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- News about a Power Pack film
"Power Pack" is the name of a Marvel Comics super-hero team notable for being the youngest team of super-heroes ever to appear in the Marvel Univese (and probably most any other universe as well).
The Power family featured in the Power Pack comics is regarded by many comic book readers as LDS. However, this religious affiliation, although certainly fitting for this group, is not officially canonical. A number of detailed discussions about Power Pack and possible reasons why they seem LDS have been written. Some of these are reproduced or discussed below.
Later on this page we have reproduced analysis that appeared on http://www.PowerPackComics.com considering the religious affiliation of the Power Pack kids. The article concludes that given the available evidence and general tenor of the original series and portrayal of the family, they were most likely Latter-day Saints. After this article, we present on this page a response by Denise R. which concludes that the Power family was not LDS, but provides no suggestions as to what their religious affiliation might actually be.
- Nothing published by Marvel Comics has ever overtly identified the religious affiliation of position of any of the Power Pack kids or their family.
- The lack of any published answer to this question has left the matter (thus far) up to the interpretation of readers, scholars, and any future writer who cares to answer the question.
- Power Pack was created by Louise Simonson and artist June Brigman. Simonson and Brigman never intended to portray the Power family as LDS. If they created LDS characters (or characters that comic book fans later identified as LDS), then they did so accidentally.
- Neither Louse Simonson nor June Brigman have been responsible for published stories about Power Pack for many years. The fan community's identification of Power Pack as LDS came after the work of these two creators on the original Power Pack series.
- The Power family was based loosely on the family of Louise Simonson and her husband, comic book artist/writer Walt Simonson. Neither Louse nor Walt Simonson are LDS as far as we know.
- If one reads all Power Pack comics and considers this material representative of the totality of the Power family's home life and religious practice, then the Power family must be said to be largely non-observant or non-churchgoers in whatever faith they are affiliated with. Alternatively, the lack of overt religious references can be viewed as simply a function of the "religion taboo" that was still largely in force in mainstream American comics at the time the original Power Pack series was published. What is meant by this is that the Power family can be understood as possibly being actively religious, but overt religious material and precise details about religious affiliation are intentionally omitted from their stories in order to give the series maximum possible appeal and avoid alienating readers. This is done even when the writers have details about the characters' religious affiliation, beliefs and position in mind when writing their stories.
- Although there is disagreement over the matter in the fan community, the only theory to have garnered widespread support thus far is that the Power Pack kids are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (i.e., "Mormons").
- The single-most concrete published piece of evidence in support of this theory is that Julie Power wore a Brigham Young University (BYU) sweatshirt and Alex Power wore a University of Utah (U of U) sweatshirt in Power Pack #39. BYU is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and about 98% of its students are members of this Church. The University of Utah was established in 1850 by Latter-day Saint leader Brigham Young (it was initially named "University of Deseret") and remains a popular university for Latter-day Saints to attend. Its current president is Michael K. Young, a Latter-day Saint and a descendant of Brigham Young.
- These sweatshirts and other specific points raised in support of LDS identification are in no way "proof" that the Power kids are Latter-day Saints. The reason they wore BYU and U of U sweatshirts was, in fact, something of a mystery until Denise R. found the missing link: Power Pack #39 was drawn by Sal Velluto, an Italian artist who is a Latter-day Saint and an immigrant to Utah.
- The BYU and U of U sweatshirts were colored incorrectly in Power Pack #39. A letter published in the letters column was later awarded a "No-Prize" for explaining away the coloring error by suggesting that Dr. Power purchased the sweatshirts as souvenirs while attending a scientific conference in Salt Lake City, and he was unaware that these were incorrectly produced reject sweatshirts. Acceptance of this explanation entails accepting a coloring mistake and a letter-writer's subsequent explanation for the mistake as "canonical" over the intention of a "fill-in" artist. This is not to suggest that Sal Velluto intended for the sweatshirts to somehow "establish" that the Power family is LDS. But clearly it was not the artist's intention for the sweatshirts to be colored incorrectly. In the real world it is highly improbable that anybody visiting Salt Lake City would be able to purchase incorrectly colored BYU or U of U sweatshirts, but the letter was published and it was awarded a No-Prize. As such, the explanation can be regarded as "canonical."
- The sweatshirts alone are not responsible for people thinking the Power family is LDS. A more important factor contributing to this feeling is the overall tenor of the original Power Pack series and the nature of the family: This two-parent family with four children - apparently very nuclear, traditional and functional family in an often dysfunctional comic book world (and real world) - simply struck many people as LDS. It was the sum total of how the Power Pack kids and their parents behaved, the way they talked, the way they looked, and not any one specific thing, that led to a general feeling about this.
- The Power family is shown many times exhibiting behavior which his clearly religious and the kids exhibit Christian ethics and values beyond what one would expect from children without training in religious values and ethics. Despite being seemingly Christian, or at least nominally or culturally so, there are absolutely no instances in which any of the Power family are seen wearing a cross as jewelery or apparel, and we never see a cross displayed in their home, such as we might expect in a Catholic or Protestant family. This might suggest that the Power family is LDS, as Latter-day Saint Christians almost never wear a cross or display a cross prominently in their home. On the other hand, aside from the BYU and U of U sweatshirts (common apparel among Latter-day Saints), the Power Pack children are never shown wearing any other items that Latter-day Saint children might wear, such as a CTR ring or a Young Women medallion necklace. Furthermore, we never see items displayed in the home that we would expect to see displayed in the home of an active Latter-day Saint family, such as a painting or statue of Jesus Christ or a Latter-day Saint temple.
- There may be some degree of "affirmative action" in the identification of Power Pack as LDS. Given the fact that 2% of Americans are Latter-day Saints (and the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. deputy director Maria Hill stated in Civil War #6 that there are Latter-day Saint super-heroes in the Marvel Universe), there may be a desire to identify which of Marvel's hundreds of super-heroes are LDS. Power Pack simply strikes some fans as the most likely choice.
- Given the traction for the "Power Pack as LDS" theory, the notion will probably hold currency as long as the theory remains possible in light of published material and exists as a reasonable explanation of both the general nature of the Power family as well as specific details such as the BYU sweatshirts and the lack of cross jewelery or decor.
- Ultimately, the conclusions on this page are speculative, even though both sides ("Power Pack is LDS" and "Power Pack is not LDS") support their positions with facts and published material. Any published overt identification of the Power family's religious affiliation would override everything on this page and would result in a change in Power Pack's listing on this website's main page.
Power Pack first appeared in Power Pack #1 (1984), written by Louise Simonson and illustrated by June Brigman. The series ran for 62 issues. The characters have subsequently had guest-appearances in other comic book series and have starred in 4 limited series and a few special one-shot comics.
The Power Pack team consists of four siblings who gained super-powers from a dying alien named "Whitey." Their given names and chosen codenames were: Alex "(Gee"), Julie ("Lightspeed"), Jack ("Mass Master") and Katie ("Energizer"). Their surname was, conveniently enough, "Power," which is why they named themselves the "Power Pack." The youngest of these siblings - Katie - was just five years old when she began her career as a costumed super-hero. Alex, the oldest, was just 12 years old. (Julie was ten. Jack was eight.)
Artist June Brigman has stated in correspondence with this website that neither she nor writer/co-creator Louise Simonson regarded the Power Pack characters as Latter-day Saints when they were created. She observed, however, that she "can't speak for the contributions of later creators to the comic." Simonson left the question of the Power family's religious affiliation open to the interpretation of readers and later writers.
In the original Power Pack series, Brigman pencilled issues 1-4, 6-8, 11-12, 14-17 and 44-45 (or 26% of the run, including most of the foundational early issues). Our research indicates that identification by Power Pack fans and general comic book enthusiasts of the Power family as Latter-day Saints post-dates Brigman's work on the series.
This website has catalogued hundreds of comic book characters and posted articles and references with information about how their religious affiliation has been identified. For nearly all of these characters, religious identification has been based on overt references within the comics themselves and clear, uniquivocal visual or textual indicators. The identification of the Power Pack as Latter-day Saints (LDS) appears to be a rare exception to this.
From: "Is Power Pack LDS?" (http://www.PowerPackComics.com/Power_Family_religion.html; viewed 3 April 2006):
Although the Power family featured in the Power Pack comic book series is now widely presumed to be members of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (although possibly lapsed in their formal church attendance), a careful reading of all published comics featuring Power Pack reveals there are no overt references to the family as "Latter-day Saints," "LDS" or "Mormons." On the other hand, the Power Pack comics contain much supporting material that has contributed to the family being regarded as members of this denomination.
At the most basic level, this was a comic book series about a middle class Caucasian family with four children, closely spaced, a professional father and an essentially stay-at-home mom. The parents had obviously married and begun having children while fairly young, probably while still in college. Given the composition of the family and the way they behaved, they simply "seemed Mormon" to many readers, or at least to those who bothered to think about what religion they might be.
The parents and four children obviously had some religious training in their background, although they were never shown attending church in the present. Yet there was never anything such as a character wearing Catholic crucifix (or any sort of cross worn or displayed in the home) to concretely tie the family to a specific denomination. When one of the characters began wearing a BYU sweatshirt (for "Brigham Young University," where 98% of students are Latter-day Saints), it seemed to indicate that the parents had attended school there (which is probably where they met, before the father's graduate studies elsewhere). For many, this confirmed existing suspicions that the family had a Latter-day Saint background.
The occupation of the family's father (James Power) was also seen as an indicator of the family's religious affiliation. Whereas a talented, religious-seeming physicist with four young children might seem unusual in most circles, it would not be abnormal among Latter-day Saints, among whom physicists are over-represented. Contrary to trends exhibited by most religious denominations, among Latter-day Saints higher levels of education are associated with higher levels of religious activity. Published studies have shown that this trend is most pronounced among Latter-day Saints with advanced degrees in physical sciences (particularly physics and chemistry) and least pronounced among members with advanced degrees in the Humanities (literature, history, etc.)
James Power's specific field of research was antimatter. In fact, it was his creation of an antimatter energy device that led the benign alien Whitey to come to Earth to try to prevent Mr. Power from activating a device that could unintentionally devastate the entire Earth. The science of antimatter energy is (at this time) mostly theoretical rather than practical, but it is a real field of research which follows directly from the application of quantum mechanics to chemistry, an area which was pioneered by famed Latter-day Saint scientist Henry Eyring (20 February 1901 - 26 December 26 1981). Past president of both the American Chemical Society and the Association for the Advancement of Science, Henry Eyring received the National Medal of Science for developing the Absolute Rate Theory of chemical reactions. Eyring, a colleague of Albert Einstein, was widely known as a Latter-day Saint within the scientific community. Henry Eyring spent most of his career as a professor at Princeton University in New Jersey - not far from where the Power family lived when their comic book series began. Henry Eyring married Mildred Bennion while in Wisconsin, before going to Princeton. One of Henry Eyring's three sons became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the second-highest governing body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Despite vague surface similarities between James Power and Henry Eyring in their families, lives and field of research, James Power is in no way based on Henry Eyring or any other real-life Latter-day Saint physicist.
If anything, James Power and his wife Margaret were based on Power Pack writer Louise Simonson and her husband Walt Simonson. Louise (who was known to her friends as "Weezie") was also known as an editor for Marvel Comics including (for many years) the X-Men family of titles. Walt Simonson was one of the most America's most popular comic book writers and artists, whose highly-regarded work includes a lengthy run on Thor. Despite the many positively-portrayed overtly religious characters that can be found Walt Simonson's comic book writing (including Hawkgirl), neither Walt nor Louise Simonson are known to be Latter-day Saints. Regardless of what readers now think of these characters, Louise Simonson probably did not consider the Power family to be Latter-day Saints when she created the characters.
In identifying Power Pack as Latter-day Saints, some comic book fans have gone beyond comparisons of the Power family to contemporary Latter-day Saints and have suggested similarities between the team's origin and the origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a whole. Joseph Smith Jr. was the founder of this denomination. Joseph Smith lived with his mother, father, brothers and sisters in New York (like the Power family). According to his account, Smith was visited by Heavenly messengers who were clad all in white and bathed in light (similar to Whitey). Whitey placed his hands on the Power children and passed his powers to them so that they could save the world from annihilation that could be caused by the anti-matter device. Similarly, Joseph Smith was given priesthood power when Heavenly messengers laid their hands on him and Oliver Cowdery (his brother in the church). This was power they were given so that they could bring the world the message of the "Restored" New Testament church. Although not as physically expedient a mission as that undertaken by the Power children, Smith's assignment was also, in effect, to help "save the world."
We regard such analysis as an inappropriate method for identifying a character's religious affiliation. (For example, despite Superman's overtly portrayed Midwestern Protestant upbringing and non-human birth, some people have identified the character as "Jewish" of similarities between his origin story and the story of Moses.) Regardless of obvious similarities between the Power Pack origin story and the Joseph Smith story, such similarities should not be regarded as evidence that the Powers are Latter-day Saints. It should also be noted that there are many marked differences between the Power Pack origin story and the Joseph Smith story.
As of this writing, Latter-day Saints comprise 2% of the U.S. population. This means that, statistically speaking, 1 out of ever 50 American super-heroes are likely to belong to this minority group. The Marvel Universe is supposedly a fictional version of the real world, with events taking place in real cities (such as New York) and characters belong to real religions (such as Catholic characters Nightcrawler and Daredevil, Jewish characters Kitty Pryde and the Thing, etc.) It is natural for some readers to look at the known super-heroes and wonder which of them belongs to all sorts of real-world minority groups (ethnic, religious or otherwise). Ultimately, the real source of speculation that the Power Pack kids are Latter-day Saints might be the question, "What Marvel super-heroes are most likely to be LDS?" Marvel has hundreds of super-heroes, so 1 out of 50 must mean there are a few. If not Power Pack, then who? Power Pack provides a natural fit to this natural question.
Is it possible that Power Pack is not LDS? We believe the answer is "yes." We have no objection to those who feel that the "jury is still out" on this subject and that the religious affiliation of Power Pack has not been authoritatively established within the context of the comics themselves.
Of course, defenders of this position are likely to respond, "If Power Pack isn't LDS, what on Earth are they?"
To this, we have no answer.
Denise R. wrote to us (13 July 2007) with the following detailed response to the material on this page that asks whether the Power Pack kids are Latter-day Saints. Denise really did some excellent groundwork here by considering the major comics featuring Power Pack and by finally finding an explanation for the question about where the BYU sweatshirt came from. Her letter and attached analysis is below:
I came across your cool website this evening, and I was very impressed by it!
I wanted to add my two cents to the debate over the religious affiliation of the Marvel Comics team Power Pack. I was really shocked to read that there is such a huge consensus that the team is Mormon. It seems that there's a lot of misinformation there, though, and it's really not accurate to say they're an LDS team.
I've been a fan of the series since the beginning, when I was a kid myself. I went back through the comics this evening and did some research, and I've come up with this rebuttal. I'm hoping you might consider adding it to the site, or at least amending the team's profile so they're not listed as LDS. I have nothing against the LDS church at all, but the team's just not LDS.
Thanks for reading and for the great site!
Is Power Pack LDS? No.
When I first heard the words "Power Pack is LDS!" I honestly thought it was a joke. Power Pack? Mormon? Huh? What was that about? After reading various articles and arguments about it, I was shocked to learn that it's actually considered a valid belief.
Would a Mormon superhero team be awesome? Sure. Is that superhero team Power Pack? No. After combing carefully through the original series, I could find nothing that would indicate that the Powers were either active or lapsed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In response to the question "if they aren't LDS, what are they?" the answer might very well be "nothing at all." There's nothing there that would prove any sort of religious affiliation one way or the other.
As others have noted, there was nothing in the Powers' apartment that was at all religious: no Bibles, no crosses on the wall, nothing. The kids didn't wear any sort of religious jewelry. Then again, they didn't wear jewelry at all: Julie didn't even have pierced ears. This on its own meant nothing, in my humble opinion. Most Christian kids don't walk around wearing crosses on a regular basis, and most Christian families don't have conspicuous works of religious art hanging on their walls. The kids were never seen attending any sort of church or religious instruction. In fact, what with their superheroing and afterschool activities, it's unlikely they'd have had time for such lessons.
The Powers did celebrate Christmas. In both issue #20 and the Holiday Special, the holiday was acknowledged. In X-Men #205, a guest-starring Katie sang with her public school classmates in a holiday choral performance. However, these things on their own did not indicate any specific denomination, or even that the family identified as Christian: many people celebrate Christmas and the season as a cultural event.
In addition, there were numerous pieces of evidence in the series that suggested that the Powers were not particularly observant of any religion, much less LDS. In issue #54, for instance, Julie and Katie went positively New Age: they headed off to a cabin in the woods with their aunt Pauline, who promised to do their horoscopes and help them search for crystals. Neither activity seems as though it would have been at the top of the list for an LDS kid or family.
The Powers never made any appeals to God, even when they were faced with grave danger; in several issues, such as #42, characters actually took the Lord's name in vain. When their mother was critically injured, they appealed to other superheroes, such as the Beyonder and Mirage, to save her life--not to a higher power. In the one instance where a character prayed--Katie again, in X-Men #195, when she was left alone in a subway tunnel--her plea was directed specifically to Whitey, the alien that gave her and her siblings their powers. In fact, Whitey was the only entity to which the Powers showed any direct allegiance; the children frequently reminded themselves and each other of Whitey's directive to "save the world." Likewise, when confronted with death, the Powers never said anything that would indicate a belief in the LDS version of the afterlife. When they spoke of deceased characters, their words were qualified to avoid any reference to Heaven or life after death: "Friday would not want you to cry;" "Whitey would have been proud," etc.
Other aspects of the series have been misrepresented over the years. For instance, some have viewed Margaret Power, the children's mother, as a "stay at home mom." Nothing could be farther from the truth. Maggie Power was in fact a working mother, who had such a thriving career as a freelance artist that she had agents in both Virginia and New York and struggled to meet deadlines. In Power Pack #7, after the family moved to New York, Maggie mentioned that she was going to be moving her art studio into a loft because "the apartment is too small to work and live in." Loft and agent? She was not dabbling, she was working. In other issues, such as #35 and #47, she was shown rushing off to work or returning home, portfolio in hand. In addition, the Powers were essentially latchkey kids: excepting the first day of classes, they were often depicted leaving the apartment well after their parents (examples: #47, #45, #39) or returning home alone (#7, #30).
Why was Maggie sometimes around during the day? Ostensibly, as a freelance artist, she had some flexibility to occasionally set her own hours. The times in the series when Maggie is shown at home, her husband is there too, and the scene is generally set during a weekend, a family vacation, or an instance in which staying home would seem to be a prudent idea (eg, during Inferno, when the city was infested by demons).
But what about the BYU sweatshirt?!
The strongest evidence presented for the Powers' LDS affiliation was the infamous Bringham Young University sweatshirt. This piece of apparel, which was worn by Julie Power for exactly two pages in one single issue, #39, gave rise to all manner of theories about the family's religion, Dr. Power's education, and more.
Yes, Julie did wear the BYU sweatshirt, and BYU is, of course, a school heavily associated with the LDS church. However, two issues later, in #41, Julie's brother Alex sported a sweatshirt from the secular University of Utah: BYU's biggest rival.
Why were the two Utah schools referenced at all? Perhaps the answer lies not with the characters, but with the artist who drew the comics to begin with. Both issues #39 and #41 were drawn by Sal Velluto. Velluto was not one of the series' official artists; in fact, Power Pack was his very first assignment with Marvel and he was just filling in for five issues. He was also the penciller, not the writer, and consequently had nothing to do with the development of the characters' backgrounds.
Velluto was an Italian artist who relocated to the United States in 1984. Where did he settle? Salt Lake City. Velluto was living in Utah at the time he illustrated Power Pack, he still resides there, he is indeed a proud member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and in recent years, he has done work on Mormon publications.
The references to the Utah schools, then, were most likely Velluto's personal shout-out to his adopted home state and city. It also probably explains why he chose to include shirts from both major SLC schools: to avoid being accused of bias one way or the other.
Did anyone think anything of it at the time? No. The colorists who worked on Power Pack #39 and #41 did not even bother to give the shirts the correct school colors: BYU's shirt was green and white; the U of U one was purple and gold. In contrast, the elements that did have some significance to the series, such as the NY Mets and Yankees logos (the Pack attended a Mets, or "Mecs" game early in the series and were depicted wearing baseball caps and jackets at several points during the series' run) and the Columbia University logo (Katie wore a Columbia sweatshirt on the cover of issue #52) were always colored accurately. This would suggest that the editorial staff did not give the Utah school shirts any serious thought and did not intend them to hold any significance.
In fact, the shirts were explained away several issues later. The letters column "Pick of the Pack" for issue #44 included a letter from a sharp-eyed LDS reader named Jeanette, who had noticed the incorrect color schemes on the BYU and U of U shirts. She wrote:
Mr. Power's science conference was held at Salt Lake, and he got his kids some souvenirs. Unfortunately he did not know the colors of the two major universities, so he bought some rejects from K-Mart in Bountiful. He saw the cheap prices, because the colors were screwed up, and bought them, giving them to his children. They now happily wear them, unaware of the mistake.
The editorial staff applauded this clever story and awarded Jeanette a No-Prize: Marvel's 'award' to fans who noticed mistakes in the book and offered plausible explanations for them.
It's true that June Brigman only pencilled 26% of the series... but Louise Simonson, the other creator, who shared Brigman's views on the team's religion (that they were not meant to be LDS) worked on the series for much longer. Simonson wrote the series for most of its run, including issues 1-20, 22-33, 35, 37, 39-40 and 45. Simonson's daughter, Julianna Jones, wrote issue 38. The other major series writer, Jon Bogdanove, wrote 11 issues: 36, 42-44 and 47-52. His wife wrote issue 54. Bogdanove's scripts contained many things that went directly against the idea of a Mormon Power Pack, such as the kids and parents swearing, reading horoscopes, and various spiritual and metaphysical entities. Ergo, out of 62 issues of the series, at least 52, a vast majority, were scripted by writers who did not intend the Powers to be LDS.
Were the members of Power Pack Mormon? No.
Power Pack #7. 13, 18, 20, 24, 25, 26, 27, 30, 34, 35, 39, 41, 42, 52, 53
Uncanny X-Men #195, 205
Thor # 63
http://www.ultrazine.org/ultraparole/velluto/velluto_english.htm Interview with Sal Velluto
http://www.comicscommunity.com/boards/allred/?frames=n;read=10963&expand=1 Post from Sal Velluto, indicating that he is LDS
http://www.velluto.com/list.html List of credits, showing issues of Power Pack illustrated
From: Ivan Angus Wolfe (http://www.aml-online.org/reviews/b/B200509.html; viewed 26 December 2005):
In the comics industry, Mike Allred is a well respected artist. He manages to write in both the independent market and the mainstream superhero genre with no loss of credibility. Generally, when an independent artist "goes mainstream" by writing comics featuring Superman or the X-Men, the artist is considered to have sold out. At the same time, a mainstream artist who attempts to go independent is met with fierce resistance -- sort of like when a science fiction author tries to write mainstream literary fiction. Mike Allred has shown he can navigate both worlds with ease, though his mainstream work always has a bit of an independent edge to it.
Now, Mike Allred has moved into a genre many thought dead outside of the bizarre fundamentalist evangelical tracts of Jack T. Chick... religious comics. In the 80s and 90s there were some experiments with "Christian comics" by Marvel comics (with Nelson publishers), in the 70s and 80s there were "Spire comics" which told tales of interest to Christian audiences. And, of course, EC comics, creators of such gems as Vault of Horror, Tales from the Crypt and Shock SuspenTales (you know -- the gory horror comics that nearly got all comics banned in the 1950s) got its start as a comics company producing "Picture Stories from the Bible."
There have been other sporadic attempts to make religious comics that would appeal to the American market, but none have lasted very long. There is no current publisher that regularly publishes comics aimed at the religious audience, though many independent and mainstream comics borrow from Christianity in the same way they borrow from Greek mythology or Hinduism.
Of course, Mormons are quite underrepresented in comics - even with the rumors that Power Pack was an LDS super group. Mike Allred has now jumped into the fray, taking time off from his normal work in other comic books to, in essence, try and create a Mormon comic market.
Well, after that brief introduction, the question to ask is: How is it? The answer: Pretty darn good. Allred's art seems very well suited to the subject matter and the adaptation is fairly faithful.
From: John Phelan, review of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Teams 2005, posted 18 May 2005 on "Conservative Comic Book Pundit" blog website (comicpundit.blogspot.com; viewed 26 December 2005):
The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Teams 2005
I have to admit, I'm a total sucker for these kinds of comics. As a comic geek, I love learning new things about the intricate make up of these gigantic shared world efforts known as comic book universes.
This series from Marvel has proven to be just what the doctor ordered for both die-hard geeks and newbies. For die-hard geeks like myself, theses volumes contain new information and hard to find facts about the subject matter. For example, in this volume, I had not even heard of half the teams profiled, and I've been a "Marvel zombie" since I was a child.
For the newbie, these handbooks contain a succinct and simply explained intro into the background of major teams and themes. The comics novice who feels lost can learn a lot - and without having to read a lot of back issues can be quickly brought up to speed.
Everyone wins. Die hard fans get the info they crave, and novices have an easy way to enter the comic realm that's under 5 bucks.
(However, the entry on Power Pack does not mention their obvious Mormon heritage, leaving me a little disappointed.)
The first forum discussion excerpted below took place in April 2005, and it entirely precedes the creation of Adherents.com's "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" page. In this forum discussion, there is a general consensus among some Power Pack fans that the Power Pack kids are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (i.e., Mormons), but that this religious affiliation may have only been one that was strongly hinted at rather than overtly stated and canonical. A number of the reasons for identifying the Power Pack kids as Latter-day Saints are discussed, most of these stemming from textual evidence from the original series. One non-textual point of evidence suggested is that Power Pack artist and co-creator June Brigman is herself a Latter-day Saint. Through email, June Brigman herself has told us that this is not true. It is not clear to us why the poster thought that Brigman was a Latter-day Saint. Possibly this conclusion simply stemmed from the nature of Brigman's artwork itself. The discussion below also touches on the fact that Power Pack writer Louise Simonson is not a Latter-day Saint, which is the rationale provided by one poster for concluding that the Power Pick kids are not Latter-day Saints. This argument is obviously illogical and is quickly dismissed by other the other forum posters. Clearly writers often write about characters who do not share their own religious background. Louise Simonson, for example, wrote The New Mutants for much of its run New Mutants Vol. 1 #55-80, #82-97, Annuals #4-6: September 1987 - October 1989, December 1989 - January 1991, 1988-1990), but Simonson herself surely does not share the religious beliefs of all the characters she wrote (such as Wolfsbane's Presbyterianism, Sunspot's Catholicism, Magma's Greco-Roman classical religion, Cannonball's Baptist faith, Magik's atheist Russian Communist early upbringing combined with her later demonoloatry/occult influence stemming from her many years as a disciple of the demon Belasco). As another poster points out, police detective Jacob Raven (a Spider-Man supporting character) may be Marvel's most overtly Mormon character, and this character was created by J.M. DeMatteis, a devout Hindu. Clearly the religious affiliation of writer Louise Simonson does not provide conclusive evidence about the religious affiliation of the Power Pack kids either way. Moreover, many writers have written the Power Pack characters since Simonson created them, and changes are always possible, especially regarding points that the original writer never addressed. A similar example is Daredevil, who was the creation of writer Stan Lee. Daredevil is firmly established now as a very Catholic character, regardless of whether Stan Lee (who is Jewish) originally portrayed him as such or intended for him to be Catholic. Likewise, Simonson's original intentions regarding the religious affiliation of the Power Pack kids, while interesting, are not the only factor to consider in making a determination. By all accounts, Louise Simonson never overtly identified the religious affiliation of the Power Pack kids, but she also never wrote anything that suggests the kids are not LDS. In fact, the combination of the Simonson's writing and Brigman's art from the original Power Pack stories leaves the distinct impression that the family may indeed be LDS.
From: "Power Pack #1", forum discussion started 6 April 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-51673.html; viewed 22 June 2007):
Sir Tim Drake
04-06-2005, 10:55 PM
I didn't buy this comic. I flipped through it at the store (didn't read the whole thing, so the following comments might be misinformed) and was quite unimpressed. Here is why:
1) I don't understand why they had this series take place three years after the original Power Pack #1. Why not a complete reboot?
2) Jim Power didn't look very much like Walt Simonson (at least not to me).
And most importantly:
3) The story seemed rather pointless and preachy. Weezie's stories were much more complex than this, though I think they weren't above the level of younger readers.
Randy Lander (http://www.thefourthrail.com/reviews/snapjudgments/040405/powerpack1.shtml) agrees, though his snap judgments often don't agree with mine.
Did anybody like this issue?
04-07-2005, 01:30 AM
Right, some questions...
1) is it a MAX title co-starring Lockjaw, or will I have to wait for that dream to come true?
2) are they portrayed with their rightful Mormon Heritage?
04-07-2005, 05:07 PM
re: Right, some questions...
1) is it a MAX title co-starring Lockjaw, or will I have to wait for that dream to come true?
1 - not yet, but keep submitting those spec scripts to Marvel. Eventually they'll give in! :)
re: 2) are they portrayed with their rightful Mormon Heritage?
2 - I doubt this new writer is even aware of that aspect of their lives. A shame, really.
Sir Tim Drake
04-07-2005, 05:17 PM
I thought Funky was joking about the Mormon heritage. This has been mentioned before, but as I recall, the only "evidence" that the Powers are Mormons is that they have four kids. Which, independent of anything else, is no proof of anything.
04-07-2005, 06:50 PM
re: I thought Funky was joking about the Mormon heritage... no proof of anything.
Not so, not so.
There is more proof, including that fact that in at least one issue of the original series, one of the kids wore a BYU T-shirt (BYU is the college owned by the Mormon church).
Also, when compared to other cultural subgroups, Mormon men are more likely to be physicists than other men.
So - the 4 kids, the BYU sweatshirt, and the physicist thing don't actually mean they are Mormon (or LDS for Latter-day Saint), it certainly suggests it.
04-07-2005, 09:06 PM
As RabidWolfe notes, there are more clues [indicating that the Power Pack kids are Mormons, i.e., members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]. Others have mentioned to me that June Brigman, a Latter-Day Saint herself, was throwing stuff like that in to intentionally suggest such a thing. Granted, yes, it is ONLY a "suggestion" and not something "in canon", though.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This poster and others believed that June Brigman, the original Power Pack artist, was a Latter-day Saint. After some correspondence with the artist relating, we believe this is not the case.]
04-08-2005, 07:22 AM
Besides - if the Powers are Mormon, they're likely "inactive" (to use the Mormon terminology) or otherwise non-attending, as they never discuss church or seem to attend at all. Perhaps the dad and mom went to BYU, but stopped attending church once moving to New York. Or something.
There were other small clues, but I'm not digging out my old issues and reading them again just to look for them. I'm sure someone somewhere has a comprehensive listing.
04-08-2005, 08:30 AM
They might be Mormons, but I'm fairly certain that the big talking spaceship is Catholic.
Sir Tim Drake
04-08-2005, 08:44 AM
re: As RabidWolfe notes, there are more clues. Others have mentioned to me that June Brigman, a Latter-Day Saint herself, was throwing stuff like that in to intentionally suggest such a thing. Granted, yes, it is ONLY a "suggestion" and not something "in canon", though.
That sounds logical.
I tend to think that the Powers aren't Mormons, since Louise and Walter Simonson are not Mormons (as far as I know).
04-09-2005, 10:16 AM
Read it [new Power Pack #1, part of new volume: 2005 4-issue miniseries], liked it.
The story was okay (younger readers) but the artwork was just so frigging cute! Really, really liked it.
It reminded me so much of those old saturday morning shows like "Care Bears", "Rainbow Brite" or "Popples".
That Franklin/H.E.R.B.I.E. thing was nice, too.
04-09-2005, 01:49 PM
I thought it was alright just a kids book, but the thing that really made me enjoy was the crayon report at the beginning that was really different and cute. I also liked the Franklin and Herbie tale at the end.
04-10-2005, 10:13 AM
re: I tend to think that the Powers aren't Mormons, since Louise and Walter Simonson are not Mormons (as far as I know).
I don't think the Powers are Mormons, but writers quite often write characters who have beliefs different from their own.
04-10-2005, 04:28 PM
The only identified Mormon in the Marvel universe was detective Jacob Raven - and he was created and (mostly written) by devout Hindu J.M. DeMatteis.
Of course, he's a Clone Saga era character, so we aren't likely to see him again.
Sir Tim Drake
04-10-2005, 09:17 PM
re: I don't think the Powers are Mormons, but writers quite often write characters who have beliefs different from their own.
Yes, but the Powers are Louise and Walt Simonson. At least that's who they're drawn to look like, and that's good enough for me.
Yeesh, all these gripes about a book in Marvel's kiddie-line being aimed at actual kiddies instead of a 30 year olds idea of what kiddies like.
Ever watch the popular Saturday Morning/after-school cartoon shows lately? This is the sort of level a lot of kids are at. Nothing wrong with that. It's not aimed at adults.
First of all, I'm under 30, as you know....
And second, with your "30 year olds idea of what kiddies like" point... I'm not sure what you're trying to suggest, but if 30-year-olds think that kids like quality entertainment that respects their intelligence, then they are probably right. Carl Barks was careful to never insult his readers' intelligence, although his readers were mostly children. This is one reason why he was one of the world's most popular creators of children's comics. This new Power Pack, on the other hand, is simplistic and cliched. It underestimates the intelligence of the reader. I don't think this is what children's entertainment ought to do.
04-18-2005, 11:15 AM
I just read the book and I thought it was great. The art and writing ahd a very simple old school charm to it that you just don't see much of anymore, and the Franklin Richards story really had the feel of the old Calvin and Hobbs stuff.
04-18-2005, 02:22 PM
Interesting info about the Mormons connection. Wasn't aware of that. Also didn't know that the parents were meant to look like the Simonsons'.
I don't understand why they had this series take place three years after the original Power Pack #1.
Where did you hear that it was specifically 3 years?
Power Pack characters are being used elsewhere now so a modern reboot would screw that up. Plus placing this series in the past allows the book to remain about children, as opposed to teenagers and young adults. It also allows it to remain set in New York.
I believe there's a map image on the Snark's ship (or somewhere in the comic) that shows the Powers located in Seattle, which would put this series after the last Power Pack mini-series.
Incidentally, Marc Sumerak has said (http://www.sumerak.com/v-web/bulletin/bb/viewtopic.php?t=93) that the ages are "Katie is 8 years old. Jack is 10. Julie is 13. Alex is 15."
On an online forum, these writers are commenting about Adherents.com's "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" page. From: "The religion of comic book characters" forum discussion, started 3 December 2006 on RPG.net website (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=299781&page=4; viewed 25 April 2007):
12-04-2006, 10:23 AM
Re: The religion of comic book characters
The Power Pack was Mormon?
I *totally* missed that.
12-04-2006, 11:04 AM
re: The Power Pack was Mormon? I *totally* missed that.
That was one of them that, while I didn't know, and don't even know the characters outside of cameos, that just made me go, "Huh. Yeah, I can see that."
12-04-2006, 10:07 PM
Quote: Originally Posted by alexandria2000: The Power Pack was Mormon? I *totally* missed that.
Well, not quite.
Rather, certain fans have interpreted various things to be hints that they are Mormons (though somewhat lapsed ones).
I can sort of see some things, though the writers who made them didn't make or see them as Mormons per se.
From: Andrew Clarkson, "Mormon Comic Books and Super Heroes" article posted 2 May 2006 on "Spiritual Pathways Ministries" Evangelical Christian blog website (http://creationbeginning.blogspot.com/2006/05/mormon-comic-books-and-super-heroes.html; viewed 30 May 2006):
Superman, Spider Man, and Batman move over as the Latter Day Saints are branching out to join you in the comic book world. Golden Plates will be a twelve volume series... Based on the Book of Mormon... In addition, a character called Captain Canuck (not pictured) is also supposed to be a Mormon as are the Power Team consisting of Zero-G, Lightspeed, Mass Master, and Energizer of the Power family unit.
From: "Searching for a Christian Comic book thats actually good..." forum discussion started 21 March 2007 on CGS Forums website (http://www.cgspodcast.com/forum2//lofiversion/index.php?t108789.html; viewed 8 June 2007):
Mar 21 2007, 06:04 PM
Is there such a thing as a well-made comic book based on Bible stories? My 5 year old keeps asking me.
The only things I have found are incredibly bad or at least dont not appear worth bothering with: "Archangels" and "Spirit Warriors."
Also... she enjoys the Power Pack books but what other older books could I get? Things "out of the long box"?
From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 29 March 2006 on AllSpark.com website (http://www.allspark.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4168; viewed 1 June 2007):
post Mar 29 2006, 08:38 AM
I found this great resource entirely by accident:
post Mar 29 2006, 11:08 AM
The League of Mormons!
I knew that Captain Canuck was LDS. The rest were a surprise.
That site is pretty cool for religious dorks like me. :thumbsup
post Mar 29 2006, 12:11 PM
Somehow, the Power Pack being LDS doesn't surprise me.
post Mar 13 2007, 06:17 PM
It cracks me up to no end that Image had a character called "The Acidic Jew". That's just wrong.
Knew Moon Knight was Jewish...
Hadn't really thought about it that much otherwise. Got to love Deadpool's religions - all lapsed. Surprise.
The Question and Rorschach, Objectivist. Heh.
The Power Pack being Mormon doesn't surprise me in the slightest.
From: "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 28 March 2006 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-116753.html; viewed 28 May 2007):
03-28-2006, 07:55 AM
It never ceases to amaze me the amount of time people have to put stuff together on the web. Anyway, if you were ever wondering about the religious affiliation of a certain comic book character, check out this site:
isaac a person
03-28-2006, 03:18 PM
...I was raised Mormon. I'm not a believer but I consider it a large part of my family history and respect those who follow the faith. So I am interested...
I'm also curious why Power Pack is listed in the index as Mormons. Just because they are a clean cut family unit? Maybe if those horse aliens came from Kolob, I'd understand the connection ;)
Sir Tim Drake
03-28-2006, 06:40 PM
I don't think the Powers' religion was ever definitively stated. If I recall correctly, the only evidence that they are Mormons is that Julie once wore a shirt with the Brigham Young University logo. There is also the fact that there are four Power kids, but that doesn't prove anything.
11-12-2006, 01:42 PM
I thought the Power family were hippy liberal secular humanist types. Wasn't that why their dad's boss hated them?
From: Visconde Carlo Vergara, "The Faith of Heroes (Superhero Religious Trivia)", posted 14 May 2006 on "Carver's House" blog website (http://carverhouse.blogspot.com/2006/05/sony-buys-us-rights-to-iranian-comic.html; viewed 15 May 2007):
What do Havok, Polaris and Banshee have in common aside from being mutants and affiliated with the X-Men? According to an article on Adherents.com, the three are Catholics.
The article also reveals the juvenile heroes of Power Pack as well as Cypher of the New Mutants as being Mormons (Latter-Day Saints). Rogue is Southern Baptist, Multiple Man is Buddhist, and the Thing is Jewish (as opposed to Human Torch and Invisible Woman, who are Episcopalian). The site also cites the comics issues where the religious affiliations were suggested or revealed.
More heroes are presented in a table on this page [link to: http://adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html]. If you want pictures, look through this other page [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html].
From: "Powerpack" forum discussion started 4 January 2007 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-158805.html; viewed 25 May 2007):
01-05-2007, 04:06 PM
Since Power Pack are all Mormons, they've been exempted from the Registration act for religious reasons.
01-05-2007, 10:45 PM
There is supposed to be a Mormon superteam in Utah! it was mentioned in Civil War 6... [Is it] the rest of Power Pack lol???
01-06-2007, 07:59 AM
Here are some links [about Power Pack being Mormon]:
Sir Tim Drake
01-06-2007, 08:11 AM
There is no canonical evidence for this. And the first link that you provided even says:
"Regardless of what readers think of this characters, Louise Simonson probably did not consider the Power family to be Latter-day Saints when she created the characters."
01-06-2007, 04:26 PM
And you think my post was actually serious?
From: "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 10 March 2007 on "Brian Michael Bendis" part of "Comic Creator Boards" section of "Jinxworld Forums" website (http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/archive/index.php/t-106242.html; viewed 6 June 2007):
03-10-2007, 10:46 AM
An ASTONISHINGLY detailed site that delves into the religions of superheroes. Someone has WAY too much time on their hands.
03-10-2007, 12:38 PM
I had no idea the Power Pack kids were Mormons either.
03-10-2007, 12:43 PM
Huh. I read that series as a kid and I think I'd have remembered that. I don't remember ever seeing any fictional Mormon characters growing up actually. Maybe it's something that they dropped into a side story somewhere?
From: "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters (Doug Ramsey Fans, please help)" forum discussion, started 17 October 2006 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-87949.html; viewed 20 June 2007):
10-17-2006, 02:42 PM
I found this site white tries to identify the religious affiliation of comic book characters.
Some of them are interesting. I took a look at the Latter Day Saint characters (since that is my religion) and saw Cypher a.k.a. Doug Ramsey listed.
Does anyone know why he was listed that way? I've read almost the entire run of New Mutants and can't remember anything to support that.
The Power Pack were also listed, but only for incidental reasons and nothing canonical at all. I think they should be removed. It was amusing, but really just something that comic fans are projecting onto them.
Also, it just a plain interesting site.
Justin M. Campbell
10-17-2006, 02:59 PM
I always thought Power Pack were Jews.
From: Kevin C. Murphy, "Can I get a (super)-witness?", posted 3 April 2006 by (kevincmurphy) on Triptych Cryptic/Ghost in the Machine blog website (http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/003749.html#003749; viewed 21 June 2007):
The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], with a handy graphic of who's a member of what "legion." The site also includes impressively detailed individual entries on each character -- not only the big guns like Methodist Superman, Episcopal Batman, Catholic Daredevil, and Buddhist Wolverine, but also everyone from Presbyterian Wolfsbane to the Mormon Power Pack.
From: "A Mormon Superhero Team", posted 18 January 2007 on "This Mormon LIfe: Books. Culture." blog website (http://dallas.typepad.com/slant/2007/01/a_mormon_superh.html; viewed 22 June 2007):
In the latest issue of Marvel Comics' Civil War #6, it appears one of the planned consequences of the Superhero Registration Act is the creation of a supehero team for each state of the Union. Of course, Utah would have a Mormon team of daring heroes to save us all from ourselves. In the panel below it refers to such a team, but if we actually see a Mormon team in a future Marvel comic is sketchy at this point.
But it makes me wonder what sort of group of Mormons would make a team of superheroes? What special powers would they possess? What inspiring names would they call themselves? Would they wear spandex and tight leather?
It has been implied that the "Power Pack" are Mormon Heroes. Their father was wearing a BYU sweatshirt in one issue, if I recall.
Posted by: Matt W. | January 18, 2007 at 08:37 AM
From: "Does Batman Go to Church?" forum discussion, started 21 March 2006 on AppleGeeks.com website (http://www.applegeeks.com/sm/index.php?action=printpage;topic=6662.0):
Title: Does Batman Go to Church?
Post by: gabrielzero on March 21, 2006, 01:11:16 PM
Well find out here:
and other inqueries on which superhero worships which religion. Its a pretty extensive sight with theories and findings...
Post by: Phoon on July 04, 2006, 08:51:41 AM
I like that Thor worships himself...
Wait... Power Pack are Mormons?
From: "Jews and Catholics rule" forum discussion, started 9 July 2006 on "Pop Culture Shock" website (http://www.popcultureshock.com/pcs/forums/showthread.php?t=13549; viewed 28 June 2007):
07-09-2006, 09:18 PM
Default Jews and Catholics rule. [By this, the poster means that Catholics and Jews have the most representation among comic book superheroes.]
The Mormons are rocking out too!
(Fastest growing religion though, I hear, so I guess they deserve the reppin [i.e., representation].)
But the Muslims (22% of the world), the Hindu (15% of the world), the Sikhs ( totally typecast as supporting characters only!), Confucianists (7% of the planet), (and Athiests/Agnostics (17% of the world and growing fast!) all get the raw deal from comics:
Also be sure to check out the individual portraits. (i.e.: Superman is a Methodist but Lois is Catholic, Power Pack were all Mormons, Wolverine's a Buddhist, and Colossus, Booster Gold, and Iron Man are atheists. Their practices and more are described here:
From: "Superheroes/villains and their religions" forum discussion, started 16 March 2006 on "Animation Insider" website (http://www.animationinsider.net/forums/archive/index.php?t-17835.html; viewed 28 June 2008):
03-16-2006, 05:16 AM
Someone pointed this out at another forum. I found it to be quite amusing that someone would actually have enough time on their hands to ponder about this.
03-17-2006, 06:22 AM
Huh. The Power Pack are presumed to be Latter Day Saints? Funny, I don't remember them mentioning that in the comics. Not that it matters any. And they had a T.V. show? (unaired, but still...) I wonder if anyone knows how I can get a copy. I love the Power Pack! Especially the new ones! The only TT [Teen Titans] member the mentioned that I saw was Aqualad. And of course he's Atlantean.
From: "OT: Religious superteams" forum discussion, started 13 February 2007 on "Soap Operus" website (http://www.gossiping.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=167&view=previous&sid=98473f5c220e5dd12ab4c10df9d53477&mforum=so; viewed 29 June 2007):
Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:15 pm
Religious superteams: Your favorite superheroes, sorted by faith. [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html]
Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:55 pm
That was kinda cool. People have written entire essays on the religious denominations of various super-powered folks...
Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 1:32 am
I'll repeat my criticisms of this list as I've done every time it's posted...
...the whole article on Power Pack being Latter-day Saints has said that it is speculation...
[Information temporarily copied here while source URL is not online.]
The Power Pack Pilot
Nathaniel ("Alex") Moreau, Bradley ("Jack") Machry, and Jacelyn ("Katie") Holmes as "Power Pack"
Picture courtesy Paragon Entertainment and Marvel Entertainment's "Marvel Age" magazine
There's actually not much that I, armed with only a copy of Marvel Age #101, can say about the pilot, having never actually seen it. I can, however, give you the basic information:
Power Pack was intended to become a youth-oriented NBC show for the Fall 1991 season, or as a spring replacement in 1992. (Speaking as a TV fan in 1996, I wonder if this would have been the beginning of NBC's current Saturday morning lineup; the original "Saved by the Bell" was really beginning to take off around this time, and its success spawned California Dreams in 1992. Clearly, NBC was looking for live-action kid shows, and quite possibly passed on the Power Pack series because it preferred to keep its series in-house...the shows on "T-NBC" are all produced by NBC, and not a Canadian production company, like Power Pack.)
Some of the series actors have gone on to bigger and better things: click on the clickable names for their histories in the Internet Movie Database!
The definitive synopsis of the pilot was done by George Phillies, and it has finally found its permanent home here. (The only link I had to another source of Power Pack information on the Web, was sacrificed for stability.)
[Information temporarily copied here while source URL is not online.]
This is a summary of the never-aired Power Pack live-action serial, based (reasonably tightly) on the Comic Book. I don't believe that any of the following qualifies as a spoiler. On good authority it's never going to air. (Alas, alack, as it was much better done than, e.g. the Superboy series of a few years back.)
About a year ago, I managed to see the unaired pilot video for Power Pack, based on the comic of the same name. Contrary to certain rumors, I'm not a source. Sorry. Overall: extremely well done. Good photography, very tight editing (after three re-runs, the last with copious invocation of slow and stopped motion, I was still catching things), and good acting based on a thoughtful script. Vastly superior to most "Saturday AM children's shows".
Cast: Nathaniel Moreau (Alex), Margot Finley (Julie), Bradley Machry (Jack), Jacelyn Holmes (Katie), Jonathan Whittaker (Jim), and Cheryl Wilson (Margaret). The screen did not tie names to characters; I've listed the names in order of appearance. Written by Jason Brett, produced by Richard Borchiver, directed by Rick Bennett. A Paragon production.
Overall, it was really impressive how modern special effects techniques and live actors beat out cartoon methods, at least for something set in the twentieth century, in a suburb not meant to be Los Angeles (falling leaves, snow here and there in the background.) (I am advised by another r.a.c.m.contributor that the whole pilot was shot in Vancouver, B.C.) The production satisfied the most important rule of successful work, namely that it took itself seriously. We see at least a major aspect of each child's Power: Jack shrinks to 1 cm height; Alex both degravitates very heavy objects (inertia being attended to, as in the original books) and levitates himself; Katie does high-power combat twice; Julie indeed travels very fast (though on the ground, and with a correctly-ordered color rainbow trail).
The Kymellians appear only as a narrator's voice in the prologue. The writers avoided some of the cliches of the Comic world. There were no costumes, no acres of spandex and running shorts (though one 20 minute segment won't show everything). The issue that paralyzed much of the Power Pack comic book series --- do we tell our parents? And why do they have nervous breakdowns when they find out, given that the world is full of superheroes? --- is absent. The parents know, and counsel the children not to let others know that the powers are there, lest they be shunned. We hear only the childrens' real names, with no hint that superhero names exist.
The actors are well-paired to the original roles. Mrs. Power appears to have stepped right out of the comic book --- except, of course, that she copes well with her childrens' gifts. Professor Power is a bespectacled (though beardless) physicist. Of the children, Jack was absolutely a perfect match for the model, both in appearance and in having an attitude. Alex was also well-matched, age being set at the earlier comic books (i.e. older boy, not very young man). Katie changed hair style (very full curls, not ponytails). She managed to be a bit more serious than some of the comic books; she was at the core of the two combat scenes. Julie was (in an episode which centered less on her than on her three siblings) a little more little-girl feminine, leaving the impression of being a bit less aggressive than her cartoon counterpart, though I may be overinterpreting. (Certainly, when push came to shove, she did a first-rate job of getting her older brother to do what she wanted.) The writer gave all four children ties to other children, something missing in the original comic, where only Alex really interacted with other school age children.
A shame this is all there will ever be.
As I said, very tightly edited live action: The very opening is a starfield and the voice of an unseen (I presume Kymellan) narrator, who decided the time had come to pass on his powers, and found persons of suitable innocence and honesty to receive them. After title and central cast (letters against starfield), fade to view of two-story suburban house, school bus rolling by, voices heard from inside. The setting could be suburban New York, in late fall, with leafless trees falls of snow hither and thither; it's actually Vancouver, British Columbia.
Open in morning, children being prepared for school. Begin with Jack (9-10 years) and Alex (about 12) upstairs, Alex brushing his teeth, Jack announcing, "I found your science book. It's near my fish tank." Next we see their mother, urging them all ahead with the usual parental injunction against leaving clothing tossed hither and thither.
Fade to eleven-or-so-year-old girl, leaning over into a very large box, throwing one piece of clothing after the next over her shoulder: Julie, looking for the right item to wear to school. She hears her mother's words and looks around the room, much of which is several layers of clothing deep. "Yikes!" We see our first exhibit of powers, which appears to be super-speed and perhaps flight. Julie manages in a few moments of film to put in order a large child's bedroom. The speed sequence is not simple skip frame. For each use of the power, she (as confirmed with stop frame on the VCR) fades to half solidity, so that you can see through her, and reappears elsewhere in the room, a rainbow trail linking the two positions. There is no walking motion; she just rainbows from one point to a second.
Turn to Alex, who has found his book. Next to the fishtank. In contact with it, in fact. Directly underneath. Sibling rivalry in action: "Near the fish tank? Jack, I am going to kill you." Prying the book from under a filled fishtank is clearly not possible. Alex looks around, finds no one in sight, and lifts the fishtank, essentially by touching its underside.
Meanwhile, Jack realizes he has used his comb to knock a dental retainer into the sink drain. Completely matter-of-factly, he observes "My parents are going to kill me." Some moments later, his father enters the bathroom, notes line of dental floss hanging into the drain, and hauls it out, recovering his (ca. 2 cm tall) son.
Switch to kitchen, with Mrs. Powers hunting through a box. It is evident from the kitchen that they have just moved and are mostly not unpacked. Katie is visible in the background, sitting quietly, looking out the window at two children tossing a ball back and forth. Her mother joins her. Katie is seated rigidly, staring unhappily. A tangerine-size ball of blue light floats above one hand, humming gently when Katie waves her hand. A heart-to-heart talk, Julie entering part-way in, reveals that Katie really doesn't like having moved. She misses her seagulls. Still, she is pacified. The sphere of light drops toward her hand, and coalesces into a striped ball, a power not seen in the original source, in which disintegration was nonrecoverable.
Enter father, who lines up children and gives them a short lecture, the essence of which is that their powers imply responsibilities to themselves and their family. One of these responsibilities is not letting other people know they have they powers. The children listen politely. When father asks if they understand, Jack looks at Alex, who looks at Julie, who looks at Katie, who smiles and nods. The children leave to school. Parents discuss protecting the children -- it's clear that they are more-or-less entirely aware of their children's powers, if not the uses to which those powers are put.
We switch to school, to introduce the plot lines. Alex, in science class, rattles off Newton's Law of gravitation (I fear that the script writer dropped a "squared" on the distance dependence), while the rest of the class sits dumbly. He does attract the smile of a girl seated behind him. He may not have noticed her, but she has noted him. Fade to cafeteria, Julia being lectured by a girl her own age, on where other girls hang out "the mall...the bowling alley...we don't bowl, of course..." Julie promises to appear at the mall.
Switch to Jack and two friends, one of who is clearly a bit rash, the other a bit hesitant. There is an abandoned house in town, converted to museum by a Dr. Mobius, who had once run "The Circus of the Macabre". Jack's friends propose to see what is inside.
Switch to an auditorium, empty save for a single boy, back to the camera, seated several rows in, reading. Cut to shot from cafeteria front. Alex. And moments later the girl from science class, passing the door, breaks from friend, enters, and introduces herself: Tina Calloway. They're clearly taken by each other. She is considerably more aggressive about pursuing him than girls were, when I was his age, enough to ask him his phone number.
Switch to Jack and two friends at the front gate of the late Dr. Mobius's estate. Steep stairs lead up through a garden to the front door. The home is white stucco, surrounded by leafless birch trees, with grave masks on the chained gates, gargoyles on roofpeaks, and (to my eye) a dragon statue over the vestibule. The boys pass the gate, and reach the front door. It's locked. Jack tells his friends to wait, works around to the side of the house, and finds another doorway. He looks conspiratorially over shoulder, seeing no one. Fade to inside of house. We see Jack, who has shrunk himself, clothing, and bookbag to small size, crawl under the door to meet a rat. The rat (or perhaps hamster?) rears on hind legs (much! taller than Jack) but fails to attack. Cut to front door, Jack's friends waiting outside, startled when he opens the door behind them. "How'd you do that?" "It doesn't matter."
At this point the tape has its only natural break, several seconds with neither sound nor picture.
(I have tried a few audience tests on friends and their younger children. The younger children [who are sufficiently blase to look only part of the time at Dr. Who `Androids of Tara' and a ST:TNG episode with Worf's their-age son playing a major role] were absolutely riveted to the screen by the Power Pack episode.)
We return to Doctor Mobius's abandoned mansion, which Jack and two friends have now entered, Jack with flashlight in the lead. Jack's two friends are mismatched in personality, one being brash, the other quite timid. At the top of dark stairs, the brasher observes "There's nothing here" and leans back into a large crate: a coffin, from which pops a skull. The boys retreat across the corridor, into a skeleton, and back across the corridor, the more timid of Jack's friends triggering an armed, full scale guillotine. The three shout and flee in terror into a large room, a room full of widgets. Widgets? An armillary sphere, or something odder of similar shape. Various statues, skeletons, skulls, giant slugs, and other artifacts far too numerous to enumerate here. On the far wall, above a fireplace, is a painting of the late Doctor Mobius, former proprietor of the Circus of the Macabre. A very realistic painting it is --- the boys note that the eyes appear to move when the flashlight light is floated across them. The astute watcher will note Mobius has a 3" diameter tie-pin -- a gold disc with ruby center.
The room becomes cold. Harlan (Jack's larger, more timid friend) observes "I hate it when that happens," as though he is expecting this. There is a clatter, a squeal of rats running across the room, a motion on the floor. The boys find an amulet, which Jack picks up and offers to his brasher friend, who declines the honor. Jack pockets the amulet. Repeated deep rumblings, each louder than the last, send the boys fleeing in terror out of the mansion down the stairs, and around the gap in the locked fence. As the boys leave the room, the camera flashes to the painting --- the amulet is no longer there. "I can't believe you jumped so high" --- comparing notes on their panic.
Cut to home, Alex on phone to parents, Julie listening. They are to put away all the dishes, pots, and pans, and finish unpacking; parents will soon be home with groceries. (Parents who trust twelve-year-old children to unpack a kitchen after a move, and put things in sensible places, have a lot of confidence in their own children.) Julie begs Alex to cover for her; she wants to take off to the mall for a few minutes. "Please, oh please, ... I just want to make some new friends." She talks Alex into letting her go. He starts into the kitchen, looks around, and realizes what he has gotten into -- a large family's worth of dishes, pots, and pans.
Julie, outside, wheels bike from side of house: "Alex did say to be quick about it". She looks around, hops onto bike, and accelerates to ultra speed down the pavement --- rainbow contrail prominent. We get three views of this, one facing the house, a second from overhead, and the third as she fades (within a few seconds) into the distance. The simulated speed, my estimate, is around 100 mph.
Jack, upstairs, is unpacking. Well, on occasion he unpacks something, spends time using or admiring it, and then goes on to the next object. On placing some comics in a drawer, he looks down at the amulet, whose centerstone is now glowing -- "This is not good". It is also energized; it burns if you touch it. There is thunder in the distance, and odd pink glows in the dark sky.
Jack upstairs and Alex, downstairs, despiritedly unpacking the kitchen, hear a distant voice: "Return it to me." A black-hooded half-transparent figure appears on the sidewalk. Jack looks down, seeing Mobius looking up at him. The ghost pounds on the door. Jack runs downstairs, meeting Alex, who is about to answer the door. Jack: "I wouldn't do that if I were you." Alex "Why not?" Jack: "Well, you know what mom and dad say about opening the door to strangers." Alex (and Katie, who stands next to him) appear unconvinced. (After all, they are heroes, yes? As we shall soon see, Katie has a dismayingly large amount of firepower.) The background thunder gets louder and louder. Lightning illuminates the outline of a cloaked figure outside the door. Katie screams. Alex, firmly: "What is going on Jack?" He pulls open the door. The clouds instantly disappear, the thunder and lightning stop; a few dark traces are seen to recede into the distant sky. There is no sign of Mobius.
Jack, Alex, and Katie are upstairs, Katie holding the amulet. It glows, emits spiralling ruby sparks; Katie is not bothered. Alex lectures Jack on his mistakes: "We weren't given our powers to show off...What if your friends had seen you...You shouldn't even have been in the place." "So what do we do?" "We have to put it back" "I was afraid you were going to say that." Fade to parents in supermarket. They hear thunder in the distance, and worry about their children. Professor Power is confident the children are at home, unpacked, and watching TV by now. The father tells a "physics" joke, whose point is supposed to be obvious only if you are a physicist; Mrs. Power survives the humor.
Go to the House, Alex, Jack and Katie working their way up the stairs. Jack is not quite sure which way to turn. Coming up over their shoulders is Mobius' disembodied head, luminous green, not noticed until he growls "Return it to me." The Pack looks over shoulders and routs, dodging into a previously unseen room.
Jack, Alex, and Katie find themselves in a hall of mirrors, one cunningly designed to separate them, perhaps a trifle faster than is completely plausible. Alex steps ahead, and discovers a trap door the hard way. He starts falling. Jack turns around, backs, and blunders into an animated skeleton. Katie looks around, frightened. There's an adult behind her. An adult ghoul, which grabs her, admittedly not very firmly. She screams in (quite legitimate) terror. It's big and ugly. And the background is very dark.
Superimpose a silver circle filled with Julie's rainbow effect. (Which, by the way, is not the harsh primaries of the comic, but a real rainbow, the color balance being very realistic.) Move back the camera, the darkness being replaced with bright outdoors. Julie's bike comes to a stop, tire smoking. She gets off, clutching a strip of film --- a mall fast-camera picture set, a half-dozen faces staring in: Julie and her new friends. She dumps the bike, goes to the door, and finds a note, contents remaining unseen. It's clearly an explanation from brothers and sister.
Back to the haunted house. Jack is in a cage, which snaps shut. Alex is still falling, hair streaming upwards. He's surrounded by a whirl of images: skulls, figures, a Greek temple (well, that's what I think it is). He puts out his hands, flat, to hover. His sister's screams -- calling for him -- are audible above. Katie breaks free of the ghoul, confronts it, "Okay, you asked for it" (or close thereto). Her attack has the form of multiple continuous beams of blue lightning, emanating from the fingers. "You're toast, Mr. Bad Man." The ghoul is swallowed in brilliant light; it vanishes. Disintegration! Jack "I'm out of here" shrinks to finger size, skips between the bars of the cage, and runs. Alex brings one hand above his head, then flies (ascent takes much less long than descent) back to and through the trapdoor. He lands and hugs Katie, who is still clutching the amulet. Jack calls from the corner and then (on-camera special effect) grows to full size. The growth effect is an overlay; we see him at several different sizes at the same moment.
Cut to Julie in the kitchen, unpacking, very quickly -- ultraspeed all the way. She even drops something, and later recovers it. Clearly, they really spent a good piece of an hour having her unpack the kitchen.
The Pack enters Mobius's inner sanctum, Mobius' voice calling "Return it to me". Thunder and flashes of lightning. Jack points out where he found the amulet; Katie returns it, to no avail. Alex shows his wits (he appears to be rather swifter than the Alex of the comic book), identifying the amulet with the gap in the painting. Special effect: Alex hoisting his sister ceilingward, simply by touching the small of her back.
Mobius: "You must be punished." (Sound is a bit weak here, but I believe Alex says "He's going to kill us". A hole is burned in the painting, a brilliant ruby beam stabbing down at the amulet and Katie. The contest is "obvious"; Katie must push the amulet back into the painting to seal the gap. We have the better part of a minute of contest, Katie trying to push the amulet forwards, using her own attack -- a blue column of light -- to neutralize Mobius's deathray. Jack stands there. Alex shouts encouragement: "Push harder, Katie!" "I can't! It's burning my hand!" "More energy, Katie, more energy! Come on, you can do it!" Katie, in facial expressions, really does a great job of being the heroine scraping for every last erg of power from her reserves, while Alex is really effective as the supportive older brother. Slowly, the amulet is pushed through several feet of space into the gap, and sealed in place -- a stitchery of miniature lightning bolts. Katie and Alex are sprawled on the floor by the backblast. Jack: "Nothing to it." His brother and sister are decidedly *not impressed* by their brother's wit.
Return to the family kitchen, parents unpacking the groceries. The three pack members run in. Alex apologizes. Their mother asks what he is apologizing for. She clearly recognizes that they have been up to something. Somewhat lamefacedly, he looks around the immaculate kitchen, completely unpacked, every pan in place "For not being here to help with the groceries." Julie walks around the room. Mother compliments the three of them on their unpacking. Julie has eyes skywards. She did it, but they get credited. Mother pours on the compliments, toward the three of them who disappeared, leaving Julie to do the kitchen, Jack's bedroom, and perhaps more. Alex. "Oh. Thanks!" A somewhat oddly-toned thanks, but he knows he didn't do it. He looks at his sister and winks. Her pout is replaced by a smile.
Happy endings: two five-year-olds tap at the back sliding glass-door. They want Katie to come out and play. She beams and leaves. The telephone rings, the Professor answering. He'll have to see if someone will take a call. He turns to Alex. It's Tina. Alex is all smiles, grabs the phone, says hello, and realizes that he has his whole family as audience. "Do you mind?" Family less Jack leave voluntarily; mother grabs Jack. View of the outside of the house, Alex's voice heard. He and Tina are clearly doing well. With one break: Mom, Jack's on the phone! I am not! Shift to credits.
Special effects -- Stargate. Production by Paragon Entertainment with New World Television. There were a lot of credits; the unusual one was a Tutor.
The special effect density was quite high.
Someone who has a better ear is welcome to comment on the musical support. There were at least three distinct themes, one relatively serious, one much more playful (close to Julie's personal theme music), and a near-Wagnerian musical background for the combat scenes. Several listeners have opined that the serious theme is the theme from Edward Scissorhands.
Relative to the original source, Alex is perhaps a bit more mature, somewhat brighter, certainly much more the moral leader of the group. Julie is more feminine, more interested in making friends, but keeps the mothering role, unpacking kitchen and various rooms to cover for brothers and sister. Jack captures the attitude problem seen in the book. Katie is a little girl, but one willing to come out slugging when it is necessary. The original source, even in the early books, had a slightly acidic angst that is lacking here; the change is an improvement.