Power Pack #60-62
Issue(s): Power Pack #60, Power Pack #61, Power Pack #62
Hee hee! That is pretty great!
So yeah, Alex Power is a horse. And this era of greatness only lasts for these three issues, when the long overdue cancellation of the series finally occurs. In the meantime, Power Pack have encounters with a couple of classic Silver Age Fantastic Four villains, but mostly deal with internal problems.
Alex is so depressed about his horse-ness he contemplates suicide twice in issue #60. But he also hears a voice from someone that will later be said to be Whitey, the Kymellian that gave Power Pack their powers.
But Alex isn't the only one with problems. There's also mom, whose grip on sanity has been weak ever since the kids were televised while using their powers a few issues back. She's feeling much better now, but it won't last.
And the other Power kids, and Franklin (under the name Franklin Benjamin), are going back to school. Katie finds out that Franklin is going to be in her grade, even though he's younger. And their teacher is Ann Raymond, the wife of Toro that has currently been appearing in Avengers West Coast (i had no idea that she was a school teacher in New York).
Yes, that's Julie Power in that scan above.
As for our first FF villain, it's the Puppet Master. We actually saw Franklin Richards talking to a Mrs. Masters on his way up to visit the Powers last issue. We see this issue that the Puppet Master has remarried and is taking care of his new wife's son, who loves the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
But when the kid plays with dolls that the Puppet Master made of the turtles, he winds up controlling some aliens that were apparently first seen in one of the Hercules mini-series.
So yeah, this issue is really a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pastiche. Or rip-off or tribute. Or, i don't know what to call it.
The Puppet Master's kid also gets into the Puppet Master's older doll collection, and winds up with a Franklin Richards doll. So Franklin winds up fighting the turtles at lunch time at a pizza shop.
Franklin psychically contacts Alex, who goes to the Puppet Master's home. The Puppet Master was innocent in all of this, and he stops his kid when he finds out what's been going on, and invites Power Pack over to play some time.
Alex had been hiding his new horse-self from his parents. But at the end of issue #60, dad finds out. He handles it *sob* well.
Mom not so much.
Before anyone can do anything about that, Friday shows up and crashes into the Powers' apartment building. Horse-Alex tries to help out, gets knocked out, and then Franklin possesses him to wake him up.
Franklin then mentally summons his parents to help.
On Friday were "Raymond" (Toro) and the Elan. Friday's spaceship body was destroyed in the crash, but the Elan has rescued the ship's core personality circuitry.
The Fantastics take the Powers back to Four Freedoms Plaza, and Mr. Fantastic tries to help Mrs. Power. Reed says the "source of Maggie's disorder" is the mental manipulation that the Kymellians did to make her and her husband always believe what their kids told them. Mr. Power is wary about letting Mr. Fantastic mess with his wife's head, so he asks for time to think about it. Mr. Fantastic also tries to turn Alex back into a human, although the parallels with his inability to cure the Thing gives him some self-doubt (the fact that his failures with the Thing were due to the Thing's subconsciousness rejecting the cures is not mentioned).
But the effort to cure Alex is interrupted by an attack by the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes.
We learn that the Red Ghost was behind Friday's crash and he's after Friday's core. It will turn out that he was contacted by Snarks.
I'm almost willing to believe that everyone in this story is really a protoplasm construct. Since when does the Invisible Woman say things like, "A momentary setback!"
And who the hell are these people?
The secret that Raymond is Toro comes closer to being revealed. But more dialogue weirdness: Jack saying, "You may have caught me with my potency down".
The Red Ghost defeats all of Power Pack. But then he has to face what seems to be Power Pack's dad.
Sadly, it's not really Mr. Power. It's the Elan.
While the Elan is fighting the Red Ghost, Alex hears Whitey again, and is given a power up.
His new powers include healing, so everyone is revived and they regroup to fight the Red Ghost and his apes.
I just can't get over Alex being a horse. Hilarious.
I also thought this panel of the Power kids trying to get the Invisible Woman to use their super-hero names was funny.
The battle ends in Central Park.
The Red Ghost has his shape-changing baboon turn into Mrs. Powers, but Franklin figures out that it's a bluff and possesses the Ghost.
After it's over, Franklin gets too close to guessing who Raymond is, and he takes his leave. A footnote promises that we'll see him again in the future.
Then Mr. Fantastic tells Alex that after his power upgrade there's no way to change him back to human. Alex takes some solace from seeing the Things (although Ben is in an exoskeleton).
Jim Power still thinks that the risk in Mr. Fantastic's method for curing his wife are too great, so he and his family leave (in a newly repaired Friday, and with Franklin!) to follow up on some other ideas. I suspect that the stories would have been the next two issues of Power Pack (more likely the case for the latter), but instead they appear in Excalibur #29 and Marvel Super Heroes #6.
After "weeks", the Powers return to the Four Freedoms Plaza to say goodbye. The leads didn't pan out, so they're now going into space. I love Jim Power saying with a grin that "there's no telling what effects may already be occurring within my own brain!".
It's said that they'll drop the Elan off to his own region of space before going to the Kymellians.
Alex takes a final lurking look at Allison before they all leave. I believe this is the last we'll see of her, even after Alex is restored (so to speak) to human form.
Issue #61 has a lettercol, and the letters are mostly positive, which blows my mind. One person does complain about the decline in quality and says that the team look like "midgets on steroids". And yeah, the art is atrocious, but that's only part of it. Power Pack has sucked for a long time, sadly, but these final issues are mind bogglingly bad. I certainly get how a rumor started that Marvel deliberately made this book bad so that it would be canceled. It doesn't necessarily make sense - they could have just canceled it! - but how else to explain how bad this story is except that they were making it bad deliberately?
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place before Namor #6-9, when Ann Raymond is kidnapped. Excalibur #29 and the Power Pack story from Marvel Super Heroes #6 takes place between pages #26-27 of Power Pack #62, and then the final pages of #62 take place "weeks" later. Takes place while the Thing is still in Ben Grimm form and using the exoskeleton.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAlex Power Clone, Allison McCourt, Ann Raymond, Energizer, Franklin Richards, Friday, Human Torch, Igor (Super Ape), Infant Terrible, Invisible Woman, Jim Power Clone, Lightspeed, Margaret Power Clone, Mass Master, Mikhlo (Super Ape), Mr. Fantastic, Ms. Marvel (Sharon Ventura), Peator (Super Ape), Puppet Master, Red Ghost, Thing, Toro
I still find it surprising that this book lasted into 1990 and Alpha Flight lasted for over a hundred issues. Today a quality book like Runaways makes it to about 40 issues before heading to the scrap heap.
Posted by: Uncanny Michael | July 9, 2015 4:56 PM
The same thing that happens to Friday (being destroyed with his core intact) happens to Ship in a few months in X-Factor.
Posted by: Michael | July 9, 2015 7:46 PM
You forgot to credit Steve Buccellato with the art for the final issue. (Of course he might not want the credit.)
Posted by: Tenzil | July 9, 2015 8:33 PM
Posted by: fnord12 | July 9, 2015 8:40 PM
I think one of the sad things about Power Pack...and about many comic books with a unique idea that come out from the mainstream publishers...is that most of the time what makes them unique, interesting and good only tends to exist with the original author. Once their gone, the company may keep it going, usually leading to collapse, ending and the characters being forgotten with the occasional revival that really doesn't last too long before put back in the pile of forgotten concepts. Sometimes a character or book can get beyond original creator's intent that weren't from "the beginning of the universe" and become long lasting, but its just typically appear and disappear unless a strong enough writer with a strong enough idea can give it legs to last a bit longer than usual.
That unfortunately was Power Pack's problem: it was uniquely Louise Simonson's idea and she was able to make it work for the long enough period that it did. And once that original intent was gone and Marvel kept it going, no one else could figure it out and it just lead to "muscular midgets and horse-boy"...which is probably about as embarrassing a way to go in comicdom that one can ever think of.
Posted by: Ataru320 | July 9, 2015 8:51 PM
Ugh! When I commented on Iron Man Annual #11 I stated that I was a fan of Tom Morgan. Having said that, I will agree that his work on Power Pack was not good. Not that he was being given even halfway-decent stories to draw on the series.
As someone who literally grew up reading Power Pack, this is such a majorly disappointing ending to the series. I'm just grateful that a year later Marvel had Louise Simonson & June Brigman reunite to create the Holiday Special and salvage the characters.
Posted by: Ben Herman | July 12, 2015 7:21 PM
You need to drop the not from "The leads didn't pan out, so they're not going into space."
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | March 10, 2016 12:31 AM
From The Thing early on to Gargoyle of The Defenders, and now the horsified Alex -- a trenchcoat and hat never fail to disguise.
Posted by: Oliver_C | March 10, 2016 6:37 AM
@Brian, thanks. It was a typo for "now". In the future, please report typos in the forum.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 10, 2016 8:51 AM
Comments are now closed.
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