From the stack: Ten Questions for the Maidman

I think Adam Warren has done tremendous work turning Empowered into something much greater than the sum of its parts. This trend continues with the second series special, Ten Questions for the Maidman. I’m always impressed with the ways that Warren can stretch a single, seemingly unpromising joke several times farther than what would be the snapping point for lesser writers.

Adam Warren is joined on artistic duties by Emily Warren, who provides painted pages for the titular interview that are sprinkled throughout the comic. They’re attractive, but they reinforce for me how essential Adam Warren’s creative control is to the property. One of the reasons Maidman is a great joke is the character’s routinely masculine body language. He’s just a guy who happens to fight crime in a frilly maid’s costume, as stolid and solid as your average caped vigilante.

In the interview pages, Emily Warren overlays Maidman’s body language with a certain coyness that, to my way of thinking, undermines the deadpan genius of the character, which is articulated in Maidman’s responses to the fatuous interviewer for a super-hero version of Inside Edition or Entertainment Tonight. The amusing cognitive dissonance is lost when Maidman is actually behaving in ways that are consistent with his appearance. It’s just not as funny, and it almost seems to contradict what the character is saying in his feature sequences. His shtick seems more about playing on the perceptions opponents impose on him, not about actively triggering those perceptions. It’s funnier when it’s the villain’s gay-panic paranoia at work rather than being a response to Maidman’s active provocation.

Still, this is an entirely welcome expansion on the Empowered universe, focusing on one of the funnier and more subversive supporting characters while still giving the title character some moments to shine. I hope Adam Warren keeps this specials coming, as they help to pass the time between new volumes of the main series by being perfectly entertaining in their own right.