ADVANCE REVIEW! Empowered Special #2: Ten Questions for the Maidman will come out on June 8, 2011.
It’s hard to tell just when Ten Questions for the Maidman won me over. Was it when our eponymous superheroine addressed a set of bad guys as the plural of doofus? Was it the super awesome VORPP sound effect as she expels her explosive energy attack? Or maybe it’s the existence of the Batmanesque superhero Maidman, who looks like a Chippendales dancer in a french maid costume?
Either way, this Empowered special was made for me. While I’ve always enjoyed the work of Adam Warren — call me a fairweather fan, because I still haven’t picked up the fourth issue of Bubblegum Crisis: Grand Mal — I haven’t looked into Empowered despite high praise from people I respect. Now, having read a $3.50 no-commitment standalone Empowered story, I want to go back and read the six tankobon-esque volumes of the series proper. So if that was this special’s intent, it has accomplished it, and I am thankful.
For those who are too lost in Power Girl’s boob windows to pay attention to real comics, Empowered is about an attractive young female superhero with body image issues and a power-granting costume that’s almost always in tatters, so one imagines she loses her powers and gets captured a lot, kind of like early Wonder Woman. She’s got a boyfriend called Thugboy, a booze-loving ninja best friend and something called a “Caged Demonwolf” that lives on her coffee table. It’s all very tongue in cheeky.
Oh, and it’s also hilarious. The centerpiece of Ten Questions for the Maidman is a full-color TV segment where a superhero Seacrest named Blitzcraig interviews the aforementioned maid-themed superhero (and best Batman analogue ever) and uses words like “Superinteresting” as ever-changing captions reminiscent of Joe Casey’s The Intimates run across the bottom of most panels. They discuss superheroic issues like Maidman’s strategic use of panty flashes to stun enemies (“After all, studios show that the male gaze is automatically drawn to the crotch when looking at any human figure. Science!“) and Maidman mentions a set of gadgets he has “Doilyrangs.” Doilyrangs.
It’s all very giggleworthy, and reminiscent of a really manic anime/manga — something like Hetalia: Axis Powers but without the Looney Tunes surreality — delivered with equal parts subversion and the base titillation of scantily clad girls, crossdressing boys and shit exploding. It’s hard to see a need for other superhero comics when Empowered has it all.
Ten Questions for the Maidman crosscuts between Empowered’s superhero antics and Maidman’s TV interview the latter of which Emily Warren (no relation) illustrates in a slick Jo Chen style that could be used for anything — manga, superhero comics, kung fu manhua — but in this context heightens the hilarity. That she draws Maidman — who sits in very feminine cross-legged poses — like a muscular adonis makes the character even funnier than if it were just some androgynous bishonen type.
Adam Warren draws the Empowered-focused sections himself, and in doing so delivers exactly what you’d want in an Adam Warren-drawn superhero comic — weird technology that’s perfectly rendered like a Shirow Masamune robot, highly detailed explosions, thick lips. This shit is more kinetic than skydiving. I assume that Warren letters his pages himself, because they’ve got an amazing handmade feel about them — they’re way more effective and dynamic than most modern lettering techniques will allow. If I may direct you again to the VORPPs:
Empowered Special #2: Ten Questions for the Maidman ends with a preview of the upcoming Empowered Volume 7, due in Spring 2012. A clever bit of advance promotion, as this (I assume representative) Ten Questions for the Maidman special sells me on the premise of the comic more than any Point One issue or relaunch ever could. Consider me one of the converted, Empowered.