Oh hi, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing posting a review for an old issue of a comic. You see, I’ve decided that it’s time to save all of my reviews from my time at PopOptiq from the website that is just a hollow shell of its former self. Y’see, when the website changed EICs a little more than a year ago, the new editor decided he wanted to make the website more like Buzzfeed and then proceeded to fire most of the staff. He then also claimed copyright ownership of our work.
Well, I know I never signed a contract with you or the previous EIC that said that was okay and my name is on the byline, so…
Written by Kate Leth
Art by Matt Cummings
Letters by Jim Campbell
Published by Boom! Studios
It’s that time! We finally get some back story on why our intrepid heroes became… well… intrepid heroes.
A large majority of the penultimate issue of Power Up! doesn’t take place on Earth, but rather on a distant planet we’ve never seen before. Don’t worry though, because each page is still grounded in a panel showing Amie, Kevin, and Sandy playing ping pong. It’s a really cute device that ends up playing well to the shifting of time over the course of the issue. Not to mention it has Sandy and her husband reconciling. Awww…
The main story of the issue cuts to two weeks prior as a group of aliens waits around an orb known as The Heart, waiting for something to happen. As it turns out, the powers that the various monsters of the week claim that the group of heroes stole was a part of a prophecy that ties back to the opening narration of the first issue, with a couple of differences to emphasize that the math was off.
The first of these aliens is Nox, a woman who has obsessed over this prophecy since she was young. According to the prophecy, three worthy warriors would be granted powers after The Heart was empowered during the death of a star and a birth of a new one. Nox then gathers three aliens, a large red powerhouse named Prue, a ghostly woman named Una, and a quiet figure called Rowan. They have trained for years to assume the roles of The Strength, The Spirit, and and The Sight, with the eyes of dozens of worlds upon them…
…and then nothing happens.
This issue crams a lot of information in that it can sometimes feel overwhelming, but both Leth and Cummings do a good job at finding a good balance with it. For Cummings, he once again gets to show off his strengths in world and character design, creating dynamic looking characters that run the gamut in body diversity and show that Nox may have taken the prophecy of the powers granted to these warriors a bit too literally.
As for Leth, her power of creating character friendships prevails once again. Despite literally just meeting this quartet in this issue, we get a good sense of who they are and the kind of friendships they have with each other. This isn’t just a team of hired guns, but a group of old friends who have come to love and respect each other over the years. They’ve only just now showed up, but it’s hard not to love them already.
Of course, Nox being the huge nerd that she is, she is happy to be proven wrong when she realizes what the Heart truly is, which makes her even more endearing.
Also, the overarching narration is brilliantly done and may be some of the best that Leth has written so far. It’s poignant and beautiful while still feeding into the humor of the book.
Still, there’s one issue left and there’s at least one mystery to solve: how do you communicate with a gold fish to get answers about the life, the universe, and everything?
While this issue does put out a lot of information, Power Up! #5 avoids being an exposition dump. Cummings’ art is on point as usual, outdoing himself on the character design of these intergalactic warriors, and Leth makes you feel like you’ve known them forever, despite only being introduced this issue. What it may lack in action scenes, it makes up for in great tandem work to give great character moments and the backstory everyone has been waiting for. Well, most of it. There’s still one issue left, you know…