If Marvel’s super-hero universe is the vehicle with which Simonson explores the many pitfalls and dangers of the adult world, the choice in and of itself comments on Marvel at the time. Power Pack’s battle is not only to maintain their own altruism and hope, but to save those same things for super heroes in general.
This was a time when young heroes didn’t band together for the sake of justice or to emulate their adult hero counterparts; they were born from experimental heroin. It was in the midst of Claremont’s long, dark slog from a horrible future past and the titular dark saga for which he is perhaps best known. Wolverine was in his prime. Frank Miller was tearing Daredevil’s life apart. The Watchmen were on the horizon, as was the Punisher, and the Dark Knight was set to return. Comic books were Serious. They were Growing Up, bub.
Simonson, bucking the trend, put children, both literally and figuratively, at the heart of her book. And in doing so, she had a means of commenting on the darkening of Marvel and comics super-heroism in general. Simonson understood the natural inclination for the genre and the material to grow in different directions, but Power Pack’s constant struggle to be heroes without being monsters embodied another struggle: the fight to let super-heroes grow up without letting them outgrow the world which spawned them.
In Power Pack, Cloak & Dagger regained a small share of their innocence, the Morlocks found a new way to define their harsh family, the New Mutants got to be kids again. Hell, the X-Men (even Wolverine, for goodness sake) learned that there were sections of the world who didn’t hate and fear but rather accepted and admired them.
Original version published at Trickle of Consciousness