Panels 1 and 2: As I recall, I did receive a wee bit of crap online for Emp having a strong emotional reaction to getting viciously, thoroughly curbstomped and almost murdered. At this point, Empowered was still mainly a comedy—a status which would change considerably as the stories rolled onward—but already I liked the idea of the series not being a wholly wacky and consequence-free romp, that Emp’s world had a few hard edges lurking under all the fun fluffiness. Still, some fellows—and I do use the word “fellows” advisedly, as only males seemed to be doing the criticizing—seemed chagrined by the very idea that a superheroine would experience this particular sort of emotional response to a violent episode, apparently agreeing with Emp’s sentiment that “there’s no crying in superheroing, right?”
A vaguely related tangent: One of my pet peeves about some of my fellow geeks is their tendency to scathingly criticize the poor choices made by terrorized characters in horror flicks, failing to grasp that they’re watching a story, a dramatic narrative about flawed human beings, and not, say, critiquing a imperfect run-through of a videogame. Normal people in mortal fear for their g-d lives wouldn’t necessarily make the ideal choices that a coolly detached observer might make. Reading some of these armchair Seal Team Sixers sneering about characters’ less-than-optimal decisions, I often find myself thinking, “Dude, I rather strongly suspect that you would act like a fear-addled ninny, too, if your sorry ass wound up in this unlikely scenario.”
Yes, the frustrating behavior of horror-movie characters can sometimes—or maybe even often—represent lazy screenwriting. Ah, but the “Don’t do that!” effect of seeing a character unknowingly making an unwise or outright disastrous decision can be a perfectly valid dramatic choice, as opposed to the ideal tactical performances of emotionless automatons that some geek critics would apparently prefer.
That being said, gotta admit that I do prefer horror movies—or action movies, for that matter—in which at least some of the protagonists are clever and quick-thinking. I’m thinking of some of the “Final Girl” ingenuity portrayed by shrewd heroines in “spooky masked home invaders” horror flicks such as You’re Next, or similar Netflix-streaming movies Hush and Kristy, the latter of which goes almost comically overboard with its heroine’s inventiveness. (A personal favorite, though, despite its flaws—and the actress wouldn’t make a bad Emp, by the way.) Later on in Empowered, you’ll see that Emp herself can be more clever and resourceful than any horror-film Final Girl in a crisis, that she actually possesses a rare gift for tactical improvisation—though webcomic readers won’t get to see this side of our heroine for rather a while, I’m afraid.