What if your parents weren’t exactly the way you thought they really were? What if there was a deep dark secret that can just sever all bonds between children and their parents? When we were teens, didn’t we just think that our parents were evil for imposing these rules that we could barely understand…now think again, what if they really were evil?
The award-winning comic series by Marvel comics “RUNAWAYS” goes into these questions. Written by Brian Vaughan and illustrated by then newcomer Adrian Alphona, the series debuted in 2002 under Marvel’s Tsunami Imprint. The series was canceled in 2004 but was revived after sales of the trade paperbacks showed extraordinary returns. It was re-launched in 2005 and is now a still ongoing series. This review will cover the early issues of “Runaways” from issue numbers 1-6 under the volume “Runaways: Pride and Joy”.
Meet Alex, Karolina, Gert Nico, Molly and Chase--a group of teens whose lives are about to take an unexpected turn. During a yearly charity event that their parents host, the six teenagers discover that their parents are members of a group called “The Pride” that consists of mobsters, time-travelers, wizards, evil scientists, aliens and telepathic mutants. Shocked and frightened as they witnessed them murder a defenseless girl, they flee their homes to try and find answers. They steal resources from their parents as some of them slowly begin to develop strange abilities that they have inherited from their parents.
Nico Minoru is a witch, Karolina learns that she is an alien, Molly is a super-strong mutant, Gert learns of this telepathic link to a velociraptor, Chase steals these gloves that give awesome weapons and Alex is a prodigy who leads them on an adventure that will set them against their own flesh and blood…
Under the Marvel universe where a God of Thunder walks the Earth, men in metal suits fly through the air, green friendly monsters go on rampages and mutants with powers seem to be a part of everyday life; “Runaways” is great storytelling. I was impressed with the manner that the writer took the time and made the effort to develop the characters while at the same time, bringing the reader into the depths of its mystery. Vaughan managed to encourage curiosity that the writing kept me wondering just what exactly was going on; the writing was focused in asking the questions through the conversations that take place between our shocked teenagers. Are their parents really super-villains? Who is the girl they executed and why was she killed? Is there something really more sinister at play? I have to admit that the power of great dialogue can be sufficient to mesmerize a reader; no fancy costumes or drag-out super-human brawls are necessary to enthrall a comic fan these days. All it takes is the right writing and illustrations that matches the tone and the mood of a comic.
Chapters 1-4 go about the teens discovering some ‘familial secrets’ as they go around their homes. They find certain things that provide some clues and some that raised more questions. We see the characters bond, feel closer to each other as they become more convinced that their parents are indeed evil. However, this the first volume of a series so it does give us any real solid answers, but It does bring forth several surprises and develops the story very well. Brian Vaughan also seems to have brought forth a commentary about trusting adults as with the Japanese manga “Battle Royale”. Adults do keep the truth from children at times to protect them or for a greater good; that children are the future and that the offspring of one is indeed very similar to its source--after all a fruit can only fall so far away from a tree.
Now don’t think that this volume has no action. We see our teens engage their parents in combat although it wasn’t a drag out brawl as when Thor battles The Hulk or when the X-men fight the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The fight’s intensity was intentionally toned down to express the confusion from both sides. The kids may well be giving the fight everything they’ve got despite their inexperience; but the parents were obviously holding back to avoid killing them (well, most of them were). Is this a sign that the parents weren’t exactly that ruthless and without conscience at first look--or is it just because they have other plans for their kids?
The illustrations by Adrian Alphona was clean, good, but never outrageous. It matched the tone of the story as it appeared simple yet stylish. The colors were a little muted to keep the layouts grounded; it attracted attention but it never felt extravagant. I liked the style though admittedly the panels were too large that the stories felt shorter as the huge illustrations gave room to a limited panel for dialogue.
After this first volume our characters will drop their real names and will make their own aliases to avoid easy detection. We can expect more excitement as we go about discovering the secret of the “Pride” as well as our main protagonists discover things about themselves. The series maybe a little slower-paced than your usual front running Marvel comic but I think this is a part of its charm. It does have that feeling of reality about it, that the story was kept at an even pace. Don't run away from "Runaways" and you'll be happy to pick up an issue.
As of May 2008, it was reported that a motion picture is in the scripting stages. Writer Brian Vaughan and producer Kevin Feige are hard set in staying faithful to its roots with director Paul Sollett as the top pick for directing the film.
Highly Recommended! [4- Stars]
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Runaways is an award-winning comic book series published by Marvel Comics. The series features a group of teenagers who discover that their parents are part of an evil crime group called the Pride. Created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, the series debuted in April of 2003. Despite debuting in 2003, the actual series itself was launched in 2002 as part of Marvel Comics' "Tsunami" imprint. The series had been canceled in September 2004 at issue eighteen, but due to high numbers of trade collection sales, Marvel revived the series in February of 2005 and it has continued ever since.