One of the most beloved titles to debut from Marvel Comics in the 1980s was Power Pack. Created by Louise Simonson and June Brigman in 1984, and running for more than 60 issues, the series followed the four Power children -- Alex, Julie, Jack and Katie -- after they received their superpowers from a dying alien horse.
While the team has gone on to save the day in various revival series or as part of the Future Foundation, Marvel has reunited Simonson and Brigman for a special one-shot just in time for the title's 35th anniversary.
Power Pack: Grow Up has the team preparing for Alex's impending 13th birthday by attending a rock show in Central Park. Of course, as with most major life events in the Marvel Universe, even a birthday concert isn't without the requisite mayhem as warring extraterrestrials take their fight across the cosmos right to the heart of New York City leading the kids to leap back into action while teaming up with a pair of surprise guest superheroes to give them a hand and lend some well-timed words of wisdom to the young ensemble.
As the co-creator of the series, no writer really quite has a firmer handle on the team's characters and their respective voices than Simonson. She jumps right back into writing Alex Power and his family like no time has passed at all; the majority of the issue feels like a direct continuation of the original Power Pack in all the right ways.
The story isn't particularly tailored for readers unfamiliar with the property or those looking for bombastic, high stakes action in a more contemporary Marvel Universe, it really is just a love letter to the title and a chance for longtime fans to revisit the team as they originally appeared. And Simonson chooses her guest stars wisely. Any fans of her other acclaimed '80s work are in for a genuine treat.
Illustrating the majority of the issue is co-creator June Brigman, joined by inker Roy Richardson and color artist Tamra Bonvillain. The art team's approach is certainly evocative of the title's original era but doesn't feel particularly dated. Brigman's pencils and Richardson's inks still carry the same clean-lined expressiveness as they had 30 years ago and Bonvillain's colors further elevate the throwback aesthetic while giving it a cosmic lift for the issue's more fantastical sequences.
Much of the issue is spent just observing Power Pack hanging out before the alien interruption, allowing Brigman to be able to convey the emotional dynamics within the team.
The last third of the issue or so has Simonson team up with artist Gurihiru for an epilogue of sorts to the day's adventure. The Japanese art team had illustrated the 2005 Power Pack miniseries before going on to work on Unbelievable Gwenpool and Unstoppable Wasp and their talent in capturing youthful exuberance and wide-eyed wonder remains unparalleled here. The transition between the two artists does not have much of a transition but Gurihiru's style is so warm and welcoming, readers shouldn't be jarred by it.
Power Pack: Grow Up is an unabashed love letter and revisit of the classic '80s series from the creators that first brought the team into the Marvel Universe. Tailored more for fans of the original run than for new readers unaccustomed to the title, Louise Simonson and June Brigman jump right back with the characters as though they had never left them.
A nice nostalgic blast of fun with low stakes and fan-favorite appearances, this special is a must-have for any fan of the Marvel Comics team.
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