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Webcomic / Grrl Power

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Back row: Sydney, Maxima, Anvil.
In the front: Harem, Dabbler.
Grrl Power is a webcomic about a superheroine who works in a comic shop.

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; the schedule in future may depend on the creator's employment situation.


Grrl Power provides examples of:

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    Tropes A to H 

    Tropes I to P 
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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: Addressed and largely avoided, given the stunned reactions of the various Alphabet Agencies.
  • 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:
    • Pixel's power as a super is laser claws, which she can only use in her were-jaguar hybrid or animal forms.
    • The Super Brawl features Heavenly Sword (no, not that one), who can form energy barriers around wielded weaponry, including whips.
  • Late to the Punchline: That Visual Pun of Sydney dropping Anvil on Vehemence's head? Harem finally got it two nights later.
    Harem: Hey Anvil, when you jump out of a plane like that, we should call it the Acme Special. [thought bubble of Sydney making the same joke] VORP Jesus. Christ. Sydney.
    Sydney: Huh?
    Harem: Because you dropped an anvil on his head!
    Sydney: What? Oh. God, Harem, take your damn time.
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • The Magazine Rule:
    • Dabbler is seen reading the Pornews Journal at one point.
    • 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.
  • Masquerade:
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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:
  • 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: Not spoken but Maxima's reaction to Harem checking out her rack is every bit this trope, by pushing her face upward with a finger under her chin.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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:
  • 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.)
  • No-Sell:
  • Nosebleed: Sydney gets a massive one when Harem pranks her. Even Maxima is freaked out by it.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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:
  • 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.
  • Panty Shot: The artist certainly isn't shy about them, notably when Vehemence throws Anvil high in the air, but The Rant specifies that those don't aim (solely) at titillation, pointing out that such instances are just unavoidable when you enter a superpowered fight wearing a skirt.
  • 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.
  • Product Placement: It's partially obstructed, but Maxima apparently drinks Guinness Black.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Tropes Q to Z 
  • Quizzical Tilt: Sydney sports one when trying to figure out Death Toll's ability, complete with lampshade hanging.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Achilles constantly saying "mouth feel" ticks Sydney off enough to sock him with her Lighthook.
    Sydney: Texture! Just say texture you Portlandia level hipster dipshit!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Running Gag: There's been several of varying lengths.
  • 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.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • SpaceX: 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.
  • Squick: Everyone around is grossed out to some degree when Hench Wench punches Mr. Amorphous hard enough to basically turn his head inside out.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Dabbler shows here that she loves seducing and confusing the new recruits.
  • 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. 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.
    • 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 sparing 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?
  • 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.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Even Maxima's expression softened a bit for Sciona when they see the remains of her civilization's city.
  • 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.)
  • 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 underwater 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:
  • 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?
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • Troll:
    • 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:
  • 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.
  • Unsound Effect: The author admits to loving the inherent entertainment value in "nonomatopoeia".
  • Up to Eleven: On a 1 to 5 scale for superpowers, Achilles's invulnerability is rated as a 6.
  • 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 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 stinkeye.
  • Vertigo Effect:
  • 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:
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: After growing significantly in size, Vehemence's pants burst under the strain.
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • 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 a fairly out-of-shape comic book nerd, but when she's angry enough, she instinctively pulls off physical feats she shouldn't be capable of. Like judo throwing a grown man by his tongue.


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