The year is 2017 and we have an honest to God adaptation of “Runaways.” We live in some pretty cool times. “Runaways” was created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona and for a lot of people in the early-to-mid 2000s, this was a gateway comic. I wouldn’t say it has a cult following but it has remained very popular with younger fans long after it ended and the characters in the series found their way to other places in the Marvel Universe. The team is back together in comic book form. And, just as that gets under way, we see these characters’ first ever live action appearance. The first episode of Runaways takes a lot more time to get to the big reveal than its comic book counterpart and that’s ultimately for the best. Let’s jump into the first episode, “Reunion”
Right off the bat we already see some adjustments made to backstories and familial connections. The episode begins with a young girl named Destiny lost in a seedy part of Los Angeles. She’s accosted by some guys who keep saying they’re just trying to help her. That’s stopped when a van from the Church of Gibborim (yuuuuuuup) comes by to help her. She goes with them and we’re taken to all the kids that will make up the titular runaways. There are some changes, though, and Alex Wilder is maybe the most interesting. Alex Wilder does not come off as the same kid he was in the comics. I don’t know what this means going forward but he’s more surprised at everyone drifting apart and is the one who wants to reunite his friends. He’s become more isolated and is much more wide-eyed than his comic book counterpart. Karolina Dean is not the daughter of actors, instead her mother runs the Church of Gibborim. Gert Yorkes and Molly Hernandez (not Hayes; NICE) are actually siblings now, as Molly is adopted. Gert is an outspoken feminist who wants to start a club at her school aimed at smashing the patriarchy and Molly is still Molly. She’s still headstrong and excitable and still younger than the rest of the kids. Chase is still the jock type but is struggling with the stereotype because he’s an engineering whiz kid and his father is pressuring him as far as his grades. These changes make everyone kind of fit together better and spending this much time with them on their own gets us acquainted with them more.
2. A Death In the Family
One of the most interesting changes this show takes is it gives Nico Minoru a sister, specifically a sister that died two years ago. This is the catalyst for the group falling apart and a big reason for their typical teenage sadness to go into overdrive. She was clearly a big part of this group and they even say that she was the one keeping them together anyway. This gives Nico and her family something traumatic to deal with but it also makes their eventual reunion far more interesting. The first issue of “Runaways” just throws us into everything. We don’t know a ton of background information and we don’t see any real friction in the group. This is an added thing that gives this first episode something extra to work with and gives them space to hold off on their last second twist. It also establishes drama and that’s something Runaways is clearly looking to do. It’s a teen drama with super powers and evil parents. In this sense, it reminded me a little bit of what Riverdale is trying to do with its melodrama. There is something to be said about killing off another woman solely to give characters drama but I think it really works here.
3. Young Love
In “Runaways,” there are same-sex pairings. Karolina is gay and Nico is bisexual. In “Reunion,” Karolina’s sexuality is constantly brought up. Karolina is dealing with her own issues as someone who represents a church. When she goes to a party, she is seen lingering on two other girls dancing and kissing each other. Nico and Alex clearly may have something brewing between them but it looks like Alex might have been more interested in her sister. “Reunion” kind of implies there may be something there with Chase and Karolina, which kind of bums me out, but I don’t think anything will happen there. It is also shown Chase and Gert (OTP) may be into each other. This is like Marvel’s Fleetwood Mac and I’m super here for it. A lot of the established couples in the comic will probably happen. I’m especially interested to see where Gert and Chase go but I think we should be thrown a little swerve somewhere along the line. These things are fun because they can do different things but I hope that we keep the LGBT side of this series and make it even more important.Continued below
4. Church of Chibborum
In the comics, the Chibborum are literally giants that want to wipe out humanity. That’s what the Pride, the evil group of the parents, do. They work for them and sacrifice humans for them. I am completely in love with making them related to a church (read: cult). Think about it. They want human sacrifice and they want to eventually get rid of humanity. You can’t do that easier than making hundreds of thousands of people your believers. Look how easy people follow any kind of religion or cult. People want to belong and some people are even more desperate to accomplish that. A church gives them something to believe them but it also makes them easy to manipulate and that’s the name of the game for the Pride.
5. Saving The Best For Last
Anyone familiar with the “Runaways” knows the basic premise. “Reunion” takes its time getting there and I think this was a fabulous decision. The episode is all about a group of kids who drifted away after a very traumatic event. This is about their trauma and that’s really important to see on a show like this. When they finally get together, start to deal with things and try to have some fun, they are hit with this huge bombshell that has more sting after all that. They see their parents in these red robes, sacrificing a young woman, specifically the girl from the opening of the episode. This scene is also done very differently as there’s some kind of magic involved and there are no costumes (yet). It’s a subtle change but I think it again is something that works better for television. This is also a great place to end the first episode because had this been on a network instead of Hulu, you’d guarantee yourself new viewers the following week. Remember, not everyone reads comics. They are very much a niche thing. I immediately pressed play on the second episode after this.