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Runaways is, for a lot of younger adults nowadays, the series that got them reading comics. The new series has been as perfect as a series following characters that have grown into young adults could be. It ignites the feeling of meeting back up with people that were your everything when you were young, but since you’ve grown up seem to have drifted apart. Its bittersweet tone, and strokes of found family and the pains of young adulthood have been perfect for this time in these characters’ lives. Not the most action packed or bombastic the Runaways have ever been, but it’s not boring by any means; its real and sometimes painful look at young adulthood through the lens of the Marvel universe has made it one of my favorite ongoings at Marvel right now.
This issue is the start of a new arc, but like most Runaways stories, it follows the previous arc seamlessly. There’s a lot going on both internally as well as externally in these characters’ lives, and the layered look at their interactions and innermost worries was riveting despite the fact that there’s not any action whatsoever. Nico feels trapped by the Staff of One and its ominous presence in her life. This has been brewing since the first issue when it was revealed she’s running out of spells to cast. Nico’s also trying to reconnect with Karolina and leave her feelings for her on the backburner so that Karolina can enjoy her relationship with Julie. I for one cannot wait for when this lesbian love triangle comes to a boil, and I’m sure it will.
Part of what this series has focused on is young persons’ struggles to grow into who they want to be, and part of that is definitely clear in how Gert and Victor interact. They’re both in precarious positions among the group. Gert has been dead for three years and has not aged in that time. Victor died during Tom King’s run on The Vision and is now just a head. They both are missing parts of themselves and parts of their lives that they’re having trouble getting along without. They’re conversation as Gert cuts Victor’s hair was touching and a really great look at their individual struggles and how not just the two of them, but all of the group, can make up for lost time and become the people they want to be.
Chase is trying to lead this found family while Molly just wants to be a kid. Again these two mirror each other as Gert and Victor did. Chase is the oldest of the group and is feeling the pressure to act that way. He wants to take care of his friends, and that means getting a job and becoming Molly’s legal guardian. Molly is loving life in middle school, and has finally made the kind of friendship she’s always wanted; one where the two genuinely like each other and choose to be friends, unlike with the Runaways where she mentioned that they are more like family than friends. Unfortunately, both their attempts at acting their ages don’t go as planned when Chase gets a job at the LA Landfill and Molly finds some of her best friend, Abigail’s, behavior strange.
Kris Anka’s art remains an amazing asset to the series, and I genuinely cannot imagine anyone else doing this story but him. He has such a fresh, and youthful take on these characters who are known for their youth. The paneling is some of my favorite. While not eye catching like say a Bachalo page layout, it is actually very thoughtful and fluid. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but the lack of slanted or off kilter perspective and panel sizes makes me think of arrows, which this run has used a lot. Obviously the heavily reliance on arrow shapes is a reference to running away, but could also be interpreted as the direction a young adult takes in life and how these characters have followed their arrows back to each other. I kind of got off track there, but basically, Kris Anka is a genius, and his art is too perfect for words in this comic.
This run on Runaways might actually be starting to surpass the original run for me. The original run is about growing up through your teenage years, but it’s quite poignant to tell a story here about young adulthood that will be coinciding with so many who read the original comic. There’s obviously a lot of thought put into the story, characters, and art. I love this series. It’s the comic these characters deserve, and the comic millennials need.