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Runaways #15

Posted: Wednesday, May 26, 2004
By: Shawn Hill



“The Good Die Young, pt. 3”

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

Publisher: Marvel Tsunami

Plot:
A bit slow, but growing complications advance a continually compelling story. Alex, Gert, Karolina, Chase, Nico and Molly are already familiar friends, and their ingenuity in navigating their plight is a pleasure to see.

What’s Interesting:
Didn’t we all have a phase where we thought the adult world was an impossible arcane society, compromised by deals and alliances we could never understand? That’s never been more literally true than for the children of the Pride: their parents have super-hero level abilities, and have long been living out the details of a pact they made with some real devils.

These parents are an interesting bunch, each ruthless, each exceptional in their own ways. The Deans are aliens, the Minorus are sorcerers, the Yorkes time travelers, the Wilders are thieves, the Hayes are mutants, and the Steins mad scientists. The true crime here is how selfish all their motivations are, when they could as easily be using their great gifts to protect far more than their own children.

Strangely (and improbability is part of the fun), they’ve managed to raise a fairly emotionally healthy bunch of teens, who all show righteous shock when they witness their parents commit a clandestine human sacrifice. Since then we’ve been watching their powers unfold, and alliances form. Alex is the tactician, Gert has a protective dinosaur at her command, Chase has robot gloves, and Nico wields a magic staff (one her mom attacked her with). How long these kids can stay on the run, and how they can escape the fate their parents submitted to in despair are two important questions, but that’s not really where the fun of the series lies.

First, there’s soap opera, as Chase and Alex seem to be jockeying for the Alpha Male role on the team. Then there’s the burgeoning romance between Alex and Nico, and everyone’s need to protect the far younger (and also superstrong) Molly. A complex web of power dynamics run through every issue of this title.

The totally novel concept is perfectly complimented by Alphona’s nimble art and Udon’s playful, fresh color scheme. These are resolutely normal kids surrounded by insanity and magic, and no little credit goes to Yeung, whose graceful black lines, while still not violating the slight manga feeling of the art, are still strong enough to anchor form and space with clarity.

Also interesting:
I refuse to see Jo Chen’s cover as anything other than a Superman homage, updated for the audience this book deserves. Rather than a stalwart ubermensch lifting a pickup truck, we now have a little girl with “children of the damned” eyes holding up (of course) an SUV. Chen’s covers have followed the Marvel rubric of dramatic solo shots while also managing to tie in pretty well with the events facing the young characters inside. I wait impatiently for each new issue, and am so glad the first digest finally came out in Marvel Age.



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