After months of waiting, the UK finally saw the debut of the Runaways TV series on SYFY. Almost perfectly timed with this release is the first collected volume of the all-new Runaways series by acclaimed young adult author Rainbow Rowell and one of Marvel’s top current artists, Kris Anka.
The spectre of the much loved original Runaways series by Brian K Vaughan and Adrian Alphona always hangs over any new creators when they are brought aboard the series. It is a daunting task to follow in the footsteps of a run that is held in such high regard, but Rainbow Rowell appears to be off to a good start. For one thing, after such a long period of time, we finally have the original cast reunited after many years apart following the group’s disbanding and the events of Avengers Arena.
But once the group is reunited, it is clear that there’s a chance things will never be the same with them. Only Chase seems to be holding on to his old self. Gert is now several years behind her friends and has missed a lot; Karolina has found a relationship and Nico now finds herself even more confused regarding her feelings for her; and Molly is living a normal child life with her grandmother. A lot of familiar beats are hit, but Rowell has shaken up the status quo of the group to provide a fresh take on the group.
She also immediately proves she has a good grasp on the characters as she reintroduces the cast. Nico is especially on point, being at a particular low given her experiences during Avengers Arena and the falling out of her new group of friends in A-Force during the events of Civil War II. To make matters worse, she is running out of spells to use and she is isolated from her closest friends.
But she is forced to snap out of her funk when Chase turns up right in front of her having travelled back in time, snatched Gert moments before her death, and now needs Nico to save her. Despite having burned through several variations of the word “heal,” we see the old Nico start to resurface. Gert maintains the sardonic nature and personality that made her original death all the more devastating and Molly continues to bring a joy and innocence to the series to balance the rather strong cynicism. And of course, it would not be Runaways without some evil adults – in this case, Molly’s grandmother is more than a bit suspicious…
Kris Anka has built up a strong body of work since his start at Marvel on titles such as Captain Marvel and Star-Lord. His work on this series will further seal his reputation and you can add him to the list of more fashion conscious creators working in comics. The redesigns of the characters are all top notch whilst being faithful to what has come before – Nico and Molly’s are particularly good. Beyond that, he is perfectly adept at handling the varying emotional beats that flow through the series whether it be sadness, humour or action.
Obviously, anyone new to Runaways should start with Vaughan and Alphona’s run, but Rowell and Anka have proven themselves as more than worthy successors. It is sure to be exciting to see which direction the series go in as the team now stands before a much wider audience.
Runaways by Rainbow Rowell Vol. 1: Find Your Way Home is published by Marvel (9781302908522, p/b, £14.99)