I Wanna Be Literated #204

I Wanna Be Literated #204

Thursday, 09 May 2019

Empowered and Sistah Spooky’s High School Hell
by Adam Warren, Carla McNeil, Jenn Lee

Adam Warren is someone who’s easily underrated in the comic book world. In addition to that he’s also underappreciated. His contribution to the Dirty Pair franchise was funny, innovative, looked great, and somehow just kept getting better. And it’s this same unique sensibility that Warren was able to bring to Gen13. In a run that included so many ups and downs, Warren’s issues were consistent high points and some would argue (myself included) that he was the only one that ever understood its characters.

Warren has taken a particularly punk rock approach to his comics over the years, focusing on the completely creator-driven DIY comic Empowered. This has been another high point both for him and comics as it offered a unique perspective and style to the superhero genre which is all the rage these days. It’s really the minutia of being a superhero that can be the most interesting (because it’s what we relate to that always strikes the biggest chord) and something that Warren understands at a deep level: how do superheroes function when they’re not on the clock? Of course, there are plenty of great sequences, intense battles, deep storylines and character development in Empowered that make it such a rich comic.

Empowered and Sistah Spooky’s High School Hell serves as a standalone or “meanwhile” storyline which is really a great way to experiment. It reminds me a lot of the Dirty Pair Run from the Future plotline where our two superheroes have a simple task to complete and encounter colorful characters along the way. Here, our heroines are brought to hell by Sistah Spooky’s IFP (Infernal Service Provider) who gave her her powers in the first place and tasked with battling their way through a recreation of her torturous high school experience complete with all its villains: Sistah Spooky’s evil gorgeous blonde peers. The story is masterfully written of course and knows how to strike a balance between deep and purely visceral. New artist Carla Speed McNeil’s style took some getting used to but after some pages became second nature. Her line-work is so detailed and is really a great compliment for the setting of the comic. McNeil manages to perfectly understand the look of the characters while still making them unique (which is harder than you might think considering the subject).

Empowered and Sistah Spooky’s High School Hell is a great comic, full of colorful characters and a deep story, and is a perfect example of the razor sharp writing Adam Warren does so well.

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