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Elise Sasaki-Garcia is a 17-year-old girl who’s a huge fan of anime and young adult fantasy. Having woken up with metal wings on her back, she and her friend Ruby Harrison (who has been similarly transformed, in her case into a nine-foot-tall giantess) appear to be living out one of those stories, having joined other post-human teenagers in the fight against the twisted experiments of Beagle Labs. But Elise doesn’t remember how she got her wings, and the truth about her transformation may spoil her fantasy, if not her entire existence.
A sequel of sorts to Ruby's World by Neil Kapit, Ruby Nation is a long-form story-driven webcomic that intentionally deconstructs many tropes of the young adult superhero narrative. The characters around Elise, most of whom starred in Ruby’s World, are just out of high school, horribly scarred by their experiences, and grudgingly devoted to saving a world that doesn’t seem to want the help. Elise herself is more optimistic, but whether that’s due to a genuinely good heart, a complete lack of experience, or something entirely different has yet to be determined.
Tropes in this Webcomic ---
- Action Girl: Elise and Ruby.
- All There in the Manual: The main action is supplemented by in-universe textual ephemera like therapy transcripts and diary pages, all of which go a long way towards fleshing out the characters' backstories.
- America Saves the Day: Deconstructed. It's more like "America recruits Ruby and her crew to clean up their mess".
- Animal Motifs: All of Beagle's super-soldiers use code-names based on animals. There's Moray, two as-yet-unknown characters called Kaluga and Ratel, and apparently they refer to Elise as Bateleur.
- Amazonian Beauty: Ruby.
- Anxiety Dreams: Elise appears to suffer from these, seeing violent and provocative imagery interrupt what would otherwise be straightforward flashbacks.
- Ax Crazy: Elise slips into this mindset during battle, due to her apparent "programming".
- Battle Couple: Ruby and Jiro.
- The Bechdel Test: Passed repeatedly, as the cast is two-thirds female.
- Black and Grey Morality: The villain is a mad scientist who uses unwilling test subjects, mostly the very young and very poor, to build her private army of super-soldiers. The heroes are a group of teenagers who are all emotionally broken and willing to kill if needed. The only character who sees any heroism in what they're doing is Elise, who is too naive to know otherwise.
- Break the Cutie: Happened to the cast in the previous strip, seems to be where Elise is headed.
- Child Soldiers: Beagle tends to use the very young for their experiments.
- Combat Tentacles: Moray's body is filled with thousands of razor-sharp nano filaments, but he tends to wield them as large columns that fit this trope.
- Cool Shades: Jiro, to conceal his Glowing Eyes of Doom
- Crapsack World
- Decoy Protagonist: Ruby.
- The Dragon: Moray.
- Genki Girl: Elise.
- Hair Decorations: Elise's barrette, Ruby's butterfly clips.
- Humble Hero: Ruby.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Most of the cast, but especially Jiro.
- Mook Debut Cutscene: In the prologue, a Mook overseeing the captive Elise looks at a locket with a picture of his daughter, and wonders if what he's doing to support his family is the right thing. The same Mook is later killed in a very brutal fashion to cover Moray's escape.
- Naive Newcomer: Elise.
- Nanomachines: The source of virtually all super-powers in this universe.
- New First Comics: A continuation of Rubys World from a different perspective.
- Ordinary High School Student: Averted. Those days are in the recent past for Elise, Ruby, and the others.
- Punch Clock Villain: Beagle's human guards. Crosses over with Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain , as most of them aren't treated as bad people, and they're basically paid to be cannon fodder against super-soldiers way out of their league.
- Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: Definitely on the gritty end, due to both the art style and the subject matter.
- Stylistic Suck: Elise's diaries are sloppily handwritten and contain very simple writing, as the character herself is not really a great author.
- The Messiah: Ruby is treated this way by her friends, hence the reason they call their group "Ruby Nation". She is extremely uncomfortable with this pressure.
- The Rainman: Jiro, due both to his pre-existing autism and the cybernetic enhancements he received from Beagle.
- There Are No Therapists: Averted. Ruby talks to a psychologist towards the end of the prologue.
- Transformation Comic: In that almost all of the main characters have been genetically altered, and most of them cannot pass for normal.
- Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Presumably Elise suffers from this, thanks to the experiments that gave her those wings.
- True Companions: The cast established one prior to Elise's arrival, and she thinks herself part of their group. Whether she is depends on who you ask.
- Winged Humanoid: Elise, obviously.