Panel 1: As discussed in the Empowered vol. 1 story that introduced him, ol’ Willy Pete has the charming trait of, well, skull-f**king his victims because the rest of the human body can’t hold up to his fiery assault. Wellp, after I’d written that earlier story, I stumbled across a somewhat dubious anecdote in a book about volcanic eruptions, speculating how humans submerged in lava might supposedly have their brains converted to superheated steam, which would then explode their skulls like hand grenades. (Note, by the way, that this echoes a similar riff about laser beams, brains and skulls in William Gibson’s SF novel Count Zero that made a big impression on school-age me.) That was too juicy a bit of speculation to spoil with actual research, of course, so I updated Willy Pete with this anecdote in mind. Yeahp, even the human skull would prove a disappointment for this fiery beast.
Panel 2: Exactly how Thugboy and the now-deceased Witless Minions ripped off Willy Pete is never directly addressed in the series, but I do believe I had an explanation worked up. However, I didn’t feel like expending the pagecount necessary to detail this matter; alas, sometimes as a writer you just don’t have the luxury of heading nitpickers off at the (snarky) pass.
Panel 3: Not that he’s really expressing much concern, here, but the idea that that a murderous, sociopathic monster like Willy Pete might not want to considered racist amuses me to no end.