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Nightmare Fuel / Empowered

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Okay, thanks. We get the picture.

Y'know, for a book that began as a spoof on BDSM manga, Empowered has gotten pretty goddamned grim.

Spoilers below.

  • Knight of Cerebus Willy Pete wants revenge on Thug Boy for ripping him off. How? Well, the rest of the Witless Minions were used to satisfy the physical lusts of a man who is walking flame. And because the normal orifices don't last long enough to finish the job because they burn too quickly... he has a thing for eyes. There's a reason Willy Pete has pride of place in Thug Boy's nightmares. He's since added eating bits of more durable living people to his repertoire, and frequently alternates between eating and sodomizing his victims in order to prolong their suffering for as long as possible.
    • Basically, Willy Pete is a fire elemental. His entire body (yes, ENTIRE body...) burns incredibly hot. Flesh melts. Bone lasts longer. The skull is mostly bone, and eyes melt pretty fast...
    • Speaking of the Witless Minions, one of the villains they rip off has his cooling vents shot out by Thugboy, leaving him to cook and suffocate inside his overheating armor.
  • Mindf██k's backstory has a fair bit of this. It seems her rather psychotic brother had similar mental powers and used them to take over her motor functions in order to induce the whole Disability Superpower thing by forcing her to carve out her own eyes and tongue with a rusty pair of kitchen shears. Please note that Mindfuck was both conscious the whole time and well aware her brother thought he was doing her a favor.
    • And if that wasn't enough, Volume 8 shows that, courtesy of Mindf██k's additional Power Incontinence while asleep, Spooky (and by extension, the reader) saw this very moment, as Mindf██k has a nightmare over it.)
      • It gets better. See, Mindf██k's brother manifested his powers pretty early, so much so that the constant assault from the people around him traumatized him. He got over it when he discovered that he could edit himself, meaning his personality, thought patterns, etc. But, he kept on editing and tweaking himself until he was a teenage boy with no fear, no doubt and thus, as Mindf██k puts it, "no consideration as to what he may be doing is wrong." That's nightmarish in and of itself. Now consider that he believed that making Mindf██k cut out her eyes and tongue were the absolutely right things to do, because it would make her a better telepath, and doesn't help that his pre-editing self perceived her sister to be a monster. It doesn't stop there, either: Mindf██k, partly in retaliation, edited herself after the event to be who she was when we saw her - she outright says that she doesn't know if the end result is her at all, and spent her life wondering if she was a monster like her brother thought before she edited herself.
    • As an aside concerning her fate. There is something fundamentally, viscerally horrifying about someone's limbs being hijacked and made to walk into a hole in the floor while they are fully aware and able to vocally protest. The fact that said pit was a single-use portal which was the only escape from a crippled space station (which was why the Emp was screaming and begging, she thought she had a chance of surviving reentry and knew Mindf██k had none)? Does. Not. Help.
  • And then, there's what Ninjette's ex-clan had planned for her (multiple amputations and a lifetime of rape) - and what happens to the assassins they send to collect her.
    • The fate of Ninjette's first boyfriend. There's not enough Brain Bleach to fully describe her father's method of torture and murder.
      • Ninjette's story of how she lost her virginity ends with her drunk father covered in blood standing over her carrying her lover's head stuffed with the kid's own genitals. Her father mentions he slaughtered the boy's clan members to get to him and that they're currently at war against their closest allies. A war which Ninjette won't be participating due to not being able to walk, eat solid food or piss without blood after he's done with her. To make matters even worse he tells her to take a good look at her first kill, stating it's her fault he had to kill the kid.
      • Ninjette's father is also the primary reason for the rift between F██king Oyuki-chan and Ninjette. He was raping Oyuki on a nightly basis, as the Kaburagi clan primarily uses women as broodmares. Ninjette decided to "help" Oyuki by using a jutsu to render her permanently infertile, so she'd only be valued as a warrior from then on. Oyuki agreed to this at the time, but is implied to have regretted this decision later.
    • Speaking of ninja... The Ayakami Clan. They could be anything or anyone (in fact one of them was seen disguised as a dog), if paid enough they will cut you in literally a hundred pieces, and they have a technique that makes them immune to pain, meaning that no matter if you put a blade through their balls, pierce their eye and carve open their belly, they will come at you until they bleed out. And if you kill one of them in self-defence, the entire clan will come after you.
      • The Ayakami's ultimate fate: Ninjette killed every single one of them. It started with a bomb, it continued with much bladework aimed mainly at vital point, and when the last three, an engaged couple and their best friend, had managed to capture her with a chain, she revealed that the girl was cheating on her boyfriend and provided convincing evidence, then, while they were distracted trying to convince the boyfriend it was only lies, she made the girl explode in flame, and then brutally dispatched the other two while they were looking in horror at the burning corpse.
  • The Super Dead (don't-call-them-zombies), which are kept secret from the world at large, and from most of the superheroes as well. For people who have been reading superhero comics for a long time, a recurring theme tends to be the hero getting his powers from someone else, such as a wizard, God, an alien police corps or a reality warper. Well, Empowered has a twist on that—the varied superpower-bestowing entities are all the same person, most likely the same kind of demon who gave Sistah Spooky her powers, and have been tricking hundreds of superheroes into bargaining themselves for powers, to the point where around half of all existing metahumans got their powers that way. However, what they don't know is, the bargain they make means that while THEY are still mortal, their POWERS aren't, and keeps them alive and sentient even after death, to the point where they're forced to live through their own decomposition as long as they have any brain matter left.
    • As if that's not bad enough, once they fall into the clutches of DeathMonger who installs his necro-puppet-ware in them, they're fully conscious with their bodies rotting in front of them and forced to do his bidding like living... erm, un-living puppets. So much to look forward to.
    • And if Spooky's infernal service provider happens to be telling her the truth about what happened to Mindf██k... poor, poor Mindf██k. Adam Warren likes his woobies extra-broken, but it's depressing how many horrible things have happened to (arguably) the sweetest girl in the series.
  • Mayfly. Spooky spells out that hundreds of people have died horrible deaths as a result of the mutagenic substance, and it's likely we're talking people's entire body exploding with cancer.
    • Chapter 9 showed us a Mayfly victim. It's not pretty. Especially after Fleshmaster got his hands on it.
  • One of Emp's first times out as a cape and being buried alive and almost drowning in her own snot.
    • Even worse, there is some implication that she DID die and is an unknowing Superdead.
      • Happily, in-universe evidence, specifically her relationship with Thugboy, point away from the above being correct.
      • A single frame in Volume 11 confirms she didn't die. The suit's "Angel Mode" took over and fried the thugs.
  • Book 8 has, among other things, Spooky being embraced and dragged down by dozens of burning Mindf██ks, and the terrifying flashback of Mindf██k's mutilations. It's NOPE on an entirely new level.
    • Also from Book 8, the end of the fight at San Antonio: after the initial attack from Thugboy and his friends, dozens of Capes and Villains had started an all-out fight when the leaders of the heroes decided to use an alien superweapon codenamed 'Vorpal Sword' (an aircraft-sized sword-looking submunition drone with enormous penetration abilities they had used for about ten years for shock and awe), and lost control of it. The end result was a supervolcano, and the barely-avoided destruction of the whole American continent.
  • The special "Internal Medicine" is mostly a really weird humorous story set in the temporally asynchronous (that is, having more floor than it appears on the outside due most of them being shunted in another time and space) suprahuman treatment wing of the hospital drawn by a guest artist, but the two sequences at the start and the end drawn by Warren... The one at the start is the wounded and smouldering Emp of a possible future wandering through one of the hospital floors in shell shock while the hospital personnel deals with a mass casualty event, and that at the end is the elevator containing present day!Emp and Ninjette opening and meeting Future!Emp, who is shocked by the presence of Ninjette (who she calls Kozue in public) before realizing it's the one of her past and start crying, while we hear the shouts of the hospital's personnel describing the injuries they're trying to deal with and wondering if the guy with a powerful regenerating factor can regenerate from a pelvis and a pair of legs.
  • Speaking of Ninjette, we know her as the hard-drinking party ninja, it's easy to forget she's just that: a ninja who's no stranger to dismembering people. We see it in full effect in Volume 7, where she unleash an unholy wrath against a group of bounty ninjas, at some points getting a scary look in her eyes. Then you have her Imagine Spot where she casually murders Sistah Spooky in the most brutal way for disrespecting Emp. Jette is scary when she's angry.
  • Comparatively small considering everything else on the page, and made mostly through applying Fridge Horror but just the scope of Spooky's perma-bondage magnet curse on Emp. She has, through the spell, more or less passively mind-controlled every villain who sees Emp. That is simply scary. The part that bumps it up to terrifying is the sheer spite that went into the spell's impetus. This spell did NOT need to exist and was created to serve one (admittedly remorseful) woman's vanity.
  • Emp's meta-awareness - which she employs during chapter introductions - means she is also aware that her comic's artist-writer has a history of Darker and Edgier plot twists where he wipes out entire rosters of heroes on a regular basis. Emp is pretty much aware that she and her friends can die gruesomely as a plot point at any given moment.
  • Volume 9 sees Emp have a rematch with Fleshmaster, and not only is the torturous Body Horror he has inflicted on Manny horrifying and tragic, but when he restrains her it's very clear she's not facing the humiliation she normally does... she's facing death, torture, mutilation, possibly rape (given the interest he showed in her during their first battle and his current behaviour). For all that he remains a pathetic figure, him saying "I've had weeks to plan each and every grotesque f**king atrocity I'm gonna inflict on you" is deadly serious.
  • Volume 10 ends on the horrible cliffhanger of Thugboy suddenly, with no warning, being possessed by Mindf██k's psi-psychopath brother and viciously beating her with a club with a creepy blank stare on his face, quickly followed by Emp having a vision of Mindf██k telling her that her brother will torture and destroy her if she doesn't do exactly as Mindf██k says.
  • The discovery that Willy Pete was created by Mindf**k's brother on the order of the supers, only to go out of control. Between that and the Vorpal Sword, it's looking more and more like people feared the Capes taking over with good reason.
  • Emp being put through Fight Your Friend for most of Volume 11, courtesy of Neurospear. It's bad enough for Emp to be put through an endless Zerg Rush of jerks-technically-on-the-side-of-good, but having to beat the crap out of the people she's spent the past ten volumes bonding with and finding acceptance with is beyond awful. The fighting is intercut with flashbacks to said Friendship Moments, just to rub it in further. And of course it all culminates in Neurospear sending Ninjette and Thugboy at Emp, letting us see the looks of frozen horror on their faces as they are compelled to fight her best friend and the love of his life, respectively. Everyone is going to be needing a lot of therapy after this.
  • The hypermembrane's "Angel Mode". Not only does it take over when it's at its limits to save Emp's life, it erases Emp's memories of those times, and apparently the near-death experience that comes before it (based on the fact that Emp's "buried alive" flashback in Deathmonger's lair seems to have come as a surprise to her). It also has no reservations about killing those who threaten to kill Emp (and probably the hypermembrane by extension), even when Emp would rather die. This resulted in the Angel Mode getting ready to kill the neuro-puppeted Thugboy and Ninjette, ignoring the wishes of Emp, when (ex-)Sista Spooky had her Big Damn Heroes moment.