Panel 1: Pretty sure I drew this story in the summertime, when I was being incessantly barraged by the keening whine of mosquitoes—aka New Hampshire’s unofficial “state bird,” according to some folks from my neck of the woods. In retrospect, I’m extremely doubtful that Emp’s ambiguously located West Coast city would play potentially host to mosquitoes, let alone mosquitoes at rooftop level(!), but what the heck. Then again, this story is taking place in the supremely wacky Empowered universe, so (theoretically) anything is possible, right?
Panels 2-4: Ah, behold the straight-bladed “ninja-to” sword, with its distinctive rectangular guard, which was supposedly a helpful climbing aid. The “ninja-to” may, in fact, be the BS-iest of all the many, many BS tropes of made-up shinobi lore that arose during the big ol’ “ninja boom” of the 80s. Toting around a characteristic and unmistakeable “ninja sword” would, of course, be a comically unstealthy and conspicuous choice, arguably straining the already-weak credulity of even the more fantastic and detached-from-reality tales of the ninja. Remember, the other distinctive weapons associated in pop culture with shinobi—that is, the kama and sai and kusarigama and other other tools borrowed if not stolen from traditional Okinawan martial arts—were all, in theory at least, peasant tools offering the crafty ninja some degree of plausible deniability, however unlikely. (And now, cue the chorus of “um, actually” goofiness from geeks like myself purporting to “ninja-splain" the ways of the shinobi. Ughh.) Much later on in the series, I eventually thought better of this particular affectation and gave Ninjette a proper, curved-bladed katana.
Panel 3: As readers of untranslated manga will of course recognize, Ninjette’s Japanese cry translates as “Die!” This is a hyper-obscure reference to the character “Sista Ninja” who indirectly spawned her—and spawned Sistah Spooky’s name, too!—in a mid-90s short story I did for the creator-owned anthology one-shot C.H.I.X. The ill-fated Sista Ninja had only one line of dialogue—this very same Japanese exclamation of “Shi ne!”—as she flailed away at the one-shot’s earnest blonde superheroine. In fact, lemme paste in an B&W image of Sista Ninja below:
Inks on this pic by Tom Simmons, who also inked me on the DC Comics Titans: Scissors, Paper, Stone one-shot.