Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Power Pack (2005)

One of my favorite comic book runs from the last days of the bronze age of comics is Marvel Comics' Power Pack. Created by Louise Simonson and June Brigman in 1984, the comic featured a group of four young siblings, two brothers and two sisters. The kids obtained superpowers from a pony like alien called Whitey to fight an alien invasion of lizard men creatures called the Snarks.

In 2005 Marvel relaunched Power Pack as part of their "All Ages" brand. I'm 58 years old. Yet, I am finding this comic book title labeled: All Ages (which usually translates as "for kids") one of the most enjoyable reads of the past 20 years.

This relaunch of Power Pack was published as a series of mini-series, and looking back now, it's pretty tough to figure out the reading order without a score card. I thought that I might enjoy reviewing each mini-series in order beginning with the first one: Power Pack (2005).

The book starts with a brief retelling of Power Pack's origin story. This is done in the form of a comic book written and draw by the youngest member of the team as a "What I did over my summer vacation." sort of report for her return to school.

The kids "freak out" at this, as they fear Katie's report will expose their secret identities endangering their friends and their parents. A conflict ensues and Katie ends up using her powers at the kids' home, revealing their location (and the secret of their identities) to their arch enemies the Snarks.

A Snark scout by the name of Skratt ends up attacking the Power Pack at their home but is repelled. (He will be back.) Katie ultimately decides not to endanger the teams secret with her school report and everything wraps up nicely by the end of the issue. While the four issue mini-series is connected, each issue is episodic and self contained. (Something that I really like and appreciate -- much like Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.)

Each issue of the four issue mini-series focuses on one of the kids. This first issue is Katie's issue. I love Katie, she is absolutely adorable and fun. The whole premise and presentation of Power Pack is fun! That's what I love about this series. It's what I love about comic books. I realize that comic books have proven themselves capable of so much more as literature, but when it comes down to it, I'm here for the fun.

Issue 2 features big brother Alex, the oldest member of the team. While the youngest siblings, Katie and Jack tend to fight, the two older kids, Alex and Julie get along well. Julie even proves what an awesome friend she can be by introducing her brother to a friend that he has a crush on. (I can testify that all "Julie's" are cool.)

Alex has a date, but as luck would have it, it's on the same night that mom and dad are going out for their anniversary dinner, and Alex, being the oldest, has to babysit. Alex is afraid that rescheduling their first date would set a bad precedent, but younger sister Julie comes to the rescue again offering to cover for her brother so that he can go out.

Of course, things go wrong. Jack and Katie sneak off and mess with Dad's inter-dimensional portal that he's been building in the basement. (Dad is a scientist, after all.) The kids end up summoning a giant squid monster as one does, and Alex has to rush home, cutting his date short.

At home Alex helps clear up the squid menace, and later his date Caitlin proves just how cool she is (and what an awesome judge of character Julie is) when she reschedules their date. She understands the responsibilities of an older sibling, having two little brothers of her own. Alex's love life is saved.

Issue #3 is Jack's issue. The Powers are on a family camping trip. On their way to the camp ground they not only see a mysterious (and very out of place) medieval castle, they also fight a Doombot while getting groceries for their cookout.

This one's pretty much an all action issue, which is appropriate for a Jack issue. That night, Jack runs off to investigate the castle and ends up getting captured by Dr. Doom himself, but he's not the only one. Johnny Storm, the Human Torch is also Doom's Prisoner. 

The rest of the Power Pack discover Jack missing and quickly deduce where he has gone. Their rescue attempt might have gone wrong if not for the timely intervention of the Fantastic Four (there to rescue Johnny.) Together, Power Pack and the Fantastic Four manage to save their respective family members.

In the end, both Jack and Johnny learn a lesson about running off without your teammates, and the Powers family ends up having their cookout with the Fantastic Four. Cool!

The fourth and final issue of the inaugural all ages Power Pack mini-series features Julie (my favorite character.)  Julie is fed up with playing second fiddle to Alex and with all the fighting between her younger siblings. She is considering leaving the Power Pack. 

This decision is pushed to the breaking point when Jack sneaks a peek at her diary and reveals her plans to Alex. Later at the mall, the group is called to action by a news report, but Julie opts to stay behind with her friends. She isn't in Power Pack anymore!

The threat that the others go to investigate turns out to be a trap set by the Snark, Skratt (remember him?) and Julie's three siblings are captured. Skratt has plans to kill the kids to further his own glory (kinda dark) but wants the full set of four. So, he takes his prisoners back to their home, knowing that Julie will return there eventually.

Julie hears about the capture of Power Pack on the news and realizes that although they might have their ups and downs, the Power Pack is her family and she has to save them. At the house, Julie sneaks in through a window. (Skratt didn't see that coming!) and manages to free the others.

Julie then tricks Skratt into chasing her into the basement where they use dad's inter-dimensional portal thingy (Remember Alex's issue?) to feed Skratt to the giant Squid (kinda dark.) Ultimately, all is right with the world and Julie is back with her team. She didn't really want to leave, but sometime when brothers read your diary, it makes you mad.

That's all four issues of Power Pack (2005) in a nutshell. The issues also included little back-up shorts, which were an obvious rip off of Calvin and Hobbs, featuring Franklin Richards and Herbie the Robot. I didn't really think they were all that funny, and they don't appear in any of the mini-series that follow.

No comments:

Post a Comment