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Power Pack Classic - Volume 1 Paperback – July 1, 2009
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Alex, Jack, Julie, and Katie Power are your typical squabbling set of siblings, raised by loving parents. Their dad is a physicist who, in exploring alternative energy sources, has invented a matter-anti-matter converter. This matter-anti-matter converter is important mostly because it's the McGuffin which ignites the series. Dr. Power's technology had already been invented ages ago, on an alien planet, but back then it was known as the Annihilation Effect. It destroyed the Kymellian homeworld.
The Kymellian alien Aelfyre Whitemane, more familiarly known as Whitey, travels to Earth on his self-aware smartship Friday in order to warn us of the peril of Dr. Power's creation. But a more hostile race, the lizard-like Snarks, intercept Friday's comm transmissions and fatally wounds Whitey. In a desperate final act, Whitey parcels out his powers over mass, energy, acceleration, and gravity among the four Power children. Saving the world is now up to the kids. There's also the small matter of their parents having been abducted by the Snarks, in hopes that Dr. Power can divulge the secrets of the Annihilation Effect.
Plus, baby Katie's tooth is coming loose. Uh-oh.
Louise Simonson must've had a kid proofreading her stuff, because the exchanges among the children sound like dialogue that kids would actually say. The first arc centers on Power Pack's excursion into outer space as they attempt to save their kidnapped parents from the Snarks. Back on Earth, the kids must decide whether to reveal their powers to their parents while also fending off their dad's unscrupulous boss who had intended to weaponize the anti-matter device and who suspects the kids of being mutants (he hates mutants).
The Power family relocates to Manhattan, hotbed of superhero activity, and Power Pack is soon regularly running into famous capes and cowls, including Alex's favorite wallcrawler Spider-Man. At one point, a beaming Julie remarks: "Having powers is fun! And it's got redeeming social value!" It's pretty neat seeing the Power kids' irrepressible world's eye view having an infectious effect on some of Marvel's grimmer vigilantes, particularly Cloak & Dagger and even Alpha Flight's Marrina. I guess it didn't take on Marrina.
The funniest sequence in this whole trade is probably when the girls adopt the monstrous Dragon Man as their pet and nickname him "Baby."
Drawing kids can be an underestimated talent, you've got to get the proportions right. It's really distracting when kids are instead drawn looking like midgets or, worse, when you can't tell which is the child and which is the adult. June Brigman - unlike some other artists (cough*JohnByrne*cough) - draws the Power children convincingly, even in their superhero guises: the Mass Master in cloudy form, Energizer's crackling energy figure, and Lightspeed's rainbowy blur. She does equally well in illustrating the ordinary stuff side by side with the superhero & sci-fi elements, and the kids look natural whether in inhabiting a Snark's space ship, patrolling the New York skyscraper, or at home arguing in their PJs. POWER PACK was such a fun read, and it still is after all these years. Even with the Snarks being such nasty aliens.
The thing that strikes me and always has is that the first 4 issues and parts of issue 5 could easily be made into a movie. It would be fantastic as long as it didn't get too dumbed down. I know many years ago a television series was being developed in Canada (if memory serves) but as I understand it just had the characters and not much else.
One of the things that made this book great were the guest stars: Spider-man, Cloak & Dagger, Dragon Man (who's a good guy here but a villain in Fantastic Four), and Marrina (from the old Alpha Flight series) make an appearance in this first volume which covers issues 1-10.
If you think this is going to be like the all ages book that is being put out now it isn't. It tackles subjects that you usually wouldn't find in a book like this. One of which is the Cloak & Dagger team-up and debating on if they should allow the bad guys to die or be hurt. It's scenes like that which makes this book great!
I now look forward to reading volume 2.