Panel 1: Huh. Apparently Emp has been trussed up with rebar on more than two occasions, as she was gagged differently the first time we saw her in such construction-material distress. Or, just as likely, I was attempting a callback to that scene, but forgot she was supposed to have rebar in her mouth. (Ouch, by the way.)
Note, of course, that she wound up in similar rebar bondage during Spooky’s rampage at the end of vol. 5.
Panels 5 & 6: Holy crap! I thought I’d only recently—circa Empowered vol.8 or 9—come up with the idea of the “wavy tail” on an otherwise regular-shaped word balloon. See, using a full-on wavy-outlined balloon is a big step, which can cause continuity issues in dialogue patterns—does the balloon revert to non-wavy at some point, or not? The “wavy-tailed” arrow or pointer on a word balloon, by contrast, to me conveys an “in-between” emotional tone to dialogue, in that Emp’s vocal tone, here, isn’t quite upset enough to merit a fully wavy-outlined balloon.
Anyhoo, I’m mildly surprised that the wee “wavy tail” appeared as far back as vol. 6. Go figure!