Empowered: Nine Beers With Ninjette is a B&W, 32 page one-shot set in the Empowered universe established by Adam Warren’s same-titled OGN’s. Warren (Gen 13, Dirty Pair) created the Empowered character as a response to frequent commission requests of the “damsel in distress/sexual in nature” variety. Empowered (Emp to her friends) is a curvaceous woman in a frequently shredded super suit who often finds herself bound and gagged. She’s dating a low level henchman, has an alcoholic ninja BFF (the titular Ninjette) and frequently breaks the fourth wall. The books are funny, and mostly about wacky interpersonal relationships as opposed to superhero fisticuffs. Also, they’re OEL (Original English Language) Manga.
It’s pretty niche stuff is what I’m saying here.
Nine Beers is written by Warren, with a prologue drawn by him and the rest of the issue drawn by Takeshi Miyazawa. It deals mostly with Ninjette, as she tells the reader parts of her life story, each vignette tied to an emotion brought upon by one of the nine beers she is drinking as the story progresses. The tone of Nine Beers is a little darker than the previous Empowered volumes that I’ve read. Ninjette has a drunken and abusive father (also the head of her Ninja Clan) and she struggles with her own alcoholism and self-esteem issues. It’s not all heavy though. There are jokes about New Jersey, bleeped swearing, a French Maid dressed superhero (MaidMan) and discussion of Emp’s sex life. Frankly, at 32 pages it’s a little all over the place as far as tone goes but, having read previous volumes, I’m used to these kind of dramatic swings between humor and pathos.
All the other Empowered material I’ve read was penciled solely by Warren but Miyazawa does a good job pinch hitting here. Just to be clear, the art style is manga. There are speed lines and exaggerated effects. He has a good handle on the more serious moments between Ninjette and her father, with expressive faces that show fear and anger well. Action is clear in the scenes that require it. All in all the penciling is solid but unspectacular.
Nine Beers is a tricky comic to review. It’s billed as a one-shot and between the recap page and the prologue you shouldn’t have an issues understanding what’s going on between the characters. The story itself serves as an origin/introduction for Ninjette. But the fact is Ninjette is a secondary character in the Empowered universe, and the emotional stuff she’s dealing with in Nine Beers reads better if you have some previous experience with her and Emp’s relationship. I’d say that if you found yourself intrigued by the recap of the Empowered universe in the first paragraph you would be best served by reading the first OGN volume. If you’re already a regular Empowered reader then Nine Beers serves as an interesting look into the origin of one of the series best characters.