Power Pack by Bannister & Joel Carroll

Character: Power Pack
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Pencils: Bannister
Inks & Colors: Joel Carroll
Reviewer: Joel Priddy

I picked up the first ten or twelve issues of Power Pack back in the early Eighties. The grand concept was kid superheroes that acted like kids. The series was written by Louise Simonson, who must have actually met human children at some point. (My favorite Power Pack memory is from the letter column: a reader with too many Superbaby stories under his belt complained that Katie, the youngest, should speak more realistically. His suggestion of age-appropriate four-year old dialogue: “Me make pretty lights! Me shoot bad snakes!”) I don’t know much of what has happened with Power Pack since 1984, but a quick stroll through the internet indicates that they’ve been put through the inevitable continuity ringer as editorial visions come and go. Did they really try to make Power Pack “dark?”

If their kiddishness was the best thing about the Power Pack, their costumes were definitely the worst. The silver moon-booties made sense in the context of a decade that thought turquoise and black checks looked sharp, but body-hugging spandex on pre-pubescent children? Where’s Dr. Wertham when you need him?

What I like about these designs is that 1) they play up on the kiddishness, and 2) I’m not going to have to look at any delicately rendered drawings of eight-year old buttocks. The moon-boots are still there, but considerably played down. The age-appropriate personalities are painted in clear, if broad, strokes. By gawd, they look like kids! Kids who should have fun, slightly goofy adventures.

There is, of course, the continuity question of how, exactly, one turns an alien space suit into a pair of bib-overalls. I leave that to someone more informed in Power Pack lore.

19 comments on “Power Pack by Bannister & Joel Carroll
  1. I think what strikes me the most about this piece is that they look like kids. I don’t remember his name (Alex?) but the one on the skateboard looks like a kid…it totally works for me.

    What doesn’t work for me is that the costumes are just given up on and made into casual wear. Sometimes that works (the Punisher wearing a t-shirt? Check). Here, it looks a little forced…except for Katie’s. That is PERFECT. She’s wearing something that a child her age would wear, and the design of the costume is incorporated into it. If they wore sneakers, it’d work just as well as the boots, but that’s a minor thing.

    Overall, I’d rate this between 7.5 and 8. It’s not terribly original, but it is 100% reasonable.

  2. Totally works for me. Kids with as much age range as Alex (the oldest) and Katie (the youngest) would never be convinced to wear the same thing, so this sampling of regular clothes that can also be costumes (superheroes need pockets, ya’ll) works because it’s practical, and because it makes it easier for them to be kids and still have “secret” identities.

  3. I know NOTHING about the PowerPackage… that said, I dig the Logoness of the team. How each of their logos are worked into the “costume” design. The logo screened into the background. It’s all good.

  4. I’ve always had a soft spot for Power Pack and really like this redesign.

    I particularly like the symbols/sigils; they’re strong designs, individual and work well as a group.

  5. I like the redesign too. It highlights the kid superheroes concept in a way the original kind of generic designs didn’t.

    And, by the way, Power Pack’s spaceship has modified their costumes while they were packed away in subspace before (or if you believe later issues, he subcontracted it out to tailors in Slumberland) so no problem at all for an in-book costume redesign.

  6. Bannister did an excellent job of in this redesign. Not only did he take cues from the original costumes, but also from the essences of the characters created by Simonson and Brigman to really take the costumes on a no-brainer next evolutionary step in what the costumes should be.

    Also, in distilling each of their insignias is very modern, and evokes kid culture with hand-made shirts, and brands.

  7. Although… the elder girl from power pack is out in california on her own, last I saw. She made her solo west coast appearance in the pages of Runaways. Honestly, I’d like to see some of these young characters aged into teenage or adulthood versions of themselves. A bit like the perpetually young Franklin Richards. They started out kids. We get it. Now that they’ve been kids for something like 25 years now, it’s getting a bit disturbing.

  8. Nice change. I really like this version. Jack liked being a super hero like the “big boys” and probably wanted a different look when HE was being one. The only other thought to take into consideration is that their costumes were designed (by aliens with no American fashion sense) to protect them as well. So exposed arm would be out. (That’s why they looked like simple pajamas) They DID have costume variations that “Friday” the smart-ship would make for them (like space suits and deep-sea suits and gloves). These would be great variants for them to be in costume and go unnoticed like they’ve wanted to do quite often.

  9. Dude seriously… kickass
    it’s cute and very supers… whatever practical issues people may have with it. They are kid superheroes, that about as impractical as it gets and this plays perfectly into that whole idea

  10. I’d like to see this design applied to a comic series…heck…an animated series. My three-year old daughter would love it! In fact, my wife and I think the one in yellow looks exactly like our daughter, pigtails and all!

  11. Absolutely love this redesign. Was a big Power Pack fan way back (I even had a subscription at one point), although I think the book’s quality started to suffer after June Brigman left. I agree with Nathan and Mike Thompson, this would be a great starting point for a new comic book or animated series. Hey, I’d buy it.

  12. I love this redesign. It feels comfortable and fun, while the original seemed awkward and wierd. (If they could have moon boots, why was the rest of the outfit skin tight?)

    Anyway, these are just great.

  13. “how, exactly, one turns an alien space suit into a pair of bib-overalls.”

    Write a note, stick it in the pocket. Costume off, costume on.

    Seriously.

  14. Back in the ’80s, I was an honorary member of a Power Pack fanclub. No joke. I got a newsletter every month or so.

    This is a great Power Pack design. You made me miss them all over again.

  15. This is more or less in line with a redesign I created for a proposed relaunch of Power Pack. Unfortunately, I was beaten to the punch by the current series Marvel is putting out, which absolutely reeks of the development deal they signed with Artisan Pictures (since reverted, I believe, to the new Marvel Studios). Marvel wants its own equivalent of Teen Titans (the cartoon, mind) so badly they’ve reduced characters formerly rich with depth into 2D caricatures desperately begging to be animated, without any of the appeal. As a PP fan since age 9, this is perhaps the only mainstream book I take this seriously that I feel quite so personally offended by this development. While of course nothing could be as PERFECT as the vision I had for the book (half-joke; Weezi Simonson writing them again WOULD be perfect), something along the lines of this image would at least satisfy me far more.

  16. This is the first time I’ve ever looked at the Power Pack and not dismissed them as bland.

    There’s a whole range of stories and character in this image alone.

    Good Show.

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