Original Release Date: February 17, 2009
Here, we finally see a significant number of civilians. I'm sure even back then, by this point, I was growing self-conscious of the lack of people in the room. Of course, they had something to do here other than sit in fear, so I was kind of obligated to include them. I had difficulty thinking of funny items for them to throw. Had I done a better job of brainstorming before getting to that panel, I would have done better, but in the moment, my brain locked up. The squirrel is a nice touch, though, I think.
I find the exchange between Stu and Evil Bad Guy Ninja at the end of the page touching, to some degree, and it grows my respect for Evil Bad Guy Ninja. The Hypergoon Elite has been defeated, so Evil Bad Guy Ninja could take the fight to Stu here and now. Instead, he puts aside his main goal in life and gives Stu the time and space he needs to help his friends. That's a good rival. As I stated at some point recently, Evil Bad Guy Ninja wants Stu at his best for their final battle, and knows that his mind would be elsewhere at this particular moment. Convincing readers to respect Evil Bad Guy Ninja here wasn't really my intent; it seems to have worked out that way, though. When writing, I simply felt like that's what he would do in this situation, even though he's a big jerk.