Welcome to #1 Comic of the Week, a new series where our comics editor, Susana Polo, tips you off to a neat new story or series that kicked off in comics this week — just in time for some weekend reading.
This week’s comic isn’t a single issue but rather a whole chunk of story; a brand-new beginning for a comic book cult favorite that was making the Marvel Universe accessible to new readers before that sort of thing was fashionable. Whether you recently became a fan because of Hulu’s television adaptation, or if you’ve been here since the series kicked off in the ancient year of 2003, or if you’ve never even heard of the Runaways before, Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka’s Runaways is for you.
And as of this week, you can pick up a handy collected edition of Runaways #1-#6.
I won’t get too far into it, because the comic itself does a good enough job of summing up who our heroes are: The Runaways are a rag-tag group of half a dozen teens — most of them with super powers, and all of them with supervillains for parents — first put to page by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona. They’ve had a lot of different adventures and creative teams over the years, dodging the machinations of their parents and the heavy-handed concerns of adult superheroes (and falling in and out of publication). As a summary within Runaways Vol. 1 itself explains “The kids won, but they didn’t all survive.”
Rowell and Anka’s run kicks off in a rush of time travel, magic and emergency surgery, as Rowell deftly pulls at the threads of Marvel continuity to restore as much of the original team lineup as possible. Artist Kris Anka, well known for his fashion-forward redesigns of superhero costumes, is in his element here, with a cast full of teenagers to dress and style. Rowell, a bestselling YA author, is an admitted fan of Marvel and the Runaways, and her love for the characters and their relationships pops almost as much as her dialogue.
The first six-issue arc of the series is explanatorily titled “Find Your Way Home:” The Runaways have drifted apart, but the sudden return of a member they thought lost forever galvanizes the older members of the group to reach out to their missing friends. It’s a good choice for a first arc — when characters have to catch each other up on their lives, they necessarily catch the reader up on everything, too. That helps, when one of your friends has been reduced to just a head, and another is reuniting with her dinosaur best friend.
But you don’t have to be familiar with the Runaways to dig into Runaways Vol. 1, although you might find yourself wanting to, once you get into it. Ultimately, Runaways Vol. 1 is about a bunch of weird kids in a weirder universe, trying to put their weird family back together. Even if one of them’s just a head. You can grab it on Comixology or at your local comic shop.