Monday, December 31, 2007

Empowered, vol. 1

By Adam Warren
Published by Dark Horse

Slugline: A title that revels in its own absurdity.

Don't you wish that more people gave manga a try rather than just knee-jerking writing it off as something strange and foreign? I am going to give you the same challenge for Empowered, a title by the original OEL artist, Adam Warren. It is a title about superheroes. Yes, yes, I understand, superhero comics are the devil compared to the purity of the manga, but then you are just as guilty as the people that are decrying manga, right? And let's face it, are the ninja feats that Naruto pull off or badassitude of Rurouni Kenshin that far off superheroes like Batman?

And if you strip all that out, the genre trappings, this is ultimately a story about college aged people trying to figure out what to do with their lives. And screwing up, and wondering what the hell they are going to do to pay the bills until the stuff they really like doing starts paying off. With boyfriends, booty calls, going out with girlfriends until you come home more than a little tipsy. After reading probably hundreds of high school stories where everyone seems so prim and proper, even the hooligans following a constrained set of behaviors, it was great to finally read some truly bad and but also behavior that felt more real. And relationships that start with sex and hormones and evolve towards love and that other sort of stuff rather than vice versa.

Empowered is a superheroine with a name that was best she could come up with and a supersuit that nothing to hide her butt or any other embaressing body parts. Worse still, while bulletproof it tears easily, and until it regenerates most of her powers are gone, so she ends up tied up way too often. Fortunately she has her boyfriend Thug Boy and her girlfriend Ninjette to bolster her while Sistah Spooky and the rest of the Superhomies continually belittle her. As you can see, this is something of a parody, something of a slice of life and a whole lot of the funny.

And as for Adam Warren, his first OEL was the US version of Dirty Pair in 1989. He has the experience and style, learned through years of practice and experience, so that it comfortably straddles both US and Japanese art styles and so it has become its own. Read it and realize that OEL can be and is it's own thing, and should be judged for what it is, not what you think it should be.


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