Archive: Powerblog: Monsters versus Maturity

There are a few things I wrote back in the day over at my Livejournal that I still like. Periodically, I’m going to be pulling some of them over here as reprints or what have you.


(From Power Pack #8, art by June Brigman and Bob Wiacek.

Before he transfers his abilities to the Power children, Whitey warns them that he’s not sure what will happen. It might kill them, or worse, turn them into monsters. The warning of monstrosity comes back repeatedly in the book’s run, both as the children explicitly recount it, and as the characters they encounter embody it.

Consider, first, the many “monsters which weren’t” during the initial run of the book. From the first year or so: “Baby” (Dragon-Man) and Leech were merely misshapen children. The “monster robots” (pictured above) were frightening shells but ultimately nothing but tools. Snake Eyes and the sewer gators, too, were simply victims of their various keepers (The Collector and The Piper, respectively).

Power Pack’s many allies almost universally considered themselves monsters. Cloak and Dagger see their powers as curses, their origins as exploited runaways overshadowing their choices afterward. Marinna, too, curses the source of her abilities (she’s the member of a race of interstellar conquerors), and seeks to atone. Add to that the “mutant menace” of the X-Men, and you have almost a full car on the super-powered monstrosity train. Of course, Power Pack are continually nonplussed by why it is all these heroes think they’re monsters. Their actions, and responsibility for same, make it all too clear they are nothing of the kind.

Arguably, in that first year or so of stories, only two guests / allies didn’t fit the monster role: Spider-Man and The Warriors Three. Both of these, you should note, were adults who warned Power Pack to act responsibly. This becomes important in a minute.

Just after their first year, Power Pack finally encountered their first true monster: The Bogeyman. Actually, they’d encountered him before, in their first adventure. For the Bogeyman was, in fact, Douglas Carmody, former employer of Power Pack’s father, Jim Power. Now, of course, having lost his job, Carmody blames the Power children for his failures, and so dons a high-tech suit in order to exact his revenge on them, taking the name of, really, the childhood monster of record.

Power Pack is the story of children facing the world of adults. Monstrosity, in this context, is adulthood without maturity. He hasn’t the horrific origins of Cloak and Dagger or Marinna, hasn’t (at this point in the series) the monstrous visage of Dragon-Man or Leech. But Douglas Carmody is the Bogeyman, he is the soul of monstrosity, because he refuses to take responsibility for his life. His failures as a human being are someone else’s fault.

Carmody’s failure is the monster Power Pack struggles against. They’ve been given abilities; they have the “super hero origin” (and if super-heroes=adults, they thus have the key to adulthood). Now they must fight to use it, take responsibility for it, define it for themselves, not let the power define them. It’s the only way to avoid the prophetic, monstrous future Whitey warned them of.

Originally published at Trickle of Consciousness

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