Underage Underdogs

POWER PACK #1, Marvel Comics, August 1984
Could any superhero team be MORE the underdogs than one that features a toddler?

180 degrees from yesterday's entry, Power Pack will always be remembered as starring "the youngest superheroes ever" (you are now reminded that Paranex the Fighting Fetus is a villain). Yep, four brothers and sisters that make up the Pack are aged between 4 and 12. A friend of mine at the time (if the guy who never buys a single comic but reads all of yours can be considered such) ridiculed me for buying and enjoying "Powder Pack". Then he read them. Next thing you know, he's visibly upset that the series went Direct Sales, and our town couldn't get them anymore.

The first issue is, of course, the origin story, as four kids are given powers and a talking spaceship by a beautiful alien horse, and they save their parents from the evil, lizard-like Snarks. It very much has that fairy tale quality to it, while still being grounded in the Marvel Universe. Writer Louise Simonson gives the kids realistic personalities and dialogue, and artist June Brigman gives the proceedings a clean, wide-eyed look. Here's the thing about Power Pack: It's charming as all get-out, and just the kind of comic you could read to your small child before they got to bed.

How could your kids not be enchanted by Aelfyre Whitemane?
How could it not break their hearts when he sacrifices himself by distributing his powers among the kids to allow them to save their planet (he's got a Kirk-like mentality when it comes to the Prime Directive)? This leads to some lovely scenes as the Pack discover who got what. And I can't fault Simonson's choice of superhero names either, they really sound like something kids would think up. The oldest, Alex, becomes Gee, able to create gravity fields. The bookish Julie can fly leaving a rainbow effect behind her and calling herself Lightspeed. Jack (the classic little boy who likes to tease girls and get dirty) can change his density, turning into either a cloud or Tom Thumb. He still thinks he's badass, so he calls himself Mass-Master (hilarious). And 4-year-old Katie actually GETS the badass power: She can disintegrate matter and throw energy bolts. She's like a battery, so she calls herself the Energizer (Marvel never tried for an Amazing Pepsi-Man comic, thankfully).
That just gives the Snarks a reason to want to kidnap the kids and use them as weapons, and the series is off to a running start. Thrilling action, sweet characters, pretty character designs... I have absolutely no shame in saying that I loved Power Pack. You?


Austin Gorton said...

Agreed: Power Pack does, indeed, rule.

SallyP said...

Power Pack was fun. June Brigman was so good at portraying characters that actually LOOKED like children.

Sea-of-Green said...

Hey, toddlers are dangerous enough WITHOUT superpowers!

Anonymous said...

Heck, it's still fun.

Fred Van Lente is a good writer, even if the conclusion to the latest one is a little weak.

Anonymous said...

I never picked up the old series (except for the Spider-Man "team-up" anti-sexual abuse PSA comic I found in the backissues). However, I did get some of the current series and they changed the origin slightly, but in a good way. Sadly, Diamond never sent the final issue of "Day One", so I didn't get to see Jack's big finish.


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