Runaways is without a doubt one of the best family books on the stands. Watch out Fantastic Four as this series is so good with familial drama, the closeness you have with those you live with, and the awkwardness of dealing with those you sometimes wish you could get away from. I enjoyed the volume 3 trade paperback thanks to the snappy dialogue and sharp art and I’ve enjoyed what Terry Moore was doing years ago — which is why I had to dive into volume 4 out this week. Themes like finding your inner purpose and letting go of lost flames are majorly explored in Rainbow Rowell and Andres Genolet’s latest collected edition.
This volume collects issues #19 to #24 opening with Molly and Alex going on a little adventure together and ending with a big-time superhero asking for justice. One of the strongest narratives involves Chase who continues to help keep the house in order and helps bring Doombot back to life. He’s still in love with his ex even though she’s very much moved on and it’s at once heartbreaking and endearing how Rowell writes this story. Clever turns in the story help draw your attention and make it feel realistic. Nothing seems forced and instead characters move and act in natural ways. That goes for Chase, who has a heart to heart with Gert when her current boyfriend Mancha is offline (it’s complicated), and in this sequence, there’s a sense of love in a touching and complicated moment. You simply don’t see this quality of relationship drama anywhere else.
Outside of this plot, the Karolina and Nico storyline is quite endearing too. Karolina is not doing so well at school when the story starts and she soon finds herself at peace with possibly going all-in at being a superhero. There’s an excellent double-page splash featuring Karolina speaking about anxiety and the stresses she’s going through. It’s fun to see the joy Karolina goes through as she discovers helping others is a bit of a calling for her. This is amped up further when Nico and Karolina decide to try out being superheroes later on. This leads to the cliffhanger of the issue which is an interesting one given the Runaways history.
The art by Andres Genolet with Niko Henrichon on issues #23 and #24 is quite good. The facial expressions are so animated and live it’s hard to not be enamored with the characters. The layout design is quite creative when it comes to Mancha and Doombot parlaying as the gutters end up being twisting and turning gizmos and metal parts. It draws you into the fact that their dialogue is inside their machine brains. Other highlights include Karolina and Nico’s costumes which are a nice juxtaposition from each other and there are some solid comedic visuals like when Lace and Gib have a moment after Gib tries to eat Lace’s arm. I also adored the hang out Molly and Alex go on as we learn a bit about Alex’s villainous parents.
Runaways is hard to put down thanks to it exhibiting everything good about life. Love, conflict, and the ever difficult task of figure out how to satiate a Gibborim’s hunger.