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Runaways #9

Posted: Monday, December 29, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Adrian Alphona (p), Craig Yeung (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
With the newest member, Topher stirring up emotional turmoil among the group, we see the already tenuous alliances that have formed are beginning to fall apart, with Nico and Karolina actually physically attacking one another. However, when Nico decides to run away from the group with Topher we soon discover she has made a terrible mistake as Topher reveals his true nature, and it's not a very pleasant one.

Comments:
While the last page surprise does offer up a nice jolt to carry us into the next issue, this issue is guilty of dragging its heels. I mean Brian K. Vaughan has developed a very engaging cast and as such watch the impact the new member is making on the team does allow for an enjoyable reading experience, but the hoops that the team is jumping through are so familiar that the book is starting to feel a bit like a soap opera. I mean having the two girls get in a cat fight when one of them catches her teammate making time with the cute new guy she was interested in is a very familiar plot device, and Brian K. Vaughan does little more than have the scene play out exactly how fans would expect it to. I will credit him for using the fight as a means to once again present Gertrude as a nicely sardonic character who always has her feet firmly planted on the ground, as her reaction when she discovers the fight nicely reminded me why she remains my favorite member of the group. The issue also sets up a fairly awkward situation where we see Alex manages to come across looking bad when he reveals to Nico that he's been spying on her via a peep hole in her bedroom wall, and I look forward to seeing how he'll manage to get back into her good books after this confession. Plus, as I mentioned above the final page does take the story in an unexpected direction, as I honestly didn't see this surprise coming until the final page, and next issue looks like it'll be a lot of fun.

As for the art, Adrian Alphona continues to turn in a visually engaging style, and while there's not a great deal of action for him to deliver in this issue, he does a pretty fairly job of expressing the volatile emotions of the book's young cast. I mean Nico looks suitably uncomfortable when Alex walks into the room only moments after she was kissing Topher, and I loved Gertrude's expression when we look in on her to find her under siege by her snoring teammates. The visual presentation of Nico's magic is also nicely done, as the scene where she vanishes from the room is quite solid, as is the blast of mud she uses to attack Karolina. The last page reveal also benefits from the art's clear storytelling, as one look at that final page and we instantly has a grasp of the situation and the danger that Nico is in. I do have to wonder about this issue's cover though as it seems to be presenting a scene that has little relation to the material inside. Maybe they're trying to catch the attention of the Harry Potter crowd.

Final Word:
The melodramatics of this issue felt a little too familiar as one can almost tell what the next scene is going to be, as the characters in this issue move about in this plot by numbers affair. Now Brian K. Vaughan has created a highly engaging cast so this issue is redeemed somewhat by the simple fact that I genuinely care what happens to these characters, so even though they are caught up in a rather predictable plot I am able to invest my attention in the material. The book also benefits from a truly unexpected surprise in the final pages as the dark secret of the group's newest member is revealed and I have to say I truly doubt anyone would've guessed this secret before the final page arrived. There's also some interesting little moments as we learn a little bit more about how the powers of certain characters function, with Nico's magic staff getting a nice limit of only a couple uses before it needs to be recharged inside her body. There's also a nicely done scene before the fight where we see Karolina remains deeply troubled by her alien heritage.



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