Monday, March 22, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 47 (3/22) -- Empowered 3 by Adam Warren

Empowered is undoubtedly sexist, silly, and sophomoric -- that's the whole point of it. It's a series about a minor superheroine whose (none-too-impressive) powers derive from a very fragile supersuit (that is also, of course, superthin and skin-tight), who has what she always refers to as "body image issues" (she's drawn as not quite as super-thin -- yet busty -- as most superheroines, and obsesses about the size of her rear end). Oh, and she also started as a sequence of bondage pin-ups, and only developed an actual story later on, so her stories rest on the triple pillars of her ineptitude, her pulchritude, and her being-tied-up-itude.

I read the first book, and didn't really review it, since I saw it about the time Vol. 3 came out, and hoped to do a bigger review of several volumes. I never saw #2, but I've just recently read #3 and #4 -- watch for #4 tomorrow -- and, honestly, the plot isn't the kind that missing two hundred pages will make any difference in understanding.

Empowered -- we learn that her civilian name is Elissa Megan Powers on the next-to-last page; isn't that cute how her initials are E.M.P.? -- drags her eternally positive (if self-doubting) self through a variety of stories that, as usual, focus on her suit being torn, her self-esteem being shredded, and her limbs being tied in positions that (presumably) Adam Warren thinks his audience will find arousing. That was moderately amusing for one volume, but as the shtick for a series, it's a bit lacking in depth -- there's only so many changes Warren can ring on the idea without letting Emp actually get some backbone and skills (and hence ruining the entire premise.)

I'd say that one Empowered volume is about the maximum that any one person of average interests would require; if you particularly fetishize curvy blond women in torn garments and tight bondage, you may up that to two -- possibly three if you also have a fetish for ninjas. (Remember Voltaire's maxim: "Once, a philosopher. Twice, a pervert.")

Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index


Anonymous said...

I can't tell whether you understand that Empowered is supposed to be a comedy. You seemed to have missed the point altogether.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Anonymous: You are right: I did not specifically say that Empowered is a comedy, and I expect that Warren's usual target audience would need to be told that explicitly. I did say it was both "silly" and "amusing," which might allow a careful reader to work out the genre details, but I may have been overestimating the ratiocinative abilities of cartoon-bondage fans.

Empowered is occasionally funny -- not quite consistently, even where it's trying to be funny. And when it is funny, it's because it's parodying itself, which is a damn shallow well. But, for the record, yes, Empowered does often want to be a comedy, and it succeeds at times.

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