Power Pack #50-52
Issue(s): Power Pack #50, Power Pack #51, Power Pack #52
Part of the problem here seems to be that fan feedback is in on what a footnote calls the "still controversial" Inferno issues where they did the fakeout on the Power parents learning that their kids had powers. So Jon Bogdanove has a "fix" for us on that, sort of, but it's a fix that instead of fixing anything just makes everything else worse. There's also the fact that Bogdanove isn't drawing any more and the art on the series just gets worse with each successive issue as we play musical art teams. But it's really just the main story that is awful.
Soon after helping the dolphins from the previous arc, the kids notice a comet that turns out to be a spaceship containing their horse cousin, Kofi.
He's come to tell them that their Smartship Friday is dying and he needs their help.
So they bring him home to their vacation cottage.
I know what you're thinking. Sure, the parents have seen the Kymellians before, but shouldn't being reminded of them at least bring back some doubt about the "our kids have super-powers, oh wait no they don't" story? Just hold on to that.
You'll also see buried somewhere in all that text that the Power kids are asking to be allowed to go off into deep space with Kofi without their parents. And indeed, directly after that panel:
They reach the Kymellian home world in no time at all. The planet turns out to be an artificial ring world, because, as we're reminded, the Kymellian's lost their home planet to a device similar to what Power Pack's father was building in the original issues of this series.
After getting out of the way the fact that Kofi stole his spaceship to go to Earth, it turns out that the kids are too late to save Friday. S/he's already dead. So they instead attend her funeral, but during it they run to her and revive her.
Yay, it's very sappy!
But Friday still needs to be repaired, so the kids are stuck on the Kymellian home world for a while. And the place turns out to be this technocratic nightmare run by the Technos. The more wizard-like Kymellians that we've seen so far like Whitey or Byrel turn out to be rarities.
You know, i'm not even going to explain why i don't like this or think it's true to what we've seen of the Kymellians so far. The truth is i don't care. I don't know that we ever needed to see the Kymellian home planet or find out that they aren't just a utopian race of horse wizards.
Instead i'll focus my ire on Force 4, the Kymellian equivalent of the Fantastic Four, with the members having pig latin versions of the originals' names.
Part of what's going on here is the idea that if all Kymellians had powers like Power Pack, then Power Pack wouldn't be special. Louise Simonson already solved this problem, first by telling us some Kymellians, like Kofi's father Yrik, never developed their powers, and second by never taking us to the Kymellian home world. But now we can't have a planet full of super-horses, so the idea is that only some Kymellians, like Force 4, develop their powers, and the majority don't.
Power Pack suddenly find out that they're supposed to fight Force 4 (i keep wanting to write Horse 4 or Fantastic Horse).
The kids do ok against the fake Fantastic Four.
But they do wind up getting in trouble and are nearly defeated until Franklin gives them an opportunity to regroup.
This results in disparaging outrage from the Kymellian Technos...
...but the Force 4 team show up later to say that there's no hard feelings.
Later, Friday is repaired...
...but the Power kids are told that Friday never really loved them. Instead it's just that s/he was programmed to be loyal. But the bigger bombshell is that Power Pack's parents have been mentally conditioned to always believe anything the Power Pack kids tell them.
No no no no no no no. This is... why would you do this? Power Pack's parents now basically haven't been real people for the past 25 issues. And conflict between the kids and the parents, whether it's normal school stuff or sneaking out to do super-hero stuff, all of which is pretty much the heart of the series, is rendered null and void with this. And it doesn't explain their depressive freakout when the parents did learn that the kids had powers during Inferno. If the kids had said, "It's ok, mom and dad, we can take care of ourselves", which they did, the parents should have believed them. It does explain why the parents never go suspicious of all the clues that happened before Dani Moonstar's "solid illusion" explanation (i.e. they were kidnapped by aliens twice and they hang out with the son of Marvel's premiere super-hero parents, but sure it makes sense that the New Mutants would pick our kids to make solid illusions out of even though they don't have powers), but i thought that's what Gosamyr was for. Not that any of that was a great reversal in the first place, but this is much much worse.
It's also weird how Marvel rejected the idea of having Power Pack's parents learn that their kids had powers and just be cool with it, but they approved this idea.
Power Pack is as upset about this dumb revelation as i am.
But the good news is that the revelation about Friday turns out to not be true.
Byrel is in the background setting up the possibility of a full Smartship awakening, an uninteresting idea that wasn't even a consideration a few pages earlier.
Friday shows up to take the Power kids home, and Franklin makes sure that Kofi comes with them.
Meanwhile, Maraud, exiled Queen of the Snarks, is shopping for weapons at the science fiction equivalent of a used car shop.
The dealer has all sorts of ultra powerful and satirical weapons for sale...
...but Maraud settles on the Galactus-Matic, which is "fully guaranteed to chop, mince, slice, dice, and julienne any cosmic mass short of a minor star".
Maraud immediately turns on the dealer, who doesn't have any kind of protection against the type of clientele he's obviously going to attract.
It's dumb. The whole thing is dumb. If this were Mad magazine or something, a comedy book, it would be ok. It's not very funny but ok. But as far as i know there was no indication that this book is suddenly a satire since last issue.
Maurad attacks the Kymellian ring world after Power Pack has departed. In Dungeons and Dragons, sometimes the players wonder off in the wrong direction entirely and the Dungeon Master has to slip in a character to drop some clues that they're going the wrong way. And that's what happens here. It's usually a little more subtle than having Cosmic Whoopi Goldberg show up, though.
So "Numinus" tells Power Pack, "Hey, the plot's back that way!", and Friday turns around (if only if it were that simple, though. That's only after several excruciating pages).
Meanwhile, Fantastic Horse Force are trying to fight Maraud and the Snarks...
...but not doing so good. So it's Power Pack to the rescue.
Genuinely funny: Power Pack teleport into the Snark ship's bathroom.
The array of emotions on those Snarks - embarrassed, annoyed, too busy straining to notice, creepily happy about it - just adds to the humor, although i kind of think that's mostly unintentional. I should note that this issue is drawn by Gray Morrow, definitely an artist from an earlier era. His art is kind of primitive and not what i'd want on Power Pack, but at least i can understand where it's coming from compared to the two issues around it which just seem like crappy rush jobs.
Anyway, Power Pack fights their way through the Snarks...
...but have to give themselves up when Maraud threatens to blow up the Kymellian world.
Maraud demands to know the secret of successfully transferring Kymellian powers, and Julie (yes, that's Julie, not Katie) tells her that it only works if the transferer really wants to do it.
They tell Maraud that they'll "want" to give her their powers if she'll let the injured Kofi leave along with Fantastic Horse and if she'll promise to not blow up the Kymellian ring world. Maraud agrees (although on the second point she's lying), and the Power kids do indeed transfer their powers.
As we shift to the final issue of this, let me just note that usually when an artist becomes a writer, they tend to be less wordy than a person that never drew comics. I think they know how to trust the art to tell the story more. That's not at all the case with Jon Bogdanove, who is very wordy.
Granted, the art just keeps getting worse with each issue so i can see him maybe not trusting it as much as he would if he were drawing.
Anyway, the Fantastic Horse decide to turn around to go back to help Power Pack...
...and their Smartship also "awakens" enough to want to help Friday.
The Power kids help in the fight too, despite not having any powers.
And then, like the last time they unwillingly gave up their powers, Power Pack start taking them back, and not necessarily the same ones as last time.
Julie gets her original flight power back.
Katie gets gravity.
Alex gets the mass power, and immediately starts bitching that it sucks and that his siblings are using his old powers better than he did.
And, "savage" Jack gets the energy power. This is something that, if this book didn't totally suck (which it does), would have gotten me pretty excited if i had been reading it in realtime (which i wasn't).
And then, i don't know what the hell happens. One of the Force 4 characters, the Sue Storm analogue, becomes the Matriarch.
What, now? The what?
Cosmic Whoopi shows up again too.
Whatever. Go home, Power Pack. There is nothing but madness out here for you.
Of course at home there is a different kind of madness.
We are down to the ten final issues or so of this series and things will get worse (after all, Alex hasn't been turned into a horse yet). The good news is that after the series is over Louise Simonson and June Brigman will come back for a Holiday Special oneshot that will allow the Power kids to end on something on a high note after being dragged through all of this.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: This begins the same night as Power Pack #49.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showByrel Whitemane, Energizer, Franklin Richards, Friday, Gee, Jim Power, Kofi, Lightspeed, Maraud, Margaret Power, Mass Master, Numinus, Yrik Whitemane
Was Cosmic Whoopi's power able to affect her skin color? she went from dark-skinned to pink.
Posted by: clyde | October 23, 2014 6:38 PM
Fnord, I think the idea is supposed to be if the Powers find out their kids are Power Pack, their minds will collapse- it doesn't matter what the kids say after that, the collapse can't be reversed as long as they believe the kids are Power Pack. I can see how Bogdanove thought this was consistent with the parents' strange behavior after Yrik healed them and Margaret thinking that kids couldn't have powers, except Franklin- I don't know what Simonson was thinking when she wrote those things. But this was stil a bad idea.
Posted by: Michael | October 23, 2014 9:29 PM
Also, fnord, I don't think this arc was the catalyst for Simonson returning- the parents thing was not clearly retconned away in the Power Pack Holiday Special- it was more, "Yrik's sorry":
Posted by: Michael | October 23, 2014 11:32 PM
I thought it was revealed that the parents had been replaced. I read that issue without (mercifully) having read all of these, so i may have not connected all the details correctly. I'll hedge my comment here for now and revise when i get to that issue.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 24, 2014 7:34 AM
They WERE replaced but circa issue 55, so that doesn't invalidate the brainwashed parents thingie.
Posted by: Michael | October 25, 2014 8:04 PM
Now that Englehart is gone, poor Franklin is back to being four again.
Posted by: Michael | October 27, 2014 3:40 PM
And then...Cosmic Whoopi Goldberg. Considering Ghost Rider met Jesus, I'm more shocked at this.
Posted by: Ataru320 | October 27, 2014 4:53 PM
The Galactus-Matic is better known as the Berserker/Destroyer from the original Star Trek(albeit in blue).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 8, 2014 4:51 PM
Between Cosmic Whoopi (Guinan in Next Generation) and the Galactus-Matic (monster of the week in original Trek), I'm gonna guess Bogdanov and/or the artist team were big time Trekkies.
Posted by: Red Comet | July 10, 2015 10:02 AM
Cosmic Whoopi recently reappears in Groot 4-5.
Posted by: Michael | December 16, 2015 8:03 AM
Is that post-Secret Wars?
Posted by: fnord12 | December 16, 2015 9:18 AM
When we discussed it at the MCP, we decided it was pre-Secret Wars.
Posted by: Michael | December 16, 2015 9:01 PM
Ok, i've added Numinus as a Character Appearing. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 17, 2015 7:16 AM
Comments are now closed.
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