If you’ve read either of the first two volumes of Adam Warren’s Empowered (Dark Horse), you know that the series was born from commission work that Warren did for fans with what one might delicately refer to as “specialized interests.” Early in the third volume is a story more directly inspired by those pieces. It struck me as a misstep in an otherwise really effective series.
(Spoilers after the jump.)
In the introduction to the story, the title character warily notes the difference in style. Instead of the loose, friendly pencils used in the rest of the book, it’s “inked with markers, for that chiaroscuro-riffic kinda look.” Empowered is kidnapped by thugs, used as a bet in a poker game, is discarded, and later breaks down while having car sex with her boyfriend, sobbing and begging for affirmation.
It’s creepy as hell, visually and tonally antithetical to just about everything else in the book. Or maybe “antithetical” is the wrong word. It’s the rest of the book stripped of satirical wit and generosity of spirit, and I can take a stab at what the point might be. “This is what you’re laughing at when you get right down to it… humiliation and suffering.”
Warren doesn’t waste pages, so the story works on those terms. But wow, it sure leaves an aftertaste. It’s like brushing your teeth, then drinking orange juice. I can’t really say I enjoyed the return to business as usual – fumbling heroics, loyal friend, loving boyfriend – after that early screed.