Friday, November 30, 2007

TPB REVIEW - Empowered Vol. 1

Empowered Volume 1
Adam Warren, writer & artist
Dark Horse Books, 2007
248 pages

So an entire graphic novel based on a character the artist designed specifically as a commission for parties unknown who like girls bound and in very little clothing; what could possibly go wrong here? Of course since it is by Adam Warren, the OG of the OEL, I had to pick it up and see what the fuss was all about. In a nutshell the book is pretty much what you would expect from what I described, except that while the bondage situations and lack of clothes are clearly exploitive, they never cross the line into pornography.

This book chronicles the life and times of Empowered, the central character's admittedly lame nom de hero. She gets her powers from a supersuit which is SKIN tight and for some reason, not very resilient. As the suit gets torn up her powers diminish until she is a mere mortal...and bound and gagged. While the first few stories in this volume seem little more than excuses to put the heroine in such situations, Warren's affection for the character and desire to do something more with the book shows through. This is particularly evident in his characterization of Empowered, who has very low self-esteem and only starts to get a little better when she builds a support structure around her.

As the stories get a little longer Warren introduces a couple of new characters which help pull the stories away from their bound and gagged origin and flesh out Empowered's world. First there is Thugboy who goes from being a generic henchman to Empowered's live-in boy friend, and then Ninjette, a female ninja, comes along and, after tying Empowered up, decided to go ahead and move in with the couple. My favorite addition to the cast is He Whose Name is Too Scary to Be Spoken, a demon lord who ends up trapped in some alien bondage gear. In typically ludicrous Warren fashion Empowered has to hang on to the caged demon lord because of zoning restriction on the Super Homeys' HQ. His dialogue is over the top enough to compete with the likes of Dr. Doom and Darkseid*, however he comes with a voyeuristic streak about a mile wide.

All in all I really enjoyed the book however it is only going to appeal to those who like their super-heroing with a liberal dose of absurdism and bondage.

* As I was reading the book I found myself reading this character's dialogue out loud and cracking myself up. I am not sure if this speaks to how funny the dialogue actually is or how sad my life is, take your pick.

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