Empowered Vol. 1

By Adam Warren
248 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

Adam Warren is a creator whom I’m almost embarrassed to admit I forget about. His comics are always really funny, he’s got a “good girl” art style that is attractive yet non-offensive, and he’s got an amazing sense of pacing. But maybe it’s because a both-written-and-drawn Warren project isn’t something that comes out on a regular basis that he seems to fall off my radar between books. Apparently Warren’s figured out the best way around this is to just pencil his books rather than ink them so he can release them faster. And if Empowered is any sign of things to come, well, I’m not going to be forgetting just how great Warren is any time soon.

Empowered is a genuine super-hero, one of the beloved members of the Superhomeys who saves the world repeatedly. All right, maybe she’s actually just an associate member, and perhaps she’s considered more of a laughing stock than a hero in the public eye, what with constantly getting captured and tied up by the bad guys. But at least she’s got her friend Ninjette, or her former villainous-sidekick Thugboy, right? That’s got to count for something. Now if only her supersuit didn’t keep getting ripped off of her in battle, she’d be set.

Empowered has a nice story structure, one that works pretty smartly with introducing a brand new character and her supporting cast to the reader. Warren presents Empowered’s life as a series of short vignettes running anywhere from two to six pages long. They’re short and snappy and each can be read on their own for a couple of chuckles. Everything from Empowered getting glued to walls to getting rejected by a would-be-alien-despot because her booty isn’t the right size to join his intergalactic harem happens here; nothing’s too silly or sacred to go untouched, all with a comfortable, fun sense of humor. As Empowered progresses, though, Warren begins to bring the stories together in a more cohesive manner, the book shifting from a group of short stories to a single unit divided up into small chapters. So while the humor is still there, we start seeing Empowered and Thugboy’s relationship blossom, for better or for worse as their past comes back to haunt them. We start seeing the personalities and backstories of the other Superhomey members, and start to realize that maybe everyone’s just as messed up as poor Empowered is. By the time you’re done with Empowered, you’ve really got to know these characters in a way that most writers can only hope for—and all the while, with a huge serving of humor drizzled throughout each story.

I’m pretty amazed that the art in Empowered are just Warren’s “rough pencils”—they’re tighter and more thoughtful than most people’s finished art. (Suddenly the long delay between Warren-drawn projects explains so much, if he already goes into this much effort before then inking his art.) For a character whose origin was drawing bondage-themed original art commissions for collectors, it’s not surprising that Warren shows a great love for the female body in his art. What I like is that even when he’s drawing scenes in which Empowered is supposed to look sexy, there’s always a sense of realism about her. (Well, aside from the question as to how the shredded supersuit stays on. I guess it’s one of its special powers.) Anatomy is consistent and accurate, never too ludicrous or mis-proportioned. It’s really the best kind of “good girl” art, really. Once you get past the most obvious quality of Warren’s art, though, there’s still a lot of other things to recommend. With the amount of shading and details drawn into every page, it’s a beautifully realized creation; he’s able to make the demonic creatures that show up every now and then look absolutely blistering with heat, and the character designs of the other characters—major or minor—are always a combination of creative and hysterically funny. I honestly could just look at Warren’s art for hours to try and figure out how he’s able to get so much texture out of varying amounts of graphite on the page.

With a second volume of Empowered hitting stores next month, it’s the perfect time to check out Warren’s first volume. Just be warned that this is the sort of book that you don’t want to read in a public place, because you’ll be laughing out loud every couple minutes. Be warned that it’s almost impossible to just read one or two chapters in a sitting, for that matter; I’d planned on reading Empowered over a series of evenings and ended up reading almost the entire book in a single sitting because I couldn’t put it down. This book is worth your time and then some. Personally, I plan on reading it again and again. It’s just that good.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

2 comments to Empowered Vol. 1

  • Kathi

    Wow! I think this is the best comic i have ever read! :-) IŽam looking forward to the next volume..

  • Marcos

    I just started reading this book on my lunch break. Didn’t get very far but loved what I’ve already read. Artwork is FANTASTIC!