Comic Picks By The Glick

Empowered vol. 7

June 12, 2012

A YEAR AND A HALF!  That’s about how long we’ve had to wait for this new volume of Adam Warren’s great sex/comedy/action/superhero series.  I feel the need to vent about this because the first four volumes came out every six months like clockwork, with the subsequent two following in successive years.  Now you can’t rush greatness or the creative process, but... I just feel let down by the ever-lengthening wait between volumes.

Of course, in every situation where there’s an extended wait between anything released from a particular creative type it all boils down to whether or not it was worth the wait.  (Is there anyone out there waiting to hear more from Axl Rose’s version of Guns ‘N Roses after “Chinese Democracy?”  Are fans clamoring for “Duke Nukem Forever 2?”  Didn’t think so.)  Bitching aside, this was.  Though the execution almost makes one think that the whole wait came down to the fact that his structural plans for this volume were almost too ambitious for his own good.

After the recap , things start off proper with five pages of images arranged in no particular order from scenes later in the volume.  The Caged Demonwolf is also on hand to let us know that time’s arrow flows much differently for beings such as he.  From there we’re treated to an impressively fractured narrative that jumps through time periods such well-planned surprises that I thought I was reading a Garth Ennis comic.  The copious amounts of near-nudity, sex, and f-bombs made it abundantly clear that this is Warren’s baby through and through.  Only he would center a volume around a grudge-match between rival clans of ninjas from New Jersey and make it play out like someone chopped up “Memento” and rearranged the plot into a moebius shoelace.

You’ve also got these “Counter-Factual Scenarios” strewn throughout the book where we find out that what we’ve just read was either false or just all in a particular character’s head.  Most of the time they’re used in ways that don’t affect the main plot too much, but they still feel like “cheating” more often than not.  Yes, even when he utilizes a well-placed one at the end for maximum dramatic effect.

It almost feels too clever for its own good, but Warren manages to keep the narrative momentum flowing throughout the book.  Even though the story keeps coming back to the “Now,” which involves Ninjette in a fight for her life against the Ayakami clan, the majority of the book takes place in the past where we get the usual “Empowered” goods involving the title character’s ongoing quest for self-esteem.  I’ll be the first to admit that the constant stream of T&A does grow numbing after a while, and the author seems to be utterly determined to wear the shock value out of the f-word by throwing around like he was getting paid for it.  (Which, I guess he was, but I was thinking more along the lines of someone offering him a dollar on some kind of side bet for every f-bomb he dropped here. But I digress.)  Yet there’s still real substance in his dissection of the characters as Empowered finds out the real reason her suit keeps failing her, and Ninjette deals with her father issues and finds out that she has more in common with him than she would’ve liked.  Hell, the scene where the Caged Demonwolf “dials it back” is almost worth the price of admission itself.  Though the title’s excesses constantly work against it, there’s always enough substance to balance things out and usually surpass them.

Of course, it also helps that Warren is an action storyteller par excellence and gives us some of the most badass ninja action that you’ll see in a comic not originally published in Japan.  It is also frequently very funny, with Daisykutter’s mind-controlled alibis, Thugboy’s pontification on the power of the title character’s booty, and “You couldn’t recognize by now what I sound like  with something jammed in my mouth?” being some of the highlights.  What I’m trying to say is that even though the structure of this volume and its “Counter-Factual Scenarios” make it harder to get into than previous volumes, it’s still a worthy addition to the “Empowered” canon.  So here’s to waiting for the next volume -- and the resolution to the Sistah Spooky/Mindf--k story -- and the hope that it’ll arrive sometime next year.

*starts crossing fingers now*

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App