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Power Pack Issue Reviews: 11 / 15

Author: Dan Wilson and Brian Alan Smith
Created:
Updated: no later than 1998

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 Issue #46 Cover

Power Pack:
Issues 46-49


Cover, Issue #46, by Portacio and Heath, Copyright 1988, Marvel Entertainment Group.


46: The Great Goo-Gam Rip-Off! Written by Terry Austin. Penciled by Whilce Portacio. Inked by Mark Badger.

This issue gets a longer review than it probably deserves, because it, more than any other comic in my collection, illustrates what an inker does. This issue is drawn by Whilce Portacio, almost two years before his successful run on "X-Factor", and well before his true claims to fame: his creation of Image's "Wetworks" and his art on Marvel's Heroes Reborn version of "Iron Man". But this issue isn't Portacio-collectible, because it is inked so badly. No offense to Mark Badger, who may have gone on to greatness, but here, his inks give Portacio's pencils a scratchy, rushed, inconsistent, two-dimensional quality. Contrast this with Russ Heath, who inked Portacio's cover: he is a good inker. The cover is a painful reminder of what this issue could have been.

Anyway, this is Terry Austin's second issue of the series, and he uses his opportunity to create something of a sequel to his other fill-in issue, 21. This goes back to the author of the Goo-Gam books (the Goo-Gams having already become an integral part of Power Pack lore). The author is accused of being a thief, and Jack and Katie (who saved her the first time) set out to prove her innocence this time. Katie enlists the Punisher, and Jack finds private eye Dakota North in the phone book. Portacio's version of North looks too much like actress Dinah Manoff...luckily for Portacio, I'm a huge fan of Dinah Manoff. And Jack finds himself smitten with North...a complete character change from just two issues ago. Oh, well.
Rating: Two stars

47:
Elsewhere. Written and penciled by Jon Bogdanove. Inked by Hilary Barta.

Before Bogdanove weighs down "Power Pack" with all manner of references to science fiction and classic comic strips, he provides us with this gem of an issue. The premise is simple: it finally occurs to Alex that, since the team switched powers, they need to switch costumes, since their power-emblems no longer match. When they try to switch around, Katie, who now has Julie's power, takes her costume and starts pulling book after book out of the interdimensional pocket. Finally, she makes the pocket big enough that she falls into Elsewhere, the dimension where the costumes stay. Suffice it to say the characters in Elsewhere are lovable enough for little kids, yet reverential of comic strips' past that they can be appreciated by adults. This is also the rarest of comics: one that offers a plausible reason for reading the book sideways and upside-down. It's also fun to look at, and entertaining, to boot.
Rating: Four stars

48:
"Dolphin Dreaming". Written and penciled by Jon Bogdanove. Inked by Hilary Barta.

Beginning here, Bogdanove fills all his remaining "Power Pack" issues with heavy-handed environmentalism. Granted, in 1989-90, extreme environmentalism was very big, but it gets a little aggravating now. Like the classic issue 36, this mixes light family togetherness with action. Only here, the action is dolphins who are dying from the polluted water. The Powers (and Franklin) go to save them, but we know their job isn't finished when Franklin dreams he's a dying baby dolphin, and, in a beautifully rendered sequence, begins dying from "PC85 and hydrocarbons, heavy metals and radiation, human sewage, disease and garbage." This issue also features Jim Power quoting "A Charlie Brown Christmas" ("Besides, it [a green car] looked lonely! I think it needs us!") and the Kymellian expression for "fart" (in the lettering, a drawing of a butt with gas coming out. I am not kidding. And get ready: Bogdanove uses this in later issues.)
Rating: Three stars

49:
"The Wasting". Written and penciled by Jon Bogdanove. Additional pencils by James Sherman. Inks by Hilary Barta.

To accept the premise of this issue, you have to believe that dolphins are not only smarter than humans, they also have a type of empathic telepathy that comes from being so evolved. Anyway, the Powers take on nothing less than global pollution in this issue, with the help of the aforementioned dolphins. (Their leader, Mama Dolphin, speaks through Franklin telepathically.) Before it's over, Alex has disintegrated or buried plenty of toxic waste, a waste-barge is dropped onto the expansive lawn of the man who ordered the junk buried at sea, and Mama Dolphin dies. This is nothing less than a blatant "message-issue"...though the message may be worthy, it could have been handled far more lightly.

I would be remiss if I did not point out that my review of this issue, and its predecessor, are the most frequently disputed of the ones I've done. The consensus: I did not rate these issues highly enough. Although I stand by my ratings, and my reasons for not rating these issues more highly, I can say this: if you would like to read a sentimental, touching dolphin story that moved a lot of people, these two books are for you.


Rating: Two and 1/2 stars

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