Henry does inspire some sympathy owing to his status as the "Well Done, Son" Guy.
  • War Is Hell: EVERYONE who fought in the asylum battle is shellshocked to some degree. Or dead.
    • To elaborate, Max and Henry earn their first kills (and feel sick), Agnes has a mental breakdown while she's shielding soldiers which also breaks her shield, Hartmann loses control AGAIN and his pummeled by his twin brother, Kate freaks out from PTSD while fighting zombies, Walter was possessed by Geist and almost bombed his squad, and Luke lost his best friend. On the villains' side, Geist had a brush with oblivion and Panzer discovered that his partner Schnell was killed horribly. The others didn't actively participate and are sociopathic enough to survive this.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Henry. Even though his father doesn't take his calls himself.
  • Wham Line:
    Valkyrie: This vessel will suffice.
  • Wrecked Weapon: When Hartmann is shot at, he breaks the gun in half.
  • Wolf Man: The result of Doctor Metger's first experiment.