Most “sexy” superhero comics are pretty crap. They generally focus purely on the T&A and decent dialogue, story, character and sometimes common sense are thrown out the window never to be seen. They’re the kind of comics to stay clear of as they’re not enjoyable reads. Although one “sexy” superhero comic stands out amongst the rest and shines through – Adam Warren’s Empowered. Oozing of manga influences, Empowered has all the elements of the your standard “sexy” superhero comic but where it differs is in it’s characterisations, use of humour and way it uses T&A to tell a story. Dark Horse Comics has been publishing Empowered since 2007, but as of today it’s also being serialised as webcomic from the very start.
Empowered focuses a young superheroine, known as Emp, who, unlike many superheroines, lacks self-confidence. Through her experiences with other heroes and her general heroics the reader follows a character who is easily embarrassed, self-concious about her appearance and full of nerves. Progressing through the series she begins to overcome these issues which allows her to become a better hero. This is in stark contrast to many heroines who don’t get the same kind of development or changes which are purely aesthetic.
It originally started as a series of commission drawings of damsels in distress and from there morphed into a comic which went beyond the sexiness. As the series continued it started to morph into something more three-dimensional with the characters evolving, the sexiness used more for laughs and with more of a wink at the camera than sexual gratification. While not all of these elements will be present straight away, the further you read the more it becomes evident. As a result this leads the pack from every other “sexy” superhero comic, which mostly featured terrible stories, stiff dialogue and one-dimensional characters.
Flicking through pages of Empowered you can tell that Adam Warren’s greatest influences are manga and anime. Everything from the way he draws his characters big eyes and spikey hair to the way he letter the comics is very much inspired by anime and manga. At the same time he still keeps one foot in western comics with panel layouts and tight pencil work more a kin to American superhero comics. Overall, it’s a unique style for the genre and one that stands out as having a unique vision.
As an added bonus, Adam Warren has included commentary for every page. This give an interesting insight into his creative and decision making process as well as pointing out little references he made along the way. If you’re a fan of knowing what was going on behind the scenes you will really enjoy these.
While the sexy elements of this comic will be enough to turn some people off, I think that Empowered will appeal to anyone who is willing to look past that and see all the other great elements which make its whole. Due to its Japanese influences and the way it uses T&A for humour, many fans of anime and manga will get the appeal of this series.
Empowered is being serialised as part of the Hiveworks webcomic network and can be found can be read at empoweredcomic.com. As of writing this there’s 110 pages of the first volume released already, with new pages released daily.