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CSBG Archive

The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Alex Power is a Horse?

All throughout December, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked.

Today we look at the short-lived changes to Power Pack at the end of their series…


At the end of his run on Power Pack (and the end of the series, as well), writer Michael Higgins made a number of changes to the status quo of Power Pack.

The most notable was Alex Power, the eldest of the four Power children, becoming a Kymellian (the alien race that gave Power Pack their powers)….

Apparently, Alex was trapped in this form…

Also, though, the mother of the Powers went into a catatonic state when she discovered that her kids were superheroes, presumably as part of the mind lock that was on the Power parents that prevented them from figuring out that their kids were superheroes (it also made them more forgiving of craziness around them, like the kids being friends with Franklin Richards of the Fantastic Four). So the kids’ father decided to take his wife and the kids to Kymellia to see if a cure could be found for his wife…

As you can see, it was a bit of a downer of an ending…

So the following year, the original creators of the series, writer Louise Simonson and artist June Brigman returned to the series for a Holiday Special where they revealed that the kids’ parents and Alex weren’t who they appeared to be…

So after the conspiracy is revealed, the kids fight the bad guys and end up with basically a giant reset button (their powers even go back to how they were when the book first started – they had swapped powers a few times by this point)…

And Power Pack fans the world over were quite happy. I know I was.


I think one of the most underappreciated skills for an artist is drawing children. Many artists either draw them with the proportions of miniature adults or overgrown babies. The recent example of Adam Kubert’s Ultimate Iron Man is a perfect example of the overgrown baby. The artist above is an example of miniature adults. Look at the muscles of the kids. Even Katie Power has abs and muscular arms.

Which is why I always appreciated June Brigman’s artwork. She did such a great job of drawing children and their anatomy. The difference between her and the artist above is really striking.

Also, the Kymellians are really Skrulls.

T – Absolutely agree. John Byrne was always pretty good with the kids as well (his handling of Franklin Richard and Kitty Pryde in particular come to mind). Sara Pichelli, who draws the new Ultimate Spider-Man, also “gets” the way kids (of all shapes + sizes) look.

Didn’t they also try and bring Toro from the Invaders back at the very end of Power Pack’s original run? They introduced a mysterious old man in the last few issues, but then never mentioned it again in any other Marvel Comic.

Rollo — Yep, the Michael Higgins/Tom Morgan run (which lasted all of seven issues, and at the time had fans writing in to ‘zines and the letter column begging for the book to be cancelled, it was so poorly-received) was in the process of revealing that the homeless man was Toro. It never outright said it before cancellation hit, though, and the storyline was ignored by everyone else down the line.

Interestingly enough, the issue right before Higgins’ arrival was written by the late, great Dwayne McDuffie, and had set up what was to be the start of his run as the regular writer on the book. McDuffie stated on numerous occasions online that he’d been hired, turned in a script, and then editorial changes had him fired and replaced with Michael Higgins. That one issue (#55) was so much better than any that followed that it’s all the more painful that we could’ve gotten a strong creative team and instead got comics where Julie and Katie Power were drawn with big boobs. Gah.

And thus ended Alex’s new codename, Ponyboy.

Captain Librarian

December 15, 2011 at 11:40 am

This is the first I’ve heard of the Kymellians, (Not read up on the Power Pack) I don’t know why a race of horse people seems cool to me, but it does. Whatever happened to the false Alex?

What are the odds that five years from now, Marvel will turn Power Pack into Kymellians in an ill-fated attempt to belatedly cash in on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic popularity?

The false Alex, and the false parents, all melt into piles of goo. Yuck!

I’m really glad to see some appreciation for June Brigman here. She is such a talented, underrated artist.

I never knew about those Higgins issues until now. Yeesh, they sound really horrible! I always wonder how stories like that get approved by the editors.
And everyone is correct– June Brigman is one of the greatest artists ever!

Comics, everybody!

I was so disappointed by the end of Power Pack. It was ugly and depressing and it strayed so far from the original concept that it was unrecognizable. You touch on it in the article, but what the writer did to the parents was much much worse than Alex becoming a horse. They were great characters, and we’re basically turned into zombies. I have never been so happy to see a Christmas comic as I was for that Power Pack special. I always thought that the “fix” was very well conceived, and really fit in with some of the earlier stories. I could definitely see the Snarls doing something like that.

I would have sworn that it was longer than a year after the series ended though.

Power Pack was such a great book.

Hey, Alex! Why the long face?

Jon Bogdanove also had a talent for drawing the Power children, particularly when Hilary Barta started inking his work. the only thing I didn’t like about Bogdanove’s run was his last issues, 50-52, and the introduction of Numinus. Who’d have thought Whoopi Goldberg was related to Galactus?!?

I had Power Pack #61 when I was young. I never found #62, and I failed to believe that the story could be wrapped up in one issue. I did, however, have the Holiday Special. It was my first real experience with a drastic shift in direction in a comic story, and I remember it being quite jarring.

Rob Schmidt: Except the second one to the left, who’s a Space Phantom.

Brian from Canada

December 17, 2011 at 6:56 am

Add my vote to the Power Pack being drawn as children, but more to the point being WRITTEN as kids too. Which is why I am so disappointed with the present status quo, as that there was a mini before it that had them moving out west and moving into higher grades. Power Pack in high school is such a goldmine for stories — KIDS stories — that Marvel simply dropped the ball on this just to make Runaways have some cool villains, etc.

Sorry to threadjack – I didn’t know if this is the place for requests, but given the first article’s talk of an Englehart plot being rolled over, I was wondering if you could also cover his aborted run on Captain America, which ended on a cliffhanger that seemed to imply that when he underwent mental trauma he reverted back to the 90 lb weakling he was prior to the Super Soldier serum? Very next issue is by a different writer and ten pages in Cap is all, “All I needed was the power of *confidence*!” and then the whole thing is forgotten about.

Actually, I wouldn’t even mind a “Legends Revealed” style thing about why Marvel seemed so determined to trash *everything* Englehart was writing just after he left. Seems like an unusually acrimonious deal…

Gosh, the Louise Simsonson/June Brigman run of POWER PACK is so under-rated. NO ONE drew the Powers kids as well as June Brigman did.

June Brigman and Louise Simonson gave ua a great Christmas present that year by returning the series to its core. I don’t generally fear changes to the status quo but I do like various titles have a distinct reason for being. Power Pack when it was cancelled didn’t feel any different than every other superteam book, just with shorter protagonists that could sometimes switch their powers around.

POWER PACK, in it’s prime, was a fantastic comic that has since been shoved unfortunately into the category of a “kids comic” and ignored. But the original series, for the first 50 or so issues was an incredibly well written series with well rounded characters dealing with both the FUN of being a super powered kid and the incredible trauma that would bring into your lives. A fantastic series that still holds up wonderfully well in re-reads today.

i remember that power pack story how one figured alex was going to remain a krymillin and two the mind locks would be broken and the parents would find out. only to see things finaly got changed even if it ment the end of the book

You have to love a comic where the origin is these kids got their powers from a horse from outerspace named ‘Whitey’.

Power Pack is one of my favorite comics, and for a while it was the title I looked forward to the most each month although the quality went downhill real fast at the end of the series. Turning Alex into a Kymellian was such a ridiculous idea, I’m glad that they reversed it. Good to see Alex pop up in Fantastic Four every now and then. Wish they would do another special or limited series to reunite Power Pack and bring them out of retirement temporarily.

@Bill Walko: You’ve clearly never seen any of the Power Pack miniseries drawn by Gurihiru. These look absolutely ugly in comparison. Even if you don’t really like the “anime” style, it just fits the characters and setting better.

@Monopoly: the Guruhiru books suit the more middle class Power Pack tales of recent years, but Brigman’s take was spot-on for the more gritty 1980s incarnation where the family was unequivocally poor and living in project housing after falling on hard times. The latter needed an artist whose approach encompassed realism rather than the former’s stylised whimsy.

I’d just like to mention that every single time I see this entry heading pop up, I hear the headline sung to the tune of this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUkixWUJzPE

And that’s awesome.

My only disappointment with the recent use of Power Pack in mainstream Marvel universe since the 90s is that they always focus on Alex Power, and to a lesser degree Julie Power, since they were the two oldest, when in fact the most interesting Power sibling was Jack, especially when written by Louise Simonson or Jon Bogdanove. What I liked was that even though he didn’t have Alex’s brawn, he was by far the most cunning, inventive and battle savvy of the group,

I guess this is for anyone who thought that insane story tangents that completely reversed everything that had been previously established being hurriedly tossed out and really really unconvincingly explained away was a new thing.

Me. That was me.

I owe Peter David an apology.

Hand-waving or saying A Wizard Did It is nothing new in comics. DC used to do it all the time when continuity didn’t match up by simply saying that something happened on an alternate Earth.

@T: I’m disappointed with the use of Alex and Julie in recent years, too. Alex hanging out with the Fantastic Four I guess could have worked in theory, but Julie as a bimbo actress in Los Angeles (possibly because it was the premise for Friends spin-off Joey) was where I checked out on the characters for good.

Ahh, going to have to reread the old Power Pack issues. They were charming. I think finances forced me to drop out before this dismal-sounding ending.

Chiming in that I was also disappointed with the depressing turn Power Pack took towards the end, and was glad it all was finally resolved in that huge double-sized issue. Felt bad for the imposters, though.

Brigonos- Yeah, but for Marvel. Yeah, but ok never mind, you are right.

Actually, I would love it if I could find a good collection of Power Pack comics available for a reasonable amount of coin, as I haven’t read any of them since I was about six. Keep hearing great things though.

Are the Kymelians the only horse faced aliens in the Marvel U? (not counting Beta Ray?)

Since this is a very juvenile comic aimed at a younger readership, I can understand why there are no jokes about a male character suddenly acquiring the physical attributes of a horse. But once upon a time, I recall Supergirl having a pet horse who was a fully sentient transformed human male who was secretly in love with her, and that at one point they actually dated! I assume this must have been retconned out of existence at some point – I’d love to see the panel in which Supergirl explains why she has not at any point actually been in a relationship with a stallion! Presumably there must be one?

Billy Bissette: That thought is so ghastly that I KNOW Marvel will try it…ugh….

Greg Mc: Never knew that McDuffie history with the Pack…. Damn! Thanks for the enlightenment….

I loved the Power Pack because more often than not during the 80’s as everything around them became more grim and gritty, the Power Kids kept their optimism. It was even infectious to everyone from the Marvel U that came across them…including The Silver Surfer and Wolverine…

Monopoly: Come one…You can love the Brigman issues as well as the Guruihu ones. Open ya heart…

T: I right with you here, Jack was Young MacGuyver with powers. He did everything sneaky obvious in his surroundings to win a fight… and it was glorious to young, nerdy, always beaten up me back then.

Brig and T… I have faith in Christos Gage and his plans for Julie in Avengers Academy… *crosses fingers* He hasn’t let me down yet…

Sorry, Daryll, but the Julie Power appearing in Avengers Academy is such a vastly different character than the one which appears in Power Pack that as a long time PP fan I’m not entirely sure why I’m expected to care unless it’s for the Julie Power/Lightspeed brand rather than the specifics of character and writing that made me a fan in the first place.

Wait, there are Power Pack fans?

Another storyline they retconned, from one of the crappy mini-series, was Katie being a super-genius. Also, despite the thought that Meraud was a trigger for the kids’ power switching, at one point Alex was able to use all of the powers (during New Warriors). I think it was a temporary plot point, he only has the gravity powers in FF. I would like to see them use Jack and Katie again, or do a real reunion one-shot with the current Alex/Julie incarnations (Alex working with the FF, Julie as a sort-of Avenger and bisexual, etc).

I tuned out after the crack issue. I think there. Is a good chance Disney will still do something with this property. I’d be glad just to see the back issues released on Comixology.

To be honest, I could never get past #26 of the original series.

Wait… is Marvel releasing Power Pack Classic #4 this month?

I always wished they would be consistent with these character. Even now. In the New Warriors comic, Alex was portrayed as a teenager (which would be correct) I liked the fact that he had all four powers at the same time. It made him potentially one of the most powerful members of that team (I believe he would have ranked lower than Nova, but possibly above Firestar). So what has he been up to lately? Future Foundation? Really? And it looks like they went backwards with his age. Julie (in Avengers Academy) looks older than him when he is the oldest. As for the other two, nothing.

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