Future Foundation was a quick reintroduction of the Power kids from Power Pack by Jeremy Whitley and Will Robson, introduced last year. Sadly it was canceled after the first two issues were released, but by the end, some deep-cut Marvel history was woven together to make some sense of some of the most nonsensical stuff out of Marvel in the last two decades. This is a series that starts out in a way to validate the return of Julie and Alex Power (along with their foundation) but soon becomes a fascinating look at how disparate and wacky Marvel moments can be woven into an interesting story.
This is an interesting endeavor in making the once hugely popular Power kids new again. It opens with Julie totally broken up over failing out of school and losing her girlfriend. Whitely cleverly uses the Future Foundation to ground Julie and set her life back on track. This all occurs in the first few pages originally printed in Fantastic Four. From there the book dives into a prison break narrative that involves the Maker, the rescuing of Rob Liefeld and Jeph Loeb’s version of Bucky from Heroes Reborn, and lots of flashbacks to help tie things together. The latter element is what makes this well worth a look.
Whitely and company do a great job weaving in Onslaught, Heroes Reborn, and classic Fantastic Four narratives together. Each issue gives us a little more info on characters via captions that always start with “Once upon a time” and help fill in gaps but also recap key stories from Marvel history. The Maker gets a great recap and introduction which leads right into the story taking a rather complex history and simplifying it enough to have it make sense. The biggest win is the Heroes Reborn Bucky, who goes by Rikki now, and how she got here. She’s directly tied to Franklin Richards in an interesting way, has died many times, and is a great Elseworlds side-story within this story. Props to the creators for taking some of the most confusing events and character arcs and boiling them down into this narrative.
Art duties go to Will Robson for two issues, Paco Diaz for two issues and Alti Firmansyah for two issues and ranges from a smooth cartoony look from Robson to a more detailed superhero look from Diaz and Firmansyah. I love Robson’s art, but at a certain point, it starts to become clear the style doesn’t quite jive with the adult themes and grown-up nature of the characters. Julie falls for Rikki, but they could pass as 12 in some shots making it a bit awkward. I do love the layout design and story progression by Robson though and the style works wonderfully with the various aliens on the team and the villains too. Oh, and the Maker’s ability to stretch looks great in the weird sort of way Mr. Fantastic should look. The art by Diaz and Firmansyah gets the job done but isn’t quite as dynamic as Robson’s though the characters do look more their age.
I can’t say every issue of this book was a perfect comic book story. A lot of the narrative feels like it goes on too long, or is giving us filler so as to get to the bigger beats at opportune times. I found myself losing interest here and there. The flashbacks and recaps are all exceptional, but there isn’t enough work done to make Alex and Julie all that interesting. Many of the standard hero tropes are used to characterize them–Julie, for instance, wants to help Rikki no matter what even though she’s bleeding internally–making them feel generic.
This is an interesting series thanks to the way it took some of the most convoluted, confusing character backstories and events in Marvel history and melded them all together in a coherent way. That alone makes this worth a read, especially if these characters will be used in the future.