Review: Empowered – Nine Beers with Ninjette (One-Shot)

I do wish that this series was a monthly title again. I understand that creators don’t always feel the same way especially when working on the material for a large chunk of their career, but Empowered remains one of the best superhero titles published today. I would probably make an argument that it’s Dark Horse’s best supertitle and considering how strong their relaunched line of superhero books is… that’s saying something. This book is going to fool you into thinking it’s all about Ninjette and that’s an easy mistake to make considering the fact that she narrates almost the entire issue and it’s all about her past. But it’s not. It does in fact give a ton of details about Ninjette’s past, but it uses these for comparisons in her life so that we understand why she’s friends with Emp. In fact the most important information comes to us via Emp’s narration in the beginning of the story. Emp goes on and on about how great Ninjette is and can’t figure out why she bothers to hang out with her. The good thing here is that it’s not a “lipstick lesbian” story, but a true story of friendship.

The narrative is actually very clever as Ninjette narrates a different time in her life with each beer. When she’s reached a certain number it brings forth a memory in her mind. Some of them are good like her first beer that reminds her of the first time she meet Emp and how they began their friendship. The second beer takes her back to a time with her abusive ninja father interrogating her with ninja beer and a girl that Ninjette once regarded as a friend. The memories tend to bounce back and forth like this as some are good and some are bad, but all of them reveal key aspects of Ninjette’s personality and why she’s friends with Emp.

Empowered Special - Nine Beers with Ninjette CoverThe story telling is amazing. This is because on the surface level most people will just see Ninjette’s origin and how she meets Emp. It’s easy to miss the rest of the story if you’re not paying attention even though the ending holds it up to your face for you to figure out. The story was entertaining, but still had a range of emotions that I associate with this series. It was also a great look at the history of the series which for new readers would make it easy to jump on board.

The artwork is stunning. Warren does a little himself, but for the most part it’s all Miyazawa. The black and white art style has always fit this series and it’s a nice change of pace to see a full issue that way. Not that I haven’t enjoyed the previous specials and their colored sections, but this issue was far more fluid because of it. Miyazawa also captures the wide range of emotions from the characters and trust me it’s quite the gambit; from Emp’s insecurities to Ninjette’s overwhelming sadness, it’s all there.

One thing that these specials always manage to do is make me want more of this series. I still have plenty to catch up on, but I would love to have more of this series each month and I know I’m not alone. If you’ve never read it before or even heard of it before then check it out. It’s a great series and this issue definitely gives you a place to start.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Adam Warren Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 9/25/13