Power Pack #44
Issue(s): Power Pack #44
The rest of the issue does not look like them, to me. If i had been forced to guess, i'd say that the majority of this book was drawn by Sal Velutta, who helped out last issue and had been filling in on this title previously. But it does seem to have been Bogdanove & Heath.
I originally thought the change in credits confirmed that there were last minute changes to the plot of this, backing far away from the development that had Power Pack's parents finding out about their powers. But if it really is Bogdanove writing and drawing, maybe it was the plan all along? It definitely feels like a reversal, though.
This issue begins with Power Pack in the thick of Inferno, fighting hordes of demons.
Then a hole opens up in the sky and sucks all the demons away. So the kids go home and find Stepford Parents.
And it continues the next day.
When the facade breaks down, it's not any better.
So the Power kids leave again to give their parents some space, and spend their time fighting residual demonic forces in the city.
Basically you have inanimate objects that were formerly possessed and are now stuck in a kind of half state until they are aggravated, and then they become actively evil again until they are defeated.
When the kids rescue the passengers of that bus, they bring them to a makeshift hospital, and, um, i think that holy cow joke is in bad taste.
At that point the New Mutants show up...
...and the plot is sure to show us how Mirage's powers work, because they'll be important later.
The New Mutants and Power Pack then team up for the restoration efforts. Love this panel with Jack and Sunspot.
Gosamyr helps out with her own unique abilities.
When the National Guard arrives, Dani is able to take back her constructs, and the two groups part ways. The Power kids come home to find things worse than ever.
There are lots of options available if you want to tell a story about parents finding out that their kids have super-powers. This is, i suppose, one of them. And we arguably saw - the time that they thought their kids were kidnapped - that for whatever reason neither Power parent is particularly capable of handling a crisis without falling to pieces. But i still think out of all the options available, this is really terrible. From admittedly very flimsy evidence, i think that Bogdanove's option was to have the kids go to Xavier's school (it is an idea that is raised here and quickly dismissed). And maybe the reason for a last minute revision, if there was one, was due to the realization that Xavier's Mansion had been destroyed and the plans for the New Mutants couldn't involve taking on new students. That said, maybe the parents could have searched around and found a different place for kids with their needs; perhaps where Leech, Artie, and Whiz Kid were briefly sent in X-Terminators #1. Or the parents could have accepted the kids as we saw last issue and tried adjusting to a life with super-powered kids. Or they could have become super strict and controlling and the kids would have to deal with that. Instead, both parents have a complete mental breakdown and we have to reset to the status quo.
To do that, the New Mutants show up again. And Mirage uses her powers to summon the parents' greatest desire: normal kids.
They tell the parents that the real Power Pack kids are the constructs.
And the Power kids think that means that Mirage's constructs are going to be left with the parents and they resign themselves to leaving forever. But Gosamyr makes the parents fall asleep, and then Mirage takes the constructs away so that the real kids can take their place.
The problem with this - aside from the fact that it shows the parents to be permanently one step away from a breakdown - is that it should make the parents very overprotective and suspicious. Do they really believe what Mirage and Gosamyr told them? I guess Gosamyr's powers make it so.
This felt like a real cheat to me in realtime when i didn't pay any attention to the creator changes and it didn't even occur to me that Xavier's school blowing up might have been a problem, but i don't like it any better today. There are some cute moments in this issue but it's really marred for me by the main story.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This issue begins right before the end of New Mutants #73, with the demons getting sucked back to Limbo. It ends after Cloak and Dagger #4, putting this at the tail end of Inferno.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showEnergizer, Gee, Gosamyr, Jim Power, Lightspeed, Margaret Power, Mass Master, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Sunspot, Warlock
One other problem with this story- later on Inferno is explained away as hallucinations. But we see plenty of injured people in this story. One would think some of them had injuries that couldn't be explained through hallucinations.
Posted by: Michael | August 30, 2014 9:33 PM
Or perhaps, any book that had ties to the mutant titles should have had monthly meetings about the upcoming plots.
Posted by: clyde | August 30, 2014 10:24 PM
But here's the thing- the Magneto-is-turning-evil-again plot had been building since New Mutants 61. I can't imagine that they were planning on letting him remain head of the School while evil, so it should have been obvious to the Power Pack staff that SOMETHING was going to happen with Magneto and the School, so you'd think they would ask the X-Staff BEFORE revealing the kids' identities.
Posted by: Michael | August 30, 2014 10:57 PM
I get the feeling that Inferno was a bit too ambitious for its own sake.
It is obviously meant to give a sense of closure for most of the subplots that have been running amok for the last four years or so - nearly all of them unexplained or unsolvable consequences of the status quo of Magik and Cyclops - but it could only go so far, for various reasons. It ended up making Illyana just a glorified source of plot demons, and attempted to drown the inconsistencies and dead ends under a veritable multitude of men behind the curtains. Nearly all of the resolutions were as necessary as they were ultimately unsatisfactory, even outright vague.
Its is also noticeable how the boundaries of the individual books began to crumble to the point where I feel that it is hindrance to actually have Power Pack, X-Factor and New Mutants as books of their own. The actual plots all but ignore those distinctions, and the guest starring has grown unyieldy.
Going back to this issue, that is both a logical and completely unacceptable resolution of the dilemma of how to deal with the parents. Between the obvious uncertainties brought by Inferno itself and Mirage saying outright that she has the power to build constructs that look just like their sons and daughters and showing convincing evidence that she used it, they should indeed be at least somewhat suspicious for a while. It is not a particularly convincing lie, after all.
The problem with that approach is that it can only result in portraying the Powers as being scarred self-delusionals from them on or instead having a storyline where they grow the courage to find out the truth. The second approach would be by far the more satisfactory, but it would also need a degree of editorial space that I sure don't see existing at this time. I will be very pleased indeed if I eventually am proven wrong.
Even so, wtf. This issue is in essence advocating the ethics of date rape. Mirage is lying outright to well-meaning parents that did nothing wrong and are understandably shocked, all the while still trusting them to keep guard of their sons and daughters. That is an utterly irresponsible thing to do. And it does not help that Gosamyr's powers mean in essence that they are drugged at that moment, a point made even by the story itself in that panel with the cheesecakey back shot of Gosamyr in a suggestive pose. It is no wonder that the character lasted so little; her powers walk a very fine line indeed, and her appearance is unconfortable at best.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | August 30, 2014 11:30 PM
Luis, there's a difference in Marvel ethics between using mental powers to change people's minds and using mental powers to fix mental illness. Moondragon using her powers to make Quicksilver less of a bigot is clearly wrong but Xavier using his powers to cure Gabrielle Haller's catatonia is treated sympathetically. Of course, the difference is that Gaby had been catatonic for years, so barring a miracle Xavier had no other options, while the Powers has found out their kids' secret less than 48 hours ago so their condition might improve with time. Still, I can see why the writers thought this was acceptable.
Posted by: Michael | August 30, 2014 11:59 PM
That makes one of us, I guess.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | August 31, 2014 12:03 AM
Also, with all the controversy about the recent Milo Manara cover for Spider-Woman and the aforementioned parent shot of Gosamyr, I can't help but notice that Julie is drawn a bit too well for taste in that bus scene.
When did Power Pack become a direct-market only title? I have a hunch that its demographics (as originally intended, anyway) suffered particularly badly from the change.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | August 31, 2014 12:58 AM
How can they explain away Inferno as a hallucination? We've seen quite a few people dying as a result of it.
Posted by: Berend | August 31, 2014 6:25 AM
Maybe the deaths were undone magically when the final spell was broken.
Posted by: Michael | August 31, 2014 8:43 AM
These memories are from 1989 but I'm pretty certain we see the possessed dentist from Daredevil (who was literally torn limb from limb) and some of the people eaten by the Empire State Building's elevator alive again. Maybe the editors or creators wanted to walk back the really extreme violence of Inferno.
Posted by: Alex F | September 7, 2014 12:55 AM
The letter page of Power Pack #48 states Jon Bogdanove wrote and drew the entire issue. I have a scan of the letters page if you don't have a copy. Those credits must have been scheduled for the next issue and mistakenly used for issue 44.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | March 6, 2016 1:57 AM
Thanks Brian. I've found the line in issue #48's lettercol. As i noted in the entry, in issue #46 there's a more formal correction which also confirms that Russ Heath was the inker. I guess when i wrote this entry i just didn't believe the correction, since the art just doesn't look like Bogdanove to me. But i've updated the credits and a few comments in the entry. Thanks again!
Posted by: fnord12 | March 7, 2016 7:59 AM
You're welcome! I agree the art doesn't look much like Bogdanove, but he must have been doing really loose pencils. Russ Heath really deserved his credit on the book, since he must have done most of the penciling and inking.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | March 7, 2016 4:56 PM
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