Volume 10 Page 147
Posted April 27, 2023 at 12:01 am

And now, my latest attempt to paste in an excerpt from another chapter of long-defunct prose experiment I Am Empowered, a Year-One-ish first-person account from Emp in 140-character Twitter format detailing her earliest days as a superheroine. This time around, the neologisms fly fast and furious as Emp discusses the practicalities of rescuing civilians in a perilously cape-infested urban setting.



The truth is, I'm just too small to successfully pull off a fireman's carry on anyone whose body mass happens to be much over 350 lbs.

The last time I tried to over-the-shoulder-carry a person of size, both me and the poor guy I was trying to rescue ended up humiliated.

Even a "bridal carry" is problematic, as just getting one's arms under a morbidly obese person's center of gravity can prove challenging.

In fact, at times I've wound up blinded by, well, a faceful of the person of size I'm carrying, and had to ask them to navigate me to safety.

Note: Firefighters no longer use the so-called "fireman's carry", as it exposes the person being carried to greater levels of smoke and heat. 

Instead, dragging a supine victim along the ground by a grip on their shoulders or clothing is the preferred technique, nowadays.

Note: Floor-dragging a poor civilian is rarely much of an option for superheroes, not when we're leaping or flying or dodging villainfire.

Plus, much of the time, a cape needs one hand free to deal with ongoing bad-guy issues (VORPP!), so we still use over-the-shoulder carries. 

Clarification: The textbook "fireman's carry"—obsolete a term as it might now be—drapes the carry-ee over BOTH the carrier's shoulders.

Don't confuse this with the humiliating, uncomfortable, carried-person-jarring "single-shoulder carry," which I try my best to avoid using.

Not only is the single-shoulder carry awkward and painful, but it evokes distressing—as in, damsel-in-distressing—sociopolitical overtones.

It renders the carried person into a passive and often sexualized object, with her face down and her backside up and on obvious display.

As an all-too-often-captured superheroine with butt-specific body-image issues, I HHHHHATE it when a bad guy single-shoulder-carries me off.

Cue video clip of me bound, gagged, and slung over Anchorman's shoulder, as the cameradouche leers, "Check out the ass on THAT superchica."

So, I've sworn to never use the single-shoulder-carry on female civvies. (I've made no such vow regarding men, though. Deal with it, guys.)

I should hasten to add that responsible superteams make sure to school fledgling capes in proper rescue—and civilian-hauling—techniques.

During my first week of Newb Orientation as a Superhomey, my toughest training course by far was the dreaded "Handling Civilians With Care".

This class forced us rookie capes to work through hundreds of different scenarios while carrying civilian-simulating "Cape-Test Dummies".

These were a dizzying variety of soft, floppy, mannequin-y dealies crammed with maddeningly sensitive accelerometers and shock detectors.

If you tripped the sensors' gee-load limits while running or jumping or heroing with your Precious (Civilian) Cargo, BRAPP went the alarms.

The dummies were even wrapped in "surface-cohesion sensor membranes", which would sound alarms when gripped hard enough to tear human flesh.

That hellish week, the following robot-voice message was the soundtrack to my nightmares: "<BRAPP> ALARM INDICATES ROUGH HANDLING <BRAPP>"

All ages of rescue-requiring humanity were represented, from simulated babies and children all the way to the elderly and the VERY elderly.

All the human spectrum's scales were present, from pixie girls to regular folks to brawny oafs to people of size to people of ENORMOUS size.

Frustration, by the way, is spelled "using your bare hands to pry a 400lb unconscious victim out of a car wreck without rupturing their skin."

Protip: When trying to extricate a morbidly obese dummy from a simulated car wreck, JUST CONCENTRATE ON TAKING THE WRECKED CAR APART, IDIOT.

Note: I am wildly envious of teleporters and flight-capable superheroes, who have it SO much easier when rescuing the rescue-needy.

The human body's exasperating fragility: Driven home to me while trying to evac brittle, breakable civilians from a burning (sim) building.

I was so overjoyed at landing successfully with 90-Yr-Old Lady Dummy—on Try #18—that I threw her in the air, setting off her shock sensors.

After finally—FINALLY—grinding through all the individual exercises of civvie-saving, I staggered onward to the course's notorious final exams.

I soon learned why these last rounds of training simulations are nicknamed "Getting The Cold Bucket of Harsh Reality Thrown In Your Face."

These turned out to be nightmarish scenarios where, if you had the wrong power set, you simply could not save everyone who needed saving.

The odds were stacked so high against me that, despite frantic efforts, I could only rescue a handful of civilians, leaving the rest to die.

The older SuperHomeys refer to these effectively impossible situations as "Kobayashi Maru scenarios", whatever the heck THAT means.

With my particular set of interests, I know a little bit about Japanese culture (more on that later), but "Kobayashi Maru" is beyond me.

I'd Google the term, but I'm still get way, WAY too pissed just remembering those infuriatingly horsebleep scenarios to think rationally.

Rationality wasn't my strong suit at the time, either. I completely lost it, shrieking at the trainers about the unfairness of it all.

Capitan Rivet pointed out, "This is an exercise in triage, Emp. Like it or not, as capes, we face appalling choices like this all the time."

Even Spooky briefly dropped her icy contempt long enough to weigh in. "Yes, I know, this is a bit harsh," she said, almost sympathetically.

"But someday, you'll find yourself in a situation where you just won't be able to save someone. It happens to all of us, sooner or later."

Pretty far gone now, voice cracking badly, I yelled back, "We’re superheroes, for f**k's sake! We're SUPPOSED to save everybody, aren't we?"

I sniffled a little, kept on babbling. "Otherwise, what's the point of being a superhero? What's the fucking point, huh?" Yay, profanity!

"We… we gotta save everybody, or we're just…" Then I trailed off, under the (figuratively) eyebrow-raised gazes of the seen-it-all 'Homeys.

I also trailed off under the dawning realization that my sputtering about "saving everybody" was yet another recurrence of my Daddy issues.

Or, to be more specific, my dead Daddy issues. Once again, my irrational compulsion to be a superhero connects back to childhood trauma.

A Real Superheroine wouldn't have let her Daddy die in front of her.

A Real Superheroine would've been able to save him.

So. I shut up, sniffled a little more, and eventually passed the triage-ariffic final exams of "Handling Civilians With Care." Yay, me.

When I left the Homeycrib training grid, though, I was quietly seething. I swore one thing to myself, over and over, with squinty intensity:

I was gonna save everybody, regardless of what the other 'Homeys said.

And if they thought that was a joke, I fumed silently, they could go fuck themselves.



Wellp, if this actually worked, webcomic readers, I’ll try again shortly with another excerpt from I Am Empowered, continuing this very long and, eventually, action-packed chapter about superheroic rooftop shenanigans.

Today’s Patreon update: Originally done as a means of scratching out more worktime to complete the long-gestating Empowered vol. 12, I've switched over to a Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday Patreon posting schedule that won't feature the fixed content format I previously used. However, my vast archive of years of Patreon posts—extensive Empowered previews, vintage con sketches, work stages on covers, "damsel in distress" commissions, life drawings & much, much more—remains available for Patrons' perusal.

-Adam Warren

Privacy Policy