Panel 2: Yeahp, Thugboy’s sporting a vintage Led Zeppelin T-shirt in this sequence, which is definitely a sartorial change of pace for him. As seen in later volumes, his shirts usually sport a firearm-related motif of some sort—at least, that is, when I deign to depict him wearing a shirt at all. As seen later in this very volume, I eventually switched Thugboy over to a level of nigh-constant shirtlessness worthy of Sawyer during certain seasons of Lost. I did this largely to provide a different type of visual “eye candy” from the more frequent feminine pulchritude seen in Empowered, but also because I am oddly, even shockingly bad at drawing baggy T-shirts. Besides, few young males sporting a presumably hard-earned physique like his would bother to wear a baggy T-shirt in the first place; that sort of thing is more the purview of notably less physically idealized males—no, make that dramatically less physically idealized males—such as yrs truly.
Side note: Just occurred to me that I almost certainly mentioned the previous paragraph’s points in earlier commentaries. Then again, as I’m very likely approaching the 300th Empowered webcomic page posted, I’m afraid that some degree of repetition seems to come with the territory in these commentaries.
Speaking of previously addressed commentary issues, I do sometimes worry that I’ve unconsciously depicted Thugboy in a rather less “alpha male” manner—if you’ll pardon the simplistic term—than I should have in terms of his relationship with Emp, that my own notably more “beta male” tendencies have unintentionally distorted his characterization. (More on this matter in a latter commentary, as the trend of male SF authors writing annoyingly passive, scared-of-girls, male-geek-pandering protagonists threatens to become yet another of my many bêtes noires.) For the record, you don’t have to buy into a “redpill” worldview to acknowledge that “alpha males” are a very real phenomenon, as I’ve personally known several prime examples of such over the years. Then again, I’ve also known a few hard-charging, strong-willed fellas who seemed notably, surprisingly, conspicuously less assertive in the relationship realm, if you catch my drift.
In fact, a commenter here brought up a compelling point about this very issue: Namely, that during his time as a villain-victimizing “Witless Minion,” Thugboy would’ve had to convincingly portray a very “beta” henchman indeed to the supervillain he was covertly undermining. Conveying plausible and trustworthy obsequiousness in the presence of superpowered borderline personalities would’ve been a life-or-death matter for him. As the Witless Minion’s head honcho, he would have needed to smoothly toggle between “leader of men”—or a small unit of thieves, at least—and “nonthreatening, servile lackey.”
As I considered this point, howeva, a rather disquieting tangent occurred to me: Might be a bit problematic to be in a relationship with someone whose key survival trait is being able to convincingly tell people what they want to hear. That is, could Thugboy possibly be rather less “white knight”-y than he appears in his interactions with Emp? In fact, this disturbing idea becomes an important plot point later on in Empowered vol. 10; thanks for bringing up the issue in the first place, commenter!