Power Pack #27
Issue(s): Power Pack #27
...and i actually like it in its own way as much as Brigman's. But if i had been old enough while buying these books in realtime to think about such things, i'd have worried that the art would confirm people's bias that this was a kiddie book and that it would hurt sales accordingly. Especially since the book had already been relegated to bimonthly status and been made exclusive to the direct market.
In fact the book continues to deal with mature topics and is a great read for people of any age. But that discrepancy in tone in writing and art is very much on display in this issue, which is a tie-in with the violent Mutant Massacre.
Regarding sales, this issue was promoted in the Bullpen Bulletins for this month as Marvel's "best-kept secret", with the picture of the kids encountering Wolverine that i've included below. And the book will continue another 30+ issues, so either it wasn't really in any danger of cancellation or this and future tie-ins helped keep it going.
The fact that Louise Simonson was writing one of the main lines of the Mutant Massacre event of course helped ensure Power Pack's inclusion, but the book had a more natural reason for being part of the crossover than, say, Thor, since Power Pack have had a relationship with the Morlocks for some time. In fact, many of the named Morlocks were introduced in Power Pack. And its through their friendship with the Morlock Leech that the group gets involved.
After some horseplay around the television set (notice the suggestion that the parents are taking all the news of alien invasions so lightly thanks to Yrik's healing powers)...
...the kids go to sleep. This includes Franklin Richards, who is staying with the Powers since his parents are missing. In the last arc i mentioned how the affection-starved Franklin's head was getting messed with by the Smartship Friday telling him that s/he loved him. In this issue we see Franklin quickly latching on to the Powers parents. The poor kid.
While Franklin is sleeping, he picks up on the distress of Leech and so an image of him appears in the boys' room.
The theory is that since Leech's power cancels other mutant powers, Franklin's dream self couldn't appear near Leech and instead he projected an image of Leech (and Caliban) near Franklin.
The kids obviously don't know about the Mutant Massacre, but they sneak out to go down into the Morlock tunnels to find Leech. A lot of this issue is actually about doing some emotional damage to Alex. There's two aspects to it, both related to the recent power switch. The first is that Alex tries to give Jack his gliding harness, acting as the older knowledgeable big brother showing Jack the ropes.
We'll see how that works out.
The second is related to the fact that while Katie had the Energizer power, she was always regretting being used as a "gun", often at Alex's instigation. Now that Alex has that power, he enthusiastically renames himself "Destroyer" (the other kids rename themselves too: Katie = Starstreak, and Julie takes the overly dramatic Molecula, Mistress of Density. Jack, who instigated the renaming, doesn't settle on anything this issue, but he'll eventually take the name Counterweight. For Characters Appearing purposes, i will continue to use the original names).
The kids enter the sewers and immediately start hearing the screems of dying mutants. Here's Scalphunter rather cartoonishly shooting Morlocks left and right.
But the first Marauder that Power Pack actually encounters is Sabretooth, who they first mistake for "Mist' Wolverine".
The group manages to survive their encounter with Sabretooth, but "Destroyer" is unable to bring himself to fire an energy ball directly at him.
Instead he brings down the ceiling. The group flees, with Alex making excuses while Sabretooth shakes his fist like a cartoon villain in the background.
They then bump into Wolverine.
Wolverine specifically says that he's tracking Sabretooth; he'll seem a little more surprised to see him when he finds him in Uncanny X-Men #212.
Wolverine tells the kids to get the hell out of the tunnel, says that Leech is probably already dead, and says that he can either trust them to go home on their own and go forward and save lives, or he can waste time shepherding them out of the tunnels. Power Pack agrees to leave, but you can see Julie twisting that promise in the top scan on this entry.
The kids next find the dead body of Annalee.
Even after meeting Sabretooth, Jack starts to wonder if X-Factor are behind the killings.
Meanwhile, we check in on X-Factor, who are bringing back Erg, Ape, Tarbaby, and Beautiful Dreamer to their compound. Like Skids did when she was first rescued, the Morlocks notice that the "X-Terminators" that saved them are bringing them to the compound of known mutant-hunters, but Skids vouches for them. X-Factor then head back into the tunnels.
At this point, Power Pack has caught up with Leech, and his power-cancelling power is demonstrated with an over-the-top looney tune Plop.
They then finding themselves facing off against more Marauders: Harpoon, Arclight, and Scrambler. A number of fun power tricks during the fight.
Alex again can't bring himself to blast the bad guys directly.
Jack, meanwhile, finds some new uses for his big brother's former gravity powers.
X-Factor shows up and drives the Marauders off, and Cyclops gives Jack a big compliment for the punch he threw.
Power Pack breaks the news to Leech that Annalee is dead...
...and then the Beast and Iceman head back to the compound with Leech and Caliban as Cyclops and Jean see Power Pack out of the sewers.
After they leave, Jack demonstrates his improved use of the gravity power...
...and hands back the gliding harness.
In addition to Simonson doing some nice development with the Power Pack kids, especially Alex, Jack, and Franklin, she continues to develop the X-Factor themes in this book as well. Cyclops seeing Leech's reaction to Annalee's death makes him realize what he's done in abandoning his own son. And in terms of just moving the plot along, this issue gets the rescued Morlocks to X-Factor's compound and repositions Beast/Iceman and Scott/Jean for their appearances in the next X-Factor issue. So this is more of a Part X of Y style issue in that sense, and it's good because it helps the guest appearance feel like something that really matters.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: The beginning of this issue shows the Powers watching television, waiting to see if their arrival in a spaceship at the end of last issue was noticed. And while they're watching, the news plays footage of the X-Terminators battle from X-Factor #7. That seems to imply that the X-Factor battle just recently happened, possibly concurrently with last issue. But that can't be the case since Cloak & Dagger heard references to "lots of weird stuff happenin' in Central Park with muties", which has to be a reference to X-Factor #8 and Uncanny X-Men #208-209. I imagine the event was big enough that it got a lot of replay on the news which is why the Powers are seeing it on television here. But it does seem that this issue begins the same night as the end of issue #26, although it's possible that the family slept through the entire day due to their travails. As for the Mutant Massacre tie-in, as i've been saying, a lot of events are happening in parallel and i'm following the Marvel trade for issue placement for the most part. But the specific touchpoints are the death of Annalee in Uncanny X-Men #211, the fact that Wolverine and Sabretooth haven't yet fought in Uncanny X-Men #212, and the fact that X-Factor, sans Angel, are seen leading their faction of rescued Morlocks back after the events of X-Factor #10. Power Pack #28 will begin the same early morning as the end of this issue. It's worth noting that the Fantastic Four are still out in space while the events of this issue are occurring, and that issue #28 features the kids going to Avengers Mansion, which has implications for the placement of the Mansion Siege storyline vis a vis the Mutant Massacre as it relates to Thor.
Crossover: Mutant Massacre
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showAnnalee, Ape (Morlock), Arclight, Beast, Beautiful Dreamer, Caliban, Cyclops, Energizer, Erg, Franklin Richards, Gee, Harpoon, Iceman, Jean Grey, Jim Power, Leech, Lightspeed, Margaret Power, Mass Master, Sabretooth, Scalphunter, Scrambler, Skids, Tarbaby, Wolverine
Several readers felt that it deflated the Maruaders' menance to have them fare poorly against a bunch of kids.
Posted by: Michael | February 9, 2014 4:15 PM
You wrote: "It's worth noting that the Fantastic Four are still out in space while the events of this issue are occurring, and that issue #28 features the kids going to Avengers Mansion, which has implications for the placement of the Mansion Siege storyline vis a vis the Mutant Massacre as it relates to Thor."
The key to the placement of the Mansion Siege story is Hercules's appearance there and in Power Pack #28. He is attacked and suffers a severe brain injury during the Mansion Siege that puts him in a coma and he's fine in Power Pack #28.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | February 11, 2014 5:08 PM
I never read this issue - the one Mutant Massacre issue I didn't buy because I didn't like Power Pack - and it would have just irritated me. We're next gonna see Wolverine in X-Men #212 with his clothes miraculously back in fine shape.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 5, 2015 11:55 AM
Poor Leech. You can really feel for the poor little tyke here. Good thing he has some pals.
Good scene for Cyclops, too.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 2, 2016 2:18 PM
Read this last night for the second time ever. I found some of the X-Factor scenes to be out of place. Character development for Cyclops, complete with internal monologue -- in Power Pack? Huh? Ditto for the fairly important development of bringing Leech and particularly Caliban into X-Factor, and Skids suddenly out of nowhere deciding to trust X-Factor, not to mention leaving Rusty's side in the first place.
I don't really care for Power Pack (I only read this issue because it's in my Mutant Massacre trade), but a non-X book interacting with an event like this one should still retain focus on its own characters and their interaction with the crossover's events and guest characters rather than serve development for those characters crossing over into the book. Thor 373-374 is a MUCH better example of how it should be.
I generally like Louise Simonson, but I think she whiffed here. Got too carried away with being one of the lead writers here, I guess.
Posted by: J-Rod | February 28, 2017 10:49 AM
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