A swashbuckling noblewoman sails the Wild Space West in Greg Rucka's webcomic Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether

Firefly blended western aesthetics with space travel, and steampunk stories are frequently set in the American West. Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett's webcomic Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether takes steampunk, space travel, and westerns, and adds a crew of spacefaring pirates, led by a sword-wielding lady.

Lady Sabre is a heroine of the pulp mold, a skilled fencer who can easily defeat five armed men, and doesn't mind pulling out a pistol to even out the odds. When she's not stealing priceless artifacts from rival captains, she's leading a crew of multiethnic privateers (including one robot). Rather than traveling a galaxy filled with individual planets, the crew of the Pegasus exists in the Sphere, a series of lands connected by the Aether. The Aether looks like empty sky, but ships can sail upon it, and it is prone to the sort of storms that plague any ocean.

Thanks to some fancy sword work and some high-flying hijinks, Lady Sabre has liberated a scroll case from a rival, the airshipman Captain Hans von Kater. The only problem is, the case is locked and even her master safecracker can't get inside. Meanwhile, on the land of Tanitan, the Marshal Miles Drake and his right-hand man, Deputy Tracker Keyton Drum, have come across a mysterious key in the possession of a known criminal. Already, the rich and powerful have come in search of the key, and what it unlocks is far stranger - and far more powerful - than Drake and Drum could have imagined.

Rucka's goal with Lady Sabre is to pull a fun adventure story from his mishmash of tropes. He's already put a nice spin on the conventions of treasure maps, and hinted at the larger politics at work. And Lady Sabre herself is a heroine of the Rucka tradition: clever, self-assured, and not averse to a little bit of violence. Lady Sabre tends to be paced more like a print comic than a webcomic, but it has enough storyline under its belt for a satisfying read-through. And maybe now that the comic its gotten beyond its initial MacGuffin hunt, we'll get a chance to meet the rest of the ensemble behind the Pegasus.

[Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether]