Marvel Fanfare #55 (Power Pack)
Issue(s): Marvel Fanfare #55 (Power Pack/New Mutants story only)
Greeeeaaaat. Honestly, if you have some junk story that never got finished sitting around in your inventory, just throw it out. This isn't a lost classic. It's a lame fill-in that never got used. And i mean, this was at the plot stage before Al Milgrom resuscitated it. Wasn't there anything better that Colleen Doran and Bob Wiacek could have been used for? Is this plot so valuable? What if Milgrom called up Doran and said, "Glorian puts on a puppet show for Ego the Living Planet. Draw whatever you want." Would that have sold worse? I understand that when a story gets to the pencil stage it makes sense for Marvel to recoup its investment, but when all you've got is an out of date plot that no one is clamoring for, cut your losses.
Of course my little rant is due to the fact that the issue causes placement problems for my project, but there's a more basic characterization concern here that is the bigger issue. Can anyone imagine Jack Power getting bullied? Especially at a time when he had the gravity powers?
No way. First of all, he's the most outgoing member of the Power family, has the most friends and from what we've seen in the regular series, the least problems socializing at school. He's also aggressive and sarcastic and is more likely to be the bully, or at least someone who picks on other kids, than someone who gets picked on. And he's a fighter, and his super-hero life would have emboldened him further to stand up to some big kid that was pushing him around. And finally, gravity powers! The powers most useful in a fist fight while keeping them a secret! When Julie didn't fight back against the bullies in Power Pack #38, i could understand it, because she had the cloud powers. But Jack should be confident to walk into any fight knowing that if he gets into trouble his gravity powers are there.
Instead, he uses his gravity powers to open a lock (wait, what?) and hide in a basement under the school gym.
Meanwhile, Magik is showing Warlock around.
They wind up in the gym, where a younger version of Illyana shows up.
She turns out to be a demon sent by the Enchantress. It causes an explosion in the gym and Power Pack (sans Jack) shows up to investigate...
...and wind up teaming up with Magik and Warlock against the demon.
Something about the four classic elements (not sure Alex's power ball should count as fire).
I guess the one thing this story does that is sort of interesting is show that the Enchantress still harbored animosity towards Magik. But that's it for Magik; she and Warlock go home after the fight. Then Katie teases Jack for not joining in the fight, saying that he must have been afraid. He storms off, angry.
Later he goes back to the rubble and finds the school's janitor Gus Mustin in the basement/fallout shelter. We saw some evidence earlier that Gus has super-strength, and that's confirmed now.
Then the rubble collapses in on the basement and Gus uses his strength to save Jack. But it's not enough. So Jack secretly uses his gravity power to help out. After that, Gus, happy that he could use his powers this one time to save a boy's life, tells Jack that "knowin' that you're special, even if no one else realizes it, is a pretty satisfyin' thing". Jack finds inspiration in that and stands up to his bullies. He loses the fight but his older brother and sister tell him that standing up to them and not using his powers is a victory.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: First of all, notice that the Power Pack kids are in their "correct" costumes. When Power Pack switched costumes in Power Pack #25, they kept their original costumes with the original symbols, which meant that Katie was still wearing the yellow costume with the energy ball, etc.. That changed in Power Pack #47 when they traded costumes so that they would represent their powers (even though they look totally "wrong" to me this way). So this should take place after Power Pack #47, except that Power Pack #47 takes place after Inferno and we can't have Illyana walking around at that point. So as much as i hate to just declare something an art error, that's exactly what this is and we'll just have to ignore it. We can't even pretend they were just trying out the new costumes for a day because when Alex brings it up in Power Pack #47 it sounds like a totally new idea. So it's just an art error. Even beyond that, though, we have a problem, because it seems like Warlock is introducing Power Pack to Magik for the first time here.
And yet they are similarly introduced for the first time in Power Pack #40. It's pretty irreconcilable, but of the two "first meetings", i'd say that this one is a little more ambiguous; Warlock could just be acting like his usual strange self and Magik doesn't take the time to correct him in the heat of battle. So i'm placing this after Power Pack #40, but still in the gap between New Mutants #66 and New Mutants annual #4 that has a couple other Magik appearances (including PP #40). See the Comments below regarding Enchantress.
This issue also had part of a Wolverine two-parter, covered in a separate entry.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Another problem regarding continuity- if this takes place during Seth's assault on Asgard during Thor 387-400, wasn't the Enchantress helping the Asgardians, who were trying to contact Thor but failing due to the destruction of the Rainbow Bridge? Why couldn't she just have sent her demon to contact Thor? (And Thor goes directly from the war with Seth into Inferno, so there's no way this can take place after that.)
Posted by: Michael | July 3, 2014 6:53 PM
Good point on Enchantress. I guess we'll have to assume that the demon was deployed a while ago and has only just now found the right time to attack Magik for whatever reason, so i've removed the Enchantress appearance.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 3, 2014 10:09 PM
What really dates this story is that Gus and his fellow real life WW I vets are now all dead. Heck, the WWII ones are deep in their late 80's and early 90's.
Most of us who grew up reading these comics in the 80's knew a kid whose grandpa had been in The Great War.
Time really flows like sand...
Posted by: Clutch | July 5, 2014 9:38 AM
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