August 15, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #223: Power Pack

Kids fighting evil? What can go wrong? Nothing, actually. This series was meant for kids.

A friend of mine is a big Power Pack fan.  I was half-tempted to ask him if he wanted to fill in for me with this column this week..but that makes me look lazy.

As it is, most of my exposure to Power Pack comes from stories where the older kids are off doing other things or some sort of weird parody thing, so let’s take a look into Marvel’s shortest superteam.

The Power Pack were a group of four siblings who gained superpowers from a dying alien horse-man, plus a spaceship they called Friday.  Having power over various powers of physics that laughed in the face of all of Newton’s laws, the original group was:

  • Alex Power, age 12, AKA Zero-G because he had gravity powers.
  • Julie Power, age 10, AKA Lightspeed because she could fly at high speeds and leave a rainbow in her wake
  • Jack Power, age 8, AKA Mass Master because he could control the density of himself and other things
  • Katie Power, age 5, AKA Energizer because she had energy powers.

And if that’s not clear enough, apparently they also later learned they could swap out and borrow each other’s powers and then they all took different codenames.  As such, I’ll probably just refer to them by their real names instead.

Now, with their awesome powers, the Power kids would fight the forces of evil, particularly the dead horse-man’s alien enemies, and they did this with the rarest ability for superhero kids imaginable:  they weren’t orphans.

Yes, the Powers’ parents were still alive and somehow completely in the dark about their kids’ superhero activities.

The Power Pack’s original comic run started in 1984 and ran until the early 90s.  What killed the series?  The same thing that ruined so many other comic book runs in the 90s:  someone tried to make it more adult and edgy.  While the Power Pack were never without drama, they were also still aimed at a younger audience.  That may explain why the parents were left in the dark, and James and Margaret Power weren’t the only parents who didn’t know what these kids were up to.  The foursome managed to befriend young Franklin Richards, and somehow Reed, Sue, and the rest of the Fantastic Four didn’t think there was anything “super” about the Powers family right away despite the fact the Power Pack didn’t wear masks and almost certainly had teamed up with other Marvel superheroes.  Franklin even joined the team as an honorary member codenamed Tattletale…which you’d think would mean his parents would have known but whatever.

Now, it isn’t as if the Power Pack went away entirely.  They actually mostly grew up and sort of disbanded.  Alex became a teenager, joined the New Warriors for a while, and eventually became a member of Reed Richards’ Future Foundation with other kid geniuses.  Julie waffled back and forth between whether or not she wanted to be a superhero, and Jack and Katie…well, they exist.  Stories set in the future may feature the Powers, and Katie seems more likely to appear in those since she was the youngest.  And there was an X-Force annual that showed a future team line-up that included a girl named Francine Power, going by the codename Powerpax, but how she was related the other Powers wasn’t really elaborated on that much despite having a costume and powers reminiscent of the Power kids.

Now, I said before that my only exposure to the Power Pack was through parodies, and that’s still true.  Where have I seen them outside of solo appearances by the older kids (mostly Alex)?  Well, they were undead monsters who literally killed the superhero team Nextwave off between panels (as explained by the narration box) in a Marvel Zombies story, and the recent Infinity Warps showed the Powers children all crossed with the Punisher because why not?

Now, it turns out that Marvel has in recent years released some all-ages mini-series with the Power Pack, back in their original ages and often teaming up with folks like Spider-Man and Wolverine.  That’s a pretty good idea, all told.  And The Incredibles proved that juvenile superheroes can work out well when done right.  Maybe there should be some kind of live action version made at some point.

Except, it turns out there already was one back in 1991 in the form of a terrible, unsold pilot.  I’m sure I could find that if I wanted to, but I don’t, and the only reason I know about it is because YouTube personality Brad Jones reviewed it as his Cinema Snob character.  I have a weakness for a lot of YouTube comedy riffers, so I was a bit surprised to see that Power Pack had a pilot episode, and my aforementioned friend confirmed that he’d seen the real thing.  I’m posting the Snob’s review below, but if you are curious, just be aware that Snob does use NSFW language.

C’mon.  Surely the MCU can do better than that?

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