Lovefool 06.04.12| Hey, Girl, Nice Hypermembrane

Lovefool raves about one of comicdom’s few legitimately sexy titles, Adam Warren’s Empowered.

 

I’m sorry, nerdlings, but my brain has been completely melted by this video of Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams that is suddenly all over the internet like it’s 2005 again. Someone fetch me a glass of ice water. Seriously. That pretty much greeted me, all over Jezebel and Tumblr and everywhere else in the world and I am completely mesmerized by it. Because that is sexy. And, you know, we here at Lovefool, Inc, might be a little prudish, but there’s prudish and then there’s dead, which is what I would have to be to not feel a little funny watching that video. I mean, those are two attractive people who were clearly in love with each other at the time and seriously. Whew. Hey, Ryan Gosling.
 
And then I had to start working on this column and it made me slightly pouty. Why can’t comics manage to capture that? Because I could write a thousand words on Ryan and Rachel’s clinch in about fifteen minutes. I mean, yeah, they are two different mediums and I am perfectly willing to grant that. There’s a few flashes here and there but there’s always some overtone of something squick to ruin everything. I can only think of two really sexy comics that didn’t scare the hell out of me eventually. Wait, one, because Paradise Kiss was all about a power play and that’s not cool. And the one is very tongue-in-cheek about the whole thing. I’m talking, of course, about Adam Warren’s Empowered. Poor Adam Warren. JG,FE reviewed the first volume of Empowered in 2007 and told the horrific tale of how Emp was created – basically as a commission and then a commentary on how creepy comic book fans can be. Because someone was like “Hey, I’m going to give you some money and you draw me several pictures of girls who are all tied up and in trouble” and Warren was like “Yes. I like money. But eww.”
 
I’m paraphrasing, of course, and JG,FE explains it all in more detail in his review but that’s the digest version. But Emp’s adapted from that starting point and shows no signs of slowing down. Warren just released his seventh volume of the series, and each volume seems to get more and more press. She’s a bit of a bumbling superheroine but you can’t help feeling a little sympathetic towards her. Her heart’s in the right place but, frankly, the rest of her usually isn’t. Her superheroine accessory is a skintight catsuit that loses powers as it gets damaged and it gets damaged a lot. Sometimes, I swear her costume is tatters and rope. Needless to say, she doesn’t provide the rope, usually. The costume is also powered by sex, but serendipitously, she met a ridiculously sexy-but-sweet boyfriend, Thugboy, on the job. She also found herself a roommate, Ninjette, at work, like so many do. They were not on the same side but through Emp’s charm, they’ve managed to come around and leave most of their dark pasts behind. And Ninjette might have glanced over at Thugboy a few times, and he might be glancing back but so far he’s doing the right thing. After all, it’s a truth universally accepted that your boyfriend is going to eye up your best friend at least once, it’s what happens after that that matters.
 
Fortunately, she’s quite a package, Elissa Megan Powers, all supermodel frame and blonde hair and gigantic heart to go with the rest of her generous assets, so Thugboy hasn’t strayed, despite Ninjette’s own set of charms. With a sex-powered superheroine prone to getting tied up a lot, the comic spends a lot of time dancing on that fine line between gross and clever. Since Warren’s characters are in the habit of breaking the fourth wall to comment on what’s going on, it seems like Empowered never quite stoops to the level of smut for the sake of smut since there’s a running commentary on the ridiculousness of the situations the cast finds themselves in. I won’t lie, though, Warren’s work would probably be completely outrageous if it weren’t for the wink and a nod below all of it. Emp and Thugboy’s relationship involves a lot of sex but it seems normal and healthy and okay. They love each other. And it involves a lot of nudity, a lot of the time, despite avoiding being strictly porn, which we don’t really do here at PLAYBACK:stl. But, somehow, Empowered always manages to seem sweet and not gross, which is almost as much of an achievement as Rachel McAdams climbing Ryan Gosling like a tree without looking pornographic, just hot. And, now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need a cold shower. Locks in my hair color, you know. | Erin Jameson
 
Click here for a preview of the latest volume of Empowered. And of course, there’s much more where that came from at DarkHorse.com!

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