Last week, we talked about a killer battle between the unstoppable Juggernaut and Sentinel from the future, Nimrod. This week, three issues into my coverage of the 80s and 90s X-Men, we come across that rarest of birds–a Claremont issue that’s only about half as impressive as his standard fare from this era. A lot of that has to do with the guest characters featured: the Power Pack kids.
For those not in the know, the Power Pack was a team of kids (the oldest was twelve or so), all brothers and sisters, who got their powers from an alien. Their comic was created in 1984 by Louise Simonson (editor of Uncanny X-Men and New Mutants, and eventual writer of X-Factor, noted for creating the character Apocalypse). They pretty much have jack squat to do with the X-Men except for some guest appearances here and there. Basically, they’re not mutants and there’s no instance that comes to mind where they’ve shown up in a mutant book and had an impact on the status quo. Plus, they’re kids, which at least to me is the most uninteresting sort of character for superhero comics (I head-desked continuously at the addition of Franklin Richards, Artie and Leech to my beloved Generation X, too!).
The comic, illustrated by Romita, Jr. with Dan Green, opens with the kids being woken up in bed by some thunder and lightning. All four of them are crashed out with their parents…except, their parents don’t know who the heck the kids are! They don’t even remember having kids. When the young Powers flee their apartment and knock on the landlord’s door, he doesn’t know them either. They blast their way out of the building, shiver in a cold, rainy alley for a bit and determine that the Morlocks, whom they met during an adventure in their own series, might be at fault for the discrepancies in their parents’ memories; they’d met a Morlock named Beautiful Dreamer, who messes with people’s heads. So, off they go into the sewers, where the Morlocks live.
Three-quarters of the team get captured by the Morlocks. Young Katie Power escapes, reaches the surface and lays a policeman out with her energy blasts. Off-panel, she’s apprehended by more police, where she gets her face on the news. After nine pages of a 22-page story, we finally see an X-Man when Shadowcat spies the Katie Power news story on TV. Kitty figures out that the Powers must have tangled with the Morlocks, since Katie’s face is disfigured–the hallmark of Masque, one of the Morlocks. She gets the team together to visit Katie in the hospital. They discuss what happened in the sewer tunnels and then the X-Men take this little girl with them into the sewer to rescue her brothers and sister.
When they get there, they find the Powers’ furniture and toys have been moved into the Morlock tunnels and that a Morlock woman named Annalee, who lost her own children, is responsible for the Powers being kidnapped. Not only that, but she’s brainwashed Katie’s siblings into thinking she’s their mother, and they throw down with the X-Men, along with several Morlocks. After about five pages of fighting, Annalee has an epiphany about how foolish it was for her to take the Power kids. Right around the same time, Callisto shows up. She led the Morlocks when they first appeared in the comics, and then was beaten in combat by a powerless Storm, so at this point, Storm’s really the Morlocks’ leader, but she’s rarely around so Callisto’s still the acting boss. The Morlocks did all this stuff with the Power kids without her authorization, so she makes them put everything back the way it was–furniture, memories, Masque-altered faces and all. The kids, of course, give Annalee a big ol’ hug because they feel sorry for the loss of her children and promise to visit.
Finally, the very last panel of the comic gets us back on track. Rachel receives a telepathic summons calling the X-Men back to the mansion–from MAGNETO. Essentially, this issue is straight-up character-driven story, which can certainly make for great comics. The caveat is that in order for it to work, the reader has to care about the characters involved. I can point out numerous excellent X-Men comics with emphasis on character interaction over plot, but they almost always hinge on the X-Men themselves. This particular issue…it’s far from being the worst X-Men comic out there, but you’re not missing a whole lot if you don’t read it.