Saturday, April 09, 2005

Power Pack #1 - How to Make an All-Ages Title Good

I have noticed a problem whenever Marvel or DC try an All-Ages line of comics.

The comics often are not all that good.

Sure, the cartoon books are often exceptions, but other than that, there is some slim pickings. Remember Marvel's 99 cent line of comics awhile back? Dreadful stuff.

I really enjoyed Power Pack #1, though, and I think it gives a nice guide to how to make a good All-Ages comic.

It really boils down to one thing.


It may surprise you.

Okay, here it is....

Write a good story.

Now, that may surprise you, as that seems to be so obvious, but it often is NOT how All-Ages comics seem to be written for Marvel and DC. Very often, they seem to be written as ALL-AGES comics first, and good comics second.

Which is silly when you think about it, but that's what often happens.

Power Pack did not do that, and I really am thankful to Marc Sumerak for it.

He just wrote a good comic book story, and yes, it appeals to All-Ages, but basically, it is just a good story. Not only that, but the main action plot of #1 was pretty weak, while the character interacton was strong. That is good, because it is a LOT easier to fix action than it is to fix character interaction. So I expect even BETTER issues in the future.

The artist for the main story, Gurihiru, is decent enough, but Chris Eliopoulos really shines in the backup story.

Another thing that impressed me with Marc Sumerak is his approach to the Power Pack concept. Previous writers seemed more concerned with how they could CHANGE Power Pack, and less about just writing a good story.

Sumerak, as I said before, seems to be concerned about the story first, and it shows.

Such a simple concept, and yet it is so rarely done.

Meanwhile, speaking of All Ages comics, while it is a lot easier to write an independent All Ages comic (as, unlike writing for the big two, you only do it if you really WANT to write the story in question), it is still worth pointing out that a really good All Ages Image comic came out this week called Death, Jr (story by Gary Whitta and art by Ted Naifeh).

Someone at the comic book store mentioned to me that it is based on a video game, but this is unlike any video game comic I have ever read (which is sadly too many).

The story is about just what it says, the son of the Grim Reaper.

But Death Jr., with his gross appearance (he's just a skull), is not a sadsack character, he is just a happy little kid who has a loving mother and a father who has a busy work schedule (sending people off to the Great Beyond).

The first issue is mostly introductions of characters, specifically the other freaks at school that DJ hangs out with, most particularly his little friend Pandora, who has a thing about opening stuff...hehe.

It is a real cute story, and, like Power Pack, it gets the character interactions down pat FIRST, and is concerned about action secondly, which is probably a smart move (although, I will admit, a mixture of the two from the START is probably the best way to approach it).

The art from Naifeh was quite strong, in both the character designs as well as the actual storytelling.

Wow...two good All-New, All-Ages comics released the same day, pretty cool, eh?


Blogger Mark Hale said...

Remember Marvel's 99 cent line of comics awhile back? Dreadful stuff.

I do and they were. Were they actually supposed to be "all ages," though? Seemed to me they were just a way to give the editors something to write.

4/09/2005 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Sorry, Mark, you're right, I should have specified WHICH 99 cent line I was talking about.

I didn't mean the one that included Untold Tales of Spider-Man and a load of unbelievable crap.

I meant the one where they first tried the current approach of rewriting old comics.

4/09/2005 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

I wouldn't call Power Pack a good all-ages comic. Maybe it's a good kiddie comic, but I think it's rather on the crap side, so clearly it's not for all ages.

The best "all ages" title by every stretch of the definition was probably Pucket and Parobeck's Batman Adventures. I can still go back to those and enjoy them, even years later from a wildly different perspective.

4/09/2005 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I went to Cosmic Comics today, lured by Morts' promises of hot salesgirls. On the kids' rack, i saw the following:

Marvel Adventures Line
Johnny DC
One old issue of Classics Illustrated Jr.

Can we not do better than this, in terms of both quantity and quality? (I tried an issue of Justice League Unlimited last month on a slow week, and was sorely disappointed.)

Power Pack was on the wall with the new stuff; I'm interested to see where it will go in a couple months.

I'm disappointed that most of the reviews of this book I've seen online have focused on continuity; is it not enough just to say to oneself "It's set in the past?"

Anyhow, Untold Tales rocked.

4/09/2005 07:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Viking Bastard said...

This *is* the biggest problem with mainstream US all-ages books. It's the classic misconception that kids will eat anything up. The western world (and the US especially) has a tendancy to treat kids like morons.

Do it the Pixar way: Tell the story you want to tell and then make sure it fits all ages. Y'know, cut the rape scenes and streamline the dialogue.

Do you know what *my* favourite superhero comic book was as a six year old kid?

Frank Miller's Daredevil.

Just make a good story (and then thrust it into their hands) and they will come. Maybe. If you persist.

4/10/2005 10:01:00 AM  
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