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Character Deep Dive: Khthonis from Tusk

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Jan. 13, 2024

Today’s Character Deep Dive is about the amazing Khthonis from Tusk by the awesome Fallopian Crusader!

What can anyone say about Tusk that hasn’t already been said?? It’s a simply gorgeous fantasy action comic centering around the adventures of an orc warrior lady named Khthonis. The art is stunning, the diversity of the different fantasy races stupendous, and the sheer worldbuilding done just by the painting and backgrounds jaw-dropping. I could talk about Tusk all day and still wouldn’t be doing it justice, it’s that good.

But we’re not here to talk about Tusk, but about Khthonis! So let’s get to it! Warning that there WILL BE SPOILERS in this analysis, so why don’t you swing over to Tusk to read it and then come back here to talk about what potentially makes Khthonis tick? I’ll wait!

Back and ready? Here we go!

Basic Character Design

So I’m estimating Khthonis’ age is somewhere in the 70s. I’ll explain why in a bit. Not that she looks it! She looks to be a robust, youthful yet mature woman in her prime. In human years I’d estimate she’d be pushing 40. But she isn’t a human. She’s an orc and I’d expect their lifespan is quite a bit longer than a human’s.

She’s also pretty strong, muscular, and powerful. In my opinion she’s also quite a beautiful woman, with big eyes and long shiny straight hair.

Khthonis is a warrior and gladiator, with fame that spans several realms. In the comic, everywhere she goes she gets either fans that fawn over her or begrudging recognition that she is this famous for her warrior skills, or antagonistic gloating when some opponent thinks they’ve won too soon.

Personality wise, Khthonis is assertive and outspoken. She has no problem speaking her mind. She’s also remarkably upstanding without being the standard moral type. She generally doesn’t play along with deceit and corruption. The first time we meet her she’s busily refusing to ‘throw’ a fight at the request of what must be the local crime mafia bosses. But when the ensuing fight causes her to wreak havoc in an inn, destroying property, she doesn’t resist paying up for it even if it wasn’t her fault.

She is also fearless and calculating. She is money oriented and seeking to make profit in every endeavor she undertakes, but she doesn’t seem to be willing to do it with particularly shady means. In fact she’s willing to work for it with great risk to her life.

We learn further in the comic that orcs are considered a “lesser race” by other races that are considered nobler or at least more aristocratic. Khthonis isn’t the type to take such treatment into consideration. She remains confident and assertive. We get a hint that when she was younger she would react to such attitudes by physical violence but currently she has matured into picking fights only when there’s profit for her.

Beyond that, there’s not much we know yet about Khthonis, except one big thing, that I’ll talk about in the next section. She’s a mercenary, a gladiator, and most of all, she’s a wanderer, drifting from place to place.

Knowing all this about Khthonis, let’s go on and see what big thing I have saved for last, and why I believe this to be a huge defining element for her motivations, behavioral patterns, and general psych profile.

Khthonis’ Psych Scan


Khthonis has lost a daughter. That took place 50 years ago (hence my average minimum estimation of her age) during a plague. The daughter grew sick and died, and Khthonis had no money to get her proper medical attention. Though it is trauma that took place quite a bit ago, the pain from it is still raw and every time it is in her mind, it brings her to tears.

The death of a child is considered one of the biggest traumatic events a parent can experience. It is a huge risk factor for a long of conditions going forward, from suicidal ideation and suicide to PTSD, depression, anxiety disorders, marital and relationship issues, and more.

It is also one of the biggest factors for the currently under research condition of grief disorder.

In general, grief disorder is like PTSD caused from the trauma of losing a relative or close friend or partner. To qualify for such a diagnosis, a person must have suffered loss at the earliest a year ago (for adults) and to have at least three of the following symptoms:

Identity disruption (such as feeling as though part of oneself has died).

Marked sense of disbelief about the death.

Avoidance of reminders that the person is dead.

Intense emotional pain (such as anger, bitterness, sorrow) related to the death.

Difficulty with reintegration (such as problems engaging with friends, pursuing interests, planning for the future).

Emotional numbness (absence or marked reduction of emotional experience).

Feeling that life is meaningless.

Intense loneliness (feeling alone or detached from others).

For Khthonis, I would consider her qualifying for the following three:

Intense emotional pain
Emotional numbness
Intense loneliness

Her loss also took place 50 years ago, so she more than qualifies for the time requirement.

Now, it might appear odd that I’m picking these three because Khthonis generally doesn’t ‘look’ to be experiencing emotional numbness or intense loneliness.

But throughout the comic, Khthonis only displays true emotion when she thinks about her daughter and once when she meets her old friends from the time when her daughter was alive. Everywhere else and to everyone else, she projects a specific, rather stoic, persona that befits her as a mercenary and a gladiator/warrior. This could be either the emotional numbness we’re looking for or psychological masking, which is the defense mechanism of hiding one’s true emotions and self for various reasons.

What about intense loneliness?

Well, besides those friends she meets, there isn’t a single moment in the comic where Khthonis actually connects with others. She’s with herself, alone. Making transactions with others doesn’t count, as such interactions don’t offer emotional connection or a sense of togetherness which is what we’re looking for. She doesn’t put down roots anywhere, either. She travels and drifts, which by definition makes it hard to keep relationships alive with others.

Another element of deep chronic grief that impacts Khthonis is guilt. She feels responsible for the death of her daughter and her being financially unable to provide her with care. She takes this blame completely onto her shoulders, without apparently blaming the social norms that denied her daughter healthcare when it was available just because of a (temporary) lack of funds.

Finally, stemming from her grief there seems to be a general disregard for her life. She takes deadly risks for profit, which could have been present in her personality before her daughter’s passing, but could also just as well have become part of her afterwards.

Lastly, I want to point out at that one line she says to her friends, where she opens up about her emotions just a tad:

“I would never let her down like my parents let me down”

This indicates that Khthonis has had a tough childhood with parents who didn’t make the cut in her eyes. What exactly they failed to do we don’t know nor can we infer it from what we know about her, but it’s probably a safe bet to expect unresolved trauma to exist therein as well.

2D vs 3D

Khthonis has yet to open a lot of her cards. We have hardly scratched the surface of who she is, and that’s saying a lot about how much potential she has and how well Fallopian Crusader has worked to lay the foundation for a fleshed out, complex, fascinating character.

On a 2D level, Khthonis is the stereotypical DnD barbarian warrior, with the attitude, endurance, and toughness to match. She’s the perfect archetype for a main character to have many adventures and be our guide into an incredibly colorful, lush fantasy world that Fallopian Crusader has built.

On a 3D level, she is a multifaceted character dealing with several problems inwardly and outwardly. She’s potentially as tender as she is tough, as vulnerable as she is formidable, as emotional as she is indomitable. She’s someone who needs comfort, just as she remains independent and confident. Doesn’t get better than this in character building!

Environmental Cues

The world is, as I have already said several times, complex and elaborate around Khthonis. She’s of a lesser race, and yet she is incredibly popular and, according to the latest people to hire her, a good way to get popular support in various places. She’s experienced poverty in the harshest of ways, and has experienced wealth together with the confidence that she can get it with her next adventure.

Khthonis’ world is cruel and tough. It has caused her immense pain and a lot of the issues I’ve discussed stem from its failure to provide the people living in it with support not only on a macro level (i.e. policy) but also on a micro level (nobody offered to help with money when she needed it for her daughter).

All in all

Considering everything, I’d say Khthonis is remarkably well-adapted and competent. She may not be happy or content, but she’s functional and self-preserving at least to a surface level, and I always call that a win in comics and in real life. I can’t wait to see what else will be revealed about her, and what more she will be challenged to do and experience in order to further evolve.

Go read Tusk! You’ll enjoy it as much as I did!
Kudos for a fantastic piece, Fallopian Crusader!



Tantz_Aerine at 5:16AM, Jan. 15, 2024

I enjoyed writing it Fallopian Crusader! I can't wait to see what will be revealed in the future! And I thought there might be some wordplay with the word 'cthnonic' for sure! Very neat :D

fallopiancrusader at 6:33PM, Jan. 14, 2024

Wow, thanks so much for the amazing character analysis and comic review, Tantz! Everything is pretty much spot-on. And you’re right: there are childhood… complexities… that inform her personality as well. I took on the canon trope that fantasy races like elves and orcs have indefinite lifespans, so she might even be older than 70. Fun fact: The name Khthonis (rhymes with “promise”) is a deliberate distortion of the Ancient Greek term “Chthonic,” which means “subterranean”

Banes at 9:09AM, Jan. 14, 2024


Locoma at 3:01PM, Jan. 13, 2024

Wow I had no idea about that comic, it's awesome! It's so metal

Andreas_Helixfinger at 11:29AM, Jan. 13, 2024

Great comic! Great character! Great character analysis👍👍👍

plymayer at 1:50AM, Jan. 13, 2024

I've often thought her appearance has a Bettie Page essence.

plymayer at 1:44AM, Jan. 13, 2024

She's a great character by a great creator Fallopian Crusader.

plymayer at 1:42AM, Jan. 13, 2024

How do you pronounce Khthonis?

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