Friday, June 10, 2011

Empowered: 10 Questions for the Maidman

Writer: Adam Warren
Artist: Adam Warren
Company: Dark Horse Comics

You pretty much know a comic is good when you find yourself truly engaged by its contents.  With an action book, if the explosions don't singe your eyebrows or you're not flipping the pages at a pace that would make the Flash envious, they've done something wrong.  With a humor comic, which Empowered most certainly is, laughter is the bread and butter of the occasion, the one thing that it should strive to elicit from the reader.  If it can succeed in that one aspect, it's done its job.

So did this issue of Empowered do it's job?

Yes, yes it did.  If you're not familiar with the overall concept of Empowered, let's touch on that before we get into the specifics of this particular issue.  This is a book that is many things.  One aspect of it focuses on the life of a superhero who owns a super-suit, one that gives her various amounts of powers, but comes with the caveat of losing said power when it gets damaged.  And that is something which happens frequently and typically puts said hero into "strange" situations, namely getting tied up.  Another aspect is a relationship story between our main hero and an ex-henchman named Thugboy.  The book has a very Slice of Life meets The Tick feel to it, a humorous but sweet story that doesn't shy away from the crude humor and sex jokes but also doesn't forget to have heart.  I'm not talking about heart in a Captain Planet sort of way (or maybe I am).  I'm talking that Warren has really built these characters up in a very real way.  Or to put it a bit better, Empowered is like that beloved sitcom that you keep coming back to because you're friends with the characters and you care about what happens to them.

This specific issue, as the title informs you, is all about Maidman.  Who is that?  Well, he's basically Batman, you know, if Batman wore a frilly French maid outfit and liked to flash the pair of heart emblazoned panties he happened to be wearing.  Truthfully, Maidman is an odd call for a special as he's a small character that was recently introduced in the main series.  Still, Warren really tackles the character with gusto and makes you like him, oddness and all, through great comedy.  The way in which Warren does that and goes into more depth with the character here is, quite cleverly, is through an Entertainment Tonight like interview where the character is asked 10 questions about his superhero self.  Warren doesn't neglect our poor heroine either, as interspersed throughout those questions and answers are chapters that focus on Emp and Thugboy, usually referencing Maidman as he relates to their personal life or her superhero career.  Something else that I should mention is that Warren makes 10 Questions for the Maidman a very accessible issue for everyone, even for those people who have never read Empowered before.

Warren's art is always fun to look at.  This books sees a combination of both his traditional black & white art and his color art.  As Empowered is usually a black & white book, the color always throws me a bit.  Not that it's bad, because it's actually rather striking, but since it's not the normal way that we've seen the characters and the stories before, it feels strange.  Still, no matter what style he's using, the artwork is gorgeous.  Warren's linework is very similar to what can be found in many Japanese Manga today, as his lines are tight and animated pieces that focus on high impact action and larger than life emotions.  The b&w panels have a looseness to them and are able to really get every point that happens in each panel across to the reader.  His color pages have a cleaner look to them and the colors that he uses specifically are bright and vivid, perfectly matching the over the top humor of the book.

But yes, 10 Question for the Maidman does its job very well.  I giggled like a schoolgirl, pardon the pun, countless times whether it was in regards to a villain named Tiger Shrimp (who wears a giant shrimp on his head) or to an idea that has Emp wanting Thugboy wear a maid's outfit.  Warren simply understands comedy and uses it to the utmost of his ability.  There are few comics that can do that with such regularity and oomph.  Empowered is one of them.

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