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Runaways #13

Posted: Wednesday, March 31, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



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

Publisher: Marvel

The Plot:
As Alex approaches the group having translated the first few chapters of the Pride's encrypted book, we see he proceeds to offer up the story of how their parents were brought together to form the Pride. We then jump back twenty years where we see the six couples were pulled together by a group of giants that call themselves the Gibborim, and that these creatures plan of destroying the world in twenty-five years. The Pride learn they will be the tools to carry out their plans, with their reward being half the group will be granted eternal life in the new world that will be created from the ashes of the old.

The Good:
It's a real shame to learn this book still hasn't found itself a sizeable enough audience to keep the specter of cancellation from popping up any time this book is discussed, as it remains one of my favorite titles coming out of Marvel, thanks largely to the creation of one of the more engaging casts of characters that I've encountered in quite some time. Now this issue focuses most its attention on how the Pride came into existence, and as far as back-story goes this one holds up pretty well, as there are moments when these evil villains manage to feel human, which nicely contrasts against their current evil status. In fact there's are moments when this story is downright hilarious, as our first look at Gertrude's parents is one of the funniest moments I've come across is quite some time. The initial reaction that is offered up when the Gibborim tell the group they are being called upon to save the world also made me smile, as did Molly's contribution to this issue as she offers up her opinion of the story. The issue also manages to give us a pretty good look at the personalities of the parents, with their individual reactions to the idea of giving their slot in the new world to their children being a pretty good indicator of their commitment to the cause now that their children have essentially turned their backs on a sacrifice that they all decided to make. The last page of this issue is also worth a mention as it's a fairly unexpected development, that leaves one counting the days until the next issue. In the end this is a near perfect issue, as it managed to deliver an engaging bit of back-story, and still deliver a pretty intense cliffhanger in the present day.

I'm a little disappointed that this book looks to have jumped back to the generic cover format, as I had hoped with its cover images of the previous arc that it was going to start offering up cover images that actually make readers want to read the issue, rather that the visually unengaging shot of one of the Runaways in an action pose. Still, I welcome Adrian Alphona's return, as the art has does a very impressive job of conveying the key elements of the story. It does a wonderful job in the early going with its introduction visuals of the Pride membership, as I had to smile at the shot of Gerturde's feuding parents in their time machine. The establishing shot of the Gibborim's underwater base was also well done, as was the one-page spread where we're first introduced to the giant creatures. I also once again have to applaud this book for making its young cast actually look like teenagers both in their body types, but also in their style of dress. The last page of the issue also manages to impress, as I rather enjoyed the various expressions that we see on the faces of the group gathered behind the detective.

The Bad:
There is something of a problem with the narrative structure of how this story is being told, as we're being asked to believe that the Runaways are following the story of their parents by reading a book that one or all of them created to chronicle the formation of the Pride. However, the verbal cues that pull us back into the story feel a bit awkward, as why would the book bother to tell the reader what reaction Chase's dad's had to the arrival of the Gibborim, or the scene where we see Chase's mother tells the group she's pregnant. I know it's not an important detail, and it's entirely possible that the book is simply a court reporter style transcript of the conversations that the pride had during their annual meetings, but frankly I found these the scenes where we jumped back to the past to be awkwardly handled. The issue also has the parents adjusting to the idea of the Gibborim a little quicker than one would expect them to, as only moments after the creatures make their arrival the group is dishing out the one-liners. Now I'll concede that Joe and Jane Public in the Marvel Universe would have more exposure to the idea that there are fantastic elements to the world around them, but I found their casual acceptance of the Gibborim to be a bit difficult to accept. I also found it a bit odd that we didn't really get to see the reaction of the group to the idea that in order to secure their power, they would have to engaging in human sacrifice, as if nothing else I wanted to see how they would react to this little extra snag, as none of them struck me as cold-blooded killers at this point of the story.

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do:
Given this issue is largely an exposition laden affair I was rather surprised by how engaging I found the issue to be, as up to this point I had convinced myself it was the Runaways, and their interaction with each other that was making this series work so well, but this issue focuses almost entirely on the Parents, and it stands up as one of the most enjoyable chapters of the entire series. The back-story of the Pride is a great bit of reading as we see the parents are not your cookie-cutter villains, as in one of the more novel twists on the idea of a group of villains looking to take over the world, we see the Pride made an active choice that they were actually setting the new world order up for their children and not themselves, which makes the Runaways rejection of their sacrifice all the more powerful. The idea that the Pride are 80% of the way through their plan to take over the world also adds a nice sense of urgency to their bid to get their children back under control, as the children are a critical part of their plans, and spending close twenty years working on something only to have to have it run off would be more than enough motivation for them to bring all their resources to bear of getting the leash back on their wayward children.



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