The World Could Use More Power Pack [Kids’ Comics]
Earlier this month Marvel put out the fourth issue of its Civil War II tie-in series, Choosing Sides, and while most of the Civil War-related stories are dark and depressing, this particular issue included a Power Pack story courtesy of writer John Allison, with lineart by Rosi Kämpe and colors by Megan Wilson.
The story is quiet, sweet, and contemplative, with three of the four Power kids debating the issues being fought over in the larger Civil War II event, and ultimately deciding that the issues are more complex than one side being right and the other being wrong. Reading the story reminded me of a question that's been on my mind for a while; why isn’t there an ongoing Power Pack series right now?
Originally created by Louise Simonson and June Brigman in 1984, the Power Pack is made up of the four Power children --- Katie, Jack, Julie, and Alex --- who gain powers and fight bad guys while keeping their secret from their parents.
The original 62 issue Power Pack series was very cute, but didn’t shy away from throwing in the darker characters of the Marvel Universe, including Cloak and Dagger, Wolverine, and even Sabretooth. In fact, the Sabretooth encounter happened during the Power Pack’s tie-in with the extremely violent "Mutant Massacre" event. Considering the kids ranged from 5 to 12 years old, that’s some intense adventuring. Still, Simonson had a talent for balancing darker moments with the sweetness of the kids characters, and it worked.
After the original series was cancelled in the early '90s, the Power kids showed up in various books, including several Power Pack miniseries throughout the 2000s, where they teamed up with the likes of Thor, Wolverine, and Spider-Man. Art team Gurihiru worked on many of these minis, solidifying the modern looks for the characters. Since those miniseries, the kids have been aged up six years in the main continuity, with the youngest, Katie, now around 11, and the oldest, Alex, around 18.
So what can Marvel do with the Power Pack now? Really, the sky’s the limit. Marvel’s kid-friendly content is still lacking --- there are some books that are kid-appropriate, and some specifically made with younger readers in mind, but there’s room for plenty more.
But the beauty of Power Pack is that the team’s adventures traditionally dive into some of the more serious themes of the Marvel universe --- the thoughtful Civil War II tie-in shows as much. Any modern Power Pack ongoing would be perfect for exploring current problems kids see in the world in the same way Ms. Marvel does.
As far as how it connects to recent stories, Marvel could do an in-continuity story with the kids at their current older ages, or they could do an out-of-continuity series with them at their original ages. And yes, Alex is currently out with Franklin Richard and the Future Foundation (hence why he wasn’t in the Choosing Sides issue), but that can easily change so he comes back to the team.
A lot of the pull for past Power Pack books has been the way other heroes show up among the kids’ adventures. It would entice fans of those characters to check the book out, while giving kids a chance to learn about more characters in the Marvel Universe. Just imagine all the crossovers with newer young heroes they could have: Moon Girl, Ms. Marvel, Miles Morales, and the other teen characters from the upcoming Champions book.
But like the earlier Power Pack books, having adult heroes show up in their adventures would be welcome as well. The series could take a Batman: The Brave and the Bold-style approach, with a different guest star each issue. Julie is looking at colleges, so maybe computer science major Squirrel Girl could help (especially since she got a tiny cameo in the Powers’ Choosing Sides story). Since Logan has teamed up with the kids before, having new Wolverine Laura Kinney help them out would be delightful.
I’d honestly love to see Power Pack cross paths with Deadpool for an issue --- Wade has a lot of kid fans, and getting to see him holding back his regular R-rated behavior (maybe he can carry around a swear jar the whole issue) would be a lot of fun in the right hands!
I really feel like there’s a place for these kids in the Marvel line-up, perhaps with Gurihiru back on art, and a kid-friendly writer like John Allison or Ryan North. With Civil War II slowly coming to an end, we could use more cute superhero comics for youngsters. It's time to bring back Power Pack.