Cambrian Comics Friday Showcase: My favorite comics #1

WARNING: THE POST BELOW CONTAINS SOME HARSH LANGUAGE AND NAUGHTY PHOTOS OF SCANTILY CLAD WOMEN.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!

So here we are at the countdown of my top 5 favorite comics.  Here’s a quick recap.

5. DMZ

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4. Sandman

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3. Chew

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2. Saga

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You’ll notice a distinct lack of superheroes in this list, which is surprising considering that when a lot of people hear the word “comic” they tend to think of superheroes.  Well have no fear, because my number one all time favorite comic every created is…

1. Empowered (Dark Horse Comics)

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Author: Adam Warren

Artist: Adam Warren

Number of issues: 8 volumes as of this article

Written and drawn by Adam Warren, Empowered tells the story of a struggling super heroine trying to build a career and reputation in city filled with super heroes.  While she means well there’s a small problem.  See she’s a normal everyday mortal who became a superhero when a mysterious suit literally dropped out of the sky.

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When she’s wearing the suit she has the strength of ten men, the ability to shoot energy blasts out of her hands,

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and a whole host of other abilities such as x ray vision, the ability to stick to walls, and even the ability to survive in the vacuum of space.  However, there are two small problems.  Despite the suit’s amazing powers it is incredibly…clingy and form fitting (she can’t wear underwear under her suit) and it also has the annoying habit of tearing really easily despite being bullet proof which means this happens a lot.

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Yeah.

Also, while the suit grants her incredible power when it’s intact, she looses her powers when she looses too much of the suit becoming a mere mortal in the process.  And what do comic book bad guys do when they find a helpless damsel in distress?

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Wait, don’t go just yet!

Empowered is a very difficult comic book to defend at face value.  Yes, there are a lot of skimpy outfits.  Yes the lead character plays up the “I’m blonde and pretty but I suck at everything” routine very well and yes she does get tied up a lot and winds up in very…compromising situations.  And YES, the author does like to draw “sexy” shots of his lead character like this.

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and this

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and, sweet Jesus God, this:

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But bear with me here because, much like the main character of this story, there is much more to it if you look beyond skin deep.

For starters, if you got past the T&A you’ll notice two things about the artwork.  First off, it’s all in black and white and second of all, it’s amazing!  Adam Warren has a very distinct manga style of drawing and when he’s not doing pinups he can draw really detailed and AMAZING scenery and action with nothing but pencils and ink.

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And then there’s the supporting cast of this comic.  The secondary and supporting characters in this story are some of the best I’ve ever read.  Empowered’s best friend is an ass kicking, high flying, perpetually drunk, ninja assassin named Ninjette, so called because she decided to stamp that name on her tiny…tiny shorts.

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She’s also part of the city’s resident superhero team the “Super Homeys”

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(yeah, it’s that kind of comic) with some rather…colorful characters like Major Havoc

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and Empowered’s perpetual rival, nemesis, and lady determined to make her life miserable: Sistah Spooky.

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Empowered also has two other roommates: a demonic overlord trapped in a power bondage belt (long story) that lives on her coffee table and has a very colorful vocabulary.

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and her boyfriend, a former minion (and may or may not have been the inspiration for a certain webcomic about a family of supervillains on this site) to a whole host of super villains named Thugboy.

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This may seem like a lot of information to fit into a comic book but Adam Warren gives each of these characters a chance to shine and gives most of them a fully fleshed out backstory and motivation.  Ninjette is running away from her abusive father, Thugboy is haunted by a job gone wrong and his own prejudices against caped heroes, and if I go any further I will spoil something and I do NOT want to do that.

Which brings us to Empowered herself.

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Yes there is the bondage and the skimpy outfits and the ditsy blonde routine but I think she is one of the most complete female characters in literature, and I’m not just talking about comics.  For starters, when she’s not bemoaning her insecurities and crying into a glass of wine she can kick quite a bit of ass.  She knows her limitations and when her suit’s gone and she’s bound and gagged she doesn’t just give up.  She gets really creative and is often able to win the day with her wits and mind.

Second, she isn’t just some shrinking violet when in comes to sex.  Despite the fact that she’s incredibly insecure about her appearance she and Thugboy fuck like rabbits without a hint of shame.

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Also, Empowered is one of the kindest and trustworthy heroes out there.  There’s a short story in one of the volumes where she’s being held prisoner and uses her x-ray vision to see that one of her captors has a blood clot in his brain that will kill him.  She manages to convince him to go to the hospital and winds up saving his life.  I don’t think there are too many mainstream hero who would do that for a lowly thug.

And finally there’s her motivation.  As I said before, Empowered is a struggling super heroine who is trying to make her mark in the world and despite all the compromising situations she gets put in

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despite the continuous abuse and ridicule she endures from her teammates and enemies and despite the incredible danger she faces on a nearly daily basis, she continues to work her ass off to be the best superhero she can be.  Not for fame, glory, or to help pay off her student loans…but because she is a superhero and damn anyone who tries to convince her otherwise.

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Next week, something completely different.

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