Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Classics - Power Pack #1

This was an attempt at doing something different in comics - and it worked for quite a few years.

Where most comics have a link to (or are a spinoff from) an existing title, Power Pack was an attempt by Marvel to create an original, kid-friendly, mainstream comic that was connected to the Marvel universe.

Cover dated August 1984, the comic began with a battle in space between starships, and quickly switched to a family gathered in the kitchen of the beachfront home. There we find the Power family, which includes Mom and Dad, along with their four young kids - Alex, Jack, Julie and Katie.

The kids encounter the friendly owner of one starship, while their parents meet the menacing owners of the other ships - the reptilian Snarks, who are seeking "Dad" for nefarious reasons.

The friendly alien bestows super-powers on the kids (each kid has a diffeent power), and it's up to them to fight back against the aliens.

The story is told in a fun, breezy style by writer Louise Simonson, and the story manages to walk the fine line between portraying a realistic group of kids and giving a good reason for the young heroes to be placed into more than one dangerous situation.

The art is by June Brigman with inks by Bob Wiacek, and they tell the story with a clean, efficient style, with lots of realistic expressions and kids who actually look like kids. A few of the panels are a bit awkward, but it was a great start.

The big problem the team ran into was the aging issue. Like other Marvel "kids" (Franklin Richards being a great example), they couldn't really age - yet Marvel's Universe is all about moving forward.

So eventually the series just kinda ran out of gas and was canceled (in 1991). But before that happened, we had several years of entertaining stories (and a few clinkers), and quite a few surprises. The series is well worth tracking down for both young readers and those who enjoy good juvenile fiction.

Thankfully, the team lives on in mini-series (some good, some not so) and guest starring roles (they're appearing right now in the Thor and the Warriors Four mini-series), and certainly an occasional appearance from Power Pack is better than none at all.

Grade: A-

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