Sunday, October 19, 2008

Comic Book Week: "Runaways"

For the last post in the Comic Book Week I have prepared a review on an ongoing series by Marvel called “The Runaways”, which have been launched since 2003, amount to 30 issues until the end of volume two and have won multiple awards. Volume three has launched since August 27th 2008.

Due to the spanning story arcs in these thirty issues, I will keep the content to bare minimum, bringing only the essence of the story and why it deserves all excess attention. As genre, “The Runaways” is teen drama with superpowers. A group of six teens find out on a meeting of their families that their parents are villains called the Pride, who wish to bring down the apocalypse upon Earth and rebuilt it with the power of ancient Biblical giants. Volume one deals with the teens forming a group called the Runaways and fight their parents, ultimately leading to the deaths of the Pride and their leader Alex Wilder, who in the end has betrayed his team.

What grabs from volume one is the diversity between the six members of the Runaways and the six families in the Pride. Niko Minoru is the daughter of dark wizards and possesses the Staff of One, which can cast spells with a trigger command. Molly Hayes is a twelve year old mutant with super strength and invulnerability and is daughter to telepaths. Gertrude York has a telepathic link to a dinosaur brought from the future by her time traveling parents. Chase Stein is the son of evil scientists inventors and operates their gadgets and is the team’s getaway guy, while Alex Wilder leads the team and has no superpowers. The last member Karolina Dean is a solar power alien being, who can create force blasts and fields, can float and is glowing like a kaleidoscope.

The series overall is humor laced, the call of the Runaways being “Don’t Die” and puns and funny references popping every page, while all the characters learn to work together and get likewise in funny and dramatic situations. Every super team that travels with a leaping mechanical frog, reside in a fallen underground manor is one people must read about. Immediately after the Pride has been killed and exposed, Captain America has the team split and spread to social services, foster homes and camps for mutant children. Volume two marks the reunion of the team as the fight with the new villains of L.A of plunging the city in chaos, the one thing the Pride did well. Along the way new team members join the group like Victor Mancha, the son of Ultron, Xavin, a super skrull in training, and Klara Prast a chlorokinetic like Poison Ivy from 1907. Usually the acquirement of new members comes at the death of another to keep the number, which has grown drastically by the end of volume two.

Untypical of most super hero teams, the Runaways break most of the clichés connected with the myth. First of all there is no spandex and hidden identities involved, although volume one featured the group adopting alias, which they later dropped. The ratio between males in females is also switched the majority of the hitting force being female, something untypical in most popular superhero teams. The story lines are toned down and don’t all involve saving the world on regular basis, but more like taking one villain at a time and resolving the issues between team members. The characters themselves bicker, fight argue and resemble nothing to the well trained fighting machines out there.

Fresh angles involve the lesbian tendencies of Karolina, who ultimately involves with Xavin, her betrothed fiancé, who changes his gender to her liking. Homosexualism hasn’t been dealt with in many comic books before and definitely serves to make the characters more complex. Another interesting moment to note is that most function of the characters are unfitting of their personality. Niko is the most emotionally involved and needy of everyone, but still manages to lead the team usually alive out of a mission, while a twelve year old girl is the brawn of the group. I can go on and on about what makes the series, so great, but you have to read all the stories of writers Brian Vaughn for most of the series, Joss Whedon from issue 24 to 30 and now Terry Moor for volume three and artists Adrian Alphona, Michael Ryan and Humberto Ramos, for volume three.

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