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Achilles' Heel: One of ThugBoy's former employers had a sheer impenetrable power armor, but still needed air vents in order not to suffocate in it. He was smart enough to hide them under his cape, but not smart enough to guard them better. Not to mention, impossible to remove by the wearer if the power was disabled.
Caged Demonwolf: Aye, fools, tremble before the might of a 7-word chain of alliteration combo.
Affably Evil: Manny wants to be a supervillain. But he's just so nice about it. He talks about like a kid would talk about being an astronaut. When he actually succeeds, he's still pretty nice about it, politely requesting that no-one resists so that he doesn't have to hurt anyone.
Aliens in Cardiff: Ninjas in New Jersey. Even in this universe, the characters find it odd enough to comment on. Possibly because even though they're from NJ, they still do everything possible to act like stereotypical Japanese ninjas, including giving Japanese names and using honorifics even in English. In our world, that would mean they'd be over-obsessed Weeaboos, so maybe they're seen similarly there. A Ninja from an authentic Japanese clan calls Ninjette a weaboo, so they are seen that way.
A supervillain, who uses his lurelight to hypnotize people.
And his dead son, who uses it mostly to commit rape via mind-control.
And I Must Scream: A supervillain is trapped in "energy draining bondage gear," and has to be kept at Emp's house. Hilarity ensues when he complains that he has nothing to do, and then she leaves NPR on when she has to go out. He's not isolated so much as just bored, though. He can still communicate, both with the reader through the fourth wall and with the characters... something he uses to narrate the story. Aloud. In-universe.
Maidman: I'd be far more embarrassed to dress up like, say, an animal. Now that would be silly. Face it. The hundreds of would-be badass capes who practice species crossdressing as various theoretically intimidating animals? That's one step removed from being a furry. Talk about embarrassing.
Animesque: Lampshaded by Emp in one meta-text panel.
Anti-Climactic Unmasking: Happens to Emp, who then proceeds to try to buy time by convincing them that she's a crossdressing man.
Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Empowered is menaced by a robotic "Pimpotron" who intends to deliver her to a galactic harem. When his sensors detect that her butt is too big for the Emperor's tastes, he apologetically leaves her behind. She's more upset about the insult than relieved at her good fortune. Incidentally, this is the first time readers get to know about Emp's body-image issues.
Art Shift: In volume 8, the destruction of San Antonio is shown in high-contrast inks instead of the usual pencils.
Atrocious Alias: The standout example in a cast full of this would have to be "Sodomy", who was once part of a trio of villains called Rum, Sodomy, and The Lash. In spite of repeated insistence that he only represents heterosexual sodomy, he got sick of being Mistaken for Gay and quit.
Author Appeal: Bondage, ultra-technology, gratuitous labeling, Woobies, etc. And Metahumans with random objects (hand, gun, cinderblock, etc.) for a head. Possibly subverted: Warren received several requests for superheroine bondage pieces, which became Emp. If this is to be believed, the kinkier aspects of the comic are from those initial fans, and the appeal for the author comes from trying to get away from the creepiness. Maybe.
Author Vocabulary Calendar: Despite his convoluted speech, the Caged Demonwolf has a noticeable fondness for saying "Jackanapes" and "much vaunted". "Brobdingnagian" shows up a couple of times as well.
Awesome McCoolname: Doctor Big McLarge Huge. (He is, too; half again as tall as most of the normal characters, and three times as wide.) It also doubles as a bonus MST3K reference.
Willy Pete, due to his elemental nature, has a massive beard of fire. (In Volume 6, it is mentioned that he has "seized the #1 ranking for Suprahuman Facial Hair".)
Weirdbeard too (not of fire though, but prehensile).
Phallik. The beard is so badass that it survives when Phallik himself is burned to a crisp by Willy Pete.
Badass Normal: Ninjette; ThugBoy; Maidman. Emp also has degrees of this; her suit is so unreliable, and Emp has been stranded in so many dangerous situations, that she's developed a pretty impressive set of survival skills.
Bare Your Midriff: Sistah Spooky; Ninjette. True for Emp too as soon as her costume gets damaged.
Batman Gambit: Maidman uses it at least once, on Blitzcraig / Gotterdammeruffian.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Subverted in volume 8. Ninjette seems to be her usual pretty self after her big fight with the Ayakami clan... but then she drops the ninja illusion magic and is revealed to be covered with cuts and bruises.
Bed Trick: Ninjette is renowned in Ninja circles for having pretended to be the spouse of Mitsunori, princess of a rival clan, in order to steal that clan's secrets. This included consummating their marriage — i.e. rape by deception — which she still feels guilty about. In volume 7, it is revealed that in her wilder moments, Ninjette has considered performing a similar feat with Emp or ThugBoy in order to get laid.
Manny is a literal big bad wannabe. He's a kid who wants to be a supervillain. And he's ever so polite about it too. He stops being a wannabe in volume 4, but despite being one of the more competent villains, he's still pretty polite.
Big Ol' Unibrow: There's a superhero who's even named Unibrow. Of course this trope applies to him. We don't learn much about him, except that he's a Superdead.
Sistah Spooky has had relationships with both sexes.
Ninjette had sex with a woman while disguised as said woman's husband.
Emp is said to be a "three-drink bisexual".
Bizarre Alien Biology: Some aliens in Empowered's verse have two left kidneys. And one kind of alien (maybe the same one) has kidney equivalents that filter the bloodstream using coherent light — essentially, Frickin' Laser Beams.
Blessed with Suck: A form-fitting supersuit is anything but ideal for someone insecure about her body. The fact that it almost always fails when most needed is pretty sucky, too. Then note that the suit's effectiveness is based entirely on Empowered's self-esteem and factor in the above.
The general result of contracting a Super-STD. Yes, those exist.
In volume 8, Sistah Spooky gets her lips burned off!
Bold Inflation: There are barely any speech bubbles in this comic that don't have a bolded word or two!!
Boldly Coming: Not one, not two, but three of the Superhomeys obtained their powers from sex with non-humans. In fact, they met in a support group for it. One of them (Protean) gained power from an alien STD, the second was turned into a mech by nanomachines contracted through sex with an advanced android, the third due to sex with an unknown superhuman whose dialogue suggested he was made by a certain Doctor.
Mindf██k is about as much this as she can be. She's only good because she rewrote her personality to be so. While she may be smiling and kind even as she tells this story, it's pretty clear that she doesn't consider that enough to make her a good person.
Brought Down to Badass: Sometimes, Emp is more dangerous when her suit's torn. Instead of trying to use its notoriously flaky powers, she has to improvise, which she's proven surprisingly adept at.
Buffy Speak: Mainly from Emp in the Meta breaks — and occasionally in the main story as well.
Busman's Holiday: Kind of. In her spare time, Ninjette likes to play video games, where the hero is... a ninja.
But Not Too Foreign: ThugBoy claims German and Italian ancestry to "balance" his more obvious Japanese heritage. This fails to impress one Nazi employer. It is unknown if this was just him trying to fast-talk the villain.
For example, in volume 1, a guy knocks out Emp by smothering her with a rag drenched in halothane. In volume 3, while arguing about how many times she's been chloroformed, she mentions that she was halothaned too.
Emp can't wear panties under her suit because they're visible, but she didn't know this until Sistah Spooky mocked her for it in the first story. During a flashback where she first meets Sistah Spooky, Emp's panties are visible.
Explored in great detail in the short issue Animal Style, including recommendations for using parts of a car in a superpowered fight.
Cassandra Did It: In volume 5, the Superhomeys (especially Major Havoc) blame Emp for the trouble dWARf! caused at the Capeys, since she "so obviously" could never win a fight against a supervillain on her own and must have planned it and may even be a closeted villain herself. Mindf██k pointed out that she had read Emp's mind and seen what had happened, but Havoc still thinks Emp had something to do with it and issued a gag order on all public discussions on the matter, leaving Emp unable to defend herself publicly against the already-started rumors.
Censor Box: Mostly shows up on dialogue; also used to cover naughty bits a couple of times.
Cerebus Retcon: Emp's propensity to be caught, tied up, and humiliated is played for laughs for most of the series. In Volume 8 it is revealed that Sistah Spooky actually cast spells and planted the idea in villains' minds so they would break Emp's spirit.
Cerebus Syndrome: The first three volumes are mostly comedy, with occasional hints at more dramatic plot developments and backstories. Volume four goes all out, opening with Ninjette apparently dealing with PTSD. Five sees Emp's Crowning Moment of Awesome from the previous book being not only papered over by her Jerkass teammates but outright turned against her and the death of one (maybe two) main characters plus a horde of C-listers. Six takes the dark note at the end of five and runs with it, and is quite frankly highly disturbing. Also thoroughly lampshaded. The fifth volume ends on a Fourth Wall Mail Slot with the characters hoping the next book will be Lighter and Softer. The sixth volume ends with them complaining that it wasn't. Book 8 is by far the darkest yet, with downright nightmarish imagery.
Character Development: Emp started the series as a neurotic mess. By Volume 5 she's a... well, still a neurotic mess, but less of one.
A female hostage Empowered tries (and fails) to save from ThugBoy in Volume 1 appears again in Volume 2 trying to kidnap Empowered for ransom (and Les Yay) related reasons. She then becomes a recurring character as a deliberate model for the fetish crowd that Emp keeps unintentionally feeding.
Deathmonger is mentioned in an early volume, but when he does appear in volume six... Hooboy. Hooboy.
Chekhov's Skill: Emp's embarrassing and apparently useless parlor trick of turning her suit invisible is demonstrated in a one-off story from the first volume (she is not affected, cannot wear anything over or under it, and was trying to affect only her mask instead of everything but). Turns out it had a use after all, as mentioned below. Fridge Brilliance sets in, too, when you remember how the rest of the suit's powers are tied to Emp's self-esteem, uncharacteristically rock-solid in that moment....
In Volume 8, Emp is shown training to dodge multiple attackers by the Super Dead. In the finale of that book, she uses those tricks to dodge the Hell worms.
Choose Your Own Disaster: Thugboy is given three choices how to respond to the question who is better in bed Empowered or Sistah Spooky. (Hint: none of these answers are correct.)
Cluster Bleep Bomb: All swearwords are covered with Censor Boxes, which arguably makes it funnier. Special note must be made of the kunoichi so foul-mouthed that she's referred to as "████ing Oyuki-chan", who seriously cannot go for a single ████ing line without swearing.
Combat Pragmatist: Empowered demonstrates this quality in the introductory chapter of Volume 4 by explaining that throwing a car at someone is not as effective as ramming someone with that car at seventy miles per hour, as she demonstrates the technique's effectiveness on a supervillain. And then, since this is Empowered, the resulting crash takes her out of the fight, encases her in seat belt bondage, AND gives her Jerk Ass teammates time to wake up and take all the credit. Note that she had already tried the car-throwing trick in an earlier issue. She threw out her back with it, and felt guilty when the nice old couple who owned the car came to get it.
The vast majority of superheroes are assholes, and while most villains abide by the "unwritten rules" and are up to mostly Silver Age level antics, there are four villains (in only six volumes) who have the powers to be a VERY real threat. The "kindest" of those villains "only" rapes people to death. The rest are worse.
About the superheroes... The previous leadership, currently known as "The Retirees", could be said to be worse. Why? Well they accidentally created a supervolcano on the site of a city with over one million people of population, nearly destroying the whole American continent in the process, by losing control of an alien WMD they had grown reliant on. That's why they retired. For comparison, it took Willy Pete for the usually collateral-damage insensitive Major Havoc to call for risking that, and the rest of the Capes say that thatGodzilla Threshold hasn't been crossed yet.
Crazy-Prepared: Maidman. Planning ahead, and being ready for everything, are his main weapons (as he does state himself).
"... guess th' white capes might be underestimatin' ol' Willy Pete jus' a li'l bit less, next time around."
Applied literally with Syndablokk. Although he has super-strength and durability (and a cinderblock for a head), his real power is telekinetic control over concrete. Cue villain getting stomped by the curb, and the street, and the sidewalk, and the highway overpass. The reason he doesn't use it very often? MASSIVE property damage.
One of the suit's side effects that Emp "worries" about is... it supercharges her orgasms and libido. Gee, what a burden.
Turns out that there is actually a price for some power, though. Some people who make deals with otherworldly entities for power — some, not all — find that the power continues to animate their bodies after their demise, leaving them as the Superdead.
Deal with the Devil: Sistah Spooky's origin. (She made a deal for "supernatural hotness" and accidentally gained mystic powers out of the deal.) It's outright stated in volume 6 that many more heroes got their powers this way, and the "going to hell" part may not even be the worst bit of the deal. Although the exact nature of "bargainer" super-powers is left unclear, and some certainly come from deals with the devil, it's implied that there are more benign entities that make deals for super-powers.
Death Is Cheap? Unclear. We'll see in volume 6. Apparently, their bodies die, but their superpowers don't.
Inverted with Sistah Spooky. The only times she approaches being a decent person, or even using sex for something other than a weapon or to prop up her own self-esteem, is when she's with her on-again, off-forever girlfriend, Mindf██k. Everyone else buys the image, but Mindf██k loves Spookums for Spookums. Spookums can't handle it, and dumps her. Leads to a dark, dark Tear Jerker.invoked
Depth Deception: Blunt Trauma is attacking Emp! No, it was just his action figure that Ninjette threw into the air to train Emp.
This is how Emp's friends see her, if you can believe it. Hey, think about it: would you keep going in her position? Hell no — anyone with any sanity and her issues would have incinerated the suit long ago and gone back to a superpower-free, clothing-undamaged lifestyle. What keeps her going (day after day, as opposed to during any one outing) is anyone's guess, but it cannot be stopped.
Empowered: I do this stupid job because I'm ████ing Driven to do it! Unlike You, ████, I do this stupid, Stupid job because— Because... This... Is... What... I... AM!!!
Another case is where ThugBoy had to shred her suit to keep her from donning it when she was very ill. As of volume 4: DAMN.
The goddamn Maidman definitely qualifies, especially considering he's a Badass Normal.
Empowered: You're not too hurt to do some caping are you, Mr. Maidman...? Maidman: Let me think... level-one concussion, couple broken ribs, burst eardrum, a few lacerations for a couple ounces of avulsed tissue... hmm. In other words, I'm good to go, Miss.
Ninjette also plays this trope bone-chillingly straight in Volume 3 vs the Ninja assassin squad sent to cut her limbs off and take her back home so she can be a brood mare. Although she did manage to kill or majorly woundmost of the attackers before the last two blindsided her.
The girl who will later adopt the Ocelotina identity groping Emp in the boot of the car, which is implied in dialogue to include forcible digital penetration. This is something of an in-universe example as well, because when Sistah Spooky comes to rescue Emp, and sees obvious evidence that future-Ocelotina had been in the process of sexually assaulting Emp, she is only upset because she thinks this means that Ocelotina thinks Emp is hot, and not because one of her teammates has been sexually assaulted.
Also the backstory reference to Ninjette having successfully impersonated the husband of a rival ninja on her wedding night.
Drop-In Character: Sistah Spooky says that Mindf██k (a mighty telepath) acts just like this. "Like a wacky sitcom neighbor!"
Early Installment Weirdness: Emp cannot wear anything underneath or over the suit without affecting the suit's powers or ripping it. The suit is sensitive to the point that even pubic hair affects it. In volume one however, Emp wears panties underneath the suit, and is bullied by Sistah Spooky.
Ecchi: It's manga-styled, starts out hugely suggestive, and goes from there. By now, the whole thing skirts the decency line as closely as it dares.
Played with. Despite Emp constantly being powerless, bound, gagged, and at the mercy of her enemies, no villain yet has, er, taken advantage of the situation. Notable in that the standards the villains are upholding are not their own, but a code of "unwritten rules" governing hero/villain conduct, among which include not killing or defiling the heroes. Any villain foolish enough to break these rules would have a huge mob of pissed-off superheroes out for his blood.
After Emp has a depressive episode after being captured once again, Ninjette decides to kick the ass of the last villains she encountered while impersonating her... which makes ThugBoy absolutely furious, because he is afraid that the villains would remove all standards they may have if they now see Emp as a real threat.
ThugBoy brutally killed a previous employer who was about to commit genocide with his superweapon (as opposed to using it for ransom purposes, which everyone else assumed).
Even the Girls Want Her: Implied to be the case with Emp. Ocelotina definitely seems attracted to her, and the Caged Demonwolf has suggested more than once that Ninjette's love for Emp is less than purely platonic, which Ninjette has repeatedly not denied. It has also possible to read Sistah Spooky's hostility to Emp as sublimated attraction.
So, so subverted with Ninjette. Her family wants her back to have kids and seem perfectly fine with making her an armless, legless, brood mare for the rest of her life in order to keep her at home.
Subverted for laughs with Princess Arkashia, a Green-Skinned Space Babe who the-man-who-became-Protean fell in love with, only to cheat on him and dump him, leaving him with nothing but painful memories... and an alien STD that dissolved him into a Blob Monster.
Evil Laugh: Emp's laugh, when she was hatching her plot to introduce the Superhomeys to yaoi (see Springtime for Hitler example), chilled even the Caged Demonwolf.
Sistah Spooky: Well, I'll be damned... though, in fact, I already am damned... but that divination spell I did, two weeks ago, it was right! I did wind up being three seconds too late, after all...! (vomits) Too late...too late...
Expy: A few of the characters appear to be based on mainstream comic book characters. Glue Gun Gil = Paste Pot Pete, etc. Most notably, THE GODDAMN MAIDMAN! who is basically Batmanas costumed byAmerican Maid.
Mindf██k: I love you, Theresa! I'll always love y—
Fan Disservice: Don't even get started on the Ninjette bondage at the end of Volume 3... Let's just say that the Fetish Fuel is pretty effectively killed by the fact that she's in very real danger. We like Ninjette. We want her to keep her limbs.
Foe Cooties: Emp finds out her boyfriend, ThugBoy, once slept with Sistah Spookah. She asks ThugBoy who is better in bed. ThugBoy thinks if he says Sistah Spookah, he's in big trouble, and he better not say they're interchangeable in bed either. He said Emp was better. Emp refuses to talk to him for about a third of the volume.
Foreshadowing: In a dream sequence, ThugBoy remembers Spooky prophesying that he and Emp would be "separated by death". Though what was actually shown to the audience is "separated by D..." and the rest is cut off. Also: Does he really remember, or is it just a nightmare after all?
Four Lines, All Waiting: The comic started with several more or less unrelated one-shots, but with time, some plots started to emerge: So far we have ThugBoy's plot (his past, and everything Willy Pete-related), Ninjette's plot (involving the other ninjas), the Fleshmaster/Capeys/Manny plot, and of course the romantical plot for our OTP / OT 3. And even now, there's time for some smaller stories.
Gratuitous Japanese: Complete with Kanji. For that matter, Ninjette's very name counts; she was born and raised in New Jersey and is as white as the driven snow, but her parents named her "Kozue Kaburagi" to try and make up for three Americanized generations back in Japan.
Have You Come to Gloat?: Played for tragedy when Empowered walks in on Sistah Spookymoments after the death of the latter's ex-lover Mindf██k. Unusually; within seconds Emp is bound, blindfolded, and surrounded by far too many levitating sharp objects as a grief-maddened mage demands to be gloated at.
Heroic BSOD: Two, possibly three even, at the end of volume 5: right after another. Sistah Spooky snaps upon being just a few seconds too late to save Mindf██k, something her powers warned her about but she didn't recognize the significance of at the time. Immediately afterwards, Emp breaks down as well, explaining to a murderous Sistah Spooky that if she had only been just a little bit more confident, maybe Mindf██k would have let her try using her powers to survive re-entry into Earth's atmosphere... the same confidence Sistah Spooky had been shredding to bits since issue #1. This reveal causes Sistah Spooky to BSOD again (and not hurt/kill our protagonist)
Hidden Depths: A few characters have them — Emp herself is the most notable example, of course, but Sistah Spooky is probably the most suprising one.
I Have You Now, My Pretty: This happens to Emp all the time. Lampshaded with the "unwritten rules" that keep villains from going "too far". Gets a subversion in one of the first volume's stories. Emp is getting stripped naked, but not for that — it turns out the villain wasn't interested in her, but in her supersuit. He didn't know it only works when Emp wears it.
One notable example features the Chloroformaster soliloquizing while Emp "samples" his "wares".
Averted, though, when someone jabs a needle into her — it takes roughly the time you'd expect to work.
Emp has had a lot of experience with chloroform-happy bad guys, so she purposely goes limp as soon as the rag is on "like you see in the movies or on TV" to stop it happening for real — or worse, accidentally killing her. However when the Chloroformaster captures her, it takes more than two pages for her to lose consciousnesses, implying she really was out that time.
Ironic Echo: Spooky + Mindf██k. "I know how much you love blondes..."
Ironic Name: Empowered is beset with self-confidence and body-image issues, frequently ends up in objectifyingbondagepredicaments after being defeated, and still gets no respect even when she succeeds in saving the day. Even the more generic "superpowered" interpretation of the word is ironic, given how often Emp's suit fails.
Jerkass: Most of her team, and indeed, most superheroes. Maidman, Syndablokk, and Mindf██k are notable exceptions. Capitan Rivet is better than most as well, even though he cannot always resist laughing at Emp's predicaments. Really, most of everyone. The world of Empowered seems to be chock-full of heartless jerks.
Possibly Hardkore. Being dead tends to make one a bit testy and when Emp proves herself to not be the bitch he was expecting, he looks embarrassed and more or less backs off.
Also Ocelotina, who initially seems to be a nothing more than a money-grubbing fake superheroine cashing in on the way Emp popularized the "helpless bondage superchica" theme. Turns out that she really does respect and support Emp and is willing to speak out about one of her Crowning Moments even after a gag order was placed on the incident. Doesn't stop her exploiting Emp for profit at every opportunity of course, but at least she's happy to share it with her.
One interpretation of Mindf██k. According to her, she used to be just as evil and twisted as her brother. She used her mental powers to completely rewrite her personality, because she didn't want to be anything like him. The heart of gold comes in when you wonder why she would care about being like her brother if there wasn't any good in her in the first place.
Jive Turkey: Major Havoc, dawg. Occasionally, other Superhomeys as well.
Mindf██k: I love you, Theresa. I'll always love y—
Kinky Spanking: Oh so very often. In bed, in daydreams, in fanfics; on one occasion on pay-per-view TV by Ocelotina over not respecting duct tape, of all things. You may guess which member of the main cast gets this treatment. Hint: it's not Caged Demonwolf.
Latex Space Suit: One of her hypermembrane's many abilities is providing life support in outer space. Including radiation protection, and even allowing Emp to speak.
Let's Get Dangerous: Once or twice a volume, Empowered will take down impressive threats single-handedly.
Line-of-Sight Name: The author got the name for a future villain from the front cover of an old magazine.
Look Behind You: Emp uses this trope successfully against a number of villains, claiming Maidman has appeared. The only ones it doesn't work on is the B.F.Gunnaz. Unfortunately for them, Maidman actually does show up that time.
Lotus-Eater Machine: Anglerfish has a super power just like this, and used it to capture Emp and the group of cosplayers she was working with. The dream-vision that Emp sees is being at an award show, where she finally gains the long sought-after respect from her Superhero team mates. When used a second time, it is upped to Emp's dead father coming back to life and attending the awards show, but this throws Emp into a rage that allows her to break the spell and beat Anglerfish.
Make Sure He's Dead: Emp and ThugBoy rescue Ninjette from a gang of Ninjas with extremely potent stamina and pain-suppression abilities, allowing them to get up and keep fighting after receiving horrific injuries. In an utterly nonchalant fashion, ThugBoy empties two handgun rounds into the head of every downed Ninja to make sure they're dead.
All of the ninjas. One even disguises successfully as a dog.
And Ninjette disguises herself as the Groom well enough to trick the Bride during their honeymoon... words simply fail. Even the ninjas considered that to be an impressive feat. They still mention it in training. 'Jette wishes they didn't.invoked
A Match Made in Stockholm: Amusingly, all of Emp's circle met like this. ThugBoy and Ninjette fell for her after they captured her, and Caged Demonwolf appears to have befriended them after being imprisoned on Emp's coffee table.
McNinja: Ninjette and her clan of ninja from New Jersey.
Mechanical Lifeforms: At least one of them exists. She has the shape of an attractive human woman and is anatomically correct. One of the Superhomeys sleeps with her, and her nanites turn him into a mecha.
Meet Cute: Empowered and ThugBoy. She was a captured superheroine, he was the minion tying her up. Sparks flew. They don't like to talk about how they met.
Meganekko: Lampshaded in Emp's Sexy Librarian stakeout.
Mental Affair: Sistah Spooky and Mindf██k were "mindfriends with benefits" at one point. Well, they also had a physical relationship, but it wasn't as satisfying as the mental one. For one thing, Mindf██k has no tongue.
The Merch: In-story, there are official Superhomey ringtones and themed T-shirts, plus action figures of their Rogues' Gallery. Not to mention the Capitan Rivet panties Emp often wears when out of uniform.
Empowered regularly breaks the fourth wall when she appears in the title pages of stories; Ninjette and ThugBoy lampshade this when they appear and have no idea who she's talking to.
The Caged Demonwolf breaks the wall at the end of volume 1, filling us in on the story's aftermath. Lampshaded in a later story, when he seems to be going meta, but is actually him talking to Emp's powersuit. Later still, he appears to go meta again, by referencing plotlines that haven't happened yet... but we eventually discover that he can see the future.
Especially volume 6, which inserts jokes in between dealing with some seriously dark material.
The Caged Demonwolf's paean to mortality in volume 7.
The one-shot "Internal Medicine" is a wacky Jette and Emp romp through an alien dimension. It ends with a vision of the future that pretty much confirms Ninjette is going to die.
Mooks: ThugBoy's old gang, the "Witless Minions", who stole from the villains they worked for.
Most Common Superpower: Averted. Besides Ninjette's snark about her bust, none of the heroines sport anything bigger than a C-cup, except the superheroine Jugganaut (and this seems to be justified in her powers). Called out by name in volume 7, when Ninjette and Emp switched outfits.
Ninjette-as-Empowered: And I'm a super-heroine tragically lacking the most common superpower for girlcapes! As in, well, boobs. Super-boobs, whateva.
Mr. Fanservice: ThugBoy is a shining example, albeit possibly a spectacularly misplaced one.
Naked Apron: Is a sign things are going well for Emp and ThugBoy.
Neck Lift: One of ThugBoy's employers did this with one of the Witless Minions. And then, ThugBoy killed him.
New Powers as the Plot Demands: Emp hasn't quite figured out how her suit works. Outright lampshaded towards the end of volume 4 — Emp discovers her suit can let her cling to things and she's as shocked as the people watching.
Nightmare Face: The deep sea creatures they're chumming with anti-putti.
Ninja: Ninjette, obviously. And several clans of them.
Nipple and Dimed: Fully bared breasts are frequently blocked by hair, ragged strips of cloth, shuriken pasties, and so forth.
No Dead Body Poops: Averted. Emp witnessed this happening to her daddy when she was a little girl.
Noodle Incident: Several storylines were (presumably temporarily) cut from the books, moved between books, etc. These are brought up during the meta-pages, with the characters warning each other not to talk about that stuff yet cause it wasn't in this book.
Notable examples are ThugBoy cosplaying (particularly bad because the author didn't have time to remove reference to it from the back of one of the books), ThugBoy wearing Empowered's suit, etc.
There's also the question as to why Emp's extremely skintight suit doesn't show any camel toe, this was lampshade-hung in volume 3 and by the end of volume 6 still hasn't been explained (and is lamented as possibly never will be).
Not So Different: dWARf!/Fleshmaster calls this between himself and Empowered, but she proves him wrong.
Before the final battle with the Ayakami, Ninjette makes a point of having a drink, explaining to Oyuki that she won't walk "into a scenario likely to result in [her] death and/or dismemberment without first getting good and solidly buzzed...." Oyuki responds that Ninjette's father often says something very similar before going into battle. Ninjette is not thrilled to have it pointed out that she has this in common with her father.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: The Superhomeys think Willy Pete is just some D-list nobody. Turns out that's only because he likes to keep a low profile and go after mooks and D-list villains. The 10-man team sent to get him (for a PR boost) finds this out at the hard way, as he wipes them all out with ease in a matter of seconds by using a blast of flames so powerful it's like hitting them with a nuke.
Only Known by Their Nickname: We still don't know ThugBoy's real name. Also, we learned Emp's and Ninjette's real names as late as #3. In fact, the only names of the superheroes we know are: Theresa (Sistah Spooky), Tommy (Protean), Bob (Phallik), Julie (Plutonium Blonde) and Maria (not totally clear but probably Mother Tongue). Along with a couple of the supervillains, Aaron (Kid Anglerfish) and Jerome (King Tyrant Lizard). But all other real names of supers are unknown either.
In her civilian guise, Emp affects a patently false Southern drawl.
Also the villain Rum, Sodomy and the Lash (formerly a trio) who Emp describes as an "underinformed anglophile doofus":
Rum, Sodomy and the Lash: HEY! You made me slip out of character. Enough of this shite!
The caged demonwolf loses his usually loud and blusterous style of speaking when he talks with a drunken Ninjette about her abusive childhood, instead calmly and gently describing to her how painful it is to be an immortal out of step with the normal flow of time, watching her life simultaneously as they meet for the first time and also as he sees her for the last time at the moment of her death.
Origins Issue: Averted until volume 6, where we learn how Emp got her suit. It came in the mail. That raises even more questions!
Paper-Thin Disguise: Emp cosplaying as herself. Bonus irony points for the PVC disguise being much thicker than the thinner-than-body-paint supersuit.
Political Correctness Gone Mad: Wet Blanket personifies this trope. Strangely, working together with supervillains is no problem for him. His teammates on the other hand....
Portmanteau: Adam Warren really loves using these for world-specific neologisms.
Power Incontinence: Poor Mindf██k can't speak outside of telepathy (which has the side effect of leaking brutal honesty with every sentence), and has to avoid crowds as all the excess thoughts cause headaches. (Note that Mindf██k's lack of vocal speech has nothing inherently to do with her power. See Nightmare Fuel in YMMV.) And to top it off, Volume 8 reveals that the road goes both ways when she's asleep, after Spooky gets a peek into her nightmares.
Rape as Drama: Rape, cannibalism and burning people alive as Drama — by Willy Pete.
Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: For as often as Empowered ends up bound, gagged, and nude in a room full of villains, they rarely attempt to assault her because this would violate the "Unwritten rules" between heroes and villains. In volume 7, Major Havoc explicitly threatens Emp that if they don't find and kill Willy Pete for all the heroes he's murdered, then all the rules might be gone — including this one.
Captain Katana, who has a magic katana stuck in the top of his head down his spine, as well as others replacing his limbs. At the Capeys when the Power Nullifier was taking effect, he was disabled by the pain.
Several that are implied if not outright stated; Heavy Artillery has a mounted cannon for a head. How does he breathe? And the "tower head girl" with a hat that seems to be taller than she is not breaking her neck.
And, of course, the fact that Emp's naughty bits never show through the costume despite it being described as more closely fitting than body paint.
Self-Made Man: A heroic variant: Mindf██k, who used her psychic powers on her own brain to surgically remove her non-heroic impulses. The way she explains it, she was a villain in all but name before she did so.
A shout-out to 4chan even made its way into one of the books.
In the early chapter "It's Like This" when Emp is explaining the weaknesses of her suit to a gang of thugs (which includes ThugBoy) there's a brief flashback of Sistah Spooky yelling for help while being held by what appears to be an Evangelion unit (judging from its silhouette).
In volume 7, Caged Demonwolf sings "Baby Got Back" in his own style. It is glorious.
Sickeningly Sweethearts: "No, you should wear that outfit (tee hee)!" — "No, you should wear that outfit (tee hee)!" No wonder the Caged Demonwolf imagines a scene with better dialogue, in his usual flowery style.
Sissy Villain: The galactic emperor from the in-universe Fan Fiction who forces Major Havoc and Syndablokk to have sex together.
Slash Fic: In-universe, even. Emp reads slash about two of her male teammates. They're delighted.
Slow Clap: Emp gets it by her fellow superheroes at the Capeys. ThugBoy lampshades it. But it's just an illusion made by Anglerfish anyway.
Smoke Out: Used by Ninjette, naturally... in book 2, to avoid embarrassment before ThugBoy before fleeing through a window. (And note that logically, since she leaves the tattered remains of Emp's suit behind, she's buck naked.)
Smug Super: Most of the other superheroes we meet are little more than overpowered and overgrown high schoolbullies deeply in love with their own superpowers. And a lot of the villains are pretty much the same.
Speech Bubbles: Syndablokk has cinderblock-formed ones, for one example. Also, Adam Warren often uses speech bubbles containing the heads of characters which are off-panel so you know who said what.
Speed Lines: Japanese-style, with the characters in focus.
Springtime for Hitler: Emp tries to give the sexist males in the Superhomeys a taste of their own objectification by introducing them to yaoidoujinshi of themselves. When they find out it's written by girls, it's taken as a compliment. Oh, and then she finds out one of the guys is gay, and immediately turns pervertedas well.
Starfish Aliens: We have seen only one of them. They're huge (their liver weighs 700 kilograms alone!), have three eyes, and their veins seem to be on the outside of their bodies.
Supervillain: A whole sub-culture of them, most of whom have captured and tied Emp at some time or another. And most of them treat her with more courtesy than her own teammates (not that the bar is set very high there).
Tampon Run: ThugBoy has to do it. The Violator of Worlds suggests one to get out of the vicinity of Emp and ThugBoy's knock down drag out.
The Tease: The author won't be showing any full nudity anytime soon.
Teeth Flying: Emp and Anglerfish. Compare how long his teeth were before and after Emp beat him up.
There Are No Therapists: Emp starts out a blatantly neurotic mess, and the more the supporting cast is developed the clearer it is that she is not alone. Except Mindf██k, in a way (and a slightly disturbing way, at that). But she only therapizes herself.
This Is Gonna Suck: Noted almost word-for-word when a training session ends with a multi-story drop.
Threatening Shark: One of them bites Emp during one of her training sessions from hell. Since she's wearing her suit at the time, it affords her a chance to launch into a hilarious rant against the shark.
Emp: THANKS FOR REINFORCING MY NEGATIVE PRECONCEPTIONS ABOUT SHARKS, JERKOFF!
Throw the Dog a Bone: There is one, just one panel in volume 5 where Emp, after being kidnapped along with a bunch of the Superhomeys' celebrity doubles, donning her super suit (which she'd wrapped around her waist) and telling off the double who insulted her earlier, actually smiles in anticipation, because the mooks have no idea what's coming.
The Topic of Cancer: The drug "Mayfly" has a 1 in 200 chance of giving you super intelligence, but will kill you within 24 hours from brain cancer. Unless you manage to use your newfound genius in order to survive... as a horrible, grotesque mass of cancerous flesh.
Empowered's supersuit gives her powers — unless it's ripped or damaged. Which always happens. Good thing it can regenerate. This is very likely to be psychological rather than an actual weakness. After all, the suit was in tatters when she curb stompeddWARf!/Fleshmaster at the end of volume 4. Confirmed as of volume 7. Ninjette tears off parts of Emp's suit without her knowing, and Emp remains just as combat effective. Then Ninjette reminds Emp of her failures, and Emp's powers disappear. Thus, while it is likely there is still a critical mass of costume required for powers, almost all of Emp's power-drains are psychological.
Also, Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash, too... a crippling phobia of fabric stores will suck the menace out of any villain.
Whatevermancy: Ninjas in Empowered's world can learn all kinds of cool magic, like kyonyujutsu (fake boobery magic), sosuijutsu (fast/quick/early to be drunk magic), sekushi nyanko "Monroe walk" jutsu (sexy cat "Monroe walk" magic), and more.
Played for laughs at the end of volume 3 however: "Okay, okay, a bunch of ninjas did wind up getting killed... But, pfft, WTFEVA. ████ 'em." These guys totally deserved it though.
What You Are in the Dark: With the exception of ThugBoy, Ninjette, The Caged Demonwolf, Ocelotina, Maidman, Sistah Spooky, Mindf██k, Syndablokk, Manny, and the Superdead basically no-one believes Empowered is an effective superheroine — in fact, thanks to Major Havoc, some people think she's a villain in disguise. And yet she still throws herself into being a superheroine unreservedly, because of this trope.
Earlier on, Syndablokk gets one when he explains that his power causes nothing but collateral damage (he has elemental command of masonry and stonework). Being one of the (very) few decent heroes, he's extremely reluctant to use his ability unless the villain's already wrecked everything around him.
Worst Whatever Ever: Major Havoc's fanfic about himself is derided by the internet folks as WORST. HAVOCFIC. EVER. And not just anyone: his fanfic, with its tragic lack of homoerotic undertones, is panned by one Elissa P.
X-Ray Vision: Another one of the suit's cool-but-useless-in-a-fight powers.
A few of her female team-mates (Yummy Mummy and another one, unnamed as yet) have also gotten interested ... possibly even more than Emp herself.
You Bastard: About once a volume, Empowered will let the reader know how much she hates that someone is enjoying her bondage scenes. She also gets mad when she suspects a reader is staring at her butt. Really, starting in about volume 2, the comic itself starts going out of its way to make the reader feel terrible for being aroused at all by it.