I've written about Empowered a lot here (so much so I've gone through and tagged all the posts for easy access for the next time I talk about Empowered) but haven't yet, to my knowledge (and the blog's search capabilities) said anything about the one-shots Adam Warren periodically runs in between releases of the larger book that usually riff on a piece of the universe he's built up around the titular bondage-prone heroine.
Part of the reason I haven't is due to the fact that I've never thought to when I sit down to blog (and you would think, given how hard up I am for content, that it would be a "gimmie") and partly the other reason is that they're more entertaining in theory than in practice--technically accomplished (Warren chooses artists for these that match his style, but add some of their own to it as he tends not to draw the entirety of these one-shots).The first one-shot "The Wench With A Million Sighs" was ostensibly an analysis of Empowered by fan-favorite character Caged Demonwolf, who Warren had already overexposed and walloped into the ground in an earlier volume. The second, "Ten Question For The Maidman" featured his Batman riff in a featured role, and while in theory it should have been funnier than it was, it didn't quite get there.
The most recent one-shot "Hell Bent or Heaven Sent" is the strongest of the one-shots so far, as it features an air-tight concept, some genuinely amusing conceits, and manages to make a pointed comment on the ever-present "male gaze" in superhero comics a literal story point, and if one were so disposed, one might also read guest artist Ryan Kinnard's (he of the quasi-infamous MAX Phoenix book that was blog-fodder a few years and that, all things considered, is best forgotten) presence as an added layer of commentary, if one so wanted to do that, though it might be carrying things too far.
The plot of the story involves Empowered being introduced to the Superhomeys storage vault--one of the many places they teleport all their debris, junk, decommissioned weaponry and God only knows what else. The vault is overseen by legendary "douchemecha" (I love this book if only for coining that phrase) Mechanismo (who talks like Razor Ramon, which is just damn funny, no matter what), who got his powers from an alien female robot and can't understand the operating system that runs it all. This leads to him just randomly clicking on stuff just to accomplish something close to what he wants, which leads to the crisis this issue, because he exports his porn cache out and, since it's a nanotechnology plague, Empowered is alone against a very smutty version of a Grey Goo Bomb.
There's a lot of good bits in here (apparently superpowered mechs spend all their time scanning bits of girls they like and merging them in Photoshop, which explains a whole lot about superheroes and Photoshop users, now that I think about it.) and allows Kinnard to do what he does best--draw sexy ladies attacking Our Heroine whilst shouting "SEXY TIME!"
One must play to one's skill set.
The whole thing is clever enough and manages (for the most part) to have it's smutty cake while commenting/eating it too, and it's clever without being too impressed with itself, which, in some points along the way with Empowered, Warren sis guilty of doing. Thankfully, things keep moving at a sufficiently brisk pace to where that's not an issue here.
Which is good--however, the story doesn't "end" as much as "stops suddenly," It's odd, when you consider that the main books of Empowered are collections of short stories with common plot threads and seldom run for longer than the length of this book. I'm not sure what happened in this instance, but it's a shame the ending is stronger.
But of the three one-shots, it's the best-realised so far, and the one that feels closest to Empowered's core preoccupations, and as such, it's well worth your time and four bucks in a way that say, Justice League, isn't.