A few readers may stop by this column to get a balanced critique of Adam Warren’s Empowered Volume 7. I’ll tell you right now: you ain’t gonna get it. This isn’t so much an article by a book reviewer as it is a love-letter to a comic by a fangirl. I’m about to sing this praises of this book until I run out of synonyms for “awesome.”
There’s a little something for everybody in this volume: sexy stories, skimpy costumes, bad singing, beer drinking, kidnapping, cross-dressing, ghosts, jerks, immortal aliens, zombie superheroes, love that lives forever, psychopaths who just won’t die, bondage, beheadings, flashbacks, foreshadowing, and one hell of a kick-ass ninja fight scene. (Just typing that sentence made me tired, reading the book will wear you out.)
As usual, Adam’s artwork is beautifully complex. I can’t ever get enough of his faces; he gets so much depth and emotion in their expressions, I could just stare at them for ages. (Not to mention Thugboy’s physique. I could stare at that for a good long while too.)
Surprisingly, Emp doesn’t get tied up even once during the present timeline, but don’t worry, bondage-bunnies: she gets trussed up in plenty of flashbacks and stories about her earliest days as a struggling superhero. She also learns something about her costume that’s either going to make her life a teeny bit easier or way more difficult, depending on how she deals with it.
The first chapter is a good preview for the style of the whole book: the timeline jumps around a lot, but it’s not hard to figure out what’s going on. It’s an interesting way to tell the story, and it keeps you guessing. For instance: I’d heard beforehand that there’d be a major ninja battle in this book, and I was surprised when it started well before the halfway point of the book. I figured I’d been mistaken about how big the fight was going to be.
It turns out the fight is epic, and lasts a really, really long time. The timeline just switches from the fight to a flashback for a couple chapters before returning, with the battle getting more and more intense. Every time it jumps away you’re pulling your hair out, wondering what’s going to happen. And then you get so caught up in whatever other story you’re reading, when you go back to the fight scene it startles you all over again. It’s a great way to stage a long, violent, climactic battle without getting bogged down. (The way it did in Transformers 3. Did anybody else get really bored during that?)
Ninjette and Oyuki-Chan get the majority of the plotlines in this volume (and what wonderfully horrific plotlines they are) but we still get just enough interesting tidbits about Mindf**k, Sistah Spooky, and Thugboy to tide us over until volume 8. (I’m actually a little nervous about Thugboy’s backstory; the more we hear about it the more awful it sounds. I can’t imagine finding out anything that would make me hate him, but I’m not sure Emp will feel the same way.) There were even a few scenes with Major Havoc that made me hopeful; not that he’ll get some redeeming qualities, but that he’ll finally earn himself a spectacularly messy death. Haaaaaaate that guy.
And then there’s the scene with Ninjette in the bathtub. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s probably one of the most powerful, well-written scenes in the whole book, maybe in the entire series. It caught me completely off guard. Not only is it an amazing scene all on its own, but we also get the explanation for why the timeline of this book is all over the place. I’d love to say more, but I want you to be as surprised by it as I was.
We waited a year and a half for Volume 7 to come out, and I don’t care if it’s another year and a half before Empowered 8 comes out. Heck, make it two years. Because I’m telling you right now: it’ll be worth the wait. This one sure was.