Advance Review: RUNAWAYS #1


Written by Noelle Stevenson
Art by Sanford Greene, John Rauch
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: June 17, 2015

Before the Young Avengers assembled, before Avengers Academy opened its doors, a group of teens called the Runaways won the hearts of comic fans. Its team members were a motley crew of different personalities, powers, and origin stories. Noelle Stevenson introduces ten teens in Victor Von Doom’s high school for gifted students who similarly run the gamut of diverse backgrounds: new character Sanna Strand, Jubilee, Pixie, Amadeus Cho, Delphyne Gorgon, Skaar, Molly Hayes, Cloak, Dagger, and Bucky Barnes. Note that here Tandy is Cloak, and Ty is Dagger.

Like the Dauntless faction in the Divergent series, these characters receive an ultimatum: advance to join an exclusive group of Doom’s best and brightest followers, or be cut from the school entirely. Stevenson quickly establishes a pecking order and the primary relationships. Jubilee plays protagonist, with Pixie as her best friend. Sanna is envious of Jubilee’s popularity and wants to take her down. It’s typical high school drama, but Stevenson’s dialogue is never cheesy, and the conflicts are believable.

I really like when Stevenson slows down the action to let two characters have an extended conversation. In a brief exchange between Jubilee and Molly, Stevenson writes Jubilee as firm yet affectionate, and it hits just the right tone of humor. The best scene in the entire issue is a dialogue between Pixie and Ty. Both characters communicate enough attitude to make them feel like authentic teens. Unfortunately, given the page length and amount of ground to cover, not every character gets much speaking time. Delphyne in particular has very few lines.

Sanford Greene draws a variety of facial expressions that make the story come alive like an animated TV show: see Molly’s delight when she exercises her super strength, and Sanna’s grimace when Jubilee attacks. Greene and John Rauch excel at outfit details like the checkered pattern of Amadeus’ shirt and the aqua green of Pixie’s skirt when the group strolls the hallway. It’s this careful attention to details that makes us feel like we’re really in the characters’ world. Pixie’s bracelets and purple nail polish in her first closeup are especially impressive.

This is firmly an establishing issue: we meet the characters, setting, and conflicts, without delving into any for too long. With such a large cast, we’re torn between wanting more from overlooked characters like Delphyne, and wanting primary characters like Jubilee and Molly to simply take over and drive the plot forward. Greene and Rauch create a detailed, recognizable high school world. Stevenson writes characters who act like real teens, and we’re immediately hooked on this cast.

The Verdict: 8.5/10


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