If you have never read the Brian K. Vaughan written Runaways, you are missing out on an older example of what BKV does well: an excellent elevator pitch that gets built out into a great, longer story.
Runaways begins as a group of teenagers are brought together. Think the way you have to hang out with the teenagers of your parents’ work friends at the holiday party. But it quickly changes as the group discovers that their parents, all of their parents, are super villains. From there, the group lives up to their namesake running away from home and working to defeat their evil parents.
Part of what makes the series, especially the initial 18 issue run, is the way we watch the characters wrestle with some of the conventional superhero tropes. They have to decide if they take on codenames, how they can be both superheroes and teenagers. The angst of teenage life is shown well and, in the end, they see what happens to heroes when things go badly.
Without a doubt, one of the best parts of the series is the way that the characters are given unique voices. The proof of that is watching how the characters have been involved in other series, like Avengers Arena, Avengers Undercover and how the future selves of the group seems to play pivotal roles in the universe’s future.[divider] Teenage Superheroes: The Runaways [/divider]
A quick rundown of the cast:
- Nico is the daughter of dark wizards and has magic based powers. She is one of the group’s leaders.
- Karolina is the daughter of alien invaders and draws her powers from the sun.
- Molly has super strength and invulnerability, her powers having the root in her mutant parents. She is the youngest of the team and one of the best developed characters of the series, as well as a source of frequent comedy.
- Alex is a planning and strategy guy, with his powers mirroring the power of the New Mutants Cyper.
- Gertrude has an empathic link with the dinosaur that her time traveling parents brought from the future.
- Chase was the most “normal” of the characters who suddenly has to deal with being the oddball, as he has no powers and only can fight with the help of gear from his mad scientist parents.
Later issues add more characters but the story is really well done, as we watch a ragtag group become a team and a family. All of the characters have great interpersonal relationships, dating, nearly dating or being an older or younger sibling.
If the 1980s made the teenage superhero team relevant again with New Mutants, the Runaways shows what that idea would look like in the 2000s with characters who are compelling, realistic and learning how to use their powers in a world full of adults that they don’t quite trust, thanks to their parents and their betrayal.
It’s an incredibly well-written comic series with excellently crafted characters. If you are interested in teenage superheroes, then Runaways is worth a look. There is a great volume that collects all 18 issues at a nice price. Check it out here.