I don’t have an issue with my comic book heroines being scantily clad and over-sexualized. I can rationalize with the Red Sonja line of thinking that they do it to help distract their foes. I also do think a woman’s sexuality is a source of power in and of itself. Of course it could just be that I’m desensitized to it after 30+ years of comic book reading.
Adam Warren’s Empowered plays with that idea quite a bit. Emp is a very appealing heroine. She is charming, intelligent and self-effacing. She is also curvaceous, beautiful and has a suit that tends to disintegrate down to strips of material held together with a prayer whenever she battles…and oh yes she gets tied up, a lot.
Bondage is an open joke in Empowered. She is constantly tied up and gagged in extremely sexually suggestive ways. Yet she often finds ways to get herself out of these situations and get the bad guys. Not always, but that is also part of her charm. All her powers are in the suit so she is very much an average girl who wants to help people, save people and in so doing she reminds us of what a hero really should be.
Sexuality is the overriding theme here. It is open and above-board instead of a nasty little undercurrent as it is in other books featuring female superheros. Warren pulls it out into the light and plays with it to great effect. In this collection the themes are dark. What happens to superheroes when they die. Hell, whether it exists, what it is to an individual, who goes there and of course, since this is a comic book, can we get them back.
I loved this collection as I’ve loved the ones before it. I enjoy Emp’s outlook on life. She tries so hard all the time and does her best to focus on her achievements and not her failures. She is full of the insecurities we all have, including body issues, yet perseveres in her chosen profession when all signs say to quit. This particular collection features her relationships with other heroines in her world and touches on their friendships and rivalries. As well as how she can be misunderstood.
Warren’s style is straight out of manga and works so well for this series. It’s light and funny while also trying to share some truths with its readers. The exaggerated images of the characters and situations play right into the storytelling.
Empowered Vol 8 gets 4 out 5 stars. It’s great fun and a good book to escape into.
Empowered Volume 8
Writer: Adam Warren
Artist: Adam Warren
Cover Artist: Adam Warren
Genre: Superhero, Humor
Publication Date: December 11, 2013 (ComiXology says the 18th)
Format: b&w, 208 pages; TP, 6 1/2″ x 9