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Graphic Novel Review – The Runaways

At first I was not too attracted toward this story. It had too much of a manga feel to it, and I don’t care for that particular style. The only thing that kept my interest was the writer, whom I have reviewed a few times. Bryan K. Vaughan, together with Adrian Alphona, got this story of Runaways going for Marvel Comics.

The story, which occurs inside the realm of Marvel which means it interacts with other famous super hero characters, takes place in California where a group of six kids meet against their will once a year due to a meeting their parents attend to. Ranging from ages seventeen to thirteen they hang out and after their parents are done, they say goodbye until the following year.

This happens for a long time until they uncover the mistery of their parent’s secret meetings.  They are an evil organization that makes human sacrifices once a year.  Most of the details don’t get uncovered until the end, but in the meantime the kids decide to escape from their parents evil hands (even though they’d never treated them badly or showed them any evil tendencies).  So hence the title of the book.

During the development of the first volume, which consists of the first eighteen issues, the teenagers go thru different stages while on the run from their parents.  They behave childly, the start maturing and start discovering who they really are and what their heritage is.  For the most part they all have different talent and start discovering them as the situation calls for it.  The main character in this volume Alex Wilder is the son of the leader of the Pride and he’s a genius.  He is in charge of leading the pack and come up with plans.  The other guy in the team is Chase Stein (Talkback) who has no real power, but his parents are scientists who make cool gear that he gets his hands on, like robot gloves and x-ray vision google that make him quite useful.  Then there is Karolina Dean (Lucy In The Sky), who learns that she is an alien and can fly and have other strenghts depending primarily on the sun’s power.  Nico Minoru (Sister Grimm) is the daughter of two dark wizards and she is a young witch who has a magical staff that comes out of her body (she was stabbed with it by her mother and it connects with her energy).  Gertrurde Yorke (Arsenic) is the daughter of two dimension travelers and although she has no real powers, she discovered that her parents had a small dinosaur that would obey her every command.  That dinosaur which apparently has a prime role in the series was named Old Lace by her owner. Finally there’s Molly Hayes (Bruiser), the daughter of two mutants who has recently discovered she has their powers too.  She is the youngest of the group.

I don’t want to say a lot about the storyline but there are other characters that give this story an interesting approach.  The parents of these kids work for some giants called the Gibborim and they make sacrifices every year for them when they meet in their underwater temple.  To give more details about them is give away the plot of this first volume.

There are some cameo appearances by some well known characters, but what makes this story readable is the actual script.  Bryan K. Vaughan has made this story interesting.  I was expecting tolerable but the way he manages to trick you from issue to issue into following a path that misguides your expectations and at the end surprise you with doses of reality and humble sincerity on what this is all about.  Kids growing of age.  It’s the battle from within.  It’s a trip down that lane when we wanted to be older and once we get presented with what it will involve we want the first ticket back.  It’s a showdown with what being a mature young person really is all about.

Even though I only make mention of the novel as a whole, there is a reason I’m only mentioning volume one in this writing.  For starters, Bryan only wrote until issue 24, which means halfway thru volume 2, and by mistake I glanced at what wikipedia said about that other book and I almost ruined it for myself.  It appears that there are quite a few changes in the future as they develop as persons and as super heroes.  Perhaps I’ll write about it later on when I read those.

The team that currently runs the series includes Terry Moore as the writer and Humberto Ramos as penciller.  The series is currently going strong thru volume three.

So although I first judged this book by its cover, I was really happy I decided to give it a second chance because even though the drawings where not my favorite, they were friendly enough to allow me to read.  Sometimes some pencillers want to be so original they make it extremly difficult for one to follow the story.  So if you like ongoing stories, about super heroes coming of age, then perhaps this is a good story for you. 

As a final note, for those that like spinoff, I believe that the character of Nico Minoru got her own comic called “Mystic Arcana” which was released in 2007 as a series of four one shot books.  I guess that kind of thing happens when you are writing a book inside a big label such as Marvel.  Once you create a character, they can incorporate them as they want to the rest of their universe.

Link to the Runaways page in the Marvel site.

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