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"I'm too cool to kill."
Nikolai Dante is the eponymous hero of a comics series published in the weekly British science fiction anthology 2000 AD. Created by writer Robbie Morrison and artist Simon Fraser, Dante first appeared in 1997. Fraser was the primary artist for the first three years of the series, with support from artists such as Charlie Adlard, Henry Flint, Chris Weston and Andy Clarke. From 2000 the majority of the stories were painted by John Burns, until Fraser returned to the character in October 2006, when the two artists began to alternate on different stories. The current stories as of early 2012 have been confirmed by Word of God as the last arc of the series, The current Story called Sympathy for the Devil is its last.
Set in the twenty-seventh century after a resurgent Imperial Russia has seized absolute control of both the entire Earth and an interstellar domain, the series follows Dante, a swashbuckling young thief and ladies' man, as he discovers he is an illegitimate scion of the Romanov Dynasty, aristocratic rivals to the Tsar, Vladimir the Conqueror of the House of Makarov.
Tropes associated with this work:
- Action Girl: Several. Jena Makarov and Elena Kurakin stand out.
- Amazon Brigade: Katarina Dante's pirate crew and Monique le Fanu's Vampires
- Anachronism Stew: Nikolai's universe is apparently a combination of the far future and some part of pre-World War One.
- And I Must Scream: Poor, poor Valentin
- And Now You Must Marry Me: Dmitri/Arkady and Jena. And Nikolai has to watch the ceremony.
- Anyone Can Die: and boy do they....
- Army of Thieves and Whores: Trope Namer
- Avenging the Villain
- Back From the Dead: Examples of this are LuLu, Konstantine, Dmitri, Viktor and Nikolai himself
- Badass Abnormal: Many examples. The Romanovs and their Weapons Crests are just one example.
- Badass Normal: A fair few, but notably Dante himself after he is stripped of his crest by Dimitri Romanov.
- Berserk Button: For Nikolai, when Konstantine mentions that he started the war. Plus when the Tsar nukes Amerika off the map after Nikolai promised to save the city
- Big Bad: For the longest time it was the Tsar now It appears to be Dimitri/Arkady followed by his son, Konstantin Romanov and possibly now full circle to the Tsar.
- Big Ham: Nikolai
- Blood Bath: The High Priestess of the Cadre Infernale, Camilla Le Fanu, took these to rejuvenate her youth and beauty. See Also: Kill the Poor.
- Blood Knight: Many, but Elena Kurakin stands out.
- Body Horror: Valentine Romanov's crest has left him physically scarred and mentally deranged.
- Brought Down to Normal: In "A Farewell to Arms", Nikolai's crest is destroyed, forcing him to fight as a mundane for the rest of the comic.
- Before he got the weapons crest, Nikolai was Badass Normal, so not as far a fall as some.
- Butt Monkey: The Arbatov family are an entire clan of Butt Monkeys. Every one of them has some misfortune happen to them upon meeting Nikolai.
- Captain Ersatz: The Spider, Janus Stark, Catwoman, Crusher Creel, Luther Arkwright, Slaine and Sinister Dexter all appear fairly thinly veiled.
- Combat Pragmatist: Nikolai is frequently described as the dirtiest fighter in the empire.
- Cyborg: The Romanovs all have cybernetic implants giving them various abilities. Nikolai's gives him cyber blades, computer hacking abilities and a limited Healing Factor.
- Chekhov's Gun: At the beginning of the series Nikolai promised that he would raise an army of thieves and whores to crush the Tsar. Something which happened in the series nearly 13 years later.
- The Chessmaster: The Countessa de Wynter
- Crowning Moment of Awesome: Loads special mention however to Nikolai taking backstabbing a little too literally to Konstantine
- Depraved Bisexual: Lulu.
- Fan Service: The series is full of it, perticularly in its early days
- Feuding Families: The Romanovs and Makarovs
- Femme Fatale: Lulu Romanov
- Half-Identical Twins: Alexandr and Alexandra Romanov. See Also: Twincest.
- High Altitude Interrogation: In "The Great Game," when a spy suggests to Jena Makarov the existence of a superweapon that the Makarov Dynasty does not know about as a means of raising his "bargaining power," Jena responds by hanging the spy over a high balcony by his nostrils and demanding he tell her everything he knows about the weapon or be dropped. The spy is killed by intervening assassination droids shortly after he begins spilling the beans.
- Hollywood Tactics: Tactics have apparently regressed to nineteenth century levels. Dmitri lampshades this, stating that there was a time when the rules of warfare were changed to be more humane and how pointless that was.
- Impossibly Cool Weapon: Dante's Huntsman 5000 rifle. Coded to his gene print, has internally created ammo and adapts to fire the optimum ammunition to eliminate its target. Should anybody else attempt to fire it, the round will seek out and kill them.
- Inter Class Romance: Galya is a poor peasant girl, while Viktor is a member of the aristocratic Romanov family. Dmitri doesn't take it well.
- Kill the Poor: Nikolai once encountered a countess heavily based on the legends of Elizabeth Bathory who insists that the blood she bathes in is "happily donated" by young women in return for tax exemptions. After Nikolai uncovers a secret lair belonging to the countess in which dozens of young women are being held in captivity and bled for all their worth, it turns out that these particular women are all unemployed and, therefore, couldn't pay any taxes so they get drained wholesale.
- Loveable Rogue: Nikolai
- Magnificent Bastard: Tsar Vladimir the Conqueror, Countessa De Wynter and Dmitri Romanov. Nikolai is shaping up to be one. He even lampshades this at one point when he cons the Countessa. His response to being called a bastard: "The biggest in the empire."
- Meaningful Background Event: Dmitri Romanov's gradual posession of Arkady via his weapons crest
- Memetic Sex God: Nikolai. "The Dantes" have apparently become in universe slang for testicles.
- Mother Russia Makes You Strong
- The Musketeer: Nikolai. Many other characters also.
- Phrase Catcher: Nikolai. Damn you, Dante! Damn you to Hell!
- The Pig Pen: Spatchcock. To the point that when he's attacked by a vampire, his poor hygiene saves his life due to his blood "tasting like piss". and yet he gets a happy ending as he flies off in the sunset with Flintlocks Sister
- The Plan: Lulu's manipulation of the Cadre Infernale
- Plucky Comic Relief: Spatchcock and Flintlock
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Katarina Dante's Crowning Moment of Awesome when she kills Dmitri
- They Would Cut You Up: Upon receiving his powers from the Romanov Crest, Nikolai is reluctant to return to the Tsar Makarov for fear that the Tsar's scientists and researchers would do exactly this in order to develop a similar crest of their own.
- Upperclass Twit: Several, but Flintlock stands out.