Empowered 2
by Adam Warren (Dark Horse, 2007)

Poor little superheroine, she's just not very good at her job.

But Empowered, who has one of the more awkward code names in comic-book history and who boasts one of the lamest gimmicks, is endlessly endearing, a sexed-up little engine that could. She's all too aware of her own shortcomings and weaknesses, she has a big goose-egg in the confidence department and she ends up as a hostage more often than savior in these tales. But she cares, damn it, and she doesn't give up. That counts for something.

Empowered 2 is, as its title implies, the second collection of adventures about the Adam Warren-created sexpot. She operates both as a solo superhero and as part of a larger team, working at times with best friend Ninjette (who isn't nearly so lame but drinks way too much) and the Super Homeys (who largely consider her a joke or a hindrance, or at best a distraction to their foes), as well as boyfriend Thugboy (a former witless minion on the side of evil). She keeps an imprisoned space god on her coffeetable, too.

Her powers are generated by a skintight supersuit that tears and shreds as it absorbs damage. Consequently, her powers decline and vanish as the suit becomes more revealing, often leaving her attired as a Bettie Page wet dream once the bad guys have trussed her up and gagged her (a la Bettie's more scandalous photo shoots). Empowered's powers don't return until the suit regenerates.

She thinks her butt is too big, and she won't hear any comments to the contrary.

While the writing and manga-style pencil art is on a par with the first book in the series, Warren fails to make any great strides in volume two. This is a "more of the same" kind of book, so if you enjoyed the first one, you'll like this one, too. Stories range from the undercover "sexy librarian" assignment to a timely assist to the post-human Syndablokk, from a suspicious kidnapping by a leering villainess to an ill-considered attempt by Ninjette to earn her pal some respect. Nothing here will blow your mind or shatter the earth, but you will be entertained.

One vignette, in which Empowered realizes the man who's kidnapped her is about to die without medical attention, is especially touching.

Anyway, Empowered is just too darn cute. It's nice to see a comic-book heroine for a change who isn't modeled on the waif look.

review by
Tom Knapp

8 December 2007

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