Friday, January 16, 2009


Ok, first run over to Wit War and look at this review of Gail Simone's 'You'll All Be Sorry" When you get there, scroll down to the picture of Black Canary. Isn't that awesome? 'Does this outfit make my ass look empowered' I laughed a lot.

Empowered v1 - Adam Warren - I have been seeing some chatter on this title for a while. It is possible that I have seen it before, but it's seeming nature and my unfamiliarity with it may have kept me from purchasing it. Don't get me wrong. I like 'sexy' just fine, and I am a fan of 'funny' I am not generally a fan of things that just seem straight up exploitative or are poorly written, or designed solely for titillation, etc. This title isn't really any of those negative things, and is mostly really funny.

It is a comic that looks like it is going to be borderline superhero porn at first glance, until you see there is no detail that makes it lewd, only a lot of drawn skin and sexual situations that are generally done as a lampoon of a lot of superhero conventions. There isn't even any actual cussing in this title. The sex scenes are just borderline R rated, and maybe not even that. The volume is clearly labeled explicit content, and marketed to an audience that has seen enough of the genre to understand the jokes. I have no issue with this from the onset due to those things, but that doesn't guarantee that I will like it.

What does ensure I will like it is the fact that it is extremely funny, well written and nicely drawn in a sexy manga style. The story centers on the lovely super-heroine Empowered. She thinks her name is pretty dumb, as do most other super-folks who encounter her. She had to pick it on the spur of the moment, and that's what came to her. Her powers manifest themselves by way of a skin tight liquid latex like 'membrane'(suit) that she wears. The suit grants a variety of powers including the ability to shoot power blasts from her hands sometime, and super strength sometimes, and if she concentrate she can make the suit turn invisible... not make herself invisible, just the suit. The problem with the suit is that even light contact such as brushing against a plant might cause it to shred, and the more it shreds the less powerful it is. This leads her to be captured by pretty much every bad guy she encounters, which leads to her being bound and gagged, and in need of rescue at the end of every run-in.

One of the things about this book that keep it from being as slimy and sleazy as some might imagine a title about what I just described might be, is the very real seeming insecurities that the characters (especially Empowered) have. Empowered is a friendly, very nice, and well meant woman. She is hurt by the fact that her fellow heroes don't like her, that enemies think she is a joke, that her suit is humiliating, etc. She has so much insecurity about so many of those things that it makes you feel really sympathetic to her. She feels all those things, but she keeps going out and fighting crime and trying to make a difference.

In the course of being bested by the bad guys she meets the one person who seems to respect her and take her seriously, despite her tendancy to lose quickly and end up in bondage. She ends up dating him. A similar situation occurs when she encounters Ninjette, another villain who after besting her, gets fed up with the other bad guys not showing up, and invites Empowered out for dinner and drinks. They become fast friends.

It is really hard for me to communicate just how funny this title is, while at the same time being a little self indulgent at times with the sex and sex talk. It isn't terrible, but if you start noticing that stuff it means the funny has slowed down or stopped. I am not going to cover everything about the title here, but I will say, there is a pretty great sequence where she is bluffing the bad guys by telling them she actually gets stronger with every bit more skin she shows. This screams a sort of Witchblade comparison, and is pretty great. I recommend this title if you are an adult who appreciates a sexy superhero lampoon done in manga style, and don't mind references and scenes of 'personal topiary' and non graphic sex of a variety or two. Here are some pages I found while poking around looking for them.


John said...

Yay for plugs!

I've been wanting to read this series for a while, as it came highly recommended by a friend of mine. Adam Warren seems to excel at giving borderline-obscene material a warmth and charm and sophistication that most similar works lack. Check out his adaptation of Dirty Pair if you get the chance. It's more of the same in terms of scantily-clad female characters, but has excellent characterization and a plot so complex it'll make your head ache (in the Sim Hell volume, anyway.)
Also, I've heard that Empowered improves with each subsequent volume, especially with volume 3.

Talkin Bout Comics said...

Well... I picked up volumes 2 & 3 today, so I will know soon enough!