Comic Review – The Runaways (2017) #1

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for the original Runaways series and links to spoilers regarding Runaways #1. Abandon this review here and now, and click not upon the preview images below, lest ye be forever spoilered!

Once, there were six kids who mostly couldn’t stand each other. Thankfully, they only had to hang out with each other once a year, while their parents – who were apparently business partners – had a dinner party.  One year the teens discovered that their parents were dangerous super-villains, who had planned for them to take over the family business! The kids did the only thing they could do. They ran away.

In time, The Runaways learned how to make use of the powers and resources that were their inheritance. Despite the vast odds against them, they returned to face down their parents and bring them to justice…

 

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With Marvel Entertainment developing a Runaways series for Hulu, it was inevitable that Marvel Comics would attempt to revive the series as a  monthly comic. It was also inevitable that steps would have to be taken in order to make this new series as much like the original Runaways as possible.

This is problematic for a number of reasons – all of which make the new Runaways #1 a tricky comic to discuss. The basic plot is impossible to relate without revealing some major details regarding the original Runaways comics. Marvel Comics hasn’t made that discussion any easier, as their solicitation for this issue spoils the entire story and makes it plainly clear just how they plan to go about restoring the status quo of the original series.

This begs the question – without revealing anything that would spoil the story for old and new readers alike, is Runaways #1 worth reading?

Well, it depends. If you’re unfamiliar with the previous Runaways series and these characters, there’s a few things in this book that will go over your head. If you are familiar with the previous Runaways series and these characters, there’s a few things in this book that will annoy you.

Taken on its own merits, however, there is a lot to admire about Runaways #1. While half the cast on the cover is absent from this issue, the Runaways who are present are written true to form and instantly recognizable as individuals. It helps that writer Rainbow Rowell is a beloved young-adult fiction author and her take on the characters does make them sound like real teenagers – a shocking rarity in comics based around young heroes.

The artwork is less clear-cut. Artist Kris Anka drew some early criticism for his character designs. While not sexualizing his teenage charges as badly as the likes of Frank Cho, Anka does draw the characters in clothing that seem inconsistent with their previous personalities. Despite this incongruity, Anka remains a fantastic visual storyteller and the action flows smoothly and naturally from panel to panel.

So what’s the verdict? Despite a certain level of mystery for old and new readers alike, this book does conform to Stan Lee’s stipulation that every comic should be written as if it were someone’s first. Despite some issues with the character designs, the art is delivered competently. It may take another issue or two to find its footing but there is enough good in Runaways #1 to encourage giving it a chance.

6/10


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

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