Both of today's books were impulse buys of a sort. One because I didn't even know it was coming out until the weekend before, the other because the title just sounded interesting when I saw it in Previews.
Empowered Special #7, by Adam Warren (story and art) - Alright, ridiculously huge firearms!
There are two threads in this issue. In one, Emp keeps fighting these normally calmer villains, who are now toting around major ordinance and acting completely kill-happy over various slights. Emp had a similar encounter some time earlier and realizes the weaponry has been designed to take over the user's mind and unleash their pent-up hostility. The other thread is Emp talking about how she really doesn't mind that even though she's been the Big Damn Hero saving the world for a while now, the villains, her teammates, and the public at large all still treat her like she's just a screw-up who is constantly getting captured. As you might guess, she isn't really as OK with all that as she lets on, which nearly has disastrous consequences when one of the weapons attaches itself to her.
Originally, Empowered was a series of sketches someone commissioned from Warren for a heroine in a skintight outfit that got tied up a lot. The buyer didn't pay up, so Warren turned it into a series about a heroine everyone perceives as being that, but then explores who she is really. In the earlier issues, she tended to get sad and depressed when people who make fun of her, so it's interesting to see that produce a different emotion. And I like how Warren uses it, where we know Emp is right, she's a much better hero than anyone gives her credit for, because they only look at the surface. So we sympathize with her, and depending on how you're inclined, you might have even rooted for her to take out her frustration a bit. No? Just me? Fine, whatever. But as it turns out, she's in control of things. Even if the disrespect bugs her, she's made a certain amount of peace with it, and doesn't let it ruin her life.
Warren's work is pretty much how I remember it from the last one of these I bought. He really makes the black-and-white work for him, especially when it comes to explosions. He draws excellent unfeasibly large weapons, too. I like the touch that the large ones appear to have maneuvering jets, or little turboprops to help the user keep them level. Not everybody can be Cable, thank goodness.
Henchgirl #1, by Kristen Gudsnuk - I couldn't find a credits page anywhere, so I'm going with what was on the front cover. I could probably check its website, since it's an online comic, but I'm lazy. Anyway, as long as she doesn't let them look inside the bag of mon - er, laundry, she'll be fine. There's not even a dollar sign on it, so they may not even ask.
Mary's a henchgirl in the Butterfly Gang, but isn't totally committed to it. She likes the money, seems to like acting cool at weapons buys. But she's pretty excited when her roommate gets her an interview for a job waiting tables at a family restaurant (which is one of the levels of my personal hell). She's not the only one in the gang, and the boss has a favorite assistant, who's kind of a suck-up, that Mary has to contend with. Mary did think she'd succeeded in diverting them from Coco's plan to rob an orphanage of renovation funds, by suggesting they rob a notable billionaire during his costume party, but instead they're going to do both.
I'm guessing Mary's going to try and figure out how to rob the rich guy, and thwart Coco's plan. Although the plan involves blocking the construction efforts, which is going to take place over weeks, so that might not work. Unless she can use her share of the cash from the robbery.
I liked it. It's charming, probably because the villainy is sort of old school. Not a lot of casualties or revenge plots. Instead we get themed gangs that pull heists and weird science monsters like a living road. There's a fair amount of humor from Mary's sort of awkward placement in society, where she's a villain, and she knows it's bad, and kind of hates it, but needs the money. Or maybe it's just being a henchperson and getting blown up for other people's schemes that bothers her.
I think the thing I laughed at hardest was when she went back to the bank they robbed at the start of the issue to deposit her share, and when the teller mentions they were robbed, she gives this incredibly fake, "Oh, that's terrible!" The combination of how Gudsnuk letters the "terrible" (all in caps, bold, slightly curved inside the speech balloon), combined with the pose she gives Mary, with one hand to her cheek in mock surprise, tickled me. Also, it contrasts nicely with how innocent she looks as she approaches the tell we, and how happy she is as she departs. There's a lot of good work with expressions on display. I've been trying to think of who Gudsnuk's art reminds me of, and I keep coming back to Faith Erin Hicks, but that doesn't seem right. Gudsnuk's is more rounded, her characters look, the word "squishier" comes to mind. Either way, it works for me, so we'll see when the second issue gets released.