Power Pack Classic Volume 1 by Louise Simonson and June Brigman
This is a title I read as a kid that I’m excited to see in print again. Although Power Pack has had new adventures, this trade paperback reprints the first 10 issues of the series from 1994. Alex, Julie, Jack, and Katie Power are normal children, squabbling over chores and teasing each other. Their father is a brilliant physicist who has developed an anti-matter device that attracts off-world attention. When the kids sleep out on the porch of their beach side home they spot a falling star. They go to investigate and they find a horse-like alien who introduces himself as Whitey, a Kymellian. Whitey has a sentient space ship named Friday. Whitey is a huge fan of human literature and rushed to Earth to prevent the testing of Mr. Power’s new machine. His race made a similar anti-matter discovery and testing the concept blew apart their world. Whitey doesn’t want to see Earth be destroyed too. Unfortunately an evil race of lizard-like aliens Whitey names the Snarks have also learned of the anti-matter device and are determined to harness its power. The snarks kidnap Mr and Mrs Power. Fatally wounded by battle, Whitey decides to transfer his Kymellian powers to the children so they can save their world.
Alex has the power to control gravity, making whatever he touches light. Julie can fly super-fast, leaving a rainbow trail behind her. Jack can assume a gaseous form or become super dense by shrinking. Katie can disintegrate matter and use the energy to fire off explosive power balls. The first half of the series has a space-opera feel, as the kids try to rescue their parents from the Snarks. When the family return to Earth, they move to New York and the children start to figure out what life might be like for kid super heroes in the big city. Their parents don’t know about their super-powers, so they deal with trying to practice their powers while keeping their identity secret.
A big part of the appeal of Power Pack is reading about true kid superheroes that aren’t functioning as a sidekick to an adult hero. The concerns of the Power children match their ages. Katie is concerned about the tooth fairy being able to visit her when she loses her tooth in space. Alex has to deal with a tragic first day of school outfit when he goes to school in New York. Julie struggles with being overly bossy and her desire to spend all of her free time reading. Jack thinks that his super powers are lame and is constantly teasing his sisters. As the youngest Katie has the most destructive power and the least amount of maturity in order to handle the consequences of losing control of her explosive blasts.
The art is clear and expressive. The main creators of Power Pack were both woman (June Bridgman and Louise Simonson) which was pretty rare when the comic was coming out. I do think that the suggested retail price point ($30 for a trade paperback!) is definitely on the high side. While the paper stock used for the reprint is high, I quail at the idea of paying $30 for a paperback without any extras. For a great series that kids today could enjoy, I almost wish that they’d used cheaper paper and produced a more affordable edition of this series. Still, it is very nice that these stories are back in print, and I enjoyed rereading them.