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The Fourth is a satirical fantasy webcomic by Courtney Svatek and Victor Acuña about “the odd and helpless situation of being a villain in an adventure game.” The comic features a trio of colorful characters--hapless Evil Overlord, Lord Tiberius Skärva the Fourth, his right-hand lackey Derk, and Lorelei, a girl who "obviously never had a mother who warned her to stay away from strange shark people"--and their adventures in a world that runs on classic Adventure Game tropes.
Check it out Here.
Contains examples of:
- Adorable Evil Minions: The first dungeon is full of these.
- The Lurkins and Flish of Castle Skärva also qualify.
- Affably Evil: The Skärva line seems to like this trope.
- Affectionate Parody: Of fantasy quests and video games.
- Ambiguous Innocence: Kicked around with Lorelei. She's a sweet, caring girl who loves Skärva dearly. But Skärva's a villain, so how innocent can that really make her?
- Animate Inanimate Object: The ghosts of Skarva's keep can possess swords, pots, and the like.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The mountain hamlet does the Torches and Pitchforks thing to Skärva and Derk once because he demanded food as their ruler, then because he tried to steal it, and then finally he gave up and just tried buying it, but he didn't have any money.
- Art Evolution: Compare the first page of the comic with some of the newer ones.
- Art Shift: A crayon coloring illustrates the path that must be taken to reach Frostbite Fortress.
- Skärva's moments of overlord mania often induce these.
- Lorelei's recurring nightmare.
- Skärva's schemes as they are told to others.
- Ascended Extra: The little demon Davis, see Ensemble Darkhorse, eventually gets a job at Lord Skärva's castle.
- Ascended Fanboy: In thanks for making donations for Courtney's iPad purchase, she intermittently put some of the contributors in as cameoes in the background of various strips.
- It was actually a graphics tablet, so she could, y'know, make the comic better. :P
- They've recently opened up a tier system for general donations towards the site and comic's upkeep resulting in fans being inserted into the background in various roles. The larger the donation, the more substantial the part.
- Ascended Meme: "[Object/person] says [sound effect] all the time", in the comments, starting after the comic "Snowballs say "plop" all the time." This got to the point where a more recent comic was titled "Skärva gets hungry waiting for Blank all the time."
- Ax Crazy: Skärva and Derk briefly run afoul of a lumberjack, who has an axe to back up the crazy.
- Bad Boss: Surprisingly averted. For all his machinations, Skärva treats his minions reasonably well. The same cannot be said for the wizard at the Temple of Terror, though...
- Badass Boast: Skärva often, usually accompanied by a Deliberately Monochrome Art Shift.
- Badass Grandpa: The village elder at Wilderfall shuts Ecta up and gets an apology out of her, something only Skärva is able to do.
- Bat Out of Hell: Parodied. A goddamned bat in Molten Mountain accidentally flies into a torch and promptly flaps around screaming in agony.
- Berserk Button: The various dungeon guides seem to have this.
- The wizard at the Temple of Terror despises being called short.
- Do not mock Frozio's tuxedo.
- The Big Guy: Derk.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: The wizard at the Temple of Terror. They nearly double his height.
- Big, Thin, Short Trio: Derk is big, Skärva is skinny, and Lorelei is short.
- Big "What?": Ecta will use this a bit if she can't believe what she's hearing and gets infuriated (more than usual), but when she does it to Skärva, he's not intimidated.
- Blatant Lies
Nut: What do you need a Lii Flower for?
- Bookcase Passage: In Skärva's office.
- Bow Ties Are Cool: Davis is never seen without one.
- Burning with Anger: The wizard of the Temple of Terror.
- But for Me It Was Tuesday: Skärva delightfully proclaims his name to anyone that will listen. Many people, including Lorelei, have never heard of him.
- When Davis returns, it takes some prodding before Skärva remembers who he is.
- Slice has a crush on a Flish called Gilly, who doesn't know or care who he is.
- Call Back: On first introduction, Davis mistakes Skärva and Derk for door-to-door religious nuts and insists that he lives in a temple and doesn't need to hear about the gods. When he finally reaches Castle Skärva and is asked if he's there to see Skärva, he replies he's there to talk about the gods.
- Canada, Eh?: The authors would like to remind you that northern Idenau is not Canada.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Derk and Blank spend a fight deconstructing Derk's role as a Black Mage rather than The Brute, and then pointing out Light Is Not Good.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Slice's Establishing Character Moment is to ask a suit of armour how his watch goes.
- Comically Missing the Point: When Skärva brings out the love potion, Blank thinks he's developed some uncomfortable Foe Yay.
- Convection, Schmonvection: Justified and subverted in Molten Mountain. For Skärva, Derk and Lorelei's visit they apparently turned the heat down so they can walk through unscathed. When the hero travels through, however, they can turn it up to unbearable levels until the hero wears the appropriate attire...which the dungeon keeps in the gift shop to avoid lawsuits.
- Cool Shades: Worn by Veronika's bird.
- Cool Sword: The Sword of Stabbing.
- Curb Stomp Battle: Whoever happens to be fighting Blank winds up soundly defeated.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Skärva's father was more about the business of evil rather than straight-up evil. People remember him as doing a lot for the community.
- Cute Ghost Girl: Ecta, kinda.
- Deadpan Snarker: When Skärva announces his intent to make a love potion for Princess Veronika, Floyd cheerfully reminisces about the other times he's done exactly that.
- Veronika, too. Comes under her Genre Savvy attitude.
- Death Glare: Skärva, natch. Ecta does well too.
- Deliberately Monochrome: In some of the earlier comics, Skärva would make a sadistically evil proclamation and the art would shift to a grainy black and white just to demonstrate how evil he is.
Skärva: THEIR LUNCHMEAT SHALL BE OURS!
- Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Skärva furiously wonders aloud how he'll conquer Idenau when his plot for the princess to fall in love with Blank fails. He then remembers that Blank is standing right there.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Skärva's latest plan is for Veronika to fall in love with Blank, so Blank will be too preoccupied to defeat Skärva. His minions are astonished by the ingenuity of it.
- It failed, and Skärva's in for a beating.
- Dumb Is Good: Derk, though still Lord Skärva's Dragon, is much more polite and kind-hearted, perhaps to the point of being a Gentle Giant.
- Taken Up to Eleven with Slice, who seems blissfully unaware that his boss is an antagonist, and probably wouldn't understand if corrected.
- Embarrassing First Name: Floyd's keeping his well under wraps.
- Ensemble Darkhorse: Who knew that the young doorman of the Tower of Terror would gain such an audience?
- Everything's Better with Penguins: Frozio of Frostbite Fortress is a penguin.
- Evil Makes You Monstrous: At least, in the case of Lord Skärva's great-grandfather. If it wasn't for him, the Skärva's would never look like they do.
- Evil Plan: On the tram ride to Frostbite Fortress, Skärva explains that he is looking for a place to hide the last piece of the Sword of Stabbing to the newcomer, Lorelei. But before he finishes his Evil Gloating, the tram driver points out a "No Evil Plotting" sign.
- Excited Kids' Show Host: Derk is very excited to be M Cing a castle staff meeting. The crowd, not so much.
- Except Slice.
- Friend to All Children: Played with. Skärva seems to be developing quite the rapport with Lorelei, but when he returns to find it's "Take Your Child To Work Day" at his castle, he comes face to face with an adorable imp kid...nearly reducing it to tears.
- Face Palm: Skärva gets a few during his inspection of the first temple.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Quirky Miniboss Squad made up of Ecta, Davis, Floyd and Slice.
- Slice is Sanguine--The eternal optimist and space cadet who is eager to make friends and is just so darn happy.
- Ecta is Choleric--Quick to anger, the appointed leader who is well-known through the castle for being astonishingly bossy.
- Davis is Melancholic--Determined to get the job done and very confident in his ability to do so, an outsider among the rest.
- Floyd is Phlegmatic--Calm and quiet, reliable and friendly. Ultimately the one keeping the team together.
- Friendly Enemies: Blank farewells Derk rather amicably.
- Funny Background Event: Much humor can be had simply by looking at small details in each panel.
- Genre Savvy: Princess Veronika is well aware that she is fated to marry either an idiot prince or a vapid hero, and has long since given up caring about anything because of it.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Sometime after his initial appearance, Blank has picked up a couple of thin scars down the side of his face. Nothing particularly ugly, though. Skärva, for his part, has a permanent black eye.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Oh man, Ecta.
- Healing Hands: Lorelei seems to have these.
- Hello, Insert Name Here: The hero is actually named Blank.
- Hermit Guru: A little light on the Hermit side, since they're pretty common.
Lorelei: It's a town, silly! Of course there's a wise old man!
- Hyperspace Arsenal: One page dedicates a panel to Blank rummaging around in his pocket to pull out a spray plunger.
- I Am Not My Father: Lord Tiberius Skärva the Fourth WILL be the one to destroy that pesky Blank if it kills him!
- ...which it might.
- Improbable Weapon User: Blank defeats Ecta and the ghosts with a spray plunger full of starch.
- Incredibly Lame Pun
Ecta: Come on, let's get away from this nut.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Skärva is an Affectionate Parody of this. He's actually a threat worth noting, but is continually defeated and the audience feels quite bad for him.
- Insult Backfire: Skärva's father isn't insulting Skärva, exactly, but the way he operates.
Skärva the Third: I just wish you could be more like me.
Skärva the Fourth: What, dead?
- Intangible Man: When she tries to block his way, Davis walks right through Ecta. Ecta is not impressed. Tends to vary, though, as she's later seen dragging him around by the horns.
- Someone shoves a spear through her, which she understandably is rather offended about.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Well duh.
- Ki Attacks: Floyd prepares to unleash one on Blank, but Blank counters with his sword's Cold Flames. Not long, later, though, Blank comes across Derk...who unleashes a Kamehame Hadouken on him. The ascension of badass levels cannot be counted that high.
- Kick the Dog: Skärva finally gets fed up with Cyril, tells him exactly what he thinks of him, and tells him to take a hike. Cyril was last seen in mute tears.
- Kubrick Stare: Skärva pulls this off frequently.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Slice dives in front of Blank to defend Gilly, making fists with his fins. Blank grumbles a bit and walks off, uncaring, but hey, Slice gritted his teeth and everything!
- Lethal Lava Land: Deconstructed with Molten Mountain; Skärva notes with mounting dismay just how un-lethal it is.
- Light Is Not Good: Turns out light magic is Derk's weapon-of-choice.
Blank: Why light magic? I would have figured all of Skärva's minions use dark.
Derk: Well, you figured wrong. Besides, you may be protected by the Gods, but only against dark magic.
- Literal Surveillance Bug: Veronika's birds spy on Skärva.
- MacGuffin Delivery Service: Ecta, Slice, Davis and Floyd spend a large chunk of time tracking down a flower for Skärva to use in a love potion.
- Later parodied outright when the items Blank trawled through umpteen dungeons to find turned out to be food for Skärva to store.
- Marilyn Maneuver: An imp in page 3 pulls one.
- Miniature Senior Citizens: The aforementioned wizard introduced on page 2. Call him out on it though, and he won't be too happy.
- The Wilderfall village elder. Who's also a raisin.
- Missing Mom: Averted. Skärva's mother allegedly misses him and wishes he would call. He doesn't dwell on it.
- Mobile Shrubbery: A magical disguise in Lord Skärva's repertoire. It works for the most part, but Lord Skärva does not like to be touched.
- Mood Whiplash: Slice loses his happy-go-lucky demeanour and goes toe-to-toe with Blank himself when Blank is about to end Gilly. Blank irritably storms off as Slice valiantly defends the love of his life. The next strip shows Slice turn around to discover Gilly, still unaware who "that other guy" is, thinks he simply has a death wish and leaves with her friends. You can see the exact moment Slice's self-esteem is crushed into powder.
- Number Two: Derk is Skärva's right-hand man.
- The Obi-Wannabe: Skärva does not want his dead dad's help. When that sinks in, Skärva the Third sounds more like a grouch in a nursing home.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: We don't actually see what the wizard does to humiliate Skärva.
- Oh Crap: Probably shouldn't have made the short jokes around that wizard, Skärva...
- Open Says Me: Blank's preferred method of entry, of course.
- Overlord, Jr.: They don't call him The Fourth for nothin'!
- Parental Abandonment: Honestly, we're not quite sure yet where Lorelei's parents are.
- Plant Person: The inhabitants of Wilderfall are a blend of this and Animate Inanimate Objects.
- Precision F-Strike: Dropped by Lorelei when running to Skärva's aid. Not the F-word you think it is, though.
- Princesses Prefer Pink: Averted; Veronika does not.
- Punctuated for Emphasis: A rare non-shouted version, instead more exasperated.
Skärva: Let's. Just. Move. On.
- Puppy Dog Eyes: Lorelei has quite the pair.
- So does Davis.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: Skärva assigns this role to Ecta, Davis, Floyd and Slice, although he fully acknowledges Blank will take them out.
- Rewarding Vandalism: Lorelei thinks the ability to cast magic comes from breaking pots. Skärva says apparently the pots are just full of milkshakes.
- Scenery Porn: In spades.
- Schedule Slip: Not often, but occasionally. To their credit, Victor and Courtney are the first to acknowledge it and usually put up something anyway to tide the fans over until the next release, so it's not really a loss.
- Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Frostbite Fortress.
- Spirit Advisor: Skärva's dead father tries to be this for him. Skärva, however, will have none of it.
- Shark Man: Skärva, and presumably his ancestors up to the First (upon whom the original curse that produced this effect was placed).
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Implied. After so much time spent touring through Frostbite Fortress and Molten Mountain, Blank's progress through them comes under Time Skips and he immediately reaches Skärva's castle. After Frozen Fortress, the only remote mention of the dungeon is the fact that Blank acquired the Sword of Stabbing, which is what Skärva hid there.
- Shout-Out: The whole comic's premise is based on The Legend of Zelda
- Shut UP, Hannibal: Davis's Badass Boast gets cut off midsentence by Blank.
- Shutting Up Now: Ecta furiously demands a more competent team than Floyd and Slice. Skärva gives her a magnificent Death Glare and she sheepishly runs like hell.
- Slasher Smile: Skärva. The teeth help.
- Spoony Bard: Cyril.
- Smug Penguin: Frozio.
- Subordinate Excuse: Derk uses one.
- Temple of Doom: What the first dungeon claims to be, but it turns out to be nothing more than a Noob Cave.
- Tempting Fate: After the Frostbite Fortress arc, Skärva loudly proclaims Blank will not defeat him this time. Within hours his castle is on fire.
- Tentacle Rope: Ecta tangles with some vines in the Mother Tree.
- Terrible Trio: Skärva, Derk, and Lorelei are shaping up to be something akin to this. Aren't they terrible.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Blank cuts down Skärva with a single sentence.
Blank: Well, to be honest, the gods hate you.
- Then Let Me Be Evil: Implied in Skärva's character bio; gaining the trust of the people isn't easy for a shark man, so he just said 'screw it' and went for their fear instead.
- Throwing The Orb of the Gods Always Works: No, no it doesn't.
- Time Skip: After the first onscreen encounter with Blank, there's a jump forward. Enough for Lorelei to have seen a lot of failures, apparently.
- Token Trio: With Derk as the white male, Lorelei as the white female, and Lord Skärva as the male of shark-man descent.
- Took a Level In Badass: The first time we see Blank and Derk together, Derk is huddled up on the ground in fear. The second time...Derk unleashes Ki Attacks.
- Torches and Pitchforks: Mountain hamlets don't take well to megalomaniacal shark men.
- Initially it's because he demanded food. Then it's because he tried to steal it. Then it's because he didn't have the money to buy it...
- Unconventional Formatting: Each character has his or her own distinctive font for their speech bubbles.
- Verb This:
Blank: I don't want to hurt you, Derk, but I have to save the princess.
Derk: I understand.
Blank: Then you won't mind THIS!
Blank tries to slash Derk with his sword.
- Villain Protagonist
- Villain with Good Publicity: Invoked, then averted. The common people don't like him at all, but earlier, when Derk is worried about walking a path covered in baddies, they all wind up treating Skärva like a big celebrity.
- His father, on the flipside, is described as providing jobs for minions and boosting the spells and potions business. Skärva doesn't like hearing about it.
- Villains Out Shopping: Skärva takes the time to spring-clean the castle.
- Visual Pun: In Wilderfall, a sign saying "Fight the power" is being held by a flower.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Ecta and Davis don't get along at all. Unless they're making fun of Floyd and Slice together.
- Weird Trade Union: Skärva's Evil Minions, natch.
- Wingding Eyes: When attempting to woo a bystander, Lord Skärva grows a pair.
- With a Friend and a Stranger: Lord Skärva and Derk have known each other for a time before the comic's beginning. Lorelei is the stranger.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Skärva is often on the verge of tears when his hopes and dreams are slapped around.
- Yeah! Shot: Skärva and Frozio slap a truly epic high five.
- Zeppelins from Another World: Owned by the operators of Molten Mountain. Yes, the volcano.
- Zerg Rush: Outlined when Floyd, Ecta and Slice bring Davis up-to-speed on the tactics for when Blank attacks.