Panel 2: Yeahp, the “Lotus Nodes” name is an apparent reference to “Lotus Notes” (now, “IBM Notes”) even though I never actually used that software myself, back in the day. Honestly, the term just sprang to mind when I was envisioning a flower-like extradimensional portal system; note also that “Nodes” were a frequent term in the various interactive VR simulations of my 1993 miniseries Dirty Pair: SimHell. (Yeahp, SimHell was originally supposed to be one word, a la SimCity; I forgot to correct anybody when it was released as Sim Hell. )
Panel 3: Long-term Empowered readers will note that, almost immediately, I ditched the “BWEEEEE” sound FX as the Lotus Node gate expands into existence. Hereafter, the portals just pop fully into being with the “PINGG” sound FX every other time they appear.
Panel 4: Ah, the very first appearance of the now-familiar Lotus Nodes portals, which served as a handy-dandy way to explain the more elliptical gaps and deliberate narrative omissions I’d used in earlier stories as I merrily skipped from one early Empowered story to another. In theory, the portals were being used in previous volumes as the Superhomeys popped hither and yon in the shorter stories; we just never saw them. (Well, in theory, as I said.)
readers will also notice that the Nodes actually looked like g-d lotus
petals in this original form; in later volumes, I kept adding more and
more smaller petals in an almost fractal manner along the outer rim,
until the portals appeared as perfect circles—which, by cruel fate, are
much easier to screw up when drawing. In fact, I’m so taken with this
older, more lotus-y Lotus Nodes iteration that I intend to switch back
to this version in Empowered vol. 12, and cover my tracks
by saying that this represents a “software or firmware update” to the
system that, coincidentally, reverts to the earlier form. I’ll probably
get rid of the g-d circular Lotus Nodes logo, though, which has turned
out to be maddeningly difficult to replicate over the years.