Review: Power Up #6

On paper, Power Up is exactly the sort of book that often doesn't work for me. It's a slapstick romp about a quirky twenty-something, has cartoony art that is incredibly straight forward, emphasizing humor over all else, and deals primarily in the parody of the tropes and clichés present in superhero and anime stories. Power Up excels however in its surprising specificity and warmth; instead of making a constant stream of references to prominent parts of pop culture, the book chose to tell a simple, funny story about four well-intentioned people (well, three people and a fish) granted cosmic powers. Wisely recognizing the limitations presented by making such a story comedic, author Kate Leth wisely kept the series tightly focused on action and playful character beats, never getting bogged down in world-building or impactful messages (which is often the aspect that works least well in this type of book). Power Up #6 picks up where the last issue left off with the revelation that intellectual leader of the cosmically powered four friends, is Amie's pet goldfish Silas. Unfortunately, the team quickly realizes that this is of little use since he can't talk despite the efforts of a psychic from the alien team (Amie immediately wants to know whether Silas enjoys his fish flakes).  Then, Sandy's family is kidnapped by the big bad (or a big bad at least, the series if fittingly unconcerned with building up its villains as anything more than fodder for fight scenes) and the team sets off to rescue them. Also included in this issue, a lesson in teamwork, a giant lizard monster, and an even more feminine outfit for Kevin the burly construction worker (who, in my favorite running joke, is oddly ok with this).

Power-Up-#6-1Frankly, the biggest compliment I can give the issue is to say if you enjoyed the previous five, you will enjoy this one.  Matt Cummings art continues to be charmingly effective with simple geometric characters, exaggerated facial expressions, and bright colors. The fight scenes are easy to follow, and more importantly always feel like part of the story instead of a detour from it.  While it may not be spectacular, Cumming's art compliments Leth's writing by never lingering too long over a given dramatic point, opting instead to always keep propelling the story forward. The result is a book that never wears out its comedic elements.

If there's one weakness to the series' ending, it would be the previously mentioned lesson in teamwork. This lesson comes in a form that is very familiar (more or less the ending from last year's Guardians of the Galaxy film), but feels unearned and a little phony. The characters never seemed to struggle with teamwork before, and trying to add a clear moral to the story feels out of place in such a simple character-driven piece. This however a minor quibble in what is otherwise a wonderful final issue.

The books final pages contain an epilogue of sorts that pleasantly wrap up each characters status quo in a neat, if occasionally unexpected bow. Thankfully Leth and Cummings seemingly leave the door open for more stories set in the world of Power Up. Here's hoping we do in fact get a chance to hang out with Amie, Kevin, Sandy and Silas because frankly, there are far too few laser-powered goldfish in my life at the moment.

Score:  4/5

Power Up #6 Writer: Kate Leth Artist: Matt Cummings Publisher: Boom Box! Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/16/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital