With the focus on teen superheroes in the spotlight again thanks to the Outlawed event, Marvel’s decision to bring back Power Pack makes perfect sense. The first issue was a welcome return to the world of the Power siblings, reintroducing readers to this lovable and all-too-relatable family. With issue #2, a new intriguing plot is introduced, making the most of the Outlawed setting.
Ryan North must be the perfect person to write this book, as every page is filled with self-aware humor and love for these characters. If there’s one word to describe this book it’s charming, from the writing to Nico Leon’s pencils and Rachelle Rosenberg’s vibrant colors. Each page is like getting a sugar rush in the best kind of way.
While Power Pack wasn’t actively being published, Julie and Alex had their own adventures in other titles. It’s admittedly odd that Julie seems de-aged to fit the current status quo. It’s almost disappointing that her ex-girlfriend, Karolina Dean, was allowed to age within the pages of Runaways (and the two dated during those years between volume 3 and volume 4 of Runaways) though Julie herself had to seemingly be de-aged to fit the Outlawed criteria. Avengers Academy was some of the best Julie content in years because of how it dealt with the idea that she had grown up since her time on Power Pack, so it’s almost sad to think of that aspect of her character being gone.
For Alex, he has artificially aged in space thanks to his time with the Future Foundation, making him physically 21 but mentally still young. North acknowledges this, letting Alex narrate the story. He reflects on his time away, deciding that his most important job in life is to be a big brother to his siblings. In fact, Alex deciding that he loves himself most when he’s with his siblings is one of the most genuine, sweetest moments in a Marvel comic I’ve seen in years. The way North understands how siblings interact with each other is one of the standout things about this comic, with Julie parroting those emotions while the younger siblings lightheartedly tease Alex for his moment of “mushiness.”
From the start, the introduction of Agent Aether feels a bit odd, like the reader should be untrusting of him. As it turns out, this feeling is correct, as Agent Aether is revealed to be a classic Marvel foe in disguise.
Power Pack trying to find their mentor is one of the best sequences in the book, absolutely brimming with life. The kids try and decide who they want for their mentor, with Julie taking the logical approach (and getting teased for her crush on Captain Marvel) while the rest of the kids pick their favorite hero. And yes, Frog Thor is totally one of those heroes. It’s these sequences where it’s clear North is having a blast writing these kids just being kids, and it’s a blast to read as well.
After (humorously) getting turned down by every hero they can think of, the kids turn to Agent Aether to take him up on his offer of mentorship. He’s able to appeal to their better nature by convincing them that in return for his mentorship, they can use their powers to provide electricity to homes, helping to curb the cycle of poverty for billions. By the issue’s end, Agent Aether is revealed to be The Wizard, an old school Fantastic Four villain.
Not only do Power Pack and Fantastic Four go together like peanut butter and jelly (see: Franklin Richards), but the camp of The Wizard is the perfect fit for this story. It highlights a real flaw in the Outlawed program by illustrating how children could be getting into worse danger as a result of the law while honoring the camp of a book like Power Pack.
Power Pack is easily one of the most enjoyable books out there right now. North’s writing is fun and self-aware while Leon’s art is wonderfully cartoony. For a lighthearted good time, Power Pack is a can’t-miss book.
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