Saturday Webcomic: A salvager battles monsters and miasma in post-apocalyptic Derelict

Here's the thing about the post-apocalypse: it's lonely. When the Internet and telephone systems have gone down, and you don't know whom to trust, you spend an awful lot of time by your lonesome. Dang Thu Mai, the survivalist heroine of Ben Fleuter's Derelict (occasionally NSFW for non-sexual nudity), spends most of her webcomic with only her boat for company. But occasionally, she must deal with rival salvagers, a madness-inducing fog, and the bizarre creatures born from the miasma.

Dang Thu Mai is a scavenger perpetually searching for supplies in a post-flood world aboard her ship Penumbra. It's not clear exactly what ended the world, but appears linked to the miasma, a fog that has dangerous and potentially deadly consequences for humans. With the fog came the Miasmics, strange creatures Dang terms "Gargoyles." There is no love lost between Dang and the Gargoyles, and she never goes on a salvage mission without her trusty UV crossbow.

Derelict takes us from mission to mission, as Dang encounters various obstacles in her quest for the treasures of this post-apocalyptic world—and her movements against the Miasmics. Fleuter is not a cartoonist who feels the need to explain everything right away (although you can learn more about the world of the comic if you follow his forum postings), nor to talk down to his audience. Derelict is a largely silent comic, although Dang does occasionally talk to herself and to the rare human or Miasmic she encounters. Aspects of this world and its new, strange inhabitants are revealed through strained of dialogue and images in the background. And while the Miasmics have some terrifying qualities—especially those connected to the miasma itself—not everyone sees the relationship between humans and Miasmics as an Us-vs.-Them proposition.

This all makes Dang a rather fascinating figure. We don't know much about her, but she's no cipher. She simply doesn't get much opportunity to chit chat. She's tough, but not unfeeling, brave, but not clearly in the moral right. She is ultimately a survivor, and it's fascinating to watch what she encounters and what she acts she commits in her quest for survival, and get little pieces of the post-apocalyptic world while she does it.



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