There are a lot of comics out there, but some stand out head and shoulders above the pack. With “Don’t Miss This,” we want to spotlight those series we think need to be on your pull list. This week we are looking at the latest run of, well, “Runaways.”
Who Is This By?
“Runaways” is written by Rainbow Rowell. While her comic career began with “Runaways,” she’s written a number of novels for adults and young adults, including “Eleanor & Park,” “Fangirl,” “Carry On” and “Wayward Son.” (I feel it’s worth noting that the next book in the Simon Snow series is not called “There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done,” but is instead “Any Way The Wind Blows.” Further research is required to see why the naming scheme suddenly shifted from Kansas to Queen.) She’s also written the graphic novel “Pumpkinheads,” illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks.
Illustrator Andrés Genolet has been drawing “Runaways” since issue #19. He’s also known for “Spider-Girls” and “X-Men Blue.” Kris Anka, who illustrated the comic from issues 1-18, still provides the cover art.
Dee Cunniffe handles the colors. “Runaways” is a little lighter than his previous work in terms of tone and color scheme – his portfolio includes “Redneck,” “Machine Gun Wizards,” “Paper Girls” and “The Wicked + The Divine” – but it suits the comic nicely.
What’s It All About?
“Runaways” was created in 2003 by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, introducing a new team of teen leads. After discovering their parents were the members of a super-villain crime syndicate called The Pride, the team (Alex, Chase, Gert, Karolina, Molly, and Nico) fled from the comfort of their homes. The team has changed over the years, gaining and losing members, but was reformed when Rainbow Rowell revived the series.
Most recently, the team was joined by Gib, a child of the Gibborin (the extra-dimensional self-proclaimed deities that The Pride served) and began working with Doc Justice. Most of the Runaways have joined his J-Team as costumed superheroes, but Gert (herself recently brought back from death thanks to time travel) has been more or less left out.
This is a time of great change for the team. Relationships are changing, life goals and ideals shift, and the Runaways are shifting from being a superpowered found family to being part of a team. In the middle of it all, it’s hard to tell what the price will be and who will get left behind.
Plus, Doc Justice’s motives may not be as selfless as it first seems. This isn’t the first J-Team, but what happened to those that came before?
What Makes It So Great?
Rainbow Rowell has brought new life to the Runaways team, in more ways than one. (In fact, at least three “Runaways” characters have been brought back to life over the course of this series so far.) Every aspect, from the characters to the team structure, has been explored, stretched, tested, and reconstructed in ways that are fascinating to see play out.
She’s taken the characters in new but entirely organic directions – Karolina’s relationships, Nico’s sexuality, Molly’s family and friendships, Gert’s place now that she’s been pulled years into the future, Victor’s revival after his death in “The Vision” – are all analyzed from a character-driven angle. We see how they grow and change from interacting with each other and the Marvel universe, and it all feels like logical progressions for the characters. We feel the growing pains, but we see how these changes are part of growing up.
At the same time, the comic isn’t afraid to try out new things. The J-Team is a change for the characters as they try out traditional heroics, and we can see how the change affects each of them, including Gert. Doc Justice’s plans for the team add a dark twist that you can only get in LA and the modern celebrity/media culture.Continued below
Andrés’ art provides a clean, clear image of the world, providing very expressive characters and a variety of designs, styles, and body types. The recent arc has given him more room to stretch his abilities, with heroic battles, training montages, and super suits, but the real strength lies in the character work.
This is backed up by Dee Cunniffe’s color work, which brings a vibrant energy to every scene. While this is especially important for characters like Karolina (she glows like a rainbow when she users her powers) it also enhances the calmer moments with gentle or dramatic lighting effects.
The entire comic is easy on the eyes and each page is brimming with life. The art team brings the characters to life, while the writing work makes us want to see how they grow further. Anyone who loved the original “Runaways” run or any of their misadventures thereafter will absolutely want to see where they go next.
How Can You Read It?
“Runaways (2017) volumes 1-4 are available now at your local comic book store, as well as on Comixology and Marvel.com. Volume 5 will be available this April, but you can find issues 25-28 in store while issue 29 comes out this Wednesday.