Power Pack

Power Pack

Power Pack is a team of fictional child superheroes in the Marvel Comics universe. They were created by writer Louise Simonson and artist June Brigman, and first appeared in their own comic book series in 1984. The series lasted 62 issues. The characters have since appeared sporadically in other books.

The Pack is noteworthy for being the first team of preteen superheroes ever in the Marvel Universe, all without adult supervision. The series had a cult following and have loyal fans to this day.

Publication history

Original series

The original Power Pack series premiered in May 1984 (cover date August 1984), in a double issue written by Louise Simonson, penciled by June Brigman and inked by Bob Wiacek. The series continued through early 1991, during which time Brigman and Wiacek were replaced by Jon Bogdanove and Hilary Barta as principal artists, and Bogdanove eventually took over as writer.

Dramatic changes were made to the series' art and storylines in 1990 when Michael Higgins and Tom Morgan were brought in make the comic edgier and more adult with #56. The changes were largely reviled by Power Pack readers and the series was canceled six months later with issue #62.

A year and a half after the cancellation of the series, creators Louise Simonson and June Brigman teamed up on the Power Pack Holiday Special, which undid all of the plotlines started by Michael Higgins.

The Power Pack strips were printed by Marvel UK from around 1986. It was Marvel UK's practice at the time to use a less well-known series as a second strip in a comic devoted to more recognizable characters, so Power Pack became the "back-up strip" in the ThunderCats comic, a post it seemed to hold for the entirety of the comic's run.

Themes of the original series

While the characters of Power Pack were children, the series often dealt with mature issues. Many of the social problems of the eighties found their way into the book's storylines. These themes were usually addressed realistically: for instance, in one story arc about drug use, one of Alex's classmates died from a crack overdose and another character was killed in an armed robbery which he undertook to feed his habit. In an issue set during the Mutant Massacre, the Pack walked into a room of dead mutants.

Among the themes addressed were:

  • Environmental pollution
  • Sexual abuse (special issue)
  • Drug abuse
  • Runaways
  • Kidnapping
  • Gun violence
  • Murder
  • Death of parents/guardians
  • Missing children
  • Homelessness

One of the major ongoing themes of the series was the relationship between Power Pack and their parents, Jim and Maggie. Unlike many super-heroes like Spider-Man or Batman, the Power kids were not "conveniently" orphaned and alone; instead, they were part of a loving and supportive family. In spite of this, they decided early in the series to keep their powers and superhero activities completely concealed from their parents.

Keeping the powers secret sometimes led the members of Power Pack to lie and deceive their family and friends, and to feel guilty about doing so. For instance, in one incident, Julie was forced to allow her school friends to be beaten up by bullies instead of using her powers to defend them. The question of whether or not the powers should be revealed was also an ongoing source of debate among the kids. Jack, for instance, found it "cool" to keep it a secret, while the older and more responsible Julie, who had originally suggested that the powers be concealed from their parents, quickly reversed her opinion and felt that they needed to be told sooner or later. Power Pack readers also argued the matter out in the letter pages.

The writers also emphasized the fact that the Pack had to learn to deal with their powers — and their lethal potential — responsibly. In one early issue, Jack was wracked with remorse when he thought he had killed a man. In a later story arc, Katie dealt with immense guilt, called herself a "monster" and wanted to die when she saw how severely she had injured the Snark prince Jakal.

In 1986, Power Pack was featured with Spider-Man in a special comic designed to fight sexual abuse. The one-shot issue, written by Louise Simonson, was distributed free and reprinted in the comics sections of many major newspapers. Marvel continued the campaign by featuring the characters in print public service announcements. Later the same year, when the Pack was kidnapped during the Snark Wars, the writers used the storyline to address the issue of child abduction and printed photos of missing children in lieu of the comic's regular letters column.

In 1990, the team was featured in a special graphic novel with Cloak and Dagger which addressed the issues of teen homelessness and runaways. Hotline telephone numbers for Covenant House were printed on the back cover for readers seeking help.

The Power Pack letters column, entitled "Pick of the Pack", printed drawings and jokes about the characters submitted by readers, an unusual practice for a Marvel title.

2000 miniseries

In 2000, a four-part Power Pack mini-series was released. In this series, the kids' ages had advanced a few years: Katie was now in the fifth grade (due to her intelligence); Julie and Jack were in junior high and Alex was in high school. James and Maggie, the children's parents, knew about the Power Pack. The Powers now wore masks on their adventures, which, by and large, were restricted to "practice sessions" on their home on Bainbridge Island, ten miles from Seattle. Not much new ground was covered in this series, which once again pitted the Pack against Queen Mauraud and the Snarks in outer space.

Return of Power Pack

Joe Quesada announced on a New Joe Fridays column at Newsarama that the Power Pack would be returning to the Marvel Universe in late 2007 after the events of Civil War. However, due to the various delays within their release shipping schedules for Marvel Comics; Power Pack's return may now occur within 2008.

Fictional team history

At the beginning

Alex (age 12), Julie (10), Jack (8) and Katie Power (5) were bright, normal American children living with their parents in a beachfront house in Virginia. Their father, Dr. James Power, was a brilliant physicist who discovered a process to generate energy from antimatter with the assistance of a converter, of which he made a prototype. An error in his formula, which could have caused a chain reaction and destroyed Earth, was discovered by Aelfyre "Whitey" Whitemane, a member of the Kymellian race resembling humanoid horses. A similar accident destroyed the Kymellians' home planet.

Whitey tried to stop the experiment by warning the Powers, but was mortally wounded by his enemies, the reptilian Snarks, in the process. The Snarks kidnapped Dr. Power and his wife, Margaret, with the hope of obtaining the secret of anti-matter. Whitey rescued the Power children and told them what was happening. Before dying, he passed his powers to them to complete his mission.

The children, with the help of Whitey's "smartship," a sentient starship called Friday, managed to stop the anti-matter test by stealing and destroying the converter and rescued their parents from the Snarks. They decided to continue being superheroes, and to hide their powers from their parents. Alex took the codename Gee, Julie became Lightspeed, Jack became Mass Master and Katie became Energizer. They wore costumes made for them by Friday which were actually Kymellian spacesuits. The costumes, which were constructed of unstable molecules and stored 'Elsewhere,' could materialize and disappear with voice commands.

The team, based in New York, attempted to deal with normal "kid problems" such as bullies and loose teeth while battling some of the deadliest villains in the Marvel Universe. The Pack fought the villain Kurse on two occasions during "Secret Wars II". They were also heavily involved in the events of "The Fall of the Mutants and "Inferno" storylines. During the "Mutant Massacre", they descended into the sewers and fought Sabretooth.

The Pack's two greatest enemies during the original series were the Snarks and Carmody/The Bogeyman. Carmody, James Power's former employer, spotted the Power children when they stole the anti-matter converter at the beginning of the series and became obsessed with revenge. At first, he tried to work with government agencies to prove the Powers were mutants. Later, he became a super-villain himself and assumed the identity of the Bogeyman. After being thrown into Limbo by Magik of the New Mutants, he returned in a demonized form and nearly killed the entire Power family before finally committing suicide. Meanwhile, the Snarks generally attempted to kidnap the Power children and steal their powers.

Power Pack's closest allies were other young superheroes. They teamed up with Cloak & Dagger on several missions. They also teamed up with the X-Men and New Mutants on numerous occasions, and provided support for them during the events of the "Mutant Massacre", "Inferno" and "Fall of the Mutants" storylines.

The team took great pains to conceal their superhuman abilities from their family and "normal" friends. However, during Inferno, when confronted by the demonized Carmody, the kids were forced to reveal their powers to save their parents from being killed. The discovery led Jim and Maggie to have mental breakdowns. They were restored to normal through the combined efforts of Mirage and Gosamyr, who convinced them the super-powered kids were actually clones created to protect them from Carmody, and that the "real" Power children, who were power-less, had been taken away and guarded by the New Mutants until Carmody was defeated. This explanation placated the parents and, once they were reunited with their "normal" children, their minds healed themselves. This "cover-up" proved to be unpopular with readers, and was highly criticized in the comic's letters column.

Another occasional member of the team was Franklin Richards, the son of Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, who went under the name of Tattletale while adventuring. James and Margaret Power were introduced to Franklin after the events of the Snark Wars, and befriended Reed and Sue Richards when Franklin was returned to Avengers Mansion. Subsequently, Franklin was often invited to stay with the Power family while his parents were away on missions. Ironically, although Franklin was a member of the group, the Fantastic Four had no knowledge of Power Pack until the very end of the series. Instead, they thought of the Power children solely as "Franklin's friends.

End of the series

Sometime later, Alex underwent a transformation into a Kymellian and Margaret Power began losing her mind. The Power family sought help for Margaret and Alex in various places, beginning with Reed Richards' lab, but these efforts were disrupted by the interference of the Red Ghost and his super apes. At the conclusion of the series, the family decided to abandon New York and fly with Friday to New Kymellia to seek help for Alex and his mother.

However, it was revealed that both Alex and his parents had been replaced by psuedoplasm doubles through the efforts of a renegade Kymellian Technocrat and his ally, the exiled Maraud (called Meraud). The real Alex and Power parents were being held captive in the Technocrat's hidden satellite orbiting New Kymellia. Eventually, the remaining Power siblings learned the truth and rescued their family; barely escaping from the satellite before it was destroyed by Maraud. While in the satellite they switched powers several times as needed.

After recovering on New Kymellia, the Power family returned to New York with Friday. Each of the children was back in possession of his or her original power and of course, the parents were unaware of them, or of Power Pack's existence.

Post-series

Alex and the New Warriors

Alex stole his siblings' powers for himself and joined the superhero group New Warriors under the names Powerpax and Powerhouse. This caused Alex some friction with his brother and sisters, and he eventually gave his siblings their powers back, reverting to their original names (except Alex, who named himself Zero-G and Julie, who was now called Starstreak, the name Katie had chosen when she had Julie's powers). During Alex's time with the Warriors, the Power parents discovered what their children were doing. At first they were opposed to it, but eventually came to accept the Pack's need to use their powers responsibly.

Speedball tried to recruit Alex back into the New Warriors. Alex politely refused, due to the conflicts his membership would cause for his siblings (though Katie offered her services, to Speedball's chagrin).

During Marvel's Civil War event, Alex's codename Powerhouse was briefly mentioned by Hindsight Lad, an ex-teammate responsible for outing the secret identities of many New Warriors.

Alex has been identified as one of the 142 registered superheroes who appear on the cover of the comic book Avengers: The Initiative #1.

Julie and Excelsior/Loners

Some time after that adventure, Julie Power did some soul-searching and came to the conclusion that adventuring deprived her of a normal childhood. She quit being a superhero and moved to Los Angeles, hoping to become an actress. There she joined Excelsior, a support group for former teenage superheroes, where she is once again known as Lightspeed. Excelsior's first mission was to bring in the members of the Runaways, and ended with their battle against Ultron. The Loners are all registered under the Superhuman Registration Act, but consider themselves retired from super-heroics. However, Julie later tells the rest of the group that she is not registered.

Members

Note that the Power siblings have changed powers on more than one occasion and remain the core of the Pack.

Real Name Codename Codename history (associated power) Notes
Alex Power Zero-G (gravity) Gee (gravity), Destroyer (energy), Mass Master (density), Powerpax (gravity, energy, density, acceleration), Powerhouse (gravity, energy, density, acceleration), Zero-G (gravity)
Julie Power Lightspeed (acceleration) Lightspeed (acceleration), Molecula, Mistress of Density (density), Lightspeed (acceleration), Starstreak (acceleration, teleportation), Lightspeed (acceleration) Her flight trail is rainbow-like, but features only the subtractive primary colors yellow, magenta, and cyan.
Jack Power Mass Master (density) Mass Master (density), Counterweight (gravity), Destroyer (energy)
Katie Power Energizer (energy) Energizer (energy), Starstreak (acceleration), Counterweight (gravity)
Franklin Richards Tattletale Precognition, astral projection Son of Reed and Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four. Officially joined Power Pack in (vol. 1) #17. Has not been an active member since the end of Power Pack volume 1.
Kofi Whitemane Teleportation Unofficial member. A Kymellian youth and cousin of Whitey. About the same age as Alex. Made his most recent appearance in the 2000 Power Pack mini-series.
Friday Warp Drive, Flight, Supercomputer, Force field The Smartship Friday is an intelligent starship.

Alternate versions

Age of Apocalypse

The Power children were shown to be fused together as one of the Beast’s experiments, and were later shown to have been dissected.

Marvel Adventures

A new Power Pack mini-series debuted in 2005 under the Marvel Age (now Marvel Adventures) imprint. Written by Marc Sumerak and penciled by Gurihiru Studios, it mostly ignored previous Power Pack continuity and its versions of the title characters, and appeared to be geared toward young children. Although the four-issue series was not released under the Marvel Age or Marvel Adventures imprint because of editorial decisions, the later series have since been released under the Marvel Adventure imprint and revealed to exist in the Marvel Adventures universe.

A second Power Pack mini-series by the same creative team, X-Men & Power Pack, debuted in October 2005. The series guest-starred various members and villains from the X-Men comics, including Cyclops, Wolverine, Sabretooth, Beast, Mystique, and Nightcrawler.

A third Power Pack mini-series, titled Avengers & Power Pack: Assemble! debuted in April 2006. This series teamed the Pack with various members of the Avengers (Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Spider-Woman). Issues #3 & #4 were a two-part adventure in which the Pack and the Avengers battled Kang the Conqueror.

A fourth Power Pack mini-series, titled Spider-Man & Power Pack, debuted in November 2006. The series featured Spider-Man and some of his rogue's gallery, such as the Vulture, Sandman and Venom. The miniseries included two sub-plots: in one, Spider-Man was reduced in age and temporarily joined the Power siblings; the second involved the Venom symbiote costume.

A fifth Power Pack mini-series, Hulk & Power Pack debuted in March 2007, following the events from the Spider-Man and Power Pack mini-series. The series involved the Hulk and his enemies the Absorbing Man, Abomination and Zzzax. The mini-series was drawn by David Williams (except for issue #3, which was drawn by Andy Kuhn).

A sixth Power Pack mini-series, Fantastic Four & Power Pack, debuted in July 2007, co-starring the Fantastic Four, who made a previous appearance in issue #3 of the first Power Pack mini-series. Gurihiru Studios returned for the artwork; however, Fred Van Lente replaced Mark Sumerak as writer. The series pitted the Pack against the Fantastic Four's enemies and also featured Franklin Richards, who was a member of Power Pack as Tattletale in the original series in the regular Marvel Universe.

A seventh Power Pack mini-series, Iron Man & Power Pack, debuted in November 2007, co-starring Iron Man, who previously appeared in the Avengers & Power Pack: Assemble mini-series. The series was written by Marc Sumerak and the artwork was done by Marcelo Diachara.

Reworking the Origin

An eighth Power Pack mini-series, titled Power Pack: Day One debuted in March 2008. The series, which features the same creative team as Fantastic Four & Power Pack (Fred Van Lente and Gurihiru), focuses on the origins of the team and the incorporation of their new member, Franklin Richards. There are also back-up stories about each of the Power siblings with artwork by Colleen Coover, with the first issue's focus on Alex Power/Zero-G. The series presents a new, and more humorous, origin story for the team.

The Skrull Invasion

A ninth series, Skrulls vs Power Pack, made its debut in July 2008. The storyline involves the Power Pack encountering the alien Skrulls. It should be noted that the adventure is different from the Secret Invasion that is currently happenning within the regular/616 Marvel Universe. The miniseries also introduces the Kymellian Kofi Whitemane. The creative team is Fred Van Lente as writer and Cory Hamscher as the artist for the miniseries.

In this story, the Skrulls frame the Power kids by having their doppelgangers commit several major burglaries in Patchworld. Then Galactic Bounty Hunters are hired to capture the Powers and bring them back to Patchworld for trial. While the matter is investigated, the Pack is confined to juvenile reform school prison. Initially, they seem to be in solitary confinement. Jack speculates that this means that he and his siblings are considered "the baddest brats in the Galaxy." He finds this notion rather appealing. The Pack break out of prison and establish an image as criminals, in order to flush out whomever framed them. Indeed, this evil mastermind is revealed to be Warpriest Kh'oja, the Skrull leader who both framed them and prosecuted them.

A tenth miniseries, Wolverine and Power Pack will be debuting in November 2008, with the feral mutant with the adamantium skeleton and claws, who made his previous debut within the X-men and Power Pack miniseries. The series will also reunite the original creative team of Marc Sumerak and Gurihiru.

House of M

Alex and Julie both appear in House of M: Avengers #3; in which they are members of a superpowered gang called the Wolfpack, the House of M's version of the New Warriors.

Marvel Zombies

The Power children appear in Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness #3. All four children have been changed into zombies. They come into conflict with Nextwave (who by this point have not been infected, but are ruthlessly dispatched off-screen moments later).

MC2

Katie appears in issues 2-5 of Avengers Next, calling herself "Kate". During a conversation with American Dream, it is indicated that something tragic happened to one of her brothers, but the details and severity of the situation remain unclear.

Millennial Visions

In the "Power Pack: Starting Over" story within Marvel's 2001 Millennial Visions one-shot comic, the team is depicted as a group of adults ranging from 25 (Katie) to 32 (Alex). In this alternate universe, the siblings split up after their parents are killed by anti-mutant activists, and lead disparate lives until they are reunited by Julie to face a new attack from the Snarks.

New Mutants

In a dystopian future ruled by Sunspot, the Power Pack is represented by an elderly Katie, who wields all the powers of the Pack. Katie explains that she has all the powers because her siblings were killed some time ago. She fights for the rights of downtrodden humans and helps the time-lost members of the New Mutants find their way home.

Appearances in other media

Television

In 1991, after the cancellation of the original comic, Marvel developed Power Pack into a live-action show for NBC's Saturday children's television lineup. While a pilot episode was made, the series was not picked up. The pilot has been aired several times during regular children's programming on FOX as a Saturday Morning Special.

Minor alterations to the concept were made for the pilot:

  • The children's parents are aware of their superhuman abilities.
  • Julie's acceleration power was altered to movement at superhuman speed, without the ability to fly.
  • The "cloud" aspect of Jack's density power was eliminated; he was only able to shrink in size.
  • The children did not wear costumes.

Cast

Film

In the Marvel Entertainment, Inc. Quarterly Report published May 12, 2008, Power Pack was included on a list of Marvel characters licensed to be in any movie produced by Marvel Studios. Whether they will appear in their own movie or as supporting characters in another remains to be seen.

Bibliography

  • Power Pack #1-62 (1984-1991)
  • Power Pack/Cloak and Dagger: Shelter from the Storm (1990)
  • Power Pack Holiday Special (1992)
  • Power Pack #1-4 (2000)

Marvel Adventures

  • Power Pack #1-4 (2005)
  • X-Men & Power Pack #1-4 (2005-2006)
  • Avengers & Power Pack Assembled! #1-4 (2006)
  • Spider-Man & Power Pack #1-4 (2006-2007)
  • Hulk & Power Pack #1-4 (2007)
  • Fantastic Four & Power Pack #1-4 (2007)
  • Iron Man & Power Pack #1-4 (2007-2008)
  • Power Pack: Day One #1-4 (2008)

Guest appearances

  • American Dream #2-3 (Katie Power within MC2's Universe)
  • Avengers Next #2-5 (Katie Power within MC2's universe)
  • Excalibur #29
  • Exiles #61 (Age of Apocalypse version)
  • House of M: Avengers #3-5 (Alex and Julie Power)
  • Marvel Superheroes Summer Special
  • Marvel Universe #10
  • Marvel Zombies #3
  • Millennial Visions
  • The New Mutants #49
  • Secret Wars II #6
  • Strange Tales #12-14
  • Thor #357; #363
  • Uncanny X-Men #195; #205 (Katie Power)
  • X-Factor #25
  • X-Factor (vol. 3) #22 (Age of Apocalypse version)
  • X-Men Classic #99
  • Runaways (vol. 2) #1-6 (Julie Power)

References

External links

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