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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 200

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at the first volume of Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s Runaways…

Enjoy!

It’s interesting – as good as Runaways was (and it was quite good), it really is defined by two twists (I’ll be explaining them right now, for those of you who did not read the comic)…

The first is that a group of teenagers discover that their parents (who meet together once a year, pretty much the only time these teens see each other) are actually super-villains.

This inspires the teens to run away from home (and eventually fight their parents’ evil plans).

The second is that late into the first volume, we discover that the leader of the group, Alex Wilder, is actually working FOR his parents…

When you have a twist as big as Alex being a bad guy, then it tends to overshadow the rest of the volume a bit (not in a bad way, necessarily).

Still, the rest of the series was an excellent blend of adventure, fun and, most of all, character development.

Look as the various members of the team take on their “new” names…

The breakout star of the series, though, was the youngest member, the mutant superstrong Molly Hayes, otherwise known as Bruiser (or Princess Powerful). In one storyline (guest-drawn by Takeshi Miyazawa), superheroes hunt down the teens because Molly is reported kidnapped…

Vaughan did such a wonderful job creating consistent and interesting “voices” for each of the characters. Meanwhile, as you can see from the first snippet I posted above and then the scene with Alex betraying everybody, the book’s art took a significant step for the better as the book continued. Alphona got better, but perhaps more importantly, Christina Strain joined the creative team – her colors were a major part of the book’s look, artistically.

The complete 18-issue first volume is available in a hardcover (I dunno if it is still in print, though)!!!

17 Comments

it was a truly amazing series. i can’t believe though how casually you give away the identity of the traitor. One of the things i think you missed about runaways was how Vaughan used a rather large amount of cliffhangers to drive the story forward, with the identity of the traitor being such a major one. what i thought was the most impressive part of Vaughan’s writing was how he introduced 18 characters in 6 pages and avoided it feeling cramped and rushed in the first issue. seriously though, you can’t recommend such a mystery given series like this and just so casually give away the answer to the main mystery that drives the readers interest like that.

If you keep reading after I say “I will be explaining the twists,” then I can’t particularly feel sorry for you for having the twists explained.

fair nuff, i guess

But you have a very fair point about the whole “if you’re recommending a comic, don’t spoil the big twist.” That’s certainly fair – I think my take on it is that it has been so long since the reveal (two volumes worth of comics totaling a rough total of 40 issues) that I now sort of see Alex’s turn as more just part of the overall plot of the book. To wit, I don’t think the mystery of the traitor was a major part of the first series. I think it was mostly character development, not “who is the traitor?”

But I certainly do see your point – it’s not like it is a silly position.

Cracking book! Way better than Y: The Last Man.

I gotta say, I loved this book to pieces, but only up to the end of volume one, before they added the other characters. It seemed like cutting it short forced BKV to really drive home the points he wanted to make, and after that the title seemed to lose its sense of urgency. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the whole “who is Victor’s father?” arc, but everything seemed wrapped up so well prior to that.

Great series, though it did run out of steam even before Vaughan left, I think. This initial story arc is what really stands out.

I see your point too now about the twist, it has been a long time. thank you for taking the time to enlighten me. Any love for the crossovers with young avengers? i actually thought those were pretty good stories in their own right.

i gave up on this book early, the issue when they found out about their parents and picked new names, specifically for the girl with the dinosaur deciding on Arsenic and Old Lace. I though that was the worst thing i had ever read in a comic and as a result stop getting the runaway trades AND Ex Machina, just because i was so offended by that awful bit. i still have the entire Y series and i think its great, and i probably would have enjoyed Ex Machina too, but that really was so bad that i’ll most likely never read anything else by BKV. instead im going to read everything Jason Aaron does and be much better off.

sorry, not trying to bait any Vaughan and Runaways fans, im just sharing my experience with this book.

I never quite bought Alex as the traitor. I thought he helped the Runaways too much to then turn on them. If his plan all along was for them to fail, how about not helping them in the first place? Without his leadership, they would’ve been easy pickings for the Pride.

Anyway, how long until someone brings Alex back to life and redeems him?

That is a rather… ill-advised reason to drop a book, especially as the choice of identities and codenames was lampooned in the book itself. It’s such a comicbook-syndrom – who would ever drop Heart of Darkness because Marlow is “too passive a character” or Hamlet because the guy “just whines too much”?

kind of tough to ‘drop’ a non-serialized publication or performance but either way, it wasn’t so much the characterization as it was the BKV name dropping that I had grown tired of and this last one was so egregious that i had had enough. and far from lampooning the decision, the audience is lectured for not having watched enough movies before 1985. so while in Y i put up with all the references because the complimenting story and the references themselves were far cooler, arsenic and old lace is where i threw in the towel. and having limited time and funds, Vaughan was cut from my program. i may return to some of his stuff later, though, who knows.

and im not saying that vaughan isn’t talented or i that i don’t get why people enjoy his stuff, quite the opposite, for me, though, it sucked so hard that i couldnt bring myself to read any more, for fear of stumbling across something equally wretched and distracting. kind of like only watching the NFL on CBS because of FOX’s stupid god awful dancing robots.

“If you mention one more useless factoid… I am going to punch you in the heart.”
-Tony Harris, as written by BKV in Ex Machina #40

I enjoyed Runaways quite a bit. I had forgotten how cool Volume 1 was. Volume 2 wasn’t as good, however I did enjoy Joss Whedon’s time traveling story right after BKV left. I thought it was very touching.

Captain Librarian

July 21, 2010 at 11:22 pm

I actually found Alex Wilder’s reveal as the mole brilliant. It made all the various coincidences with the teens ‘stumbling’ upon their parents secrets more plausible. As for why he didn’t turn them in sooner, it’s right there in the book.

*spoiler* Four of the other parents were planning a betrayal. Two of them were psychic, so he couldn’t tell his father or risk them knowing. So he planned an elaborate gambit to play the other teens against their parents, only to turn on them at the last second.

I’ve got the first two volumes and love ‘em, but I really wish Marvel would stick to some kind of definite release for the trades of the book. There are the big-ass hardcovers, the “premier” editions, the soft trades, and even the digests! They never released a third volume of the hardcover, so I have no idea where to pick back up!

I miss the series too. After the Whedon arc, it seems like it just lost its magic (Marvel doesn’t even publish it right now, do they?)

[…] A Year of Cool Comics – Day 200: Runaways vol. 1 (ComicsShouldBeGood) […]

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