In this continuation of a beloved series, YA superstar Rainbow Rowell and fan-fave Kris Anka bring the Runaways back to comic pages. Is it good?
The story picks up after the events of Civil War II. Nico Minoru, one of the original Runaways and a member of the now-disbanded A-Force, is now alone and unsure of her place in the world. Her thoughts are interrupted by the appearance of time-traveler Chase and Gert, his girlfriend who was killed in the original series.
Chase has grabbed her from the time stream just after she was stabbed, and brought her to Nico to try and save her life. The rest of the issue becomes a bottle episode, as Nico and Chase try to save Gert’s life and change the event that defined the Runaways and changed their path forever.
Is It Good?
Runaways holds a very special place in fans’ hearts and has created an intense legacy. It helps that it was written by two giant names: Brian K. Vaughan and Joss Whedon. Bringing the title back was always going to face heavy scrutiny, especially putting it in the hands of a non-comics writer. YA writers have had a tough time in comics lately, but as a big fan of Rainbow Rowell, especially knowing that she is a huge comics fan and an excellent YA writer, I had confidence that she could do this team justice.
Rowell does an excellent job of creating a compelling first story and solving one of the most complicated questions facing this book: what to do about Gert? Gert’s death in the original Runaways was incredibly controversial, especially since she’s one of the few comics characters who hasn’t been written back into existence. Rowell’s solution not only makes sense within the world of Runaways, but it’s not an easy fix – focusing the entire issue on this single task ratcheted up the tension, making the outcome not feel like a sure thing.
Rowell has an excellent voice for the issue — a nice mix of humor and angst that matches the tone of the original Runaways. The only slightly odd choice was to do the voiceover in third person, rather than first.
However, it works and I only really noticed it on my second read through, so it may not bother most readers. She also uses those voiceovers to fill in backstory for new readers, giving key details without it feeling too obvious. This is a story that works best for readers that know the Runaways; while new readers will basically understand what is happening, the real impact won’t hit home unless you know the team history.
Kris Anka and Matt Wilson are also challenged by the history of Runaways – the series was almost exclusively drawn by Adrian Alphona, who co-created the Runaways with Brian K. Vaughan, and Takeshi Miyazawa (it was a great touch to have Alphona do a variant cover). Anka balances between keeping the characters recognizable, but drawing to his own style. His lighter lines and cleaner style bring a more serious tone to these early pages, which fits the story. Wilson’s almost sepia-toned colors at the beginning help the later colors to pop even more. The doctor’s appearance was a great example of this.
The team as a whole gave this series a great, fresh start to a fan-favorite series, and I am definitely excited to see where they take things.