I feel like I've been missing out on one of Marvel's best series these days, and it's the return of "Power Pack" as a group of mini-series. "Thor and the Warriors Four" is my first experience with this newer version of the characters, but it definitely won't be the last if the others are even half as good.
Meant for adults and younger readers alike, "Thor and the Warriors Four" has a relatively simple storyline; Power Pack goes to Asgard to try and find the fabled Golden Apples to help their grandmother, while Loki uses Power Pack to try and take down the rest of Asgard. But writer Alex Zalben doesn't need more than that to frame a lot of fun. This issue had me laughing out loud more times than I can remember any other comic doing in quite a while. By this point in the story, all of Asgard has been transformed into babies, and watching the Pack have to deal with baby version of Thor, Beta Ray Bill, and the rest is more fun than it should have been. Everything from Thor "dressing himself" to riding on the back of the equally tiny Beta Ray Bill is good for a chuckle, and Zalben plays up the comedic aspects of the story without ever making them feel tired.
At the same time, Zalben doesn't lose sight of the actual storyline. Julie and Alex Power being at odds on stealing the Golden Apples adds some much needed conflict, and the Pack's ways to get past the various obstacles between them and their prize use a good amount of superpowers and general smarts to try and get to the finish line. Some of the obstacles are easier than others -- it's hard to not wonder why no one else has made a grab for the Golden Apples all this time -- but in the context of everything else it doesn't seem to really matter. Watching the Pack get through all of the various problems and conflicts set in their way is what it's all about.
The Gurihiru studio continues to turn out beautiful, stripped down art for this series. It's full of crisp, thin lines that use open expressions and postures to great effect. Looking at the characters in "Thor and the Warriors Four," there's always something to attract the reader, from a grin on baby Thor's face to the way that Julie seems to really glide across the pages. Gurihiru also has fun adding Norse clothing to the normal Power Pack outfits, and I have to say that Katie Power should always wear a Viking helmet from now on.
If that's not enough, there's a Colleen Coover back-up story in this mini-series as Hercules regales Power Pack on how he completed his legendary twelve labors, all the while helping the kids rebuild the house after it got trashed in earlier installments. Hercules as a babysitter is a funny enough mental image, but Coover makes it especially fun. (I particularly like how Katie keeps asking if any labors involve ponies.) How can you go wrong with Hercules stopping his story to have a tea party, right?
"Thor and the Warriors Four" is more fun than you would expect; don't make the same mistake I had and pass these "Power Pack" mini-series by