Tuesday, October 18, 2011


WHEN my friend and comic aficionado gave me the first issue of Empowered I thought it was a sick joke. Within the first ten pages Empowered, the titular heroine, was kidnapped, sapped of her powers, bound and gagged, all while wearing a skin-tight body suit that had been less that tastefully ripped to sheds. I asked me "friend" why he bought me this "comic" he simply told me to read on. And so I plowed through clishe after clishe, fan service after fan service until one day I was just delirious enough on lack of sleep to see the true meaning of Empowered. Little had I noticed that Elissa Megan Powers (Empowered's civilian name) had grown into a full fledged superheroine. With each passing battle no matter how battered she got, no matter how many times the powers of her super suit failed her (and believe me the shoddily crafted supersuit is a plot point in itself) she kept trying. Her affiliates, the Superhomeys, would relentlessly tease her on account of her uselessness, but where others would storm off in angry huffs, Empowered would stays true to her desires; to protect civilians. Empowered is so much more than a tasteless parody (although based on the art alone one could argue this), it is a commentary on all of the societal pressures, expectations, stereotypes and fears that are heaped on women. The tightness and fragility of her supersuit leaves her almost naked, and vulnerable, but she presses on. The fact that she is a bit of a ditz makes others call her stupid, but she presses on. The fact that she has never once been praised by her team keeps her pressing on. Although a few of the latter volumes got a bit to sexually graphic for my tastes, *cough* I still have respect for the author clever enough to empathize with women while reminding them that when society says you can't, keep pressing on.

Here's a preview of the first volume (not for the faint of heart)

I couldn't find a preview of a later volumes for character development comparisons but if you take my word for it, there is a lot.


  1. I think this is a really good example of how works that seem to be degrading women on the surface turn out to have a deeper meaning through the liberalization of women. When I read this post it reminded me of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The short story seems to simply be reiterating the tortured journal of a locked up and abused wife, but it really tells of how this locked up and abused wife was able to set her mind at ease through writing and ultimately liberate herself from the constraints of her husband. I think these types of works are important, as they broaden the format style for feminist pieces.

  2. I agree with Elizabeth and "especiallyzoidberg." I think that sometimes it can be just as important to see a woman come back from a traumatizing experience as it is to see a woman empowered from the start. It is these types of stories that provide motivation for women in similar situations to persevere and come back on top. It is always important to take some time to consider a story and find its deeper meaning. In stories like these, there almost always is one.


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