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Best Shots review: Power Pack #1 struggles to carve out a place for the young Marvel team

Power Pack #1
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Tying into the 'Outlawed' branding, Marvel's youngest team receives a new miniseries with Power Pack #1. Writer Ryan North and artist Nico Leon bring the characters to life in the modern age, yeets and all. But the Power Pack is now one of many young teams within the Marvel Universe. Between the Champions, the Young Avengers, Runaways, and various X-teams, North and Leon have to make these characters stand apart in a new story.

Power Pack #1 credits

Written by Ryan North
Art by Nico Leon and Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters by Travis Lanham
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10

Power Pack #1 opens with a comic-within-a-comic, as Katie Power recaps the Power Pack's origins, testing her work with her older siblings to make sure that she can reveal their secret to their parents for their parents' 25th anniversary. By centering on the youngest member of the team, Ryan North and Nico Leon emphasize the relative youth of the team. Even with Marvel's sliding timescale, Katie Power is still very much a child and that shines through in the opening pages. 

Of course, Katie's older siblings shut down her idea to reveal their identities to their parents, and North and Leon build up a sense of the characters through their dialogue. Katie is earnest and pleading, Jack is a bit of a clown, Julie is caring, and Alex is firmly in the years where he mistakes hyper-verbosity for wit. It's all endearing character work, and letterer Travis Lanham does a fantastic job balancing the word balloons on the page for this dialogue-heavy scene.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Nico Leon's character work shines here. The first half of the issue is almost entirely within the Powers family home, with no superpowers on display. Instead, Leon's expressive characters and framing help tell the story, whether it's Katie's dismissiveness of the concerns of her siblings, or Jack mocking his older brother, popping just inside the frame like an anime character. These character decisions do a lot to carry an issue that isn't concerned with getting to the plot. And when the issue does move into a more action-heavy second half, that lively feeling carries into the action. 

Rachelle Rosenberg's color art helps sell that mood. Inside the Powers home, backgrounds are given a warm peach tone that helps offset the bright colors of the Pack's civilian clothes without drowning the pages in cooler tones. When the Power Pack faces off against an old foe, Rosenberg makes great use of the heroes' powers to create heightened energy for the scene.

Appropriately, Power Pack #1 skews to the younger side of the 'all ages' and the tone of the artwork reflects that. Even within the action sequence, there isn't a lot of brutal violence. When a hero is hit, Leon opts to show the aftereffect of the punch, rather than the point of contact. North's script is full of humor, some of which is a little edgy, but not in a way that feels like it betrays the youth of the team. There are jokes about cannibalism, but nothing that really enters toilet humor.

The choice to focus on introducing the characters means that the plot takes a back seat in this issue. Readers already familiar with the Power Pack don't have much new to grasp on to as even the 'Outlawed' elements of the book are left for the final pages. While there are some hints in Katie's narrative captions that suggest where future issues might take readers, the story itself feels disappointingly flat. Ryan North and Nico Leon make a strong argument for these characters to have their own adventures, but they haven't yet given them one worth telling.

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Power Pack #1

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)
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Power Pack #1

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Yes, you’ll find Power Pack in Newsarama’s countdown of the best teen superhero teams of all time

Robert Reed

Writer in Los Angeles (formerly Omaha, Nebraska). Reader of Comics. Spammer of Bowser Bomb.