Or, to put it in its own words:
"A comic about superheroines. Well there are guys too but mostly it's about the girls. Doing the things that super powered girls do. Fighting crime, saving the world, dating, dieting, shopping, etc. There'll be explosions, cheesecake, beefcake, heroes and villains, angels and demons, cyborgs, ninjas, probably pirates."
Currently updates Mondays and Thursdays.
Grrl Power provides examples of:
- Absence of Evidence:
- Inverted with Heatwave, and also combined with Comically Missing the Point and Delayed Reaction. After a bank robbery, Harem pulled a prank on Maxima that made everyone think she played kissy face with Mr. Amorphous. Later Heatwave mentions that since Maxima's lips are naturally red, she doesn't wear lipstick so she couldn't have left kiss marks on anybody.Harem: SERIOUSLY?
Heatwave: Yeah, I think there's something else going on here.
- The thing that keyed everyone in that Sydney is a super is the carrying tube for her orbs, which is "A little too empty, if that makes any sense."Zeph: Does that tell you anything?
Gwen: A distinct lack of anything is usually an indication of something?
- Inverted with Heatwave, and also combined with Comically Missing the Point and Delayed Reaction. After a bank robbery, Harem pulled a prank on Maxima that made everyone think she played kissy face with Mr. Amorphous. Later Heatwave mentions that since Maxima's lips are naturally red, she doesn't wear lipstick so she couldn't have left kiss marks on anybody.
- Accent Interest: During the press conference making ARCHON's existence public, a reporter who's feeling the effects of Dabbler's presence describes her accent as lovely and asks where she's from. She vaguely replies that she's from lots of different places, some he can't even imagine.
- Accidental Truth: To get an annoying customer to stop, Sydney (unbeknownst to anyone in Archon much less Maxima or Hiro themselves) tells him that Hiro is Maxima's minimum physical bar, dating-wise. This eventually leads to a rumor developing that the two supers are secretly dating (due to military regulations, Maxima would not be allowed to date a subordinate officer under her direct command). They're not, but later events show that there's at least some attraction, though they're not acting on it due to rank disparity.
- There's vastly more than just "some attraction". Even without the constant heavy-handed matchmaking attempts by Anvil, Max and Hiro have so many examples of legitimate flirting while alone), more than just the basic friend/comrade level of care/concern for one another, and blatantly obvious sexual tension between them that it's almost sad that they can't get together.
- It also doesn't help that various battle shenanigans often result in the two of them being put into exceedingly racy situations involving destroyed clothing and close proximity.
- Heck, Maxima pretty much outright says (after probably the first example of them expressing interest in each other out loud in the comic) that she's 100% onboard with hooking up if they are ever the same rank.
- Actually Pretty Funny:
- Peggy's reaction to the start of Sydney's Open Mouth, Insert Footnote sequence.
- Sydney tends to create a lot of these, such as her presumed weakness, which elicits three Facepalms and two belly laughs.
- Maxima snarks that "[Their glamor]'s the only thing about a Succubus that's designed to be impenetrable", which Arianna replies to with this trope.
- When Ingsol asks if Sydney projects some kind of "stupidity aura", Maxima bursts out laughing before suddenly regaining composure before saying no, but it would explain a lot.
- Maxima tells Sydney about Dabbler getting distracted by her skin's reflectiveness and, as Sydney laughs herself to tears, tries to chide her for laughing at sexual assault but eventually admits this. (Though the author's comments make it clear Maxima was more laughing at the resulting punching of Dabbler through a wall than the sexual assault.)
- A-Cup Angst:
- Sydney feels a bit inadequate sometimes in the looks department something many of her more well-endowed comrades don't realize until expressly brought to their attention), and considering the physiques of female supers, it's fairly understandable.
- Sciona as well, pre-Breast Expansion at least.
- Subverted with Peggy, who is perfectly comfortable with her less than super physique and even jokes about she and Sydney being members of the A-Team
- Agony of the Feet:
- With the weight of a space shuttle, no less.
- Heatwave wound up getting a knife embedded in her foot during the same fight, actually losing a toe in the process.
- The Air Not There: An aversion — Sydney's shield does not permit air to permeate, causing her to become dizzy after a few minutes of continuous use. Sound (which involves the transfer of vibrations, rather than of physical air molecules) seems to get through just fine.
- Later when dealing (poorly) with PTSD, resulting from being trapped for 2 months alone on a planet forced to constantly fight with literal building sized Lovecraftian horrors Sydney literally duct tapes the shield and environment orbs to each of her hands so that she can attempt to sleep with the shield active to feel "safe", and with the environment ball active to not suffocate in her shielded sleep.
- Alien Abduction: Due to centuries of aliens abducting small numbers of pre-industrial humans, there are a few million humans living among the wider galactic community. Cora mentions that most of the abductions were probably voluntary, though of course she can't be sure.Cora: How many people in just this crowd would like to live and work on my ship for a year, then return to Earth to write the best-selling book of all time?
[most hands go up]
Cora: That's what I thought.
- Alien Blood: While not actually an alien (so far as we know), Maxima apparently bleeds blue.
- Alien Non-Interference Clause:
- Played With. Casual interplanetary travel is restricted solely to planets that have developed FTL, but though measures are taken to keep pre-FTL and immature civilizations unaware of the greater intergalactic community, there is no law against visiting less advanced planets — proper disguises are recommended, but the Veil existing on Earth means such disguises are absolutely essential. What the universe at large is really worried about is preventing technological paradigm shifts: "Don't give a caveman a space gun." Oddly enough, Sydney's orbs are one such Outside-Context Problem — enough so that when she's stranded off-world, not only can she not use the Portal Network to get back, she actually is in danger of being snapped up like she originally feared.
- Cora mentions that one of Earth's biggest defenses is that they produce a lot of entertainment. Conquering them would give any advanced race basically nothing, and would disrupt their entertainment industry, so no one will really bother.
- Cora also mentions the impracticality of high-tech cultures invading less technologically advanced planets for resources.
- All There in the Manual: The cast page has a great deal more information about the Arc-SWAT team members, their powers, and their roles in the team than has yet been revealed in the comic.
- Always Chaotic Evil: The Fel race. As soon as they're sighted, Cora says that they're "a collective corrupted by Stygian energy" that forcibly recruit everyone they can and kill anyone they can't, and that they cannot get their hands on the artifact she has in her ship's cargo hold. As Dabbler describes it, they are irredeemable slavering fanatics.
- Ambiguously Human:
- There are a few hints that Vehemence may not be human, especially after we find out that the only other users of vehemic energy that Dabbler knows about are demonic.
- Vance claims to be a Hive Mind of intelligent, superpowered spiders in a Mobile-Suit Human "skin", though he may just be a Troll and hazing Sydney.
- Amusing Injuries:
- Usually averted. Most injuries in the comic, even relatively minor ones, are treated as serious and potentially devastating. Heatwave gets taken out of the fight when a dagger cuts into her foot (cutting off one of her toes in the process) and nearly passes out from the pain and blood loss, while Jiggawatt continues fighting after being deafened by a sonic attack that ruptures her eardrums, and nearly kills everyone when she can't hear an order to stand down. The super-powered doctor on their staff who treated them afterward is able to heal most of Jiggawatt's injury, but it's expected she will still have some permanent upper-range hearing loss, and Heatwave's toe couldn't be saved because it had already started to necrotize before it could be reattached.
- The only time it's remotely played straight is with Achilles, who is shown to be beyond Nigh-Invulnerability to the point that his hair can't be cut and he's even The Ageless. He even once ate a vial of Super Ebola with no ill effects.
- Even when injuries are played for laughs, they are still handled in a mostly realistic manner. One example is when Cora's crewmates comedically put their heads next to Sydney when looking at the Aetherium Causeway capabilities of the navigation/transport orb, Sydney's ear is punctured by the horns on Altus' temples. This could have easily just been a single panel throw away joke. However, on the next page you can actually see blood on the lapel of her shirt, and the page after (though primarily serves to set up her relationship with Frix more) is entirely her visiting the med bay to have the wound dealt with.
- Angels, Devils and Squid: Demons (and possibly angels) are more-or-less humanoid beings with comprehensible if dangerous motivations who may just be Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. But then, our heroes encounter a distinctly squid-like being who doesn't seem interested in communication and may be connected to a recent planetary-scale genocide. Worryingly, it also acts like it knows something about Halo's enigmatic items of power.
- Animesque: There's some visible manga influence here.
- Anvil on Head: Done with Anvil the person rather than an actual anvil, by Sydney.
- Sydney even makes the Roadrunner sound and does the tongue flip as a direct reference to the joke.
- The scene is later referenced by Harem after a similar situation occurs, prompting her to want to call the maneuver the Acme Special. The comic even shows Harem having a flashback to finally "get the joke" of Sydney doing the Roadrunner reference when it was originally done.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Averted when Maxima asks Sydney why she isn't surprised that not only do aliens exist but Dabbler is one. Sydney replies that Maxima is a giant golden superheroine.
- An Arm and a Leg:
- When Maxima is attempting to overload Vehemence's "Vehemic energy"-based resilience, she goes for a high-powered limb shot.
- The Super Husk loses a limb at one point, but it turns out that it can regenerate.
- Sciona has a leg shot off by Dabbler in their initial fight.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Maxima chews out Cora for gibbing a bad guy unnecessarily, but Cora insists that since Sydney's life was in danger, she had no choice. Maxima seems to relent, then asks if Cora "squeegeed enough of him up into a ziplock bag for us to question". Cora gets halfway through explaining that even her technology can't do that before realizing that this was exactly Maxima's point.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
- The Secret Entrance sign here is meant to discourage anybody who finds it by accident.Sign: WARNING / CERTAIN DEATH / RABID BEES / CAT DANDER / NO WIFI
- Deus has an impressive list of accomplishments. He made a fortune during the financial crash, owns a country which he's lifted out of poverty, has plans to give away $500 million in charity (just to see what happens), and his hair is... just astonishing.Deus: See?
St. Croix: Um, yes it's quite lustrous.
- The sign next to Sydney where she's signing autographs at her new store warns against touching the balls in her halo thusly:Sign: DO NOT TOUCH THE ORBS! Seriously, I have no idea what might happen, up to and including immolation, disintegration, impotence, sterility, or a sudden desire to binge watch Jersey Shore.
- The Secret Entrance sign here is meant to discourage anybody who finds it by accident.
- Art Evolution: Compare Joel's first appearance to his second one the next day (actually five years later). Similarly, Brad, the obnoxious customer, in his first appearance versus his appearance the next day (also nearly five years later).
- Artistic License Gun Safety:
- Averted; gun-using ARCHON members are given extensive training in gun use and safety, and until they prove that they understand the safety rules and can strip, clean and reassemble their weapons, they aren't allowed to handle ammunition. Maxima's regulations are a bit more relaxed (which is lampshaded in the script), but that's mainly because she can catch a bullet she accidentally fires before it hits anyone. She is, in any case, a serving regular with combat experience who presumably already has full training and plenty of experience.
- Played with by Peggy, who (in her capacity as Range Master) allows Sydney to attempt to fire a BFG minigun (with bayonets!) knowing that Sydney isn't even able to lift it, much less fire it.
- Sydney hilariously inverts this on one page. She's running through a gun course and takes the time to switch on the safety and holster it between every target. The end result is a very frustrated Peggy, and Sydney taking more than ten minutes to run through a course that she needs to clear in less than four minutes. (Sydney isn't told about the time limit until after the first run-through. Peggy wanted to see if she could complete it at all, which isn't guaranteed with Sydney.)
- Artistic License Military: ARCHON has an interesting command structure, as lampshaded by the author.
- A large portion of ARCHON's roster (Maxima, Hiro, Peggy, Anvil, the vast majority of new recruits, eventually Sydney, etc) are enlisted military personnel. However, they also employ a wide assortment of non-commissioned civilian specialists (Dabbler, Arianna, Leon, Pixel, etc) for the for combat/field work and general logistics.
- ARCHON also has no issues adding captured former enemies to its combat/field roster and support staff (Jabberwocky, Delta, Vehemence eventually, etc)
- Aside Glance: Played with during Max's dinner with Deus. As he's trying to calm down Lorlara, Max looks from him to her in consecutive panels. However, in said panels the view is on Max's face, and said change of looks means she's now also looking at the reader, with her look of barely-surpressed amusement working both in and out of universe.
- At Arm's Length: Dabbler keeps Sydney at bay with a hand on her face after stealing her glasses and fooling around with them. Besides Sydney being short, Dabbler is advantaged by having four arms.
- Atomic F-Bomb: Uttered by Sydney when she becomes stranded on Sciona's homeworld.
- She even goes through a $10,000 exhibition with the swear jar at her welcome back party due to the massive amount of cursing during her months spent stranded on the above-mentioned world fighting Lovecraftian horrors.
- Author Appeal:
- The author admits that "the majority of this comic is just me transcribing my daydreams."
- The same goes for the Unsound Effect, as he's very fond of "nonomatopoeia".
- And a third time when discussing No Man Wants an Amazon — he's quite fond of the build, and admits to regularly posting "Insane Lady-Abs" on his Twitter account.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Higher-powered characters often have higher ranks. Maxima is a Lt. Colonel, Hiro is a Major, and Anvil is a 1st Lieutenant. However, Peggy is also a 1st Lieutenant despite not having superpowers, being rather an expert marksman, skilled pilot, and professional soldier.
- Awesome Mc Cool Name: Sydney is quite upset to find out that Aurelius Shrapnel is only a financial adviser without any superpowers.
- Back from the Dead:
- After Krona's Save Scumming brings Sydney back after she gets shanked in the stomach, she's a bit shaken for a few seconds before gleefully invoking this, though Krona clarifies that it might not have been the case in the next page.
- Wyrmil uses an artifact to perform a Fusion Dance with Cooter, reviving the exploded redneck, to survive Sciona's betrayal.
- Pretty much a constant theme with Sciona since her spirit can simply possess a new body when her current one is destroyed.
- Background Magic Field: One gets established as a physical law of the universe that fuels all magic. Deus elaborates it in a physics model of overlapping quantum fields that for magic is specifically called Thaumion.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Used for the visual of Sydney describing to Maxima how it felt to fire the PPO.
- Bare Your Midriff: A feature of several of the super-powered female characters' outfits, especially Maxima and Dabbler.
- Battle Strip: Vehemence does this, which Sydney immediately lampshades.Sydney: What are you, an old Italian man?
- Beat Panel:
- Five of them when Sydney finds out what Maxima uses for Sydney's specific ring-tone.
- When Sydney realizes she just made her third faux pas in a row.
- When Dabbler asks Sydney "Do you know that show Star Trek?" That pretty much requires a beat panel with Syndey glaring at the fourth wall. Fortunately Sydney is in a forbearing mood, and her response is impressively restrained.Sydney: ...I've heard of it.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Maxima and Deus.
- Bigger Is Better in Bed:
- Or at least Sydney and Krona think so in a bonus panel after seeing Hiro's "attributes".Sydney: Seriously, imagine how he makes his girlfriend feel.
Sydney: His bowlegged girlfriend.
Krona: Bet she got a big ol' grin.
- Actually deconstructed when Sydney asks Dabbler if she has anything to help with a certain issue, showing her pictures of large objects trying to fit where there's not enough room. Dabbler immediately produces a certain potion, saying she had it ready as soon as she knew Sydney and Frix were a couple.
- Or at least Sydney and Krona think so in a bonus panel after seeing Hiro's "attributes".
- Bilingual Dialogue: There is an example of a trilingual conversation here (involving one African and two extraterrestrial languages). Apparently, this alliance has involved a lot of efficient linguistic exchange in its short existence.
- Bland-Name Product: When Sydney is exhausted after running laps, her training officer gives her a bottle of "Joule Juice". (Not PowerAde, nope, totally different.)
- Blatant Lies: Strip poker is banned at ARC-SWAT's HQ, because Max knows Dabbler, so when Max is away and Sydney walks in on a game, everyone assures her that it's not strip poker, they're doing the laundry. Of course, being the Cloudcuckoolander, Sydney initially buys this but then challenges the story because this isn't a laundry room.
- Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce:
- Sydney's love of spicy foods turns her breath into something resembling tear gas. It turns out that her love of spicy food is partially because of her vegetarianism.
- Exaggerated at Ms. B's diner, one of Sydney's favorites. Featuring such brands as "Masochism" (I'll make you cry), "Ring of Fire" (Guaranteed to make you feel like the prettiest boy in prison), and "Volcano Blood" (You literally might die. Consult your physician).
- And now added to the list is... The Unmaker. It's rated at roughly 3 million Scoville, twice that of the Carolina Reaper (the hottest pepper known to man as of 2015), and 1 million higher than law enforcement-grade pepper spray. Before you're allowed to eat it, you have to sign a legal waiver. The bowl has warning stripes on it, indicating it is hazardous to approach, and no-one will handle The Unmaker or the finished product without metal tongs. It's kept inside a specially made box that is, itself, locked in a box lined with asbestos. Said larger box contains Hydrogen Bitters, Old Panther, and Cobra Fang Juice. And the cook has to wear a hazmat suit in order to work with it while treating it as a living, wrathful being. Even Sydney admits that it's really, really hot... before asking for some "pure capsaicin" to spice it up. It does end up hurting her though, when a spiced noodle flicks up into her eye.
- And when on an alien planet, Sydney partakes of Grakz, an ultra-spicy delicacy that has others gathered around to watch a human eat it. When she later dismisses Cora's surprise by remarking how it wasn't that spicy, Cora reveals that it's not going down that's the problem.
- Blood Magic:
- The Mage Killer mannequins are powered by a piece of a blood-drinking sword. When the shards absorb blood, they return to the lead one and enhance it with extra parts from the fallen ones. There could be up to twenty more.
- Sciona is actually unusual in how she uses her talents; most use it for Vampiric Draining to heal themselves and restore their reserves.
- Blowing a Raspberry: Halo sticks her tongue out at Harem after the latter says that the prospect she'd want to be an officer is "a horrifying thought". During a press conference. Sydney forgot they were there.
- Body Surf: Sciona can apparently do this as after her death on the Alari homeworld, her spirit takes over the recently killed body of another woman. While this may just be due to her abilities as a blood magician, the fact that she had a large container full of Alari souls stashed away to be reborn/reincarnated, and two of her former lieutenants were similarly resurrected in the bodies of the men who killed the woman whose body she now inhabits. Though it isn't really clear whether this is an ability only she possesses (thanks to being a powerful blood sorceress/necromancer), or something that other Alari can do naturally when they die. She's also done it literal decades before the events of the comic since the first time she appears, we see her in a patchwork form consisting of the top of her own original head (from the top of her mouth up) stitched to the very male body of an unknown orc-like being (from the lower jaw down).
- Boobs-and-Butt Pose: This page with Pixel's were-jaguar form comes complete with "Dabbler Approved T&A Pose".
- Bookends: The comic's first book starts and ends with a discussion about lasers being blocked by transparent shields.
- Boring, but Practical:
- Deus's method of bypassing a security system that only allows living things through, but kills them in the process, is to use a potted plant with a long trunk. This is in comparison to Sciona, who sacrifices a minion to do so.Deus: It's funny how even large groups can become so paradigm locked on a solution that they fail to consider simple workarounds.
- Concretia can remotely animate bodies for herself out of concrete. It is later revealed that she can animate bodies out of a wide variety of substances, such as marble or quartz, but softer substances lead to less durable bodies, and harder substances are more difficult to animate. Concrete is near the "sweet spot", and you can find it pretty much anywhere.
- Grappling is noted as being this. Hiro and Vehemence grappling gets so boring that Dabbler gets bored watching them grapple shirtless for a few minutes.
- Deus's method of bypassing a security system that only allows living things through, but kills them in the process, is to use a potted plant with a long trunk. This is in comparison to Sciona, who sacrifices a minion to do so.
- Boxed Crook:
- The official stance of the government is that a superpowered vigilante is still a vigilante, so Archon has been tasked to track them all down and give them the option of joining Archon or facing charges for vigilantism. That said, it's the vigilantism that's the crime, not being superhuman. Using superpowers to aid in a career doing something legal is legal, and people who do so are not required to join Archon.
- This eventually happens to Jazza Ng/Jabberwokky. The Rant on one of her appearances says she's essentially under house arrest at Archon until she's finished training, and 90% of her at-least-five-digit paycheck is being garnished to pay bills associated with her former crimes — mostly medical bills and a few cop cars.
- Vehemence is also given work release privileges to spar with the ARCHON crew and recruits for training purposes and to sustain his requirement for vehement/violent energies.
- Brain Bleach: Almost a running gag for Sydney.
- After Vehemence's lack of Magic Pants results in him flashing the team after growing huge, Sydney wishes that one of her orbs would allow her to un-see things.
- Invoked by name when Sydney first sees Cooter in the Vault.Sydney: Oh God! Naked gore-covered hillbilly! I need mind bleach!
Crimson: I'd say there's no such thing, but someone already invented twelve shots of tequila.
- After Cora ignores Maxima's advice regarding using non-lethal ammo and reduces the leader of the people who kidnapped Sydney to chunky salsa, Sydney, now thoroughly covered in said salsa, reaches out for the syringe containing a memory-erasing drug said bad guy planned to use on her, despite the possibility of it reacting badly with her ADHD and turning her into a vegetable, so she can wipe her mind of the whole scene. Good thing she can't reach it. Still, the experience causes her to puke until her ribs hurt.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Also an Alliterative List, when Sydney is low on sleep: "Deficit? Debt, debficit?"
- Brick Joke:
- Bridge Bunnies: Gender-inverted. Cora, Dabbler's alien friend, is the female captain of a ship staffed with sexy male aliens.
- Brown Note: One of the sightseeing aliens says, in a garbled way, that looking at its true form will cause the beholder to throw up, which another alien confirms. This gets a practical demonstration when that alien starts to eat Lapha.
- Call-Back: Sydney shows that she can combine this with Genre Savvy in one "Super ADHD Brain" activation, bringing a bunch of different elements she'd learned in one day together to formulate an effective strategy.
- Can't Un-Hear It: "One explanation later", on a green, tiki-styled background. The author defies you to read that in your head without using a pseudo-Cousteau voice.
- Captain Obvious: Sydney's wristband gives her a lot of helpful information.
- Car Fu: Deconstructed here, as are other tropes. If you can lift it, it's safe to guess that you can hit harder.
- Casanova Wannabe: Ray Cosmos, an alien sleazeball so skeevy that Dabbler and Cora both completely cover up when he starts checking them out.
- That said, both of them end up begrudgingly getting it on with him anyway. The implication being they did so simultaneously.
- Catching Some Z's: From #529 She is not getting her security deposit back: The first panel has Halo sleeping, with conjoined Z-s rising up.
- Censor Box: Dabbler's apron is screen-printed "____ THE COOK", where the blank is a box of digitized noise. In the commentary, Dave B. notes that Dabbler did that on purpose to let people's minds wander.
- Censored for Comedy: Aside from Sydney's Cluster Bleep-Bomb on-air, the intern reporter, Suzie Wen, introduces herself as "Suzie News", prompting the manager to ask if they could bleep that.News Tech: And make people think she said "Suzie Shitwhiskers"? Sure.
- Chainmail Bikini: Dabbler dislikes how covering the sentient suit of platemail is, so she uses her illusion powers to make it look like a revealing bikini with no loss of protective value... much to said armor's displeasure.
- Chain of Corrections: Stalwart and Mr. Amorphous have some confusion over Labyrinth and Pan's Labyrinth.
- Character Level: Everyone knew Sydney would learn to improve her power. They probably didn't think it would be through a literal leveling system, however. Anvil even lampshades it. Bonus points for its similarities to the Sphere Grid.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- A two-fer during the super-brawl, where Sydney takes information gained in two conversations at the restaurant and applies them to the fight, ending it shortly afterward.
- Deus mentioned an item Wyrmil was looking for in the vault. He uses it to fuse with Coot, saving both their lives.
- Chirping Crickets: Sydney tries (and fails) to invoke one as a Look Behind You during the press conference, but enforces it later.
- Classified Information: Archon inevitably has its share of secrets and security concerns, and the subject is sometimes Played for Laughs, as when Harem (presumably jokingly) notes that questions of which restaurant to use for a team dinner are "all shadowy at that level".
- Cleavage Window: After Maxima suffers some Clothing Damage, she has to borrow Harem's jacket... which cannot fully zip up on her, resulting in this.
- Clothing Damage: Occurs on several occasions.
- Achilles is Nigh-Invulnerable minus the nigh, but his powers have no effect on his clothes.
- When the Super Husk explodes, Hiro is rendered naked and Maxima has what remains of her clothes in such tatters she might as well be.
- Maxima tends to be the primary victim of this trope in the comic.
- Color Failure: When Varia (the super whose power varies depending on whom she's in contact with) accidentally touches Scarlett (a vampire) and turn into a demonic-looking form, Olivia (a normal) becomes entirely white in shock, with hair going straight up, eyes widened and round as well as jaw hanging. Then she orders six rounds of alcoholic shots.
- Combat Pragmatist: Basically the sign of a dangerously smart character in this comic.
- Maxima and Peggy show off how a mortal sniper and a high-level super can work together to defeat a powerful enemy.
- Other examples come from fighters such as Vehemence.
- Sydney is no slouch either, as demonstrated when she tricks a villain by pretending to be blind without her glasses, and follows up with a Groin Attack with her orbs.
- During a staged fight against Vehemence, several members of the team fail to take him down through raw strength or technical moves. Maxima takes him down with what's essentially a super-powered Pressure Point strike.
- Comical Coffee Cup: Blink and you'll miss it, but Sciona has a "World's Greatest Blood Mage" cup in her lair. Probably leans into Overly Narrow Superlative too.
- Comically Missing the Point: Deus invokes this trope deliberately.
- Confusion Fu: According to Maxima, this is legitimately the best way to defeat someone with Super Speed, as they can't counter what they can't predict.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: Implicitly invoked by Vehemence, and then lampshaded (in slightly distorted form, as "Inverse Ninja") by Sydney.Vehemence: Heed your Genre Savvy protégé, Colonel, the main event is indeed about to start.
- Contemplative Boss: Deus, who loves his villain tropes, naturally indulges. Probably often, too, given that even a recent hire calls it his "staring imperiously out of the window" time.
- Continuity Nod: During her interview with Suzie Wen, Sydney says "So I says to Mabel, I says..." before being cut off by Maxima. Nearly 700 strips later, Maxima cuts off Dabbler while she's in the middle of saying the same phrase at a press conference.
- Covered in Kisses: Harem uses this against Maxima as payback for unintended effects resulting from Maxima lifting an ambulance with Harem inside. As far as the public was concerned, Maxima was alone with two bank robbers who were strapped in gurneys. Harem's presence was clandestine to help obtain and wipe a video recording.
- Covert Distress Code: The hero team is organized enough to arrange these.
- Cringe Comedy: Tends to crop up whenever Sydney's involved. But her barging in on a meeting to tell off Maxima for interfering with her day-job takes the cake.
- Crossover: The characters from the webcomic appear in a crossover story in the "Team-Ups and Crossovers" novel of the Wearing the Cape series. It's lampshaded of course, especially since the Wearing the Cape characters are fictional there and Astra looks just like the actor portraying her character.
- Cross-Popping Veins: Maxima sports a set when her attempts to keep Sydney benched until she can undergo training get immediately undercut.
- Crystal Weapon: Dabbler uses a sword made of "Auracite. Crystallized Aether taken from an Aetheon throne," which is very good at letting her channel magic during fights.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The Fel Collective's incursion. They probably believed a backwater planet like Earth would have no defense... except when they attack Cora's ship, it is parked right next to superhero central. The ground troops don't last long against them, especially once Dabbler finds out how to disable their shields. Then Maxima pulls the big gun on the capital ship. (And Halo isn't even there; if she had, it could very well have been shorter.)
- Cuteness Proximity:
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check:
- Dave B. goes into a detailed rant about this trope in Strip #368, which mentions a geokinetic who used his powers to isolate gold out from the planet's mantle, selling off limited amounts to maintain his comfortable lifestyle without disrupting the economy.He could try to threaten cities on fault lines and ransom them for millions with his geokinesis, but he's not living in a Silver Age comic book, so why would he? It is something that bothers me about a lot of supervillains. So many of them have powers, or their whole shtick is predicated on a gadget they made, that with the tiniest application of intelligence, could make them millionaires in the private sector. The Trapster made incredibly strong yet easily sprayable adhesive. The Green Goblin made something the size of an opened pizza box that not only can fly, it can carry the weight of at least two humans plus equipment, and based on some of the fights he's had with Spider-Man, it's not exactly short range either. Yes, the usual excuse is that most bad guys are a little bit crazy, but then consider this. The first time Spidey beats the Goblin, there's this flying thing just sitting there. It's not like the crazy bad guy filed a patent for it. Okay, maybe the first version before he went crazy, but Goblin's been around for a while, and hes probably upgraded the flyer, and post-crazy, he's probably not keeping up with the patent process. Somebody would take that thing apart, file their own patents, and boom. Delivery drones, extreme sports gliders, hoverboards, military hovering sniper platforms, whatever. Someone would do something constructive with it. That's why I'm careful not to throw a lot of gadgeteers into the world, because it would cause an irreversible tech spiral, and the comic world would diverge dramatically from our own.
- One man has the ability to refill any liquid, including his own blood, which he mainly uses to get the attention of vampire ladies. Sydney lampshades this by bringing up how oil companies would pay him a lot for that power, but he apparently can't fill that kind of volume, and she points out that there's probably some rare liquid someone would pay him well for, but cares more about the vampire ladies than money.
- Dave B. goes into a detailed rant about this trope in Strip #368, which mentions a geokinetic who used his powers to isolate gold out from the planet's mantle, selling off limited amounts to maintain his comfortable lifestyle without disrupting the economy.
- Cutting the Knot: Deus uses bamboo to knock artifacts out of a field that only allows living matter to pass through, but kills what does.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: In the omake at the end of page #88, after Sydney sent Arianna some links to illustrate the topic of hentai, Harem went off with a mischievous smile and the words "I'll Be in My Bunk". See Shout-Out below.
- D-Cup Distress: A minor case, but Maxima dislikes her bust size for reasons both personal (she's a feminist who doesn't like being objectified) and practical (it interferes when she draws or holsters her pistol).
- Deadly Dodging:
- During a superhero free-for-all, Math the martial artist dodges a super attacking him with Eye Beams, the ray hitting another brawler behind him.
- Hench Wench manages to catch Maxima shortly off-guard, getting her in a headlock by controlling both her real body and a concrete body. But Maxima is still too strong and fast, moving her head away when the golem attempts to punch her, resulting in a (doubly) broken nose for Hench Wench.
- Death Is Cheap: Parodied to hell and back when Sydney accidentally triggers a "checkpoint".Sydney: The death of Sydney Scoville! That's my own misleading cover shot! Dead and back again in the same issue!
- Deconstructor Fleet: The comic has hit quite a few tropes and mainstays of superhero comics; as Sydney herself put it:Sydney: I'm starting to feel comic books lack realism.
- The idea of a mutant gene causing not only powers but Heroic Build and/or Most Common Superpower. Though it is lampshaded that there are other possibilities still around like alien interference or human guinea pigs for science or magic.
- Maxima and Sydney discuss Hero Insurance and how ARCSWAT doesn't have it. No hero has it, so each hero has to work every day to prevent his or her powers from causing millions (if not billions) of dollars in structural damage, medical bills from civilian casualties, and other forms of collateral damage. It's further discussed in #202, where Maxima admits that if a super-fight starts somewhere like in a steakhouse, they will at the very least write off the room it started in as acceptable damage, since it's a super-fight and things will get broken. Minimizing damage is a must, but avoiding it altogether is an impossibility.
- The costumes. Thus far the team wears military clothes with personalized chokers.
- While it's not only a comic trope, Blind Without 'Em also gets deconstructed, as Sydney notes that a person who needs glasses does not instantly become unable to see just because the glasses are knocked off. Especially when the target is less than four feet away.
- While not an exact trope, many comics have superheroes goofing around or horse-playing with their powers. Peggy makes it clear that members of ARCSWAT cannot do this in uniform in public, just like anyone else in the military.
- Forensic science means masked vigilantes have a very hard time staying anonymous since they can't risk leaving a hair or any other potential samples. The Marble Maiden is one of the few exceptions, since she transforms into a petrakinetic golem and doesn't leave DNA behind. However, since she catalogs her own exploits on Instagram, it's pretty easy to start closing a net around her.
- Math being a Lovable Sex Maniac gets him in trouble because it distracts him in a fight. Seeing Jabberwokky's rack froze him up so much that she took him out easily. Max calls him on it during the full debriefing.
- There's no such thing as a "power inhibitor", so more creative methods must be undertaken to jail criminals. Vehemence must be kept in isolation but also from acting violently himself, so he is kept high as balls and given unlimited video games to occupy him. Opal, the dangerous portal maker, is kept in a pressurized cell where making a portal will cause explosive decompression that will kill her.
- Given that the big fight was essentially just a brawl with superpowers, the non-ringleaders were released unless they had outstanding warrants, with some put on probation, pending the trial. Vehemence's "violence aura" power is also complicating the prosecution process immensely.
- Defeat by Modesty: Inverted. Math tears off Jabberwokky's jacket and is immediately Distracted by the Sexy, which allows Jabberwokky to get the upper hand.
- Description Cut: Math is convinced that the women are having sexy-times in the shower. He's right about the shampoo fight, but so, so wrong elsewise.Harem: Son of a! I just farted and the shower wind blew it straight up my nose! God, it smells like a ferret's butt hole threw up a Brussel sprout!
- Destructive Savior: Maxima points out to Sydney that the artwork of most superhero comics has the heroes completely ignoring the possibility of collateral damage.
- Didn't Think This Through:
- Glowbug tries to cool off from Heatwave's attack with a stream of water, only to realize that the completely white outfit she's wearing turns see-through when wet. She blames Heatwave for it and shoots lightning at her... while still standing in water. She lampshades this immediately afterward.
- Sciona's Evil Is Petty attitude leads her to storm off in a huff and forget something in the Vault, and then leads her to start a fight with Vale.
- Hench Wench portals herself and Maxima underwater so she can escape Maxima's grasp, but then she floods her apartment because she jumped home directly, which she admits was something that she really shouldn't have done in hindsight.
- Differently Powered Individual: Usually called "Supers" here.
- Disapproving Look: Sydney gives one to Detla upon hearing her suggestion for Ren's superhero name ("He Who Punch His Foes"). Detla admits that it doesn't sound good in English.
- Disaster Dominoes: Setup: One character that has one mind spread between five bodies. Anything that happens to one, the rest will feel. Pitch: A super-strong teammate gives one an atomic wedgie. Homerun: This causes the other four bodies, wherever they are, to jerk around and stumble, each one accidentally taking another Amusing Injury from the previous one's reflex.Maxima: Wow, that was way more effective than I'd planned.
- Distracted by the Sexy:
- One of Dabbler's many superpowers — a succubus's body is literally hypnotic, although she's attractive enough that it's usually just written off as being mundane distraction. Sydney actually tries to put this to good use against Vehemence by making use of Dabbler's hypnotic breasts, but unfortunately, those supposed to act while he's distracted are also distracted.
- Math, all the time, to the point that it causes a problem during the team's first battle. Maxima's solution is creative:Maxima: Go get on the Internet and stare at boobs until you're bored of looking at them.
Math: Is... that an order?
- When Vehemence grows in size, losing his pants in the process, most female members of ARCHON are definitely distracted and male members go green with envy (and one of them does a George Takei-esque "oh myyyy!").
- Distracting Disambiguation: Happens very shortly, because Maxima is too professional to get easily distracted (unlike Sydney), especially when it Takes Ten to Hold Vehemence.Sydney: Riddle for you, how do you beat a guy who's got all the yang locked up? Oh right, your throat is still crushed. OK, I'll answer for you.
Turns out you've got the same weakness as every guy! A fabulous pair of yings!
Sydney: OK, cool it Jiggles, you don't have to flaunt them all the time.
Maxima: It's yin yang, not ying yang.
Sydney: Are you sure?
Maxima: Sydney, tell me you have a plan or else I'm ashing his brain.
Sydney: Oh, right.
- Doctor's Orders: The EMT tries to argue with Maxima — though it's about another patient.
- Does Not Know Her Own Strength: Maxima sometimes forgets things have weight. The text at the bottom of the comic also mentions that she "forgets things can be hot, sharp or fast" as well.
- Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That!: Sydney reacts badly to the resident teleporter. Later on, she's gently encouraged to respond to surprises by putting her shield up rather than by socking people in the face. Later reacts badly in a more humorous manner.
- Dope Slap:
- Anvil seems to like the "closed fist on top of the skull" variant. She does it to Harem for teasing Zeph. Of note, she bonks one of Harem's bodies for another one teasing Zeph, but they're the same person anyway. And later, again to the same Harem's body.Heatwave: You know what I don't get?
Harem: A lot of things, I'd wager.
Anvil: Be nice.
- Dabbler gets a dope slap from Anvil (on Arianna's request) during a press conference, even with a "GIBBS" Unsound Effect!
- Anvil seems to like the "closed fist on top of the skull" variant. She does it to Harem for teasing Zeph. Of note, she bonks one of Harem's bodies for another one teasing Zeph, but they're the same person anyway. And later, again to the same Harem's body.
- Doppelmerger: Harem has the ability to split herself into up to five duplicates. By merging together, she increases her strength and durability to superhuman levels, but she dislikes doing this because her brain is set to process sensory input from multiple sources so she feels like she's half-blind if she doesn't have at least two of her active at once.
- Dramatic Gun Cock: After Maxima's initial Freudian Threat, she cocks her firearm at Brut's banana-hammock.
- Duck Season, Rabbit Season: Lampshaded by the author after Maxima cajoles Sydney into revealing what's in the tube.
- Dude, Not Funny!: Sydney makes a Planet of the Apes reference while watching Sciona react to the apparent destruction of her homeworld. Maxima invokes this trope, and even Sydney concedes the point.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Ren and Vance are first seen during the "Hot beefcake injection", but aren't properly introduced until just over 200 strips later.
- Ear Worm: After Sydney activates her "Super ADHD Brain", she comments that Batman singing "I'm the Bat-Man! Ski bi di bi di do bap do..." is totally stuck in her head now.
- Eating the Eye Candy: Beefcake and cheesecake alike abound in this comic, and more than a few people enjoy the feast. That said, the men have to be careful with their ogling, as doing it wrong could bring the wrath of an angry golden-skinned feminist down upon their heads. The only one who isn't shy is Math.
- Eldritch Abomination
- While they may not be so woefully incomprehensible from the perspective of a lot of the more extraplanar knowledgable members of ARCHON, the race which decimated and is currently squatting on the Alari home world look like something straight out of Lovecraft.
- Deus' right hand "woman"/bodyguard, Vale. Vale is blatantly "something" that has literally stuffed itself into a hollow human woman shell. Even the brief partial up close glimpse of what Vale is inside of "her" shell was unnerving enough to give the psychopathic homicidal blood magic/necromancy wielding Sciona pause.
- Then of course, there's Trent.
- Emotion Bomb: Vehemence's aggression aura can range from low-powered manipulation to making everyone angry enough to lose reason and attack even their own teammates.
- Energy Absorption:
- Anvil's power allows her to absorb kinetic energy from attacks, before releasing it all at once.
- Heatwave can absorb heat in addition to emitting it, but doesn't like the feeling it gives her.
- Entertainingly Wrong: During his fight with Maxima, Vehemence concludes that electricity must be her weak spot after pinning her, since the constant shocks he's sending seem to be weakening her. The truth is a bit more complicated: Maxima's power is to "maximize" some of her attributes (Flight, Super Strength, Hand Blast, etc.) at the cost of weakening other powers, and by constantly electrocuting the heroine he's forcing her to put everything in shielding, leaving her with not enough strength to break the hold. Of course, Maxima's exact powers are a well-kept military secret, so it's not surprising people would get it wrong. It does get a call-back in a different fight; Sciona starts using electric attacks in an attempt to stop Maxima from chasing her, and is confused when it doesn't seem to work. (One difference in this fight is both are flying and avoiding grapples for most of it.)
- Epic Battle Boredom:
- Sydney minors in ass-kicking, but she has "THE LIST". When interviewed by the leaders of ArcLIGHT/ArcSWAT, the first thing she does is dramatically take out a pen and "THE LIST".
- During the restaurant fight, Math starts complaining about not having enough of a challenge. While three or four super-powered individuals are trying to get him. Referenced in the title.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Lampshaded, Justified, and thus somewhat Parodied in this strip and the attached sketch. Shawn is a former Navy SEAL, now employed as an armorer by Arc-SWAT. Thus:Harem: I don't understand why your car exploded.
Shawn: I might have had some... grenades in the trunk.
- Explaining Your Power to the Enemy:
- Invoked. Sydney quickly gets fed up with the confusion of the first fight, and declares "Silver Age rules": every villain needs to state their name and powers, or else the ARCHON PR department will give them stupid names like "Stick Chick".
- Vehemence indulges too, and Sydney lampshades it, but he's doing this after a thorough fight that has supercharged him in vehemic energy, so he's convinced it's way too late for ARCHON to do much of anything with the information.
- Eye Scream:
- Three millions Scoville noodle, directly to the eye. "Medic..."
- Dabbler pulls out her cybernetic eye to show off. We don't see her face when she does so, but it causes a nearby waiter to freak out and drop everything.
- The trope is deliberately invoked by Achilles as a way of psyching out Heavenly Sword.
- Maxima does not fight fair.
- And again! Peggy goes for a repeat.
- Maxima knows that Dabbler has a camera in her cybernetic eye and has told her that this is what would happen if she tried to get footage of Maxima in the buff... to her good eye.
- The Alt Text of one strip is "Triple facepalm and a sidebutt", unsurprisingly thanks to Sidney.
- Suffice to say, Sydney inspires a lot of these in her more straitlaced coworkers, with the cake getting taken when she manages to send Maxima into the Troubled Fetal Position.
- Dabbler's pervy antics can also inspire this reaction to Maxima. For example, during the "interrogation" of Cooter, upon realizing that yes, he's that stupid.
- Maxima is not the only one to suffer from embarrassing underlings, though. Deus himself cannot help but facepalm at times from Lorlara's over-eagerness.
- Jabberwocky facepalms when Sydney deduces they're not doing laundry but playing Strip Poker... because they're not in a laundry room.
- Facepalm of Doom: When Thothogoth happens to call Dabbler a "slave" in front of Maxima, she grabs his demonic face in her super-strong hand. Dabbler then tries to clarify that she is indeed his slave, prompting Maxima to start crushing with her fingers, cracks appearing over Thothogoth's cheek and horns.
- Facial Dialogue: Sydney and her mother Laura have an entire discussion (over six panels) consisting solely of arched/furrowed eyebrows, eye moves, stares, shrugs and nods, subtitled for the audience's sake.Maxima: We should hire you two for covert comms.
- Failed a Spot Check:
- Failed Attempt at Drama: Jabberwokky introducing herself; she tries to make a badass entrance by challenging Math to a duel, only for her foot to slip on some broken glass, causing her to fall on her ass.
- Failsafe Failure: An aspect of the spell that upholds The Masquerade that allows communication spells to piggyback on it is disabled to help reduce the strain to the Sigils that power it, allowing a vault to be breached because the alarm spells can't tell anyone that the vault's been compromised. Sydney actually snarks that it sounds like something she would do. And of course, they sent out a notice before shutting off, so Sciona knew exactly when to strike. She then suborned the defense system so it would attack any investigators.
- Harem's seen wearing sweatpants that literally say "Gratuitous Fan Service" on the rear.
- And just so the readers interested in men aren't left out, we have Hot Beefcake Injection. Complete with drooling Sydney. The women can be seen under Power Perversion Potential.
- The above began the running gag of Harem regularly finding ways to separate the male members of ARCHON from their shirts when the ladies are around. As the series progresses, this tends to be focused mostly on Hiro .
- Fantastic Measurement System: "Ferret Balls: New standard unit for measuring surprise".
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: #443 reveals that in addition to demons, vampires and werewolves (the latter two introduced in the last few pages), the Grrlverse has a large variety of supernatural beings.
- Fascinating Eyebrow: Hiro gives Sydney one when she accidentally calls him "Super handsome".
- Fastball Special:
- Film the Hand: On Arianna's phone, when Maxima is calling the picture is of her angrily reaching for the camera.
- Fire-Breathing Diner: Finding a place that serves food hot enough to induce this is one of Sydney's favorite things. She eventually succeeds.
- Flashback: The author likes to illustrate Noodle Incidents with Flashback Cuts, usually Played for Laughs and frequently combined with some lighthearted Mood Whiplash. note
- Flash Step: Maxima is fast enough to pull these off. So is Harem, although she's using actual teleportation... and Maxima is faster.
- Flat "What":
- Flipping the Bird: Maxima goes for the subtle approach with Arianna.
- Foo Fu:
- Martial Artist Jabberwokky has the power to copy any animal-based kung fu style, including some made up on the spot. The Alt Text calls it "Menagerie Fu".
- After Sydney finally completes a live fire course in under 4 minutes (which takes her all day) the Alt Text ranks her: "Shoot-Fu: C+. Reload-Fu: D-"
- The last panel; it turns out she was telling the truth.
- Dabbler's flashback here, as well as this villain montage foreshadow Thothogoth's appearance over 800 pages later.
- During the big super brawl, several of the attacking supers question why they agreed to come along in the first place, hinting at Vehemence's "violence aura" amping up their aggression.
- And with a blink-and-you-miss-it example, For Whom the Death Tolls' level of power is hinted at in the second-to-last panel of a strip early in the fight.
- An off-hand joke from Dabbler about how nice fur can be on a sexual partner, especially Sydney's reaction, was oddly prescient about Frix's arrival.
- While we've yet to find out for sure, Zephan's reaction to the news that Sydney was going to a nightclub indicates that ARCHON is probably aware of vacationing aliens on Earth.
- Remember that new power for the Comm-Ball Sydney got? Yeah, it allows her to teleport to the place Holo-Sydney is at.
- For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Sydney does this to avoid drawing undue attention at a convention in the crossover story, acting like she's dressing up as Halo, complete with wire holders for her orbs. Unfortunately, she forgets to swap out her ARCHON jacket and at least one person ID's her before things go south.
- Freudian Threat: Maxima delivers one by pressing her Hand Cannon against a mercenary Super's banana-hammock. He quickly surrenders.
- Fun with Subtitles:
- PLEASE MAKE THIS GIRL STOP CURSING. I feel like I'm playing Diablo with the censor button.
- And really, all the comments the news ticker displays throughout the course of the comic, acting similarly to The Colbert Report's "The Word" segment.Sydney: [pretending to be on fire] Stop drop and roll doesn't work! Why. Would. They. Lie?
Ticker: Stop Drop and Roll: Is it a lie? Special—
- Now the news scroll during the press conference showing America' reaction to ARCHON being essentially military police."More military? YAY! More police? Boo!"
- A variant. Leon clearly enjoys coming up with Embarrassing Nicknames on the HUD for villains that haven't bothered to name themselves.
- Funny Background Event:
- Gwen's mystical scan power includes tweeting capabilities. And a weather forecast feed. Also a biorhythm chart and a tarot reading panel.
- Achilles gets used as a human bullet in the background of the 2nd-to-last panel.
- During Vehemence's Oh, Crap! moment, the shockwave from his punch sends one of the Harems flying.
- In the last panel Sydney says "Seems like it would take more than an hour by bus"; over her shoulder, we can see the busses being flown in on the backs of superheroes.
- When Sydney is trying to fly to the comic store, the blonde jogger and her dog can be seen in the background as a Brick Joke.
- The flashback panel to Dabbler's classroom shows her in the background as a classmate uses her lust aura to prank a different classmate — and right next to Dabbler is the demon she'd fought.
- During the karaoke scene at the birthday party, Maxima can be seen in the background changing colors as her camouflaging choker is being worked on.
- Fun T-Shirt:
- The "take out meal" Dabbler picked up after the first brawl sports one reading "I fought Arc-SWAT and all I got was [blank] and [blank] and my [blank BLANK] by Dabbler."
- Similarly, Vehemence sports the "I fought ARC-SWAT" version of the T-shirt gag.
- "My milkshake brings all sapient species to the yard irrespective of orientation or gender"
- While not a shirt, Harem's pants.
- "This is my human costume. I'm actually an alien."
- Sydney's shirt in the last 2 panels of this page
- Gag Censor:
- When Dabbler wears an extremely form-fitting one-piece swimsuit, the crotch area is covered with a bubble saying how tight it is.
- There a very few, if any, censor jokes more amusing than this strategically placed thought bubble from Sydney when Hiro has all of his clothes destroyed in a fight with the rest of the Archon crew looking on.
- Gangsta Style: Mocked mercilessly in the cadet handbook.
- Geeky Turnon: After challenging Leon to showcase his knowledge of nerdery, Sydney turns "The List" upside-down and writes his name in it, with a Crush Blush to boot.
- Gilligan Cut: Sydney runs afoul of it when being invited to the nightclub.
- A Glass in the Hand: Maxima is usually very in control of her Super Strength, but the adolescent-level antics of her subordinates can sometimes upset her enough that she'd crush her cellphone.General Faulk: Do not break another phone, Colonel.
- Glasses Curiosity: In the last panel, Dabbler keeps Sydney at bay with a hand on the latter's face after stealing her glasses and fooling around with them.
- Glasses Pull:
- Global Currency Exception:
- The Glomp: Name-dropped via Unsound Effect.
- Godiva Hair: Brook apparently already lost her top and bra at Strip Poker when Sydney walks on them, as her hair is all that's covering her chest.
- Good News, Bad News: As Cora explains during a press conference, the good news about the revelation that Earth isn't alone in the universe is that nobody actually cares about them — no alien with any sense wants to steal Earth's air or water or women or whatever, and if some alien without any sense does decide to do it anyway there's space cops to stop them. The bad news is... nobody cares about them. There will be no Technology Uplift from the benevolent aliens. As making scientific progress goes, Earth is still on its own.
- Good Thing You Can Heal: Discussed when Sydney mentions how supers with regeneration always get hurt a lot in comics, and that she wouldn't want that power if it came with that kind of baggage. Maxima points out that it's just bad writing; supers need to show off their powers a lot, and you can only heal after you've been hurt. However, a few "real-world" instances happen at some points; during the restaurant fight, the villain Concretia (who can just form a new body if her current one is damaged or destroyed) gets crushed by Math and, directly after returning, headshotted by Peggy. As Sydney points out in that conversation, those with this ability would be more likely to take risks because the consequences of it are significantly lower.
- Gratuitous Latin: Averted. The Ever Vigilant are called that instead of the official "Semper Vigilantis".
- Gratuitous Ninja:
- Invoked by Sydney in her television interview after the bank holdup:[Sydney screams and takes Kung Faux pose]
Sydney: You're not a ninja.
Reporter: You're expecting ninjas?
Sydney: Always. expect. ninjas.
- Gets a Call-Back when she meets Ashleigh and his assistants.Sydney: Fashion ninjas! I did not expect that.
- Invoked by Sydney in her television interview after the bank holdup:
- Gray Is Useless: In "#499 ? Inopportunity", Syndey notices that a new function has activated:Sydney: That mystery button isn't grayed out any more.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe:
- Dabbler takes the form of the original.
- Courtesy of her Truesight, Sydney gets to see another one while at the club.
- While being blue, Cora and Delta fall solidly into this category.
- Pretty much every female Alari. So much so that Deus takes great pleasure in being able to check Alari off of his sexual conquest list after "negotiating" with the recently restored Sciona.
- Groin Attack:
- Gun Stripping: One of the requirements for Sydney to achieve to be approved for gun use.Peggy: [to Sydney] When you can name every part in that bag, tell me what they all do, build the gun from the detail strip, and in under thirty seconds field strip and reassemble it, then we'll see about getting you some ammo.
- Hahaha No: Maxima exhibits one when Ingsol asks if Sydney projects a "stupidity aura".
- Hand Gagging:
- Maxima has sometimes no other choice but to resort on covering Sydney's mouth to contain her verbal logorrhea.
- Peggy often has to take on this duty when Maxima isn't around.
- Head Desk: Dabbler starts bonking her head on Zeph's desk after Sydney points out there was a much simpler solution to a problem "the most intelligent being on the planet" was overthinking.Zeph: Don't dent my desk with your horns.
- Heart Beat-Down:
- Dabbler. She is basically an alien succubus, with powers that mostly relate to inspiring lust, and she can draw power from lust or sex in her general vicinity, especially if she is personally involved.
- Tammatha and her mother Decollete obviously, since they are full succubi.
- Presumably, Parfait (Dabbler's half-sister).
- Heh Heh, You Said "X":
- Henshin Hero: Pixel is a were-jaguar and a super, and has different power-sets in her hybrid and animal forms (Laser Blade claws and Invisibility, respectively).
- Heroic Build: Almost all the females that have appeared so far are surprisingly toned (in fact, it seems to be a recognized side-effect of having super-powers in the setting), but the two that stand out are Maxima and Anvil. It's easier to count the aversions: Sydney, Peggy, Sandy (Arianna's assistant), Arianna, Pixel unless in were-jaguar form and Gwen (none of whom have innate powers as such).
- He's Not My Boyfriend: True, but you wish he was.
- Hide Your Otherness:
- Maxima is given a choker that magically changes the color of her skin and hair. Unfortunately, it can't change their metallic lustre, which leads to some experimenting.
- Dabbler uses glamour magic to appear as a normal (though insanely attractive) human when out in general public or on covert missions in the field.
- Tamatha and her mother Decollete use glamour magic to hide their succubi features in public.
- Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure:
- "What it does to a tank" is apparently the standard unit of damage. Lampshaded by the last bit of text in the cited comic.
- During the actual demonstration, the Author's Note remarked that Maxima's big finish was "like a C minus on the Dragon Ball Z scale".
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Sydney got a little too cocky after an accidental sucker-punch on Math.
- How Do I Shot Web?:
- Sydney only learns about what the various nodes in the orb's skill tree represent after selecting an upgrade and randomly experimenting to see what changed. She has absolutely no clue what two of the orbs do at all for quite some time, and one is still a mystery.
- Krona, having apparently unique Rewriting Reality abilities, has had to teach herself everything about her own abilities.
- How We Got Here: Per Word of God, the first four pages are a Flash Forward. The rest of the comic is in current time.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl:
Prinrin Yup, Tall, Bark and Fluffy here is gonna lend us his brain for a bit. Then I was thinking I'd seduce him and see how much of him I could fit inside of me. Sexually I mean. An engineer's mind is a curious mind.
- Sydney and Frix (referenced regularly for comedic affect, usually at Sydney's expense).
- Leon and Krona
- It's implied that Leon might have a thing for petite ladies.
- Garamm and Lapha. Even with his naturally hunched posture, Garamm is easily 1-2 heads taller than Lapha, and his frame is wide enough that you can barely see her if she's standing on the other side of him.
- Subverted with Dabbler and Thothogoth, as the later can alter his size down from the usual building level height.
- Inverted to Tiny Guy, Huge Girl with the vast majority of men interested in Anvil.
- Prinrin (a goblin who is somewhere between 3 and 3&1/2 feet tall) propositions the well over 6-foot tall Frix while he is volunteering to help Arc-SPARQ with some tech work.
Frix Uh, what now?
- Frix only turns down said proposition due to it being the last day he'll be on Earth for a while and wanting to spend it with Sydney, who is still not fully comfortable with being in a potentially open/poly relationship (despite her insistences otherwise and it generally being her idea).
- Human Hammer-Throw: Vehemence grabs Anvil by the hair and then starts spinning her around, before tossing her upward.
- Humanoid Abomination: Vale turns out to be a humanoid shell full of something with lots of dark tendrils and eyes.
- Humanoid Aliens: When asked why so many aliens look so human, Dabbler explains that a humanoid form is evolutionarily efficient. More limbs or organs might be better than two arms two legs and two eyes but it is a diminishing return. Also, more limbs means that your body requires more calories to sustain its extra mass.
- Humans Are Bastards: Subverted. As Cora explains to Sydney, humans are in like company.Sydney: God! It would be just like humanity to try and mug Earth's first alien tourists. How's that going to look on Space Yelp? Humans suck.
Cora: Take heart Sydney. Every species suck.
- Hyperventilation Bag: Sydney has to use one when her mouth gets her into trouble, or when she learns that in real life, some things don't follow the rules fiction made for them.
- Hypocritical Humor: Peggy says that superheroes are like vegans — you don't have to ask them, because they will volunteer more than you need to know. Cue the bonus panel where Sydney asks her what supplements she uses.
- Identical Panel Gag: Played with — the series of Flashback panels where Sydney gives Joel various silly made-up explanations for the presence of the poster tube on her back are happening on different days, which is expressed by the both of them wearing different clothes, but their poses and Sydney's movement are strictly identical every time.
- If It's You, It's Okay: Although the spell Dabbler put on Jabberwocky by kissing her has long since worn off, they're still dating as of #910, even though the latter insists she's straight. This probably has something to do with Dabbler being the best kisser on Planet Earth.
- Ignore the Disability: Sydney can't stop referencing Peggy's prosthetic leg. No matter how much she wants to.
- I Know You Know I Know: Taylor suggests that Sciona did this with the vault to lure the Council members into a trap.
- I'll Be in My Bunk: Invoked word for word in the margin sketch, by Harem predictably enough, after Sydney promises to introduce Arianna to Hentai.
- Imagine Spot: Used a lot.
- Imagine Spotting: Hench Wench, upon having her LLC officially dissolved and losing her powers, taunts Maxima by suggesting that putting her "in the gen-pop down at the super-super-max" would just result in her having access to powerful supers she could get powers from, specifically imagining setting something up with Vehemence. Maxima points out that none of the fantasy depicted is an accurate representation of how super-super-max prisons work.
- Imagine the Audience Naked: Invoked and averted when Sydney is about to be (politely) interrogated by a fairly scary panel of people here.General Faulk: And don't bother trying to imagine us in our underwear, 'cause we're all dead sexy.
- Improbably Female Cast: Eventually averted when Peggy shows Sydney that there are guys at ARCHON other than Math, the General, and Zephen. The comic simply doesn't focus on them so much.
- I'm Standing Right Here: Maxima and Sydney take offense when they find out their alien friends are actually betting on what will most probably cause human extinction, with "antibiotic-resistant superbug", "runaway anthropogenic climate change" and "rampant A.I." in the running.Maxima: Please stop death pooling Terrans!
Sydney: We're right here!
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: One of the villains in the massive brawl politely waits because Dabbler asked him to. Though not wanting to die from the sudden gamma radiation threat she was trying to solve probably contributed to his passivity.Barberian: I'm just here because some of my buddies came. I'm a hairdresser!
Dabbler: Well, you could always surrender.
Barberian: Could I? That would be so great!
- Info Dump: Word of God admits the press conference is essentially this.
- In My Language, That Sounds Like...: A joke that is used and played with when Sydney, after getting, umm, friendly with hot canine furry alien Frix, thinks to ask what his species are called — and learns that he's a "Woof". Then she tells him that she's a human, and discovers that's a funny word in his language.
- Innocent Aliens: While the alien tourists that come with prior approval are presumably taught what to do and what not to do, a later emergence has them hailing a random driver asking for a tour — he tries clarifying that he's not a cab, but one offering of Worthless Yellow Rocks later and he's asking his children to scooch over.
- Insignificant Little Blue Planet: Cora lays this out perfectly clear during the first contact press conference. The Earth is at almost zero risk of invasion, because it's not yet a space-faring world. It has nothing any race could want that they couldn't get elsewhere. Which also means that nobody is going to come to uplift the human race to "become" a space-faring race, as it's generally accepted it's healthier for a race to develop their own means to leave their world rather than be handed one. However, this gets somewhat inverted less than 20 pages later when Cora gets a demonstration of what Earth's supers are capable of in the form of ARCSWAT ripping through the Fel infantry and Maxima one-shotting their ship.
- Instant Cosplay Surprise: Downplayed when Harem Teleport Spams with her Hive Mind to coordinate taking off Halo's glasses, switching her shirt for another and putting a wig on her, which is shown in three quick panels, though it's still too fast for Sydney to resist it.Sydney: It's still not okay to steal people's clothes right off their bodies!
- Insult Backfire: Deus's impervious ego No-Sells Maxima's snarky dismissal of Deus's relative importance.
- Invisible Parents: Mostly not relevant, since even the youngest characters are over eighteen, and thus old enough that there's no need to mention their parents. During the dinner after the press conference, however, Sydney realizes that she revealed her powers on live international television before she told her parents about them.
Sydney: I HAVE TO MAKE A CALL!
- Later rendered moot by the actual introduction and extended interactions between parents and the members of ARCHON at the recruit graduation ceremony.
- I Resemble That Remark!: Sydney is confused why Peggy doesn't ask about the orbs, and she points out that supers usually can't wait to brag about such information, comparing them to Vegans in that respect. After a meandering conversation about others that engage in such behavior (a Vegan super who had just lost weight on a fad diet after coming back from vacation while pregnant), Sydney immediately blurts out which orb lets her fly. Which is followed on by her asking Peggy what dietary supplements she uses in the bonus panel.
- It Can Think: The fight with the rogue blood mage's creation shows that it can strategize to a degree, and even talk, and it surviving its apparent destruction and leaving shows it has self-preservation instincts.
- I Think You Broke Him: When Sydney discovers that one of the lycanthropes present is a were-hare, and she changes before her, Sydney gets into cuteness overload and start foaming at the mouth.Katrina: Uh... Ms. Maxima? I think I broke your sidekick.
Sydney: Sidekick?! I am an apex heroine in training!
Katrina: Oh, never mind, she's fixed now.
- Jaw Drop: In any comic where you have supers mixing with normals, you expect them. Then there's the one that occurs when Sydney eats a second bite of 3-million-Scoville soup.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Azilus's demands that supers not be allowed to be seated at the Council is bluntly stated but logical. While the Council has usually had good relations with the US Government, supers aren't protected by the Veil. This, combined with their recently achieved global fame, means that their mere presence at the meeting endangers the very existence of the Council and its member races.Ingsol: I thought he was just being a dick, but that's a really good point.
- Jurisdiction Friction:
- Karaoke Box: The combined Sydney/Maxima/Glen birthday party has a karaoke setup, which reveals that Harem not only is a really good singer, she can take advantage of her power to sing multi-part harmonies.
- "Kiss the Cook" Apron: The succubus Dabbler doesn't settle for merely kissing the cook. Her apron reads [blurred] the cook.
- Kamehame Hadoken: Invoked by Sydney when testing out her orange orb for the press.
- Lame Comeback: "For Whom the Death Tolls" explains his name as a "phrasic portmanteau!"Atomic Bombshell: Yeah well you're a phrasic... dumb face.
FWtDT: Wow, I'm going to need some aloe for that burn.
- Laser Blade:
- Late to the Punchline: That Visual Pun of Sydney dropping Anvil on Vehemence's head? Harem finally got it two nights later.
- Late to the Realization: Sydney's too excited about finally using her powers openly to register what Maxima says.Sydney: I'm all squatted and fielded. Now what?
Maxima: Just survive.
Sydney: OK. Wait WHAT?
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo:
- Leg Cling: The trope is referenced for comedy purposes when Sydney's lawyer mother reminds her artist father about some work that she landed for him.Laura: I got you the job doing the movie poster for "Krognar, Champion of Intercourse, PA."
Syd Sr.: Oh, right, yeah! The one with all the ladies clutching onto the hero's leg.
- Ludicrous Gibs:
- In "Maximum Trauma!", Cora shoots the leader of the team that kidnapped and drugged Sydney with something on a time-delay detonation that basically juliennes him off-panel, leaving Sydney drenched in blood and decorated with a chunk of his torso and an ear, among other things. The comments note that the effect is reminiscent of a bolt round mixed with a Harlequin's Kiss.
- During Cora's very first interaction with Sydney, a group of alien muggers (with extremely poor victim selection instincts) decides to rob them. The encounter goes from Sydney and Cora laughing at the absurdity of random muggers robbing probably the two most dangerous/powerful people on the entire planetoid to a smash cut of a carnage filled street and alley, where the local authorities are literally recovering melted bone fragments of Cora and Sydney's would-be assailants. It was apparently gruesome enough to leave Sydney completely pale and shaking at Cora's level of violence.
- Honestly, pretty much any combat situation involving Cora will result in this. As unless she is specifically told/threatened to restrain herself, she will enthusiastically use weaponry and ordinance specifically designed to spaghettify her targets.
- The Magazine Rule:
- Dabbler is seen reading the Pornews Journal at several points.
- There is apparently an A-Cup Aficionado Quarterly publication, which voted Sidney "Sexiest Superheroine". Though given that she's the only non-Badass Normal heroine in the series who doesn't have the Most Common Superpower, that sort of makes winning an Overly Narrow Superlative for the magazine's demographic.
- Mage Killer: The supernatural meeting is attacked by magic mannequins designed to kill mages and other supernatural beings like weres.
- Making a Splash: Sydney was hoping that one of the unknown orbs would have this power.
- Marshmallow Hell: Sydney accidentally puts herself in one when hugging Anvil.Sydney: ...Our height differential is making this hug extremely awkward.
Anvil: Now you know why I like dating tall guys.
Dabbler: But sleeping with a short guy...
- Masochist's Meal: Sydney intentionally offends the waitress of a restaurant specializing in spicy food, and then signs a legal waiver, just to make sure she gets sufficiently spicy food.
- Averted; ARCHON holds a press conference both to confirm that yes, supers exist and have existed for so long they may have inspired some myths and folklore, and also to announce the new government "super police" Arc-SWAT, who are not permitted to use false identities.
- Played straight later when Sydney discovers a couple of non-humans in disguise at Club OONTZ. Dabbler explains that Earth actually has a decent-sized alien population. Coupled with her earlier comments about humanity's xenophobic tendencies, it seems that there's probably nothing sinister involved, just immigrants/tourists who really know how to blend in.
- Having supers be public knowledge actually helps by allowing supernatural events to be attributed to supers.
- Mayincatec: The trope itself is used here, when Sydney cracks a joke about wishing Varia had four older siblings, so she could be "Cinco de Mayan." Varia quickly points out that she's Aztec — Sydney realizes she'd already been told that, but was so excited at the chance at the pun that she forgot.
- Meaningful Name: In the usual way of superhero comics, pretty much all the members of Arc-SWAT — along with many of their opponents — have meaningful code-names. For example:
- Maxima: Most powerful member of the group. She also has the ability to "max out" one attribute (strength, defense, flight, speed, and blasting power) at the expense of the others.
- Halo: Her orbs' default position is that of a halo. Also, her actual last name Scoville: Sydney loves spicy food.
- Dabbler: Has a wide selection of abilities (basically a high-level Jack-of-All-Trades).
- Anvil: One of her main powers is the ability to absorb tremendous amounts of force.
- Harem: Able to make one of herself through self-cloning (up to five bodies total).
- Heatwave: Playing with Fire.
- Math: Master of precision striking.
- Mr. Amorphous: Stretching powers.
- Achilles: Invulnerability (though this excludes the heel).
- Super Hiro: The cast page lists him as "Superman-lite".
- Stalwart: Can increase his own mass (and concomitantly, his strength). At one point, he pins down an opponent by stepping on his foot while weighing "as much as the space shuttle." (If he means just the shuttle, empty, that's 185,000 pounds; if he means the shuttle, boosters, et al ready to launch, that's 4,400,000 pounds.)
- Jiggawatt: Electricity-based powers. That's not a misspelling, "That's how Doc Brown said it."
- Notably subverted (and lampshaded with extreme prejudice) with Aurelius Shrapnell, who is a financial advisor with no superpowers. Also his son who is named Mervyn and not "M.I.R.V.". Later we have Dr. Frost, who is, as far as we know, just a psychiatrist.
- The two vampire ladies Sydney talks to have names very appropriate for vampires, Scarlet and Crimson.
- The Merch: In-Universe, Arianna has multiple spreadsheets predicting merchandising sales, and was especially happy when Sydney signed on, as her seven orbs spell out the three most wonderful words in marketing.Arianna: Collect. Them. All.
- Metaphorically True: Sydney insists that she didn't lie when she stated that she found the orbs "around the Florida Keys". Well, on a planetary scale, the Yucatan peninsula might be indeed close to the Florida Keys. She later calls it a "G.P.S. rounding error".
- Mildly Military: Played with. Arc-SWAT is a military organization, and members are given ranks and expected to act appropriately befitting those ranks. They're even given basic training including firearms, despite the fact that most of them are more lethal than the average tank. That being said, supers are incredibly rare, so the team is forced to take what they can get. It seems like ninety percent of them spend half their time in remedial PR courses. On the plus side, dress code is relaxed.Varia: [regarding a feather in her hair] If anyone asks, it's for religious reasons.
Sydney: Maxima has gold skin and Harem is wearing purple lipstick. I think you're okay.
- Military Superhero: Maxima, Peggy and several other members of Arc-SWAT have military backgrounds, and retain their rank.
- Missed Him by That Much: Sydney and Deus (along with Vale) do this a few times when on an alien space station.
- Mistaken for Gay:
- Sydney admits to Peggy that she mistook Peggy for a lesbian due to her short pink hair and lack of makeup, and was surprised when Peggy happily watched some of the men going shirtless. Peggy isn't offended, and in fact replies that she can find things to like about both genders.
- It's hinted that Peggy is firmly Bi as she has on multiple occasions demonstrated a keen interest in the shirtless boys as well as an implied hookup with Cora during their off-world travels.
- In regard to minor and probably accidental villain the Barberian, who not only has a slightly camp two-tone Mohawk hairstyle, but does rather provoke a mistaken guess in other ways.Harem: So! Uh... You're a barber, right?
The Barberian: I prefer the term coiffure artiste.
Harem: ...And yet you had sex with Dabbler. Who is a woman.
Dabbler: Don't worry, he's straight. I checked. A lot.
- Sydney admits to Peggy that she mistook Peggy for a lesbian due to her short pink hair and lack of makeup, and was surprised when Peggy happily watched some of the men going shirtless. Peggy isn't offended, and in fact replies that she can find things to like about both genders.
- Moment Killer: A non-sexual one when Sydney sucks the wind out of Maxima's sails.
- Mood Whiplash: Sydney has a brief Heroic BSoD after realizing she might have died prior to Krona's reset, hugging Maxima for comfort. Maxima, being Maxima, is at a loss for words, eventually reassuring Sydney they have on-base counselors to help her... and getting cut short when the bladder snooze alarm goes off and Sydney races away with a shouted "I have to pee!"
- Moral Guardians: Invoked by Arianna when attempting to get Sydney to temper her behavior around the media. It even includes a Shout-Out to the current page image.
- Most Common Superpower:
- Subverted, played straight and discussed. Sydney is a short, average-looking young woman with mild A-Cup Angst. Most supers, however, are either curvy females with not a B-Cup among them or perfectly muscled Adonis-class men. It's discussed in-comic that it can't be mere coincidence that all supers with innate powers look like ideal human beings. Later, Sydney deconstructs the idea of this being a result of supers' divergent evolution. This is all justified to an extent, as several members of the team have been seen to train to keep in shape.
- Invoked by Sciona. Upon regaining her original form, she takes the opportunity to add "+2 (at least)" to her chest.
- Mundane Utility:
- Heatwave uses her powers to pop a bag of popcorn.
- The spell that upholds The Masquerade is global, so the Council made modifications to the Sigils that support it to allow other spells, especially communication ones, to piggyback on it. This bites them in the butt when the function is disabled to buy more time for repairs, as a vault is breached but the alarm spells can't reach anyone.
- An Imagine Spot from Maxima about the risks of having boudoir photos of herself around takes the cake.Blonde Scientist: You invented the world's first wormhole technology to steal... ooh, those are hot!
- After Sydney realizes her green orb generates an air bubble, she quickly puts it to pranking use.
- In a bit of Painting the Medium, Dabbler uses her ability to make portals to make her speech bubbles easier for readers to see.
- Several pages of the comic show the ARC-Swat crew doing basic cleanup and construction work on a local overpass due to the damage from their previous battles delaying progress on the normal boring city infrastructure project.
- Mundane Solution: Discussed with regards to aliens. Why invade a planet armed with nuclear technology instead of mining ice from undefended low-gravity comets?
- Murderous Mannequin: The mage-slayer mannequins, equipped in SWAT-style gear with equipment to deal with mages, aliens and supernatural entities. Their fake bodies are also utilized with several features to make them difficult to dispose of permanently; their fake and reinforced bodies are fairly durable and can reconstruct themselves if the limbs aren't completely destroyed. Furthermore, attempting to fight them with magic results in a Mana Drain counterattack which consequently fuels them for a potential Action Bomb right there.
- My Eyes Are Up Here:
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: While their English is nowhere near that bad, an alien's "GlibGlorb to English Translator" name-drops the trope.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling:
- Dabbler has the ability to sense sexy-times by virtue of being a succubus. Sydney dubs it "Porno Sense" before blurting out that it must be the best sense when it tingles.
- Played for laughs when Elsbeth questions whether Sydney would get a reference Max makes.Sydney: [shushing Frix] Nerd-cred sense tingles!
- Naked Apron: To take her mind off Sydney being stranded on Sciona's world, Dabbler makes cookies... at 3:00AM... in nothing but an apron and lacy panties. Maxima notices that she's drawn a crowd.Maxima: And what are you all doing?
Achilles: I'm going to assume that's a rhetorical question.
Math: Watching Dabbler cook is a spectator sport.
Anvil: I'm just here for the cookies.
- Naughty Tentacles:
- The Wyrmil/Cooter fusion summons some to cover their escape. Though they're only naughty because that's what they're usually summoned to be. Actually, they're quite affable, and apologize when they realize the situation.
- Played straight regarding The "Tentacle Closet" Dabbler had installed on Cora's ship.
- Navel-Deep Neckline: Referenced in the second-to-last panel of "Grrl Power #770 Reactions are
mixed", with a magazine cover showing a woman with a neckline that goes all the way to her belt, and the only other thing covering that area are two thin straps that presumably are to hold the left and right sides of her suit to her body. The caption is:Decolletage: Full-V or high and tight
- Neck Lift: When Hench Wench tries to say "Sayonara!" to Maxima by revealing she has still a portal power, she ends up caught in a neck lift before she can finish jumping through it. Reminder: Maxima has Super Speed, so it's a bad idea to telegraph your intentions with her.
- Negated Moment of Awesome: Lampshaded by Deus after delivering a genuinely badass line, and then mentioning that he almost botched it because he'd thought of a Last-Second Word Swap that sounded better, but the first one almost came out instead.
- Never Heard That One Before: After they learn that she's a vegetarian, this is Sydney's reaction to Harem's joke.Daphne: I think becoming a vegetarian is a mistake.
Sydney: Well it's none of your...
Daphne: A missed... steak?
Sydney: Yes I get it, also I've never heard that before, no I'm totally serious.
- Next Stall Shenanigans: During Sydney's introduction to ARCHON's higher-ups, she makes a couple of comments while talking to one Harem that crack up another Harem who's currently using the restroom and "overhears" the conversation. Unfortunately for Sandy, Arianna's assistant in the next stall, Harem's first laughing outburst startles her enough that she drops her phone in the toilet.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: During a chat with Dabbler over her nature, Sydney imagines a Bee-Vampire-Fish-Succubus.
- No Biochemical Barriers: Invoked and examined; alien eating establishments have a on-the-spot genetic scanner capable of determining exactly what a customer can and can not consume. Though Sydney proceeds to freak the hell out of dozens of alien species by stuffing her face with something spicy enough to dissolve silverware.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Sydney was once arrested for aggravated assault, which was dismissed as self-defense due to the fact that the person was trying to mug her. The only thing on the police report was "Oh the humanity!"Sydney: REPENT!
Mugger: I swear to god I'll reform!
- Noodle Implements: In the aftermath of an encounter with alien Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce, Sydney requests a bathtub of ice cream to sit in; when that turns out to be unavailable, she asks for the services of a poet, a medic, and a priest.
- Noodle Incident:
- Apparently Maxima accidentally destroyed a mosque.
- Someone once tried to mug Sydney. The police report simply says "Ooh the humanity!"
- This strip is only a Noodle Incident in-universe, as the reader already knows exactly what happened. But since a noodle was involved, it's a literal Noodle Incident.Peggy: We're in the infirmary.
Peggy: There was an incident.
- At this point, the Noodle Incident might as well be called a "Sydney Moment".The Rant: A Sydney Moment is like a Senior Moment, but with more cocaine.
- Dabbler's "Make Maxima say..." bingo card has "trouser ferret" marked off.
- Achilles mentions he once saved the world by eating a vial of super-Ebola.
- During the press conference, Maxima references two:Maxima: ...There are only two individuals who have ever fought me to a standstill. One of them is dead... and the other one is on this team.
- Non Sequitur, *Thud*:
- A villainous Super Speedster, after being sedated by Harem, falls down and mumbles, "... but I'm not fast in bed, baby..."
- After being shocked by a villain with electrical powers, and saved from the fall by a teammate, Heatwave mumbles "This little piggy went to pain town." (She had just had a lightning blast channeled through a knife stuck in one of her toes, so not a complete non sequitur.)
- Sydney discovers that 175 tons might be a tad past her lighthook's rated capacity.
- After dispatching the Council's corrupted vault guardian, Ingsol asks Maxima and her team why the guardian's weakness aura didn't effect them.
- Nosebleed: Sydney gets a massive one when Harem pranks her. Even Maxima is freaked out by it.
- Not Helping Your Case: As Maxima gives Thothogoth a Facepalm of Doom in response to him calling Dabbler a "slave", Dabbler tries to calm Max down by confirming she actually is his slave. Maxima starts crushing Thothogoth's head instead.
- Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Twilight Council tends to act like this when not putting on airs for visitors.
- The Nudifier: Dabbler knows a "declothesifying spell", natch.
- Offhand Backhand: The setup of the strip doesn't make it obvious at first, but you can deduce from her final position that Maxima is knocking out a hulking brute without even watching at the beginning of the superhero free-for-all (and the strip's title, "Backhands and Commands", spells it out). She's also doing that while giving orders, making it a case of Excuse Me While I Multitask.
- Oh, Crap!:
- For Vehemence, after he punches Maxima at full strength... and only manages to make her take one step back and break her nose, but she won't let him know that.Vehemence: Hah hah, what the fuck.
Vehemence: OW! That hurt! Was that you Maxima? I'm going to clean your...
- Before that Vehemence goes to punch who he assumed was Maxima, only to realize too late that he just hit Anvil, who absorbs kinetic energy to get stronger.
Anvil: Check your target!
- If Anvil, Queen of the No-Sell, warns you off of getting hit by someone, you know it's bad.
- Later, when Dabbler realizes that Vehemence gains power from violence... after he's been fighting the team for a couple intense minutes.
- A group of construction workers are talking about the female team members while they're taking over in helping get the overpass back on track, doing the stereotypical conversation construction workers do when they see an attractive lady. Sydney, who saw one of them make the "boob heft" hands (in addition to her ability to read lips a bit), asks them how they know none of the Arc ladies have enough super hearing to hear them. Cue horrified realization.
- Sydney gloats after defeating a giant alien single-handedly... until she becomes aware of more approaching.
- For Vehemence, after he punches Maxima at full strength... and only manages to make her take one step back and break her nose, but she won't let him know that.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: To various degrees. Dabbler, Harem, Anvil, Math, Mr. Amorphous, Achilles, Jiggawatt, and Varia all primarily use their superhero identities in common conversation, but Maxima, Brook (Heatwave), Hiro (Super Hiro), Adrian, and Vance all use their civilian names more. And of course, none of them have secret identities. Sydney falls somewhere in the middle, with the press generally referring to her as "Ms. Scoville," her coworkers referring to her as Sydney, and her fans using Halo.
- Maxima usually refers to Anvil by her actual name (Kenya) in casual and private conversations outside of the field.
- Only the Knowledgable May Pass: Sydney will test you if you claim to be a nerd.
- Open Mouth, Insert Foot: A more literal example than most, as she keeps sticking it in her mouth in the presence of a teammate that lost her leg at the calf.
- Our Goblins Are Different: Prinrin is an attractive goblin, working for in the Arc-SPARQ tech division. Presumably, her small (she only comes up to the average human's waist in height) but curvaceous physique (her bust-waist-hip ratios would be impressive even on a super-human woman) and very human-like face is typical of goblins In-Universe.
- Our Werebeasts Are Different: For starters, it's possible to end up a different type of were than the one that sired you.
- Ow, My Body Part!: Parodied after Sydney punches Dabbler in the lower back for an earlier (sexual) prank.Dabbler: Aaah! Right in the ol' gazorpazovum!
- Paper-Bag Popping: A flashback panel shows that a younger Maxima discovered her power to shoot blasts of energy with her hand when her brother woke her up by popping a paper bag as a joke, resulting in a large, burning hole in the wall of their house, missing said brother by inches, if that.
- Pass the Popcorn:
- After Leon gets a copy of the robbery footage, Peggy, Dabbler, Anvil and Harem are eating popcorn while watching.
- Happens again during Math and Anvil's fight, with The Rant pointing out that "Archon must go through popcorn like civilian cops go through donuts".
- Decolette is also eating popcorn while watching Dabbler seduce Cooter through one-way glass. She would have done it herself, but she lost the coin toss.
- Dabbler, Sydney, and the other ladies break out popcorn while watching Maxima fight Vehemence in the quarry.
- It happens often enough that the author eventually lampshades it.Almost everything that happens in this comic sponsored by The Popcorn Council
- One advantage of having a teleporter on the team is that you can get popcorn anywhere, anytime.
- Perma-Shave: Those with natural super powers, in addition to being physically perfect, are also incapable of growing body hair below the neck. Sydney is a little disappointed to find that this includes the men.
- Phallic Weapon: Played With. One magic user at a summit of supernaturals has a Book Safe of Holding with built-in indexing; Mana Potions and Magic Antidotes are stored in cut-outs accessed by looking up the relevant word. When she looks up "assault rifle", the book flips to a rifle butt sticking out of a hole shaped like a penis and testicles — but it turns out the "testicles" are just the silhouette of the Beta C-Mag.
- Phrase Catcher: Dabbler's mere presence has a tendency to make all straight women repeat "Not a lesbian!" in their heads like a mantra.
- Poke in the Third Eye: Raised as a possibility; Dabbler explains how she detected the invisible X, and describes what she could in principle do about him.
- Post-Modern Magik: Some magic users treat spells like programming language for magic.
- P.O.V. Cam: Dabbler notes that she's using her cybernetic eye to record Maxima fighting Vehemence, with the last panel showing the perspective as she sees it, including a very generous bit of decolletage.Sydney: It's going to be a very popular video.
Dabbler: Especially if you go rummaging around in my cleavage for a popcorn kernel I dropped.
Sydney: I will not be doing that, no.
- Power Copying:
- Sciona can use blood from supers to replicate powers.
- Hench Wench can copy the powers of supervillains hiring her.
- Power Levels: Shown from a 1-9 scale on the cast page. Maxima is the most powerful (9), then Dabbler, Hiro and Math (7), then Sydney, Jiggawatt, Stalwart and Mr. Amorphous (6), and then everyone else is a 5 except Peggy who rates a 3.
- The Power of Hate: Vehemence gains strength from vehemic energy; good old-fashioned violence. He mentions the LA Race Riots as being particularly strengthening for him.
- The Power of Love: A variant. Dabbler, as a succubus, gains strength from tantric energy; that is to say sex, lust, and lovemaking.
- Power Perversion Potential: A topic which the writer clearly finds amusing.
- The first joke gets delivered by Maxima, of all people.
- Dabbler is described as a succubus, complete with lust aura power. She also has something called a "mummy missile," which ties people up. The Alt Text also calls it "the bondage bullet, the stop shot, the SubMissile, and a fun Saturday night".
- The debut of her "Porno-sense" had the author muse on whether Spider-Man had ever incorporated his Spider-Sense into foreplay.
- There's a sign in the women's locker room reassuring them that not only do none of the men have X-Ray Vision, but that they'd see their skeletons instead of flesh if they did. Doesn't mean Math doesn't WISH he had that power, though.
- During the same segment, Sydney is curious whether the guys are changing while holding onto her Scouting orb. Peggy advises her against it, especially since it's her first day.
- Harem is clearly aware what any relationship with her would mean. A bonus panel involving "paralytic cunnilingus" implies that Harem may have used it in a different way.
- Maxima has an Imagine Spot of what might happen if she allowed some "racy pictures" of her to be taken.Blonde Villain: You invented the world's first wormhole to steal... ooh, those are hot!
- One guy has the power to refill liquids, including his own blood, and uses it to get the attention of sexy vampire ladies.
- Using communication spells to sext. That is all.
- Deus posits that a better understanding of what makes Supers might also lead to temporary, customizable powers, depicted by a Japanese vending machine with six perverse powers: "Panty-Kinesis", "Octo-Tentacles", "Hung Like a Horse (Of Course Of Course)", "Paizuri Queen", "Jiggle Physics", and "Firehose".
- Product Placement: It's partially obstructed, but Maxima apparently drinks Guinness Black. Also, Monster.
- Prosthetic Limb Reveal: Sydney is taking a tour of the Arc-SWAT superhero facility, given mostly by Peggy the sniper. They are already friends at that point, and Sydney has reached the stage of being fitted for her uniform by the time she spots a couple spares of Peggy's prosthetic leg in a corner of the workroom. It isn't treated as a big deal in the story, although Sydney winds up having a panic attack because she can't stop accidentally making one-leg jokes.Peggy: Oh, that. Lost it in Afghanistan. [raps on leg]
- Pretentious Latin Motto: At the beginning of the parking lot fight, Maxima is wearing a shirt saying, "Cum Amplus Potentia Venit Amplus Orus"; "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility." note
- Punch-Clock Villain: One of the bad guys at the restaurant fight offers to surrender after watching Dabbler and Jiggawatt take out Glowbug, saying he only came because some of his friends came and he's just a hairdresser. Considering Vehemence's violence aura... He's later used as Dabbler's "take-home meal".
- Punched Across the Room:
- Vehemence delivers one such punch to Maxima through a concrete pillar.
- Maxima later gives one to Sciona that's labeled a "Motherfucking punch!"
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Multiple examples.
- Sydney takes nerding seriously:Maxima: I, uh... used to be sort of a nerd.
Sydney: You! Say. That. With. Pride!
- And Arianna is serious about merchandising:Arianna: Yes, I see many marketing opportunities there, plus the three sweetest words in the English language...
Arianna: Collect. Them. All.
- Another here.
- Take all the time you need.
- Why indeed? Maybe they were just deceived.
- Sydney takes nerding seriously:
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Anvil, of all people, is able to pull it off on Maxima, though the latter is a little perturbed by her ability to do so.
- Putting on the Reich: Literally, in the case of Luftwaffles Restaurant.
- Quizzical Tilt: Sydney sports one when trying to figure out Death Toll's ability, complete with lampshade hanging.
- Reaction Shot: The entirety of page #739 is dedicated to Sydney flipping money into her swear jar II for all the swearing she did in deep space, as Maxima slowly realizes the implications of what she's saying.
- Rebus Bubble:
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Deliberately so.
- Dabbler has set up her tech so that most of her equipment cannot be separated from her for more than a few seconds without teleporting away to a secure facility, so that nobody can reverse-engineer it and release the technology out into the world. The intergalactic community has some Prime Directive-like rules, and Earth hasn't advanced technologically or socially to the point where humanity can be trusted with Dabbler's tech.
- Digit (a member of the support staff after a Noodle Incident involving some of her "quirkier" inventions in the field) is a more traditional variant. She creates amazing technology, but any applicability outside of whatever esoteric corner she's painted herself into with previous inventions (and their side-effects) is purely coincidental. Example: she's shown considering inventing a frequency-hopping directional ultrasonic scanner... because she forgot where she left her random ultrasonic whistle generator... which she only remembered she'd invented because she noticed someone who seemed to be listening to a sound Digit couldn't hear.
- On a meta-level, this is to avoid a tech spiral that would leave the world nearly unrecognizable, so Gadgeteer Genius supers are rare in the Grrl-verse.
- Refugee from TV Land: The crossover with Wearing the Cape has Astra be this from the Grrl-verse's perspective, since the characters there are part of a fictional TV show, with Astra being pretty much identical to her character's actor.
- Required Secondary Powers: Discussed briefly by Deus.
- Revealing Cover-Up: Why the supernatural races never wrote in supers; they were afraid it might draw more attention to them. (Of course, now that supers are public, there's some Plausible Deniability for anything that leaks through; "Oh that? Umm... would you believe I'm a superhero?")
- Rewriting Reality: Krona, a magic user, (not a proper mage or super) can do this to a degree, though it's easier to alter existing objects, like defusing grenades or changing her hair color, than doing things like creating fireballs, and it's a lot like programming apparently. Her abilities are also apparently entirely unique. She later demonstrates predictive text that literally predicts the future by a few seconds, and hacks Sidney's bladder so she can wait on going to the bathroom. She can use Save Scumming in real life. This leads Maxima to bring her into ARCHON so they can make sure that she can't cause a Reality-Breaking Paradox by accident.
- Rhetorical Question Blunder: Leon threatens to make Maxima's and Harem's bank accounts disappear if they don't knock off the rivalry in his office.Leon: That's right! Who's really the most powerful member of this team?
Maxima: [raises a Fascinating Eyebrow]
Leon: I mean obviously it's you. Here's a new phone.
- RockPaperScissors: Maxima and Peggy quickly (and wordlessly) play the game in one panel (Maxima wins) to determine which of them will demonstrate to Sydney why superheroes with Hand Blast powers should still carry firearms.
- Running Gag: There's been several of varying lengths.
- Everyone making fun of "For Whom the Death Tolls"' name.
- "Make Maxima Say..." Bingo.
- The exchange of sexy pictures between the heroes on the team — for any beefcake the women get to enjoy, cheesecake must be given in return, and vice-versa.
- Sydney's Motor Mouth moments.
- Popcorn — literally.
- Harem's 'issues' with oddly-named soft drinks.
- Hiro's shirts either being removed or destroyed, even when doing non-combat relatively mundane things.
- Who, or whatever Dabbler's latest "Take Home Meal" (aka date she's sexed into unconsciousness the previous night) being found by the other ARC-Swat members on the couch in the rec room the following morning.
- Sarcastic Confession: After offering multiple implausible reasons why she's carrying a poster tube everywhere, Sydney tries this:Sydney: It's full of... ancient artifacts that give me superpowers?
Joel: Fine, don't tell me.
- Save Scumming: Krona can do this with her powers.
- Scenery Censor: Pixel pulls off her clothes before changing from her hybrid form to animal form. Her team is treated to a full view, but our gaze is blocked by the angle or by various body parts, including her tail.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Pointedly averted here, when Sydney tries flying to an alien moon — she gets out of the planet's atmosphere pretty quickly, but the moon doesn't seem to get closer despite her going Mach 4.
- The author is fond of self-directed snark in the page titles and footer remarks.note
- #125, which features a discussion of the Standard Police/Superhero/Celebrity Contract, is titled "Action packed document review".
- Sensual Spandex: Dabbler goes to ARCHON's pool wearing a wetsuit that leaves nothing to the imagination, and her groin is covered — front and back — with speech bubbles reading "This thing is really tight" and "Seriously you guys". Note that this isn't a case of Superheroes Wear Tights because they're about to spend a fair amount of time underwater, and it's not their usual clothing.
- Dabbler: Mine's made of an unearthly material that's extraordinarily form-fitting.
Sydney: Does it blow up like a balloon if you fart in it?
- Servant Race: The entire succubus species. Initially starting out as little more than Flesh Golems created by bored/lonely mages to be ambulatory sex dolls. After generations of improving and one-upmanship between the various arch-mages, their creation was refined to their more physically appealing level and instilled them with actual consciousness to fulfill normal servant duties (in addition to satisfying their master's sexual desires). However, despite obtaining their "freedom" and magically evolving themselves into a viably reproductive species, the nature of their origins and the "fail-safes" their creators built into them thousands and thousands of years ago, require all succubae to have a master to literally not die. Consequently, every adult succubus (full or hybrid) is a slave to some master, even if only technically.
- Fortunately, the majority of "masters" do not abuse this aspect of their bonded succubae, either due to their own code of ethics/morality, or as result of the very real threat of horrifically violent consequences it would trigger from the Succubus Matriarch Council.
- Sex for Services: By Deus towards Sciona, who needs a MacGuffin but can't afford to buy it with money.note It is framed as both getting something out of the deal as Sciona is being said to "not have been a woman in a long time" and Deus gets to add some kind of Drow-Expy to his list of conquests.
- Sexy Soaked Shirt: This strip focuses on when the supervillain Glowbug finds out her white costume becomes see-though when wet. She notes that's something she should have tested before going into battle.
- Shapeshifter Baggage: The various "Were" creatures are (mostly) significantly bigger in 'Were' form than human form. But the prize has to go to Pixel who is fairly tiny and around the same height as Sydney in human form (5 foot), but is described as 'gigantic' (7 foot tall) in 'Were' form.
- Shipper on Deck: Anvil ships Hiro and Max, and rather forcefully at that.Alt Text: Anvil is the matchmaking equivalent of a bull in a china shop.
- Ship Tease: A couple have been hinted at.
- Leon's displayed nerdiness has been shown as a Geeky Turn-On to Sydney, mulling over whether his name would fit well with hers after sporting a Luminescent Blush. After the nightclub visit, Sydney loses track of the time chatting with him.
- Maxima and Hiro has been teased a few times, such as Sydney claiming (perhaps falsely) that he would be Maxima's "minimum bar", dating-wise. Anvil also ships them. Notably, Maxima herself mistook Hiro's pantomiming for hitting on her, which was the first major indication of this trope.
- A later strip has Maxima commenting on Hiro's facial injury, suggesting that he could do with a little scar.
- Show, Don't Tell: Invoked when Maxima demonstrates why ARC-SWAT carries firearms rather than just relying on their powers.
- Side Bet: Surprisingly common given ARC-Swat's Mildly Military structure.
- Signs of Disrepair: Halo accidentally hitting a billboard sporting a jewelry ad turns the slogan from "TREAT YOUR GIRL RIGHT" to "EAT YOUR GIRL RIGHT".
- Sleazy Photoshoot: Invoked twice:
- Right after ARCSWAT are announced to the world, they are assigned to do photoshoots to generate good PR. Maxima, being an Amazonian Beauty and a feminist who dislikes the attention her figure gets her, says that if her photoshoot turns out to be like this, they'll never find the photographer's body.
- When Maxima's photoshoot finally happens, she's assigned a female photographer who notes that there are sleazy guys in the business. She does offer to take racy photos once the official shots are done, but in a well-defined manner with clear boundaries. Max seems to consider it, especially when the photographer mentions Hiro among the famous people who took her up on the offer, but decides to politely decline due to the risks of having such materials just lying around for someone with superpowers to steal (with an Imagine Spot of that happening).
- Slippery Swimsuit: Sydney makes Harem lose her bikini top in the pool after pranking her with the recently discovered air-generating orb.
- Smug Super:
- Maxima takes her sweet time stopping a bank robbery despite having enough speed to catch bullets. When one of the civilians she rescued protests her behavior Maxima brushes him off ("You were never in any danger"), finally cracking her knuckles to scare him away. Sure, the hostages were safe especially since the "bank robbers" were agents of ARC carrying out a publicity stunt on PR manager Arianna's orders, but they must have also been stressed and terrified, seeing as how they were at the mercy of men with guns for several minutes.
- This works against her when facing the Super Husk. As the commentary explains, Maxima can stop 95% of her foes in battle easily when it comes to physical force, but when an enemy has other tricks, like Hypnotic Eyes....
- Snark Ball: All the senior officers. No audience surrogates or characters with an excessive sense of humor are in the scene, so as The Rant explains, the normally serious people are the ones carrying the jokes. It works because, in the absence of their subordinates, they don't have to maintain the appearance of being consummately professional.
- Sophisticated as Hell: Ray Cosmos, upon meeting Maxima, drops a very eloquent line about the sights he's seen (complete with "Tears in Rain" reference)...Ray: All of that beauty is but the tremulous flickering of a candle flame in the infinite darkness compared to the incandescent perfection of that ass.
- Space Travel Veto: Discussed as why the galactic community will not help Earth reach the stars.Cora: If you can't sort out the basics like learning to take care of your planet or resisting the urge to exterminate yourselves with war... Well then, to be blunt, we don't want you hanging out with us.
- Space "X": When Sydney and Cora get mugged off-world, The Rant alludes to this trope, saying that alley was where Space Batman's space parents were space killed.
- Speech-Bubble Censoring: Anvil sports a very detailed one when discussing her assets — pay close attention to the exact shape of her speech bubble.
- Spit Take:
- Spy Speak: Spoofed with the mini-comic below the main one.
- Stating the Simple Solution: When discussing how to track Cooter, Sydney says that it's too bad that, since they were sure that the other end was booby-trapped, they couldn't go through themselves, and that it sucked that Dabbler couldn't have put a tracking spell on a rock and sent that through. Cue awkward silence.
- Statuesque Stunner:
- Maxima and most of the other female supers. Not Sydney, which is openly lampshaded. Maxima's looks are apparently part of the reason for her feminism. Getting checked out so much makes her feel like many men only see her as an "exotic blow up doll", according to Word of God on the cast page.
- Literally, in the case of Concretia, one of the baddies in the restaurant brawl, seeing as she's made of stone. Math even mentions it.Math: I like my women statuesque, but this is ridiculous.
- STD Immunity: Dabbler confirms that as a succubus, she is immune to pretty much all disease.
- Presumably Decolette, Tammatha and Parfait are similarly uber-immune to disease.
- Stealth Pun: Sydney grabs her teammate Anvil out of the sky and flings her down onto a super-tough thug. She just dropped an anvil on him. She imitates the Road Runner right after.
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: Aside from Hiro himself, Varia takes a shot at the convention in a bonus panel.Varia: No, that's dumb, how could they? That'd be like someone with spider powers named Ara K'Nid, or a teleporter named Telford Porter.
- Stock Scream: Achilles makes the Goofy Holler when punched through the ceiling by Concretia.
- Strip Poker: Maxima banned this game at ARC-SWAT's HQ because of an unspecified incident involving Dabbler (who else?). So, when Max is away and Sydney walks in on a game, everyone assures her that it's not strip poker, they're doing the laundry.
- Stupid Sexy Flanders: Dabbler shows here that she loves seducing and confusing the new recruits◊.
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Discussed by Dabbler as an explanation for artifacts like Sydney's spheres, believed to be so elusive that they're considered myths. Deus has reason to believe the same or similar beings constructed an artificial law of physics overlaid on the universe that the human genome structure can tap into for superpowers. The question is whether or not it was intended for humans to have that capacity.
- Sunken Face: When the villain Hench Wench punches Mister Amorphous (a hero with stretching abilities) in the back of the head, he gets a face sunk outwards. This grosses out everyone around, not the least of which is his girlfriend.Mr. Amorphous: Wow, that felt weird. Kind of like when your eyelid gets flipped over, but for my whole head... What?
Heatwave: Oooooh, baby. I'm gonna need some time to process that.
- Superheroes Wear Capes: While none of them wear them as day wear, ARCHON's mess dress includes a very awesome cloak.
- Superheroes Wear Tights: Partially averted. The members of ARCHON wear military uniforms, since it's a military organization. (Civilian contractors Math and Dabbler don't; Math wears street clothing, and Dabbler... well, dresses about like a succubus would be expected to.) Vigilante/unaffiliated superheroes and supervillains sometimes do. The subject simply never comes up, despite the trope being common in the in-universe comics.
- Superhuman Trafficking: Deconstructed when aliens try to kidnap Maxima. She is uber-tier powerful and would be worth so much to so many people, but their attempt to capture her using a small team and specialized technology fails because she is so powerful.How powerful? By the end, several of them have been arrested and one has nearly died.
- Super Registration Act: Played with. As noted in the press conference where ARCHON is officially announced, this isn't in effect — empowered individuals in the private sector aren't required to register with the government at all, and are protected by Second Amendment rights. On the other hand, they don't get any special protection, either. ARCHON is there to provide accountability and training to those who want to put those powers to use in crime-fighting or otherwise helping people, but "superheroes" who attack villains without sanction are vigilantes, and thus may be treated as criminals.
- Super Speed: One of the known powers, exhibited by both Maxima and the supervillain Silent Shadow (and indirectly by Sydney using the Flight Orb). However, it's fairly rare, because the writer considers it to be, logically, a very powerful ability.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Half the point of the comic is to examine some of the realistic consequences of superpowered beings coming into existence.
- Jiggawat's positron generation (used to counter another Shock and Awe super, Glowbug) makes a lot of gamma radiation when they and the electrons annihilate each other. Dabbler has to stop her battle so she can make sure no-one dies from radiation poisoning!
- On the firing range, Sydney begs to try out the minigun, which Peggy allows over Maxima's objections. It's soon revealed why Peggy was so confident.Maxima: OK, sometimes I forget stuff has weight.
- Given modern forensic science, the idea of a secret identity is nearly laughable.
- Why would aliens invade planets for water, especially ones with nuclear civilizations that would put up a fight, when undefended comets are a dime a dozen?
- Sydney's flight orb can only reach about Mach 4, which is not fast enough to get into space from Earth or a similarly sized planet. Also, the moon is really far away. Kinda subverted when she updates it to going really fast, possibly even faster than Maxima, but the Moon is still a bit far. Hyperspace is an option, though.
- Turns out that being stranded on an apocalyptic hellscape still in the process of being destroyed is likely to give someone PTSD. After returning to Earth, Sydney requires therapy to deal with her nightmares.
- The Truth Serum scene, unlike many uses of this trope in fiction. Although blamed on Sydney's ADHD, the result is what you should expect from a lot of so-called "truth serums" in real life: it gets the subject talkative, but in a fully incoherent way, with the signal-to-noise ratio preventing any hope of getting useful information.
- Telegraphing your intention to Villain: Exit, Stage Left isn't the smartest thing to do when facing a foe with Super Speed, Hench Wench.
- In a sparring match against Vehemence, Max wants Ren to "tag in", but he reasonably points out that Vehemence is already powered up, while Ren will need an adrenaline spike to activate his abilities. So what does Max do? Kick him over the side of a cliff.Maxima: How's your adrenaline now?
Ren: REALLY SPIKING, THANKS!
- Sweat Drop:
- Rather common for Sydney, along with other exaggerated anime effects.
- A notable case for "Budget Halo", who acquires one, then three on the on the back of her head, when she realizes that her "Buster Buddies" beams are doing absolutely nothing to Maxima, except drawing her attention.
- Another triple when Brüt finds himself threatened with a high-caliber Groin Attack from Maxima.
- The Swear Jar: Sydney uses one, and it apparently got full enough that she put a down payment on a car with it. After her trip to space, she started up Swear Jar II, and drops ten grand in it to compensate for everything she said while in space. (Swear Jar II was started within about two weeks (personal time) of starting her job with Archon, so she may not have made the adjustment yet from "$5 per tirade" (being cheaper for Sydney than "$1 per word"; she had still sometimes ran low on money per month). Again, Swear Jar II is inaugurated... with $10,000.)
- Sweeping Laser Explosion: Sydney demonstrates a move she calls "The Robotech" by slicing a huge fleet of alien fighter ships with a laser, which then explode in unison the next panel.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Even Maxima's expression softens a bit for Sciona when they see the remains of her civilization's city.
- Tailor-Made Prison: Since there's no such thing as a universal superpower dampener, every supervillain needs to be kept in a cell designed to neutralize or counteract their specific powers. Two examples are shown: a portal-based teleporter being kept in a pressurized cell, such that creating a portal and stepping through would give the bends, and a super (or possibly a demon) who derives power from violence being pacified with marijuana-laced air in his cell, and a steady supply of Doritos and Kirby cartoons.
- Takes Ten to Hold: This is the conclusion of the fight against Vehemence, thanks to Sydney's planning. Since the villain gains power from violence, they instead pile up on him and maintain his head under water so he'd waste energy on staying alive rather than fighting. But with his level of power, it takes all the superheroes, some with extreme Super Strength or density control, along with energy absorption to deal with his electric shocks, to actually keep him down.
- Take That!:
- Taking the Fight Outside: Sciona and Vale start shoving each other. Deus shoos them outside before they can scuff up his detailed marble.
- Talking Is a Free Action:
- Lampshaded in the author commentary at the bottom of a Math-focused strip.Author: Witty banter may be a free action, but timing still matters.
- Averted: Icon covers Dabbler; she stops to make adjustments, turns to fight, and... Maxima is standing over a pile of disassembled enemies.Dabbler: I liked it better when you were on overwatch!
- Lampshaded in the author commentary at the bottom of a Math-focused strip.
- Technology Levels: The basic division is between pre and post-FTL civilizations, but there's a third category that's extremely advanced but mostly keep to themselves. Sydney's orbs might be the first real evidence of a fourth, even more advanced, "Nth" tier civilization.
- Teeth Flying:
- Stalwart getting the first punch on Vehemence results in a tooth flying. Vehemence is far from being at full power yet, though, and he later regenerates the tooth.
- Hench Wench trying to grab Maxima from behind results in a reverse headbutt that costs her a tooth from both her upper and lower jaws.
- Tempting Fate: Deliberately invoked for a positive result.
- There Are No Therapists: Averted, as Sydney's experiences off-world wind up giving her nightmares, and Peggy immediately offers (and Sydney accepts) the services of a counselor to help her through it.
- This Explains So Much: When Ingsol asks if Sydney has a "stupidity aura" or something, Maxima briefly bursts out laughing before regaining composure and saying no, but it would explain a lot.
- This Is Reality: Sydney points out that a mutation of a single gene, while a good explanation for a comic, can't really account for everything with superpowers.
- Three-Point Landing: In a superheroes comic? What are the chances?
- For example, Maxima defying For Whom the Death Tolls.
- Ren lands this way before Vehemence after Maxima kicks him down the quarry to jumpstart his adrenaline powers.
- Through the Ceiling, Stealthily: In "Path Finding", Sydney sneaks her hologram form inside an underground room by moving its ball-of-light form through a grate on its ceiling.
- Time-Travel Tense Trouble: Sydney and Krona have a bit of trouble after the latter's "checkpoint" has activated.Krona: But first you need to tell us what you experienced. As the person who triggered the checkpoint, you're the only one who remembers what happened.
Or... will have happened?
Sydney: Would have happened.
Krona: Will would happen.
Sydney: Might happen?
- Toilet Humor:
- When Sydney explains that her pants are loud, Ren replies with "My pants are loud when I eat cabbage."
- After Lapha merges herself with Garamm to avoid dying by being eaten by the Umbrivion, they have to navigate the awkwardness of a female entity sharing the body of a male alien... including the issue of errant pee streams.
- Sydney being told of and later going through the physically unpleasant (but visually beautiful) aftereffects of eating Grakz.
- Tongue Trauma: Narrowly averted when Sydney grabs a robber by the tongue and slams him to the ground. It's averted because the "robber" is another super-powered being in disguise. His power just happens to be extreme stretchiness.
- Too Much Information: Name-dropped by Sydney when Dabbler's openly discussing her "activities" last night. Harem, on the other hand, thinks there's not enough information.
- The Tooth Hurts: Math kicks a knife into a bad guy's mouth, where it gets lodged between his teeth and draws blood. The guys freaks out for a couple of seconds until Math knocks him out and yanks the knife out.
- Tradesnark: Hex's "Buster Buddies" are always appended to a "" inside her speech bubbles, and also in her summary outside the comic.
- Training the Gift of Magic: The concepts behind this trope are strongly implied. Zeph, a highly experienced scholar/adventurer, knows a lot about the occult, but apparently has to leave actual spell-casting to Gwen, who freely admits to being a bit of a novice — even when it's a matter of life and death. Evidently, she has a gift that he lacks. She's described as basically self-taught, but she had to acquire the right reference books to accomplish this.
- Tricked into Escaping: Maxima purposefully lets Cooter escape so they can track him via a spell of Dabbler's and find his boss.
- Dabbler, Harem, and Math all have their moments, but the king is whoever put this sign up. (Link may be considered mildly NSFW.)
- Deus also indulges for his own amusement, notably with Maxima, purposefully acting as if she was asking about one item he had when he knew she meant another.
- A few of the ARCHON ladies, knowing Math is outside their locked training session, deliberately say things to get him agitated while they watch via camera.
- Truth Serums: The villains inject a captured Halo with a truth serum to get inside information on ARCHON, except it backfires spectacularly. As it happens, using a truth serum on a Motor Mouth Cloudcuckoolander with ADHD only results in an absolutely non-stop blabbering, stream-of-consciousness run-on sentence devoid of any useful intel (except maybe for the dating status of some members)... which threatens Sidney with passing out from lack of oxygen, and possibly worse judging by her independently dilating pupils.
- Twin Threesome Fantasy:
- Tony and his half-sister/cousin Olivia are the results of someone's fantasy coming true. He ended up living with the two and their mother. Their grandmother seems to have fun with it to the point of keeping a tape recorder with a laugh track on it around.
- And, as noted under Power Perversion Potential, Harem could absolutely fulfill this trope.
- Underwear Swimsuit: Done by Math, when visiting the rooftop pool at ARCHON HQ. He claims he didn't have time to switch.
- Undisclosed Funds: While the exact number was not given, at first glance Sydney assumed that her first biweekly paycheck was an annual paycheck. Which probably makes it mid-five digits at a minimum.
- Unishment: After the fight, Maxima calls out Math for losing to Jabberwokky after she flashed him, telling him to "...go get on the internet and stare at boobs until you're bored of looking at them."Math: Is... is that an order?
Maxima: What do you think?
Math: I think this military thing is starting to pay off!
- Unsatisfiable Customer: Sydney sometimes has to deal with such customers at her comic shop. One example is Brad, who insists she orders a comic that was a limited run only available at the SDCC because it's mentioned in an article. Sydney knows to not let them get away with such crap, though, and she's not even above making death threats.
- Unwanted Assistance: Sydney cheerleading while Dabbler is doing some quite complex mathematics isn't welcomed.Dabbler: YOU'RE NOT HELPING!
Sydney: I'm providing spirit!
Dabbler: Please don't.
- Utility Belt: ARCHON members design their own. They then have to go through PT while wearing them as a test to see whether or not they have the sense to only load up on gear that is practical to carry with them all the time.
- Van Helsing Hate Crimes: One of the reasons for the Veil is to prevent this, but it works against the Council when the Weirdness Censor allows one of Sciona's allies to get one "Coot" to help them in their plans.
- Variant Power Copying: Varia gets powers that are similar, but not identical to those whom she touches. For instance, Harem allows her to teleport alongside her (while ignoring Harem's "weight limit" for carrying passengers), while Jiggawatt has lightning abilities but gives Varia magnetic control instead.
- Verbal Backspace: As Dabbler, Leon, Cora, and Krona are tinkering with Max's disguising choker, one tweak causes her hair and eyebrows to match her skin tone. Leon notes that it's turned her hair flesh colored, then hastily corrects himself to "Caucasian colored" when Anvil gives him the stink eye.
- Vertigo Effect:
- Villainous Crush: Deus is rather blatantly obvious and surprisingly up-front about his romantic/sexual interest in Maxima.
- Visible Silence: From page 819, in the second to last panel, Sydney says "..." before "I'm scared."
- Visual Pun:
- Vomit Discretion Shot:
- Sydney pukes after almost getting shot, when Maxima shows her the bullet.
- Much later, the combo of stress, adrenaline withdrawal, and whatever Cora gave her to counter the Truth Serum she was given have Sydney puking to the point that her ribs hurt, although her head is off-screen. The sound effects are inserted into her speech bubbles, though, which blunts the discretion.
- The female alien throws up after seeing the Umbrivion's true form, but her head is behind a trash can so all that's depicted is the sound.
- Walking Shirtless Scene:
- Well not walking per se, but definitely counts with a number of well-toned guys standing around an entertainment hall all tricked out of their shirts by Harem.Author's Note: This maneuver is known as the Half Monty. The full one gets her in trouble.
- Hiro is especially prone to this, in spite of having a Limited Wardrobe that consists of the same style of black, skintight T-shirts.
- Well not walking per se, but definitely counts with a number of well-toned guys standing around an entertainment hall all tricked out of their shirts by Harem.
- Wardrobe Malfunction:
- After growing significantly in size, Vehemence's pants burst under the strain.
- Dabbler hacks Cora's hard light, resulting in Cora being clothed in nothing but two strategically placed thunder clouds. While this may be more accurately an example of a Pants-Pulling Prank, since Cora uses her hardlight emitter to generate her armor clothing (and is literally naked underneath the forcefield/holo-projection it emits), Dabbler's hack is literally a malfunction of Cora's wardrobe.
- Wasn't That Fun?: Anvil jumps from a height of several stories high with Halo in her arms, who's screaming all the way down. Despite this, the first thing Sydney does after they land unharmed is saying "Let's go again!" while jumping back in Anvil's arms. The latter is so nonplussed that she doesn't even catch her, and Sydney lands hard on her tush.
- Weapon for Intimidation: The reason why even team members who can cut tanks into "blowed up ribbons" are still issued firearms—even if your finger is much deadlier than any Hand Cannon, it can't compete for sheer visual menace.
- Webcomic Time: The story's first day ended with strip #294, posted roughly four and a half years after the first (23rd August 2010). Strip #500 is set on the night of day three. Since the main story is a flashback of several months from page one, without a time-skip, the author looked likely to die of old age before returning to the story's present day. Fortunately perhaps, in "A Timely Prank", it turns out that a time-skip has happened, in the form of the portal to Sciona's home planet, which propelled Sydney two months into the future as a side-effect of its instability — though it only felt like two days to her, as that's how long it took her to return to Earth after the portal closed.
- Weirdness Censor: It turns out there is one — dubbed "The Veil" — and it's artificial; created by a consortium of supernatural entities to ward off torch-waving Muggles. And someone is organizing attacks on the sigils that power it in order to eliminate it.
- Wham Line: When Deus is asked how Galtyn defends itself from its larger neighbors, he casually says "Did you know that Galtyn has roughly ten times the super population per capita? Must be something in the water."Maxima: That... sounds suspiciously like he knows how to make supers.
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Lampshaded when Arianna asks Maxima if she's considered everything Sydney might do as an Arc-SWAT member.Maxima: What's the worst that could happen? I can't believe I just said that with a straight face.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Often averted:
- Peggy takes advantage of the fact that many supers are only annoyed by bullets in the restaurant fight, especially with Concretia.
- Maxima tends to go for quick takedowns in fights.
- When Sydney asks why the Twilight Council would be unable to destroy the artifacts in the vault, Maxima and Dabbler tell her that some artifacts can only be destroyed under certain conditions, might require more energy than they can control to destroy, or serve some other function that necessitates keeping them around, like containing a magical virus.
- The Worf Effect:
- Concretia makes an entrance, complete with stats, and immediately blows away Mr. Amorphous and Achilles to show how bad-arsed she is. Then in the very next page she is taken down by Math to show just how bad-arsed normal he is.
- She made a new body (there was plenty of concrete about), but got promptly taken out by another bad-arsed normal with an anti-materiel rifle.
- It took a claymore mine to make her decide to just stay down. (A concrete body may sound like a great super-power, but it's actually overrated: even bone is four times stronger...)
- This seemingly happens to Dabbler when Sydney hits her in the back, but she turns out to be sandbagging a bit.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: A group of alien tourists came prepared.
- Wrong Context Magic: Krona's (apparently unique) Rewriting Reality abilities are magical in nature, but she is not a regular mage or super, to the point she's given her own category.
- Wrong Turn at Albuquerque: Invoked by Sydney the first time she tries flying to the comic store and has trouble orienting herself.Sydney: [looking at road signs] That doesn't help at all! I thought I was following the road but I guess I missed that left turn at Albuquerque Drive.
- X-Ray Vision: Averted (to the relief of all the female supers), and also discussed: if a perverted superhero wanted to use X-ray vision to peep in on women in the shower... what's stopping him from using X-ray vision when they're not in the shower? And even then, all he's going to see is the woman's skeleton, since this is X-ray vision.
- "Yes"/"No" Answer Interpretation:
- After finding out that Jabberwokky is still influenced by Dabbler's charm kiss, Maxima has some strict orders:Maxima: Until this is resolved, I don't want you two in the same room, understood?
Jabberwokky: [restrained] I want to punch her in the mouth and then kiss it all better!
Maxima: [massages her temples] SIIIIIIIIIIGH I'll take that as a yes.
- Upon meeting Sydney's parents, Maxima muses that she must take after her father. Sydney is too distracted to give a straight answer, when Mr. Scoville senior grabs his daughter in his arms and excitedly babbles how proud he is she'd become a superhero fighting bad guys.Maxima: I'll take that as a yes.
- After finding out that Jabberwokky is still influenced by Dabbler's charm kiss, Maxima has some strict orders:
- Yiddish as a Second Language: An offhand comment from Sydney was "I'm not religious, but if I was, I'd go Jewish because they have the funniest words."
- Yin-Yang Clash: A minor supervillain claims to be both irresistible force and immoveable object in this strip. It doesn't end well.
- You Answered Your Own Question: Sydney in some Alt Text:Sydney: What is it with martial artists always wanting tougher oppon... No, wait, I answered my own question.
- You Know I'm Black, Right?: When Harem is poking fun at Sydney's wetsuit, Sydney purposely interprets it as an anti-nerd thing, calling it racist... right in front of Anvil, Varia, and Jiggawatt, correcting herself to say "clique-ist".
- You Need a Breath Mint: Syndey's love of spicy food has given her weapons-grade halitosis. The ARCHON medical staff has prescribed her breath mints.
- You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!: Sydney is an extremely petite, fairly out-of-shape comic book nerd. But when she's angry enough, she instinctively pulls off physical feats she shouldn't physically be capable of. Like judo throwing a large muscular man by his tongue or beating up a would-be mugger so badly that the police report only says "Oh, the humanity!".
- Your Days Are Numbered: Dabbler's explanation of why succubi are slaves reveals that, to keep them from killing their masters, they were (eventually) engineered to be mana-negative. They constantly leak mana, and for innately magical beings, that leads to a very short lifespan as without a mana source they can tap from, they begin converting life force into mana. Hence, succubi learned to become life-bound to other beings so mana can be shared between them.