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The Black Moon Chronicles is an epic Dark Fantasy comic series by French author Francois Marcela Froideval and illustrated by Olivier Ledroit, who is better known by English speakers for his work on Pat Mills' Sha and Requiem Chevalier Vampire . (Original French title: Chroniques de la Lune Noire.)
Sounds simple enough, no?
Turns out that Wismerhill is the lynchpin of a Gambit Pileup involving prophecies, gods, demons, elemental forces, and immortal archmages and that his choices will ultimately decide the fate of his entire world. And with so many different clashing agendas, few things are as they seem, and fewer people can be trusted...
- Le Signe des Tènebres (Sign of Darkness, 1989)
- Le Vent des Dragons (Dragon's Wind, 1990)
- La marque des démons (Mark of the Demons, 1991)
- Quand sifflent les Serpents (When Snakes Hiss, 1992)
- La danse Ecarlate (The Blood Dance, 1994)
- La Couronne des Ombres (Crown of Shadows, 1995)
- De Vents, de Jade et de Jais (Of Wind, Jade and Jet, 1997)
- Le Glaive de justice (Sword of Justice, 1999)
- Les Chants de la négation (Songs of Negation, 2000)
- L'Aigle foudroyé (Struck Down Eagle, 2002)
- Ave Tenebrae (Ave Tenebrae, 2003)
- La Porte des Enfers (The Gate of Hell, 2005)
- La Prophétie (Prophecy, 2006)
- La Fin des Temps (End of Times, 2008)
0. En un jeu cruel (A cruel game, 2011)
Volume 14 is the final album of the series. The French version was released on 21st of November 2008.
Two spinoff prequel series were made: Methraton, which reveals more of the titular character's past and goals against a backdrop of the setting's distant past, and Les Arcanes de la Lune Noire, recounts the origin story of Wismerhill's companions and what their lives were before the main series' events; so far, one-shots covering Ghorghor Bey, Pile-ou-Face and Parsifal have been released. A prequel detailing Wismerhill's origins has also been released.
- Action Girl: Feydriva (before her fridging) and Hellaynnea.
- The Antichrist: Hints are dropped early in the series that Wismerhill's Disappeared Dad might be The Devil himself. It's a Red Herring; Lucifer's son is actually Haazheel Thorn.
- Wis' dad is actually Pazuzu, a demon prince disguised as an elf.
- Anti-Hero / Anti-Villain: Wismerhill, and by extension pretty much every member of his True Companions (even the succubus), dance constantly back and forth over the line between both. While some like Shamballeau the mage or Murata the samurai aren't as morally questionnable in their own actions, the fact that they have no problem hanging around the others speaks for itself.
- Badass: Almost any named character who survives more than one or two scenes counts. The biggest one though is Greldinard, Baron of Moork; everytime he appears he does something awesome, even if that something is sitting in a chair.
- Big Bad: Haazheel Thorn, the Master of the Black Moon, über-powerful Evil Sorcerer capable of commanding vast hordes of The Undead and The Legions of Hell, demigod and spiritual leader of a powerful Religion of Evil, lord of a massive Badass Army of humans and monsters, Son of Lucifer...
- Bigger Bad: The Prince of Darkness himself, who decides to send his legions to conquer/destroy the world after his Xanatos Gambit to get God to leave it in disgust with his followers goes Just As Planned
- Bittersweet Ending
- Black And Gey Morality
- Boisterous Bruiser: Ghorghor Bey, all the way.
Colony DropMoon Drop: The Big Bad doesn't take defeat well. NOT. AT. ALL.
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: When Pilou is reunited with his adoptive dragon family.
- Also, when Gorghor Bey is reunited with his resurrected lovers, siamese sisters who had died years before in Gorghor's stand-alone origin story. Wismerhill threw in the nice bonus of separating them so at least a part of the physical problems in the relationship was solved.
- Church Militant: The two religious knightly orders of the empire, the Knights of the Light (patterned after The Knights Templar) and the Knights of Justice (patterned after The Knights Hospitallers).
- Crapsack World
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Church is built on an alliance with God, represented by two stone tablets that are later destroyed. It's far from the only religion in the empire, though.
- The Dragon: Greldinard, Baron of Moork, to Haazheel Thorn. Wis himself becomes this for a while when both the former decide to lay low for a while. And Haazheel Thorn himself is this to his father, Lucifer.
- The Empire / The Emperor: Wismerhill thinking that Lhynn and its ruler are examples of these tropes is a key component of the bad guys' plan. In fact, emperor Haghendorf is more of a Lawful Neutral Reasonable Authority Figure who tries his best to properly run a massive feudal Holy Roman Empire Expy despite living in a Crapsack World and trying to avert the prophecied violent end of his reign and his empire.
- The End of the World as We Know It: Without spoiling anything else, let's just say that the last volume's title is perfectly justified.
- Evil Sorcerer: Haazheel Thorn, in case you weren't paying attention.
- Face Death with Dignity: The decision of both the dwarves and the elves/faerie folk as a whole when The End of the World as We Know It comes knocking, instead of trying to save their skins by attempting to go through the same portal to another as the humans do.
- The Faceless: Greldinard never removes his helmet (or his armor) on-panel once through the whole series.
- The closest we get is showing his hands going up, then going back down with the helmet, while contemplating swearing loyalty to Wis or Haazeel
- Five-Man Band:
- Full-Frontal Assault: Hellaynnea does this a few times. What else would you expect from a succubus?
- Gambit Pileup
- God: There's evidence enough he exists (Paladins of the Order of Justice are preternaturally good demonslayers, and high-ranking priests can perform resurrections) but we never see him, and he doesn't really do much; his one act is gathering up all his followers (who seem to be mostly imperial citizens) in the same place, then removing that chunk of land from the planet just before things literally go to hell for everyone left behind.
- Growing the Beard: This was the first major comic series for both Froideval and Olivier Ledroit, and early on it shows. Each successive volume shows incremental improvement, but come volume 4 everything becomes markedly better.
- Half Human Hybrids: Wismerhill is a half-elf, Ghorghor is a half-ogre (his father was a very young ogre, his mother an unwilling villager). Others are seen occasionally.
- Heel Face Turn:
- Heroic Sociopath: While several of the protagonists show signs of this, Pile-ou-Face is probably the best example; one gets the impression he'd get along famously with Belkar Bitterleaf.
- Horny Devils: Hellaynnea the succubus. She also doesn't mind sharing Wis one bit (she even organises and executes the recruitment of his harem, which was her idea in the first place anyway).
- Though it was more a Heir Club for Men situation, she wanted to make sure he'd have descendants.
- This is borne out in that she probably had something to do with the fact that only one of his dozen kids is male (neatly avoiding any complications come succession time), but she obviously took far too much pleasure from the whole situation for her decision to be purely pragmatic.
- Though it was more a Heir Club for Men situation, she wanted to make sure he'd have descendants.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Parsifal and his Knights of Justice.
- It Amused Me: The prequel shows that the entire plot was set off by a bet between Lucifer and Pazuzu, because the former wanted a game that wouldn't be lost by his opponent for fear of retribution.
- Let the Boss Win: In a sense, the impetus of the plot.
- The Legions of Hell: Summoned in battle by Haazheel Thorn and sent by Lucifer to Take Over the World after God is out of the picture
- Light Is Good: The Order of Justice, whose grandmaster Parsifal is an exemplar of the Lawful Good Paladin and Knight in Shining Armor.
- Light Is Not Good: The leadership of the Knightly Order of Light is held by grandmaster Fratus Sinister, who has designs on the imperial throne, and his cronies, all of them power-hungry, morally bankrupt assholes.
- Loveable Rogue: Pile-ou-Face.
- The Man Behind the Man: Haazheel Thorn is actually under orders from Lucifer to create a favorable enough situation that he can just stroll in and Take Over the World to make it a new Hell (with every inhabitant's soul as a bonus)
- Ms. Fanservice: The protagonist's main squeeze is a succubus. 'nuff said.
- Missing Dad: Wismerhill's. He pulls an appearance in the end, though, to congradulate his son and to see his grandkids (among other things).
- Moon Base: The headquarters of the Black Moon are, astonishingly enough, on the Moon.
- Night of the Living Mooks: Haazheel Thorn raises a gigantic legion of undead, lead by mighty wyrm-riding undead lords... merely as a way to soften up the imperial armies before battle. He still loses said battle... just as planned.
- Obviously Evil: Haazheel Thorn. Even emperor Palpatine post-lightning bolt looks more thrustworthy.
- Our Monsters Are Different: And many variations thereof:
- All Trolls Are Different: In this case, similar in abilities to both D&D and Warhammer trolls, but 20 feet tall, with a more-or-less caucasian skin tone, giant noses, and they look a bit like they came out of Jim Henson's creature shop.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Stout, short and bearded? Check. Live inside mountains (and active volcanoes)? Check. Master engineers, miners and smiths? Check. Greedy? Check. Love alcohol? Check. Hate orcs? Check. Fight equipped with massive war machines, heavy armor, axes and hammers? Check, check and check.
- Our Elves Are Better: No, they really aren't (except Pilou).
- Our Giants Are Bigger: They grow really big here, often easily over 50 feet tall.
- Our Ogres Are Hungrier: They look more like brown-furred, club-wielding yeti. Half-ogres look more human but are just as big. How big? Ghorgor Bey uses a beer barrel as a drinking goblet.
- Our Orcs Are Different: Similar to Warhammer orcs, only usually with more humanlike skintones.
- Physical God: Haazheel Thorn approaches this level of power. Methraton, the Ultimate Mage, definitely has this much power. The Oracle, while being the real deal (i.e. a god), is actually less powerful than this due to being depowered and shackled by the other gods for some transgression.
- Religion of Evil: The Black Moon faith, which worships Haazheel Thorn.
- Role Playing Game Verse: It helps to explain a lot of what happens when you know that the series was inspired by one of Froideval's old Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, and that he worked on AD&D for TSR in The Eighties.
- Samus Is a Girl: The Oracle is actually a goddess... and when freed after eons of imprisonment, she's quite keen on... intimate contact.
- Satan: Lucifer is shown early on to be the true master of all demons, and it's hinted that he's more powerful than the gods (except maybe for God himself, who's unfortunately a lot less proactive). Old Nick is also The Man Behind the Man for much of the series' plot.
- Sickly Green Glow: Color of choice and standard side-effect of the magic of Haazheel Thorn and his Black Moon cronies.
- Stuffed Into the Fridge: Feydriva, Wismerhill's first Love Interest, meets a Fate Worse Than Death thanks to two demons, for no real reason save giving him a fight scene and a bout of angst. Wis gets over it pretty quickly though, and she is never mentioned again.
- The Starscream: Fratus Sinister, to pretty much anyone else who's in power.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Back in his This Loser Is You days, Wis hunted rabbits with a jousting lance and a charger.
- This Loser Is You: Wismerhill at the beginning, before taking many, many, MANY levels in badass.
- Took a Level In Badass: Wismerhill, who grows from loser to dark general to emperor.
- Unexplained Recovery: Ghorghor Bey says this in volume 3 when meeting Wis again, about his apparent demise in volume 1 (his ring of regeneration helped).
- Vanishing Village: The party stays in one unwittingly for a night near the beginning of the series. Used to facilitate the aforementionned fridging.
- Vestigial Empire: The Tharque empire, an Ancient Grome Fantasy Counterpart Culture that still has some impressive vestiges of its glory days, including a ridiculously enormous, monster-shaped admiral ship for its navy, supposedly still the mightiest in the world.
- Villain Protagonist
- You Can't Fight Fate: Much to emperor Haghendorf's chagrin.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Parsifal. He and his children are pretty much the only ones with an unusual hair color.
- You Have Failed Me: Lucifer makes his displeasure at Haazheel Thorn's failure to give him the world on a platter known quite emphatically: he eats his soul like it was a piece of candy.