This entry is slightly momentous in two ways—it’s the first time I’m writing about a Marvel comic in my Comic Books Out of Order collection, and it’s also the first time I’ve read an “all-ages adventure.”
When my comic-book-guru friend handed me this to read, I at first raised my eyebrows after looking at the cover. I stared at the four kids, who look like, well…kids. Superhero kids? Wouldn’t that be super annoying? And then I stared at Thor, looking somewhat like a manga character (not that I have anything against manga-inspired looks).
I quicky learned (via the handy intro) who the four kids I was about to get acquainted with were. They’re called the Power Pack, and each has a superpower. They’re also a family, and the opening scene shows their grandmother in a hospital, announcing that she’s dying and doesn’t have much time left. To console Julie (the redhead on the cover), a nurse gives her a tale of Norse myths. Julie quickly learns about the Golden Apples of Idunn, and then decides the Power Pack are going to try and retrieve them with the help of Thor.
The rest of the mini-series sees cameos by the Pet Avengers (something I didn’t realize was a thing), Loki turning all of Asgard into babies (a plot that somehow doesn’t reduce the series to juvenile crap) and a near-coming of Ragnarok. To add to the insanity, there’s a backup story which has Hercules, arriving as a babysitter for the Power Pack, retelling in short form the story of his Twelve Labours.
The story that surprised me in how good it is. The “all-ages” tag shouldn’t be looked at as a reason not to delve into it. There’s plenty of stuff that will fly over kids’ heads, like the scene where Thor and Beta Ray Bill come in, semi-quoting “I Will Survive” (something I didn’t notice until comic-book-guru-friend pointed it out to me). Or the simple visual gag when the Power Pack meet an old man at the gates of Asgard; Julie shows him the book called “Myths of the Norse” while the man shows her the book “Facts of the Norse.”
The various Power Pack team-ups (others include Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man and more) also allow a close-up, sometimes nearly fourth-wall-breaking, into what superheroes are and why the look the way they do. When Katie (the young blonde girl on the cover) first sees Beta Ray Bill, she immediately asks him if he’s Thor’s pet horse and then asks him if he wants a carrot. Because they’re kids, they have fewer filters, and will therefore question the hell out of something as strange as an alien dressed like Thor. I’ve learned that in other books, one of the members of the Power Pack asks a sea monster what it’s like being a sea monster.
Besides being able to see Beta Ray Bill as a tiny little kid, the art is enjoyable, and is always clean-looking even during scenes when something particularly huge is happening (a particular scene involving someone who isn’t Thor wielding Mjolnir is pretty incredible).
Despite its kid-friendliness, the humour and action are really enjoyable, certainly enjoyable enough for any body to pick up and enjoy.