Panel 1: Readers Of A Certain Age might find the second line of dialogue strangely familiar, but I shan’t spoil the mystery just yet for those who didn’t happen to watch a certain majestically brilliant TV show back in the 1990s. Worry not, though, as all will eventually be explained.
Panel 2: The image of a girl getting threatened with a knife is quite a bit harder-edged and unpleasant than I now think advisable for this point in early Empowered but, believe me, that’s only the start of this story’s problematic choices. Besides—mild SPOILER ALERT—not all is as it might seem with this rather distressing image. Nonetheless, having the hostage threatened with some kind of goofy-looking, superhero-universe-appropriate ultra-techy weapon would’ve worked much better, while adding a welcome touch of whimsy to the scene. That’s one minor advantage a criminal would have in the Empverse, by the way—due to the availability of superficially ludicrous but powerful weaponry, superheroes would have to take even a ridiculous-looking squirtgun or children’s toy seriously, just in case it really is an actual superweapon.
Oh, and since I did mention the word “distressing” in the previous paragraph, after almost 200-odd pages of Empowered without a major scene of “damsel in distress” imagery—that is, bondage imagery, to be a tad less euphemistic—the “DiD” riff returns with a vengeance in this story. The series might’ve gone quite a bit differently, I think, if I had chosen to permanently downplay that aspect of the premise but, well, I didn’t. Gotta say that I don’t quite recall the timing on this particular story any more, but I dimly recall that by this point in the early production of Empowered, my comics-related fortunes were at their lowest point in my entire g-d career—which is really saying something, by the way—so I likely felt I had to return to the “damsel in distress” well for the benefit of a kindly benefactor, if you’ll pardon the further euphemistic vagueness. (I wouldn’t make any real money off Empowered until years and years later, alas.)
Panel 3: A young woman (apparently) terrorized with a knife is bad enough, but her terrorizer being posed in an oddly out-of-the-camera’s-way manner so as to make her jean-clad behind visible in the shot? That’s next-level inappropriateness, I’m afraid. “Sigh,” as Emp would put it. In 2006-Era Me’s exceedingly meager defense, this shot has such a peculiar specificity that I suspect the page might have been an actual, direct request from someone. Still, doesn’t excuse me from including the shot in a book theoretically intended for a wider readership, at least not with attempting some semi-metatextual spin on it. Well, hang on, folks, as matters in this story soon get a fair deal worse.
SPOILER ALERT, if I may address long-time Empowered readers, while probably confusing the hell outta newbie webcomic readers: Note, of course, that this panel’s camera angle might well have been justifiable if the future Ocelotina was, in fact, filming the whole incident, as she would later be wont to do. Body-flaunting mercenary schemer that she is, she would no doubt insist that her butt be prominently visible in a shot like this.