cover image Empowered & Sistah Spooky’s High School Hell

Empowered & Sistah Spooky’s High School Hell

Adam Warren and Carla Speed McNeil. Dark Horse, $19.99 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-5067-0661-0

Warren’s ongoing Empowered series, about a bouncy superheroine who gets her powers from a tissue-thin costume and winds up in bondage at least once per issue, is at once parody and celebration of cheesecake superhero comic books. This side story is scripted by Warren but drawn by Eisner winner McNeil (Finder), who gives this outing a distinctively less T and A–centric vibe than usual. “Emp” and fellow superheroine Sistah Spooky, a black magician in a midriff-baring top, are transported to a hell based on Spooky’s high school memories and packed with a student body of demonic mean girls. (“That white-girl titter... so painfully familiar...”) Together the heroines fight living text messages, get caught in prehensile blonde hair, and even wage a rap battle. In typical Empowered style, the deliberately goofy plot is little more than an excuse for wild visuals and cheeky self-referential humor (“What sweaty perv designed these uniforms?” Emp demands), peppered with nods to gender and race issues that are well-meaning, though they feel a bit out of place in a silly romp of a story. McNeil draws very attractive people, but they’re much more straightforwardly human than Warren’s versions, who look like jiggly rubber toys. The less salacious visual look feels appropriate for the high school setting, though the characters are technically their adult selves. This is a gleeful, sexy, slyly smart adventure. (Feb.)