Long live Power Pack! As a fan from when creators Louise Simonson and June Brigman started things up back in 1984, I'm glad the Power kids are being seen in print on a steadier basis. Just keep in mind that, continuity-wise, these new adventures of theirs are set in the kid-friendly Marvel Adventures universe, and not in the mainstream Marvel universe.
Since 2005 and beginning with POWER PACK: PACK ATTACK, Power Pack has been featured in several four-issued mini-series, all under the Marvel Adventures banner. FANTASTIC FOUR & POWER PACK: FAVORITE SON reprints all 4 issues of the sixth series in this imprint and, as with the first five Power Pack collections, this one comes in the smaller digest-sized trade paperback.
As you probably know, these particular comic books - featuring a superpowered quartet of brothers and sisters whose ages range from early teenhood down to 8 years - are tailored more towards the younger kids. So you won't see much in the way of overwrought plotlines, ridiculously conflicted characters, tortured egos, or deep psychological themes. The tone here is strictly lighthearted, although there is some minimal superhero violence thrown in and, naturally, a whole mess of sibling rivalry. Kids will definitely, definitely get a kick out of these stories, which empower them and allow them to live out those fantasies we all had when we were young tykes.
This trade brings back a key supporting character in the old Power Pack comics: Franklin Richards. But, of course, since this isn't the same old continuity, Franklin has to be reintroduced into Power Pack. The story begins as young Jack Power (Mass Master), always before the center of attention, suddenly finds himself upstaged by the new kid in class, the even younger Franklin Richards, son of Reed and Susan Richards of the world renowned Fantastic Four. Jack isn't down with this; however, his revenge-minded scheme never comes to fruition as bullies beat him to the stomp-the-new-kid festivities. Jack, instead, ends up helping out Franklin, and they become buddies. It turns out that Franklin has been starved for kid friends, and he eagerly latches on to Jack.
Even though this limited series's title is FANTASTIC FOUR & POWER PACK, the FF barely grace these pages. It's mostly about the Pack and Franklin and the sibling bickerings and their run-ins with the son of perennial FF doormat, the Wizard, with Kraven the Hunter and, more prominently, with Dr. Doom. An ongoing subplot has Alex (Zero-G) and Julie (Lightspeed) at odds, with Alex determined to cling to their secret identities, while Julie would rather go public with their powers. Meanwhile, 5-year-old Katie (Energizer) persists in being ridiculously cute.
In the original comic book, Franklin actually became one of my favorite characters. So it's very cool to see him hook up again with the Pack. Here, he's rebelling a bit against his famous parents, who are second-guessing their decision to allow Franklin to attend public school. But Franklin so dearly wants to be just normal and to fit in with the regular kids. He also comes up with a superhero codename for himself (and, no, it's not Tattletale). And, later on, something happens which results in Franklin pontificating like baby Stewie from Family Guy. It's fun stuff.
The breezy story is by Fred Van Lente. The artwork is by the Gurihiru Studios, which is based in Japan and comprised of two female artists. The visuals are appropriately more cartoony and even manga-ish, which I think perfectly captures the mini-series's bubbling sense of fun and playfulness. And if you end up digging the story and the pictures, Fred Van Lente and the Gurihiru girls reunited in 2008 for the eighth Power Pack mini-series in the Marvel Adventures imprint (POWER PACK: DAY ONE).
Okay, that's all I got. So, when you get a chance, check out Power Pack. It'll make your day, and, even better, it'll make your kid's day.
Other Power Pack trades in the Marvel Adventures imprint:
- Power Pack, Vol. 1 (New Avengers, X-Men) (which collects POWER PACK: PACK ATTACK, X-MEN & POWER PACK: THE POWER OF X, and AVENGERS & POWER PACK: ASSEMBLE!)
- Spider-Man and Power Pack: Big-City Super Heroes
- Hulk And Power Pack: Pack Smash! Digest (Power Pack)
- Iron Man And Power Pack: Armored And Dangerous Digest (Marvel Digests)
- Power Pack: Day One Digest (Power Pack)
- Skrulls Vs. Power Pack Digest (not at all related to the Secret Invasion crossover event)
- WOLVERINE & POWER PACK