Panel 1: Expect to see that particular duffel bag full o' cash many more times in Empowered, as it becomes my preferred depiction of how bad guys haul stolen money around in the Empverse. This bag is, of course, a fairly straightforward reference to the iconic heist scene from Michael Mann’s classic film Heat. (The supervillains in Emp’s city do, it seems, have impeccable taste in crime movies.)
Panel 3: Lone Gunman’s line does bring up a tricky point about the bad guys in this series; Why the hell do so many of them have the know-how to truss up Emp at least semi-adequately? I seriously doubt that the overwhelming majority of urbanites would know the slightest thing about knotwork—beyond tying their shoelaces, that is. If we were to think about this matter more—brace yourselves—“realistically,” bad guys would be far more likely to wrap her up with easily applied duct tape or, more likely still, use even more dedicated strip cuffs or general-purpose plastic string ties—as carried by the heist crew in Heat, you might remember!
An even more obvious question is why Emp almost always seems to get tied up in a vaguely repetitive manner—as in, the often-seen rope around her chest connecting to her upper arms them extending diagonally up to the quite frankly unsafe loop around her neck. The answer to that one, of course, is that I am undeniably lazy about the ropework depicted in Empowered, and crank out a repeating pattern purely by default. Might try to work up a No-Prize-ish, in-universe explanation for this one someday, though. Later on in the series, Ocelotina’s popular bondage videos might be a rationale for such behavior, but that’s certainly not a viable factor at this point in the series.
Gotta say, I really like the flow of panels 4 and 5, with how the busy background swarm of “flashback thought balloons” in panel 4 gives way to the open space of panel 5, which draws our full focus to Emp’s change of expression. Well done, 2006-Era Me! Plus, I really should reuse the visual riff of panel 4’s flashback balloons sometime. Note, by the way, that “flashback balloon” sounds like an ultra high-tech Empverse weapon, which might be a thrown, water-balloon-ish item containing a tailored neuroagent that incapacitates a target by trapping her in sudden surge of involuntary long-term-memory regurgitation. Ah, but I just remembered now that I already used that exact concept for the “Proust-in-a-Can™” neuroagent that’s used on Yuri in my 1999-2000 miniseries Dirty Pair: Run from the Future. Oops!