Ghost of Van Lente Past: Fantastic Four/Power Pack

Probably the best compliment I can pay Fred Van Lente on his Fantastic Four/Power Pack mini-series is that, without checking the credits, I thought that Marc Sumerak had written it, and that says a lot, because Sumerak has practically mastered writing the Pack.

Working with regular Power Pack artist, Gurihiru, Van Lente re-introduces (for the first time - as this is not the same continuity as regular Marvel) Franklin Richards into the title, and it works very well.

Initially, we see how hard it must be for the son of celebrities, but we also see (and this theme runs throughout the series) about how keeping secrets can be hard on families, so while it may be tough for Franklin's identity to be so well-known, it is not much better for the Power boys and girls to have SECRET identities.

The theme of "parent relationships" also comes up in an early issue, as we see what happens when supervillains have kids - they become, shockingly, bullies. Van Lente especially shined in this sense, showing us the motivations for these bullies, and showing how their actions have a clear, definable reason behind them.

Franklin and Jack Power make for a very fun pair, especially as the two end up running away from home (Franklin's street smarts serve him well - he's quite the little operator), ultimately leading to a confrontation with none other than Dr. Doom himself, and Van Lente even manages to throw in a bit of a twist on the old "Doom and Richards switch body" story.

There is enough action for the comic to be fulfilling in that area, but the main hook of this series is on the character work, as it was when Louise Simonson originally created the characters (man, was that a good comic book series), and that is a Van Lente specialty (as is it a Sumerak specialty), so the book is quite enjoyable in that regard.

I would recommend ALL the Power Pack and _____ mini-series, and that includes this one.


Bells will be ringing, the glad, glad news;

Oh, what a Van Lente Day, to have the blues;

My baby's gone;

I have no friends;

To wish me greetings, once again;

Choirs will be singing, Silent Night

Oh, Van Lente Day Carols, by candlelight;

Please come home for Van Lente Day;

Please come home for Van Lente Day;

If not for Van Lente Day, by New Year's Day

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