The Power Pack may be the butt of jokes from some comic book fans, but the young team of Marvel Comics heroes sure has some cool friends. They’re teamed up with the X-Men and the Avengers in recent times, and now they’re teaming up with quite possibly the most popular superhero in the world: Spider-Man. In November, Marvel Comics will be releasing a new four-issue limited series entitled “Spider-Man & Power Pack,” written by Marc Sumerak and illustrated by the female art team of Gurihiru. CBR News caught up with Sumerak for a few words about the book and for an introduction the Power Pack themselves, who aren’t exactly the most well-known group of characters,
“Alex, Julie, Jack and Katie Power are four young siblings who received super powers during an encounter with a dying alien,” explained Sumerak. “They decided to use those powers for good, becoming Marvel’s youngest super hero team — Power Pack! Alex is “Zero-G”, with the power to effect and manipulate gravitational fields around himself and other nearby objects. He is the oldest of the kids and the defacto team leader. Julie is “Lightspeed”, able to fly and move at insanely fast speeds. She also leaves a rainbow colored trail behind her as she flies. Julie is the brains of the team… when she’s not out hunting for a good sale at the mall! Jack is “Mass Master”, with the power to control his density. He can expand into a gaseous cloud or shrink down into a super-dense form. He’s got a hot temper and is the most likely to get the team into hot water. And finally, Kaite is “Energizer”, able to break down objects into pure energy and release it as concussive power blasts! She’s the youngest, the cutest… and the most potentially dangerous! I’m hoping I don’t have to explain to you who Spider-Man is… [laughs]”
Back in the day, the Power Pack were quite involved with the rest of the Marvel Universe, getting themselves embroiled in major storylines, but when it comes to continuity, it’s not the primary focus for Sumerak’s “Power Pack” mini-series. “I only worry about it when I have to answer the question,” he laughed. “Since this series was designed to appeal primarily to new readers, my original instructions were to treat it more like ‘Power Pack: The Animated Series’ in terms of continuity. So while all of the characters should seem quite familiar to longtime readers of ‘Power Pack’ and Marvel Comics in general, we’re not heavily referencing events from 20 years ago (or from surrounding Marvel titles). So you won’t see references to Power Pack’s involvement in ‘Inferno’ — or even current events like “Civil War” — in this particular ‘Power Pack’ book. No ‘Iron Spider’ costume here. Just classic red & blue tights for our webslinging guest star (well, for most of the series at least)! The series sorta exists in its own little bubble, simply for the sake of easy accessibility. That being said, I’m a huge fan of the original ‘Power Pack’ books, as well as the Marvel Universe in general… so I always try my best to stay true to the characters and their past experiences, even if I’m not directly referencing them. I even try to give little nods to classic tales when I can for the sake of the hardcore readers, as long as it doesn’t trip up our newer readers along the way.”
If you haven’t heard, Spider-Man has a new movie coming out, and the other two movies, well, they just happened to rule the box office worldwide. It makes sense that Marvel would begin to publish projects involving the villains from that film, since this timing would allow for collections of these stories to arrive in stores when “Spider-Man 3” hits theatres. “You might be on the right track there,” admits Sumerak. “After all, the digest for this series should be out right around the time ‘Spider-Man 3’ hits the big screen! In fact, I’m wrapping up the script to issue #2 as we speak, and I can assure you that at least one of the confirmed villains from the new movie has already caused quite a bit of chaos for our heroes! But that’s not to say you should only expect the movie villains to show up. Spidey’s got a huge rogues gallery… and I’m gonna use it to its fullest!”
Sure, the “Power Pack” mini-series follow a basic formula of “Power Pack teams up with this hero…” but that doesn’t mean the series is creatively limiting for Sumerak. In fact, the scribe contends that the exact aforementioned “formula” actually opens up more doors than it closes, saying, “What makes it fun is the unlimited possibilities that these team-ups allow for, not just in terms of super hero action, but also for the characters themselves. The Power kids are continually learning and growing from their experiences with Marvel’s mightiest… and getting to explore that is always a blast! Plus, it’s an opportunity for me to play with some of my favorite Marvel characters and introduce them to new readers through the eyes of Marvel’s youngest heroes. That itself is a complete honor!”
Still, Power Pack fans should watch out for a few surprises in this book, as Sumerak feels it’s different than previous series. “First off, the kids are going to be teaming up with just one hero — our pal Spidey — for all four issues here, which is a bit different than the multi-character team-ups in our previous series,” he said. “So we’re looking for fun and unique ways to bring them all together over the course of four issues. Second, the kids are heading back to New York City — and we know that NYC in the Marvel Universe is jam-packed with all kinds of super hero action on every corner. So don’t be surprised if they come face to face with some of Marvel’s biggest baddies! Finally, expect the series to contain a couple of larger-scale stories this time around. Usually, our ‘Power Pack’ stories have been “done-in-one” tales with a few plot threads woven through the entire series. But we got a lot of strong positive response about our first 2-part tale (in ‘Avengers & Power Pack Assemble’! #3-4), so we’re toying with expanding the stories in this series beyond the borders of just one issue. That being said, we’re still going to do our best to keep every individual issue a complete, satisfying read as we always have. But this time around, there’s no guarantee that everything to be wrapped up all nice and tidy by the end of each issue!”
Between “Power Pack” and his work on the Eisner-nominated “Franklin Richards” books, Sumerak has certainly made his mark in the “all ages” arena, but that doesn’t mean he’s ruled out more “mainstream” books. “It definitely seems that someone in charge thinks that my writing fits those types of all ages books very well, which is fine with me,” admits the scribe. “Would I love to give some other mainstream titles a shot down the road? Sure! But at the moment, I’m getting to play with some of my favorite Marvel characters — Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men, the FF and more — in the books I’m writing. In the end, it really doesn’t matter if they’re considered ‘all ages’ titles or not as long as I’m having fun writing them and the audience is having fun reading them!”
The audience is definitely having fun reading “Power Pack” and “Franklin Richards” if message boards are any indication, and “Franklin” will be back soon. “Chris Eliopoulos and I are hard at work on the next batch of ‘Franklin Richards: Son Of A Genius’ strips,” revealed Sumerak. “Expect them to randomly pop up in some Marvel comics over the next few months, followed by another comic-length collection of ‘Franklin’ stories sometime this fall. I’ve also got a few other limited series that are approved and in the early development stages, but nothing I can talk about quite yet. And to fill what little free time I had left, I’ve been doing a bunch of custom comics work for Marvel, DC and more. So to sum it up: Keeping busy. Writing comics. Can’t complain!”
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