Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Review - Empowered and Sistah Spooky's High School Hell #1 (@DarkHorseComics)


If you talk to different people you'll get different responses in terms of what high school meant to them. Some people enjoyed it, while others despised it. Very few were forced to make a deal with evil to survive like in Empowered and Sistah Spooky's High School Hell #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written by Adam Warren and illustrated/lettered by Carla Speed McNeil.

Empowered's "frenemy" Sistah Spooky was once a schoolgirl who sold her soul for hotness, but was granted even more magic than beauty. Now, both superheroines find themselves trapped in a high-school hellscape by Spooky's Infernal Service Provider-with her blonde ex-classmates plotting ritual murder to claim her magic for themselves!

Empowered has always been a pretty unique character and Warren really leans into that uniqueness in Empowered and Sistah Spooky's High School Hell #1. The plot is pretty straightforward in its approach, but it does allow Warren the chance to let readers know who Sistah Spooky is in the Empowered universe. In fact, much of the issue is focused on getting reader up to speed on her backstory so the present as Warren uses that as the underpinning for the story at large. The dialogue is pretty entertaining in that regard as well and it's pretty clear Warren had a lot of fun of writing the script. And Warren paces the issues pretty well, not really rushing anything and letting the events of the issue unfold pretty organically.

McNeil's illustrations are interesting in their approach to the characters and content. The style feels a little loose for the issue in a way that makes it seem like the book is geared at younger audiences when it's not the case. Considering the content of the book it could've easily featured illustrations that were gratuitous in nature, but McNeil doesn't let it get too oversexed. McNeil likely would've been better served with illustrations that are a little more refined; the illustrations aren't bad, but they just feel a little out of place. The lettering is the same way, in that McNeil's style feels a little too cartoonish in its approach that somewhat undercuts the more mature aspects of the book.

Empowered and Sistah Spooky's High School Hell #1 is an interesting look at the lengths society goes to in emphasizing appearance as a means of getting ahead. Sistah Spooky and Empowered are both faced with a tall order in surviving the gauntlet of a demonic high school. Warren's approach to the script is equal-parts origin and ongoing story. McNeil's illustrations are somewhat loose in their appearance, but still pretty solid. Empowered and Sistah Spooky's High School Hell #1 offers a somewhat unique take on high school and its ups and downs.

Empowered and Sistah Spooky's High School Hell #1 is available now.

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