Empowered Vol. 9 Review

I was hesitant to continue to review Empowered Vol. 9, but Adam Warren has really gone meta with this series. I’ll get into the analysis of how it approaches the role of female characters in comics in a bit. First, we all need to recognize that the window dressing of Empowered hides a creator trying to do something more than draw lots of pictures of a scantily clad super-heroine in various states of bondage, despite that being the origin of the series from some 2004 commissions. Since then, Adam Warren has been striving to make the series something more than that.

empowered vol. 9EMPOWERED VOL. 9

Writer: Adam Warren
Artist: Adam Warren
Publication Date: August 19, 2015
Format: b&w, 208 pages, TPB, 6 1/2” x 9”
Price: $17.99
Age range: 16-up
ISBN: 1-61655-571-8

Already under suspicion and suspended from her superteam, costumed crime fighter Empowered finds herself the bewildered target of every major supervillain in the cape-and-tights field for her supposed access to alien technology. Underestimated as she is, can our long-suffering but plucky heroine outwit her tormentors—and escape the sinister Fleshmaster’s revenge?

empowered vol. 9 p6

Like I said, I was hesitant to review Empowered Vol.9. I’ve been very firm on the portrayal of women in comics, and how it needs to present them as sex objects a lot less. Adam Warren originally crafted it from some very fetish-themed commissions. Over the years, he has crafted an entire universe of off-beat heroes and villains and made Empowered a more well-rounded character. I’m happy to say he continues this development, and Emp begins to assert herself more and more.

The second story, an aside from the main tale, illustrates this perfectly. Without going into spoiler territory, it shows how strong Emp has become over the course of her career. She does realize her reputation, but understands that she is more than that. The main tale is a good example of lengthy storytelling. However, there are numerous things that pop out of nowhere, which is the weakest part of the storytelling. Fortunately, the strengths more than make up for it.

Adam Warren’s manga-inspired style is on full, gorgeous display. I have a fondness for the straight-to-pencils technique that he uses on Empowered, and even works in scenes that require deep, dark blacks. The characters he creates look as absurd as their names, but quickly show a level of threat that makes me worry about poor Emp. He also manages to make her expressive despite wearing a mask. I also admire him using genuine female body types, instead of supermodel or porn star physiques.

So, if you’re a more mature reader that doesn’t mind a comic that challenges the traditional role of women in comics, then consider it safe to pick up Empowered Vol. 9. It’s a good, self-contained story that allows the lead character to grow as a person.