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Runaways #30

Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2008
By: Michael Colbert

Joss Whedon
Michael Ryan, Rick Ketchum
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Runaways #30 arrives in stores tomorrow, June 25.

Plot: "Dead End Kids" wraps up.

Comments: Time travel stories can get tricky in their internal logic and execution. Most people have a blind spot when it comes to flipping around the time line in a story. As my friend Lou Anders would say "most folks still can't figure out the 'note to self' tricks Bill and Ted did." A time travel story demands a particular form of structural trickery. A good writer gets to twist the rules of cause and effect inside out or just make it seem that way. Joss Wheaton is a good writer. His final issue of the erratically released Runaways ties up all the plot points he set up in the beginning of the story and even if things roll out with no big surprises, it achieves what it set out to do.

War has broken out in 1907 New York. The "Good" guys versus the "Bad" guys and the Runaways are caught in the middle. Oh yeah, there's a big bomb too. The Street Arabs, The Sinners and The Upward Path--all super powered groups (Wonders, as they're called) from 1907--are having a throwdown in the back alleys of New York. It's been so long since the last issue it's kind of hard to remember who's who outside of the main characters, but it's almost a moot point since folks are dying right and left in the fracas that takes up the first 3rd of the book. It's not until a new more powerful Nico shows up do The Runaways break free. Along with Nico's new strength she's been given a dose of maturity, sadly noting that the fighting never stops. Not in 1907 and not a hundred years later. The only ones who end up hurt are the kids. When Molly, the youngest member, asks about the war they're leaving behind, Nico relays with resignation "Don't worry, It'll be here when we get back." But the fighting doesn't stop there; the Runaways have one last confrontation with the Yorks and Whedon (through Nico) deals with the time travel paradox in a unique way (the Yorks will know what will happen to their daughter, Gert, and themselves but won't be able to do anything about it).

Other plot points include how Tristan, the man with metal wings, got scarred up and a new addition to the Runaways in Klara. The other big plot point comes down with Lily and Victor and the message old Lilly sent back to her younger self; with a good time travel story such plot points only make sense when the reader has the whole picture. The 2007 Lilly wanted to try to make 1907 Lilly go with Victor, but the young version chickens out and regrets her decision for the rest of her life. A sense of loss pervades the entire book in fact: the senseless loss of life in the gang war, Victor's loss of Lilly, even Chase and The York's loss of Gert. One scene that is only talked about but not shown is Chase using the time machine to see Gert before all the kids run away. The idea of him rescuing her from her fate has hung over this entire story. Chase doesn't do it. He has gained the understanding that some things can't be changed, a brush with maturity on his part. Nico learns that though some things never change, how you deal with them can. Another sign of a good writer is being able to develop characters in a believable fashion. Nico and Chase's budding maturity is a fine example of good writing in action.

As for the art, Michael Ryan's pencils are excellent and the rest of the team does a fantastic job of making "Dead End Kids" come to life. The only real regrets I have with issue #30 is that there wasn't some really impressive splash pages of the gang battle and that we didn't get to see Chase looking in on his girlfriend two years before she dies. Just not enough room to do everything, I guess.

Final Word: The inconsistent release schedule made it difficult to get wrapped up in this particular story. Even with the excellent writing and beautiful art, it always seemed to come in as an afterthought in my readings. The time travel plot suffered the most for the inconsistency because there are nuances that get lost when you haven't read the book in 3 months. I'm not hating though. The best way to experience this story would be to go back now and read it straight through or if you're just coming on board (people will hate me for this, but…) get the trade. When you do, the well thought out textures and nuance of Whedon's masterful craftsmanship will become readily apparent.

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