Cagegirl and Her Limited-Area Adventures (short title Cagegirl, often stylized as CAGEGIRL) is an ongoing comic series told in page / graphic novel / strip format, being released by Hungarian artist Adam-00 of ComicFury and DeviantArt fame. While primarily hosted on ComicFury, the comic is also in syndication on its Facebook page and on DeviantArt, with some release delays for its syndication.
Note: The following story is still in progress. More details may follow.
The world has been torn apart by the arrival of a new power that manifests in different ways by those enhanced with it. As such, the entire planet's political structure has been dramatically altered. In this future, the world is now divided into a "civilized" nation† and another "uncivilized" territory††.
Bored with her do-nothing life, the enhanced Xirzara heads to the nation and attempts to strike it out on her own as a traditional superhero. However, federation forces attempt to apprehend / murder her within seconds of spotting her minding her own business. When they confirm that she is on the soil illegally, they especially make capturing her a priority. Confused, Xira fights back. This ends disastrously when she is unable to keep her powers under control. She kills one of the men that went after her. Acting impulsively and ashamed of her actions, Xira turns herself in.
She is sentenced to 11 years at the Nasraaden Prison for the Enhanced†, where she befriends a telepath named Karla. Karla is revealed to have been hard at work exposing a corrupt cartel that has infiltrated the highest offices of the government. The prisoners discover that the cartel is operating through the military, and that they have been abducting women for a slavery ring. The cartel is discovered to be using this slavery ring as a way to finance their own Social Darwinist agenda, believing it will lead to them being able to one day create a "better world" with all the enhanced they are gathering. One of the guards jokes about the use of this slavery ring to make sex slaves out of prisoners. This leads to Karla believing that all the abducted women were being used for sex; enraging Xira and Karla both.
Other prisoners have started becoming targets of this operation. The cartel discovers through their most notorious hitman, Invernay the "Holy" Diver, that the prisoners have grown wise to the cartel's agenda. The Diver and his allies attempt a preemptive strike to assassinate the prisoners, before they air too much of the cartel's dirty laundry to the public.
A doctor at Nasraaden, Maria Kralitz, is revealed to to also be a prisoner there. She helps Xira better understand the enigmatic nature of her abilities; which are "not completely formed." Maria also reveals that she was imprisoned for inventing a formula which can tap into the meta origins of abilities, and give abilities to almost anyone. Xira briefly finds herself in a debate with another prisoner named Franny - a rock star who shares a lot of Xira and Karla's views, but surrendered when Ultimate and his troops crashed one of her concerts.
Franny is eventually ambushed inside the prison by some guards intent on raping her, but she is rescued by Xira and Karla. This convinces all the prisoners that the entire regime is run by corrupt rapists, leading to them all joining forces with Xira and Karla. Karla's friends embark on a quest to leak information to the public about the cartel. To buy this campaign some time, Karla initiates a prison riot. The cartel descend with full military might upon the prison, and attempt to bury the prisoners alive. The Diver infiltrates Nasraaden and assassinates Maria, convinced that her knowledge is too dangerous. Xira is devastated to have failed to arrive in time to save Maria, and vows to punish the Diver for Maria's murder.
Xira and Karla find a way to neutralize the prison's dampeners, enabling prisoners to use their abilities to fight back. Xira uses her abilities to save them from a death trap, only for a violent bloodbath to ensue once they make it to the surface. As many as possible escape and warn the public about the cartel's illicit activities. However, most of the prisoners are slaughtered brutally and immediately. Xira buys them as much time as possible; but she is ultimately exhausted and recaptured. The Diver makes certain that Karla is among those viciously slaughtered, especially since he has learned that she used her telepathy to memorize Maria's formula.
A military-based enhanced going by the alias "Artillery" is sent in to finish off the prisoners that hadn't yet fled or been killed. However, she is distracted when the disillusioned prison captain, Jari Hallanen, rebels and tries to prevent further slaughter. The cartel members try in vain to minimize their bad press after witnessing Artillery's ultra-violence, by betraying Artillery and having her arrested along with Jari. The two are held in secret, with plans to execute them without trial or public awareness. However, Artillery intercepts the plan and helps herself and Jari escape, further planning to expose the cartel's treachery.
Xira's mother Xemzera "the Suncore," also intercepts news of what is happening. She begins to suspect that her daughter has been taken hostage, and heads out to learn the terms of Xira's release. Xera blames herself for Xira's predicament, claiming that neglecting Xira so often "pushed her to this." Members of the cartel plot to assassinate her; but that ends badly when not even the Diver can get close enough to her to do any damage. They scheme a way to lure Suncore into another, smarter-built trap.
Meanwhile, it's revealed that Minister of Defense Michael Harrington is the cartel's secretive leader. One of the surviving prisoners goes to the media, exposing Harrington and his cartel in graphic detail. The public is outraged by the cartel in ideology most of all; yet it is made very clear that they find the excessive violence with which the prisoners were slaughtered to be barbaric. They also find the slavery ring repulsive, along with the sexual mistreatment of prisoners at Nasraaden. Prime Minister Martha Niebel calls Harrington into her office; and demands he resign for causing the regime such total disgrace. He instead uses Invernay to abduct Martha, thus staging a mini-coup to assume direct control of the whole nation.
Xira awakes on a moon base next to some other prisoners, and quickly sets to work with the others in converting the base into a spaceship to aid their return to Earth. She learns from one of the older prisoners, a man named Tomas, about how Invernay became the Diver. She promises to go easy on all of Tomas' creations, except for Invernay - whom she vows to make suffer in order to avenge Karla and Maria.
Meanwhile, Xera attempts to negotiate for Xira's freedom a second time, and discovers it to be yet another trap. Xira flies in to her rescue. Xera gets out of the way, and attempts to recharge while Xira deals with the attackers. She finally gets a chance to confront the Diver, as Xera prepares to help out. The Diver attempts to escape, but not before Xira badly injures him. As Xira continues fighting the men who tried to kill her mother, the other moon base prisoners arrive on the surface. However, they quickly turn on each other. The Diver tries to finish them all off, but soon finds himself facing Tomas - who gets revenge on the Diver for betraying him years earlier.
As Ultimate continues fighting Xira, the latter decides to test what the limit is of her power. She discovers that with sufficient concentration on a small area, she can actually turn matter into pure energy. Ultimate mocks her for using "only a pebble" for the experiment. Noticing that Suncore is recuperating, Xira provides a diversion to keep him from noticing. She claims to have unleashed a virus during her return trip - based on Maria's formula - that she memorized the composition of and was able to recreate. Her power has advanced to the point of being able to turn almost any material into any other material. She argues that the virus will turn everyone superhuman "within a year" - rendering the regime irrelevant.
Ultimate swears he must kill her for this, but Suncore attacks him, presumably finishing him off. Doubtful of Xira's plan to use the virus to force the world to live under democratic rule, Xera questions if there is not some other way. However, they both conclude in time that it's "too late" to second-guess their actions. The two of them discover Franny battling a flustered Harrington - who appears to die of a heart attack. Franny seems horrified by the carnage that resulted from the revolution; but Xira assures her things will improve.
The story fast-forwards several months, as civilizations are rebuilding. A demented pimp with superpowers attempts to restart the old regime, and even attempts to force Xira into his "harem." She casually resists, before what appears to be a new boyfriend working with her on rebuilding a bridge helps her quickly dispose of the pest. Another survivor of the Nassraden massacre is revealed, and Xira promises her that things have never looked better.
There are a huge number of characters in the series, many of which are not named outright in the novel itself. The following is a partial list of some of the most prominent cast members:
- Xemzera "Xemza" Kevendswif / Suncore: Xira's mother, who blames herself for Xira's wandering off and getting into trouble. She attempts to get her daughter back; but learns just how corrupt and dangerous Harrington's men are very quickly. Not as impulsive as Xira, she is every bit as dangerous - and arguably a lot harder to subdue. She can make herself almost as hot as the sun's core, leading to her enemies being genuinely terrified of her.
- Karla Rentzdon: A telepathic prisoner at Nasraaden, who befriends Xira rather quickly. She is a hot-blooded political activist who believes the entire regime in charge of the Civilized Nation is a scam, and will not hesitate to instigate riots if need be to expose them as such. She claims to Xira upon her capture that she's in for "not being able to keep quiet," claiming "it's the worst crime there is." Upon trying to copy Maria's formula, Karla essentially seals her own fate.
- Maria Kralitz: A doctor inside Nasraaden who has developed a formula to give abilities to others. Her knowledge makes her dangerous, which leads to her being assassinated.
- Franny: A rock star whose views against the regime have gained her notoriety. She is often stereotyped by her enemies as an anarchist, though her actual views are a bit more nuanced. She is captured by Ultimate while performing at one of her concerts, being informed that "you shouldn't be performing when you're on the wanted list." She later attempts to join Karla's revolution.
- Artillery: A blonde woman who can summon massive weapons from seemingly out of nowhere, and use them to dispose of her enemies. Harrrington initially recruits and indoctrinates her to use her as part of his agenda, realizing that her lack of morals will suit his purpose. However, her recklessness proves to be even worse at times than Xira's, making her a liability instead. When Harrington betrays her and has her arrested, she escapes and plots revenge.
- Jari Hallanen: The blue-skinned captain of the guards at Nasraaden, who becomes disillusioned after finding out her underlings are raping prisoners and selling them into slavery to Harrington's coup. Witnessing the violence with which Artillery is asked to execute prisoners causes Jari to rebel against the regime, refusing to be a part of "such a sinister system." Jari is later captured along with Artillery because of this, but escapes with Artillery to stage a resistance against Harrington's cartel. Jari can fire various red beams, from concussion beams to true lasers, at various opponents. She uses this initially to maintain order inside the prison; but these abilities are later repurposed in use for survival against Harrington's goons.
- Martha Niebel: Prime minister of the Civilized Nation. She wants to maintain a peaceful society and find a way for enhanced and non-enhanced to live in peace. She initially has Maria imprisoned upon belief that Maria's knowledge of how to enhanced the not-already-enhanced is too dangerous. However, she also discovers that her minister of defense is corrupt.
- Michael Harrington: The regime's corrupt minister of defense, who stages a coup in order to take direct control of the regime. He is a Social Darwinist at heart, and believes that his forced recruiting of the enhanced to serve under him will lead to a "better world." He doesn't seem to care that forced association rarely leads to anything good, nor that most of his men are better at killing the enhanced than actually recruiting them. His moral compass appears to be incredibly broken, as he expresses bare minimal shame at the fallout of Nasraaden's destruction.
- Invernay / The "Holy" Diver: One of Harrington's most loyal henchmen, who uses wormholes to achieve his ends, among other things. He is a shameless propagandist and cold-blooded killer, willing to get the job done regardless the cost in human life. He was originally trained by Tomas, but betrayed his master some time later to work for Harrington.
- János / Ultimate: A brutal military operator working for Harrington, who specializes in blackmailing targets into either joining him, or going into captivity. He is one of those most obsessed with capturing Suncore. While he is initially willing to cut a deal with her, he changes his plan to an assassination attempt upon learning that Xira has escaped.
- Tomas: An old trainer of enhanced individuals that the regime placed on a moon-based prison colony for "knowing too much." He was the Diver's personal trainer, amongst others, and regrets it. He helps Xira build a spaceship to return to Earth, but also asks her to have mercy on his creations. She promises him that she'll show mercy to them - except for the Diver, who much pay for Maria's murder.
Adam claims he got his ideas for Cagegirl from a message board conversation in 2014. There were ideas and bets floating around for who could make a serious novel off the most absurd premise. One of the early ideas that caught attention in the group was Kulinariusz (The Culinary Ones,) revolving around a bad future where mankind had to cook and eat aliens to survive. Later, Sportsbet Bros. was considered an option, as it became the tale of two young boys that got involved in a gambling ring. The idea that stood out the most to Adam, however, was Cagegirl, about a superhero with incredibly bad luck who is constantly finding herself in jail. It was unknown to him at the time that in season 2 of Sodality, Candi and Dolly run into similar problems. This was also before Vindication took that same concept in a different direction in 2015, and before Camelorum Adventures was proposed as a series, which would run the trope into the ground with Lemon Witch and Maddening Rod. This was also before the inception in late 2015 of Ciem: Inferno, where Candi as a teenager runs into similar problems as Xira (albeit, over a much-less-serious offense.)
Adam stuck with the premise of Cagegirl all throughout 2014, eventually deciding to run with the idea in January of 2015. He developed the front cover in early-to-mid October of 2014, then submitted his first few digital copies of the novel to ComicFury on June 6th of 2015. It was put into syndication on DeviantArt a short time after that, and later got a Facebook page. Adam claims that the appearances of characters comes "seemingly out of thin air," and that they often have likenesses to real-life individuals from a variety of places. While attempts are made to match appearances and personalities, end results "could be anything."
Most visual panels appear to be drawn in a by-hand style that, while not true anime / manga, shows definite leanings of being manga-inspired. Colors are an improved version of the final ending panel of Daredoers, another English-written comic strip by the same author. While Daredoers is mostly black-and-white, Cagegirl is done from the get-go in full color.
Characters and placement also take a lot of cues from other works by Adam-00's other work, though much of the nudity is toned down or implied in Cagegirl in situations where it'd be more explicit in other works. Unlike true manga, where mouths tend to be highly expressive, Cagegirl suppresses manga's mouth emphasis in favor of using eye placement and eyebrows to be the main communicators of expression. While most themes of sex and nudity are muffled, violence is seldom given the same treatment. Blood is common, although actual gore is seldom. However, little was held back during the prison riot outcome scenes, where it was shown the Karla had very much been torn in two during the fighting.
Manga emphasis on fancy hair is also subdued considerably for most characters, with Xira herself being an exception.
Being bored with straight-arrow heroes, Adam stated that he wanted Xira to be an anti-hero from the get-go. He wanted a heroine who was "clueless, hot-headed, naive, and not a classic beauty, yet totally badass all the same."
When he decided that a prison setting would be where most of Xira's adventures took place, he stated that this "became the primary driving force of the plot." A major theme is all the social issues that arise out of a worldview in characters that is lacking in a standard definition of what defines "justice" and what defines "law." The arrival of superpowers only complicates this further. (This is in contrast to The Gerosha Chronicles, where superpowers and the social problems they create a mostly downplayed, but in which more traditional problems still find a way to complicate the lives of individuals - both powered and not.)
The lack of standard definitions - particularly Biblical ones - for what defines law and what defines justice; also enables corruption of every kind. This is readily reflected in the political atmosphere of the story, where virtually everyone is one shade of corrupt or another. Another philosophical dilemma created is the question of when to be a follower versus when to be a leader, and of not knowing when to do which. Characters struggle with when should one look out for one's individuality, versus when one should prefer conformity. However, they are unsure of what to conform to, as conformity and individuality seem equally destructive in this setting. The notion of self-governance, and around what, is elusive to much of the cast of this world. They believe that either one is a reckless individual, or a pawn of an organization (that may prove to be just as terrible in the end.)
The Cagegirl universe may interact with the Dromedeverse, though both take pains not to disrupt each other's main continuity too greatly. Only if a visitor from the Cagegirl universe should arrive inside of the Dromedeverse, they may interact with Percolations from the Gerosha Crossover Gaming Universe as well. Xeroxes of characters from the Volkonir universe may also interact, but only to a very limited degree. Which means that Earth-G7.2.1 Ciem may team up with Xira and Lemon Witch on a mission. However, Earth-G7.0 Ciem would not be able to appear. Mainstream Cataclysmic Gerosha is not aware of other universes within the Dozerfleet Megaverse, being confined to itself. Being defunct, all earlier versions of Gerosha mythos are also unable to interact.
Cagegirl typically does not interact with any other universes within the Gigaverse nor the Megaverse outside of the Dromedeverse, being relatively self-contained in order to preserve as much of Adam-00's vision as possible. However, his other works such as Daredoers are considered fictional inside of the world of Cagegirl, allowing for some interaction within the greater Adam-00 Megaverse, should his megaverse adopt its own Percolation mechanics.
New content was added to the story at a rate of usually about five pages per week, or one new page every workday on average. These were usually published every Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday to Adam-00's DeviantArt gallery; though updated posts to the Facebook page are fairly regular as well.
Due to various issues with production vs. distribution times, most issues arrive on ComicFury a lot faster than their DeviantArt counterparts, leading to DeviantArt being several pages behind. The Facebook page had even more delays in upload times. Viewers insisting on seeing the newest of everything are encouraged to read on ComicFury rather than DeviantArt, due to these delays. The final page was submitted to DeviantArt on Saturday, July 30th of 2016.
Certain parts of the plot to Cagegirl were outsourced during production to a collaboration called "Short Side Stories," a collaboration which sought to tie in a lot of the loose plot threads that were left out of the main story in order to maintain the teen-friendly rating. Adam has gone on record stating that - for mature audiences - the "Short Side Stories" side project "makes the story more complete, addressing plot holes the main body of work cannot."
Other than the "Cagegiggles" 2-part crossover with Camelorum Adventures, nothing is currently in the works for future sequels or spin-offs for Cagegirl. It's possible for Xira, Xera, or Jari to later play a role in the "Percolation Warriors" saga though. "Cagegiggles" sees Candace, Carly, and Emily Percolated to the Cagegirl universe - where they very quickly detach themselves from the main plot. They unfortunately discover that their mere presence in the Side Stories makes things worse, as they try to find a hiding place until they can return home.
When Cagegirl characters find themselves temp-Percolated into the Dromedeverse later on, they comment on how much resentment their home universe has for the Camelorum girls, and for the damage they've caused.
There are as-of-yet no current plans for a formal, official sequel or related series taking place within the same universe on Adam-00's end. There are also no pending official prequels being planned at the moment, though a prequel was not completely ruled out.
Cagegirl was first discovered on DeviantArt by the Dozerfleet founder while research was being done for both Camelorum Adventures and Sodality: Vindication. It was hoped that the work could be useful research for how to write both of these, though it proved more useful for the former than the latter. Writing "Cagegiggles" inspired other crossovers, such as "Confusion of the Oranges" (a parody of Orange is the New Black) and "17 and Amphibious" (a parody of Jailbait.)
As the Cagegirl series itself improved, it was seen as an opportunity along with the retooling of DozerfleetWiki as the Dozerfleet Database to benefit from co-branding, leading to Cagegirl being promoted on the Database alongside Prodigal-Gamer's original The Tale of Emily Barnes and the Two Jens as part of the "Dozerfleet Gigaverse." This both justifies "Cagegiggles" (while also keeping the majority of Cagegirl continuity intact) and allows for Adam-00 to use the Dozerfleet brand name if-and-when convenient for self-promotion.
Most reception of the comic appears to be positive from most who have read it, with the comic receiving a 5/5-star rating from ComicFury viewers. Since releasing the comic, Adam-00's devoted watchers on DeviantArt have climbed to over 100 and rising.
^† Presumably Hungary and Germany combined into one.
^†† Presumably most of western Europe or the United States, but never specified.
^††† Nasraaden is named after the German name for the Hungarian village of Márianosztra. The Monastery-Museum of Prison and Pauline Ministry is the real-life building being referenced, as this monastery was used in the 1950s by the ruling communist regime in Hungary at the time as a real-life women's prison. It was later converted to a men's prison, and later became a church / museum after the regime fell in the 1990s.
- It is readily apparent that the building shown in the graphic novel, if implied to be the Pauline Monastery's actual location, would have been built on the remains of what would have been a bulldozed monastery. The classic monastery does not even remotely resemble the futuristic facility in which Xira was briefly detained.
- This implies that the regime that took power has little respect for any metaphysical facts that do not work in their favor, any religious beliefs based thereon, any traditions based on said resulting beliefs, nor any regard for the history and culture that was made possible due to said beliefs and traditions; as they would casually destroy such a treasured piece of national history with no remorse to make room for a brothel masquerading as an extranormal detention center.
- Nasraaden being historically significant is similar to the Rilna Monastery being historically significant in Stationery Voyagers. Rilna, where Cindy Martius' parents were working as architects at the time of their murders, is named after the real-life Rila Monastery in Bulgaria. This makes Nasraaden the second time in the mythology of the Dozerfleet Gigaverse in which a former monastery would have a direct impact on a major character's life.
- Cagegirl art gallery at DeviantArt
- Cagegirl promotion page at ComicFury
- Cagegirl official Facebook page.
- Adam-00's profile page at DeviantArt