Empowered, volume 1
By Adam Warren
Well, Adam Warren manages once again to craft a fun, wacky story, and he fills it with incredibly energetic, expressive art. The book starts off in a light, comedic, and somewhat exploitative manner, detailing the adventures of the titular superheroine, who has a propensity to get her costume shredded to indecent scraps and end up tied up bondage-style by villains.
We find out later in the book, via fourth-wall-breaking chapter title pages, that the original concept for the comic came from some commissioned artwork that
A turning point is reached when she meets a guy (ironically, a thug working for villains) who encourages her to keep trying. This might seem regressive (a man is the one that gives her the strength to go on), but I think it's actually fairly feminist: he lets her know the good things about her, like her courage and determination. He helps her see the positive qualities about herself; it's really rather sweet. There are some great scenes of the two of them thinking about each other (I love that he's the one that seems especially lovestruck), and when it's discovered by other thugs that he's helping her out, she gets to come to his rescue. Later, she also gets some female support when she makes friends with Ninjette, a martial artist who is also sick of working for villains. Ninjette is ultra-competent, so she's there to help "Emp" learn to use her abilities better.
And then we get into another somewhat controversial area, which gave the book its shrink-wrap and "explicit content" sticker: sex. There are a lot of scenes of Empowered and her boyfriend having sex; it's not merely hinted at.
And I have to mention
So, it's a book I definitely recommend, although I'll note that it's not for everybody. As he talked about in a recent interview with Newsarama,
P.S. I thought I would mention that in his journal post on the day Empowered was released, Warren talked about his plans for future volumes of the series (volume 2 should come out in October!) and stated that "If if Empowered fails, then I’m extremely unlikely to ever bother drawing another comic again." Not that you should buy this if you won't like it, but it's something to keep in mind if you're an Adam Warren fan. If you can't find a copy, here's a link to Amazon.