by Adam Warren
Adam Warren is credited as the first maker of the"Original English-language Manga" (OEL), and when I heard that his Empowered involved a superheroine spoofing some of the more ridiculous parts of super-comics, I was pretty interested.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: "Empowered" is her name, and, well, getting tied up and gagged is her game. The character was born out of constant solicitations for Adam Warren to draw fetish pictures, and Adam Warren takes a twist to that for the better.
He makes fun of a lot of superhero conventions, creating a superhero soap opera/sitcom, where our protagonist, Empowered, is really self-conscious about her body, her place in the "Superhomeys" super-team, and her relationships.
WHAT I LIKED: It's pretty fun! There are several four- to 10-page short stories, each broken up by a "Empowered addresses the reader," style kinda thing. It's fun, and it's different, and if Adam Warren knows anything, it's those two!
There's even a segment where, as Empowered is tied up, her captors wonder if she's a famous person or not. It's pretty clever, and is kind of a retcon for why All Women in Superhero Comics Are Impossibly Proportioned.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: There's a "EXPLICIT CONTENT: PARENTAL ADVISORY" thing-y on the cover, and there's a reason for it! There are a heck of a lot of swear words and even some, um, explicit content. It really does walk the line between "satire" and "near-softcore-porn."
While I loved the wackiness of the stories, some of them are just way offbeat. This is not one of those Serious Comics That Takes Itself Seriously. Which is, well, kinda why I think it's awesome. It's just that other people might not.
EXTRAS?: There's actually a specific place at the end of the book that's labeled "EXTRAS," with some bonus pin-ups and sketches and stuff. It's pretty sweet!
FINAL THOUGHTS: It won't start a second Women's Liberation Era, but it might get you wondering, maybe even challenging, some things in comic books that you're used to.