Power Pack #1
Are you ready for four bright-faced kids to take on modern fascism? Spoiler: you're not. You really aren't.
Have you ever seen one of those people who hold a huge cardboard arrow sign, or maybe someone dressed up as the Statue of Liberty or some corporate mascot, dancing on the side of the road? If so, have you ever seen one who was flipping that sign with such acrobatic mastery, or a costumed worker dancing with so much skill, you thought to yourself, "they're really good at that … maybe even too good for that job?" That kind of thinking might attach itself to your read of the return of the Power family, four blue-eyed, all-American heroes who have made their way back to the Marvel universe.
Let's start with Ryan North on the script. As the man who made The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl one of the most brilliant and riveting books of the last few decades, here he shows up with a set of fantastic character moments and some solid gold quotes that many could wield in their every day lives. The sibling dynamic North's script teases out of the four Power children is like a classic 1980s sitcom with some mildly modern tweaks. He likewise drops in some hilarious asides ("We interrupt this broadcast of Jazz for Middle-Class Dinner Parties to bring you this breaking news …" and "that was an unexpectedly thorough breaking news bulletin") that are among a number of fun moments here. Watch out especially for a gasp-inducing laugh from the antagonist that will feel wrong while you're chuckling, but you won't stop.
Then we get to the artwork from Nico Leon, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Travis Lanham (especially Lanham, who does one of the best character intro captions ever here). The dynamic, personal, and most importantly, emotional visual storytelling on display here is a great fit for this all-ages family fun (even though the aforementioned antagonist quote is, in fact, messed up). The four kids work and play well together, creating the kind of wholesome heroic vibes many long for.
There are only two actual problems here, but they might be show stoppers. First of all, this is Power Pack. Their antagonist (while super creepy and relevant to his would-be victims) is a single note caricature and a paper tiger, someone an A-list hero wouldn't even devote a page to beating up on their way to doing something actually important. The legacy of Power Pack is not in stories with resonance or import that you quote years later; it's confectionary heroics meant to be disposable. That's the first problem that makes this less than a "must buy."
The second problem is, well, you know, fascism. The latest and probably lamest incarnation of extrahuman legislation follows in the jackboot steps of the Superhuman Registration Act, the Mutant Registration Act, and — if you wanna get cinematic — the Sokovia Accords in having militarized law enforcement attacking people with powers and a desire to do good. If the last year has taught us nothing, it should teach us the dangers of militarized law enforcement doing virtually anything, from Portland to New York and on.
If you'd put this creative team on Guardians of the Galaxy or Avengers or Defenders or even Daredevil, you'd make something to talk about. Here? You're just driving by people who have already outgrown the work. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.
By Ryan North, Nico LeonPower Pack is back! Katie, Julie, Jack and Alex Power have been super-heroing since they were learning to tie their own shoes. It's been ages since they fought side by side as a family, but a special occasion – and an old grudge – is about to put the gang back together. There's just one teeny tiny hiccup: a brand-new law restricting underage super heroes! But surely, if the fate of all New York City is at stake, the powers that be will make an exception? Keep your fingers crossed as the Power siblings fight for their right to save the world!