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Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Empowered volume 1

Writer and artist:  Adam Warren
Publisher: Dark Horse

Note: This review doesn't contain any sexually explicit pictures, but be aware that the book contains graphic sex and is not suitable for children.

What's it about?
Poor Empowered.  She gets her powers from a more-than-skin-tight supersuit with a nasty tendency to malfunction at the slightest tear.  She hasn't been able to eat anything sugary since she got it, lest the people surrounding her realise she's got chubby.  The Superhomies mock her and her fighting skills leave her anything but empowered.

She's lonely and full of shame, and then she meets a former witless minion (who defeats her and ties her up of course).  This does not prove to be a problem as get together, start having lots of orgasmic sex and develop a comfortable living arrangement. Later on they are joined by a caged demonlord and a ninjette best friend.

It's a mixture of domesticity, superheroing, romance, passionate sex and mean teammates.

What's good about it?
Funny, clever and oh so sexual this is a good comedic take on the superhero genre.

Empowered is sweet, friendly and brighter than she gives herself credit for.  She may look like a pneumatic blonde goddess but she still isn't comfortable in that painted on suit.  She's sick of the disrespect she gets when in the suit, she hates the fact it doesn't work very well and she can't abide that it can stop a bullet but won't support her breasts when she runs.  Basically, she's thoroughly likable.

There's a nice diversity of characters, from Empowered herself, to her Japanese American boyfriend, ninja best friend and caged demonwolf lodger.  This alien destroyer of worlds starts out as a typical world destroying megalomaniac and develops into a being who cries at emotional episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but still talks in the third person.

The relationship between Empowered and Thugboy is just adorable.  From the first dates to the tentative suggestions to make the relationship official, to the arguments about exes and body care regimes, this is a fantastic portrayal of the early months of a relationship when hormones and passions are flying high.

The book takes the form of 40 odd short chapters. making it very easy to dip in and out of (although you'll probably want to read it in one go).

What's bad about it?
Empowered was originally conceived as short standalone strips, so it takes a few chapters for the book to get going.  Stick with it, and you'll be in for a treat.

What's the art like?
It is manga influenced and all in black and white.  There's a lot of shading and detailing going on but it is nonetheless very clear artwork.

One of the interesting things about this book, is that despite our heroine wearing a skintight supersuit and ending most fights bound and gagged, the book doesn't really feel exploitative.  Maybe this is because the sexual aspects are very overt and sex is built into the story and discussed many many times over.  Whatever it is (and better people than me will probably have to provide an analysis) it works.

Other Information
Price: £11.99
ISBN: 159307672X
Amazon offers a sneak preview inside the book here.

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