Occasionally in comics, it’s time to “get the team back together again”. The new Runaways series is no exception. The original concept followed Nico, Chase, Gert, Karolina, Molly, and Alex as they learned their parents were super villains in the Marvel Universe and went on the run together to escape them. With a TV show on Hulu, it is an obvious time to relaunch this series. Marvel has also brought in young adult novelist, Rainbow Rowell of Eleanor & Park fame to write the series. There aren’t many people who could follow up on Brian K. Vaughan’s well known run on a book he created, but I was genuinely excited to see what Rowell could bring to these characters. If the first volume is any indication, it will be a fun ride.

Rowell starts off with some challenges. The team is spread to the wind, several original characters are dead, and it’s hard to call a bunch of 20-year-olds who have lost their parents, “runaways”. Other than Molly, they aren’t kids anymore.

The story begins as Chase finds a way to bring a former teammate back to life. Thus, the first part of the story involves Chase and Nico catching this newly alive character (and the readers) up on what teammates have been doing since that character’s death. Once the exposition is taken care of, these three teammates go out to gather the rest of the team. What they find is that everyone is leading fulfilling lives and are reluctant to start being heroes again. When they reach their youngest and strongest member, Molly, the conflict of this first book in the series starts in earnest.

Molly is living with her grandmother and seems to be thriving. Her grandmother is warm and friendly and seems to understand everything the kids are going through. Yet, in order for them to be Runaways again, history must repeat itself. Soon, we find grandma is up to no good and the team must break free of her influence and go on the run again.

The core team is back together and Rowell captures the characteristics of each team member well. The revived character is now one of the youngest members and past relationships are more complicated (it will be creepy if they revive romantic relationships for this character as their partner is now an adult). Rowell brings a lot of humor to the team and it is welcome. It might be challenging to introduce new readers to this book because their history is so complicated, but I expect future volumes will shine since the complex part of gathering the team again is done.

One of the strongest points of this book is the artwork by Kris Anka and coloring by Matthew Wilson. Anka’s linework is clean, yet still more realistic than cartoonish. His faces are particularly good as he can convey a range of emotions with minimal drawing. Wilson brings vibrant colors to bear on the various skin colors and hair colors of the characters. Fashion is always important to young characters who don’t have costumes and both Anka & Wilson bring style and panache to these characters’ wardrobes. The art team is top notch.

Most libraries with extensive teen graphic novel or YA selections will want this book. Followers of the previous books, Rowell’s fans and people interested in the TV show will want to take a look. I’m hopeful that future volumes can shine a spotlight on these great characters and help them reach a new audience. Runaways was the first in a wave of young superhero books that led to Ms. Marvel, Squirrel-Girl, and many more great new heroes. They deserve more time in the spotlight.

Runaways, vol. 1: Find Your Way Home
by Rainbow Rowell
Art by Kris Anka and Matthew Wilson
ISBN: 9781302908522
Marvel, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: teen

  • Mark

    | He/Him Young Adult Librarian, Cedar Mill Library

    Reviewer

    Mark Richardson is the Young Adult Librarian at the Cedar Mill Library in Portland Oregon where he selects adult and young adult graphic novels, YA fiction & nonfiction, video games and adult music for the library. He also plans lots of activities for local teens ranging from art contests to teen trivia to Pokemon parties. If this sounds like a dream job, it is. Sometimes he has to pinch himself to make sure he really gets to do all of this. He’s been reading comics for as long as he can remember and has been known to present an occasional conference sessions on graphic novels at the Oregon Library Association’s annual conference.

Liked it? Take a second to support us on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!