An Empowered Review
Empowered is your below-average, C-list heroine. Her powers stem from her shiny super-suit, a self-repairing tighter-than-skintight number that leaves NOTHING to the imagination. When she dons it, she can shoot 'zaps' from her hands and gains the strength of ten men (or fifteen wimpy men). Unfortunately, Emp's powers decrease drastically when the suit gets damaged. And that happens a lot. Scratch that- it happens pretty regularly. The thing seems to be as substantial as soap suds, so more often than not, any combat encounter Emp gets into almost always ends up with her getting captured and bound up like a victim in some hentai BDSM video. Her super-team, the Superhomeys, only marginally regard her as a member, and one 'comrade', Sistah Spooky, openly hates her guts for some reason. Shamed and humiliated almost every time, one would ask, why the heck does this girl keep trying?
It's simple. Because she's a hero. A C-list heroine, but darn, she's got A+ Spirit, and that's something that the most unlikely people see- namely the gun-toting hired thug named Thugboy (who is coincidentally an exceptionally smart, dashing, good-looking, honorable, insightful and sweet thug) and a deadly ninja assassin named Ninjette. Oh, and then there's a fiery world-ravaging demonlord that Emp manages to trap inside a hi-tech manacle who thereafter spends his time watching DVDs and Cable TV in Emp's living room, while dispensing advice and morale-boosting sayings as only a fearsome devourer of souls can. With enemies like these, who needs friends?
Empowered is the latest work from Adam Warren, formerly known from all those Dark Horse releases of Dirty Pair manga and cult-favorite specials and limited series of Gen 13. This hugely famous 'Ameri-manga' artist/writer is one of my favorite comics creators, and he is at his finest in this one. The book is a collection of short stories featuring the loveable Emp, her closest pals, her teammates and the rest of their new universe of superheroic comedy.
The stories range from really short quips, almost comic strip-short, to some tales that last for almost ten pages or so. On every page there are panels and panels of Warren's incredible uninked art to enjoy, as well as the manic dialogue that has become his trademark. You'd think that this master of black comedy is a sadist at parts, having his poor damsel Emp getting bound up pretty much in every story, crushing shame heaped on her head time after time. But then he turns around and gives her a thuggy Prince Charming and a ninja best friend, so things get balanced out nicely. Maybe. Kinda.
As funny as it is sad, as sexy as it it cute and heartwarming, Emp is a guilty pleasure to read...US-made manga-superhero ecchi with heart. Despite the outward wackiness, Empowered is played quite seriously; there are no fourth wall breakouts or tongue-in-cheek winks to the reader within the actual stories; this isn't parody- it IS a legitimate superhero tale and universe on offer here, just more intimate with a lot of sex (which pretty much keeps it a no-kids title). The characters are immediately likeable and it all just makes you want to see longer, more meaty stories to see more about them. I want to see more Ninjette. Now.
Warren has already mentioned that he's got a lot of Emp's stories in mind, and hopefully with the great response to this first volume, we'll be seeing more of this and soon. It's quality stuff here, so I enjoin all mature comic fans to grab Empowered on sight. This is mucho good stuff.
Do I have to say it twice? I will. Get Empowered. Now!