Empowered original graphic novel (Dark Horse Comics)
by Adam Warren
Writer/artist Adam Warren turns his attention to an unfortunate quality of super-hero comics, and that’s its gratuitous hypersexualization of female characters, especially in a genre that was originally envisioned as material for younger readers. The designs for the various characters are hilarious, inventive and striking. These sooper-heerows look appropriately goofy, but a couple of the designs are pretty sharp, to be honest. Warren also makes the most of the black-and-white format. There’s a rougher quality to the art and lettering at times, but it never looks sloppy. Warren takes an over-the-top approach to this satirical look at super-hero storytelling, and it’s amusing and wholly effective in making his points. There’s just one problem: it’s repetitive. Warren makes the same points over and over and over again, and the one-dimensional nature of the characters and limitations of the gimmicks aren’t enough to sustain one’s attention all the way through to the end of the book.
To be fair, Warren constructs Empowered to be read in short little bursts, as this is more of a short-story collection than a graphic novel, really. It’s just a shame that it seems to be the same story time and time again. For the most part, the stories are about how inept, vulnerable and easily victimized the title character is. Mind you, there are stories that explore the other characters as well; I was especially entertained by Sistah Spooky’s origin. Overall, I liked the concept, but the longer format didn’t suit the material. Presenting it as a graphic novella, something in the format of Garth Ennis and Amanda Conner’s The Pro from Image Comics a few years back, would have a better fit for this project. 6/10