Overview

Runaways #1

Review

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Runaways #1

Credits

  • Words: Brian K. Vaughan
  • Art: Adrian Alphona
  • Inks: Craig Yeung
  • Colors: UDON?s Christina Strain
  • Story Title: True Believers: Chapter One
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Feb 16, 2005

Runaways was Marvel’s best new series in over twenty years, and if the first issue is any indication, its return may be even better than the first volume.

I’ve felt for years that Marvel has been a company mired in mediocrity and cheap gimmicks overloading the comic book market with clichéd superhero fair and a gazillion books with Spider-man and Wolverine in them. So, when a comic like Runaways came along that was so fresh, original and unlike anything out on the market, I was blown away not only by how creative the comic was, but by how few people were actually reading it. Perhaps it was lost in a sea of then-titled “Tsunami” books geared towards a younger audience; whatever the reason, now is your chance to get on board for what is hands down one of the greatest superhero comics produced in decades.

The basic premise is that of a group of young teenagers who accidentally discovered that their parents were a group of ultra-powered murdering criminals called The Pride. Coming to terms with that shocking revelation, along with inheriting their parent’s powers and gizmos, the kids ran away, only to realize they were the only ones capable of taking down their parents.

Volume two picks up shortly after the events of the first series, where we see the five remaining runaways secretly patrolling Los Angeles. Not only are they fighting crime, but they’re also trying to help any lost youth that may have taken a turn towards the criminal life. Meanwhile, elsewhere in a church basement, there is the first meeting of a self-help group of young adults who are all former teenage super heroes (and C-list Marvel characters rarely seen in years) that are forming a group called “Excelsior” to cope with getting past their former lives.

Brian K. Vaughan delivers a flawless first issue that is a satisfying return to characters that readers from the beginning will love just knowing that these wonderful youngsters are back again. It will bring a smile to your face the first time you see the cast back on the page, now very capable and confident with the use of their powers acting like a real team. However, this first issue is even more geared towards the new reader, as it rarely dwells on the past. Vaughan has hit upon another brilliant idea with the group called “Excelsior”, an idea that even seems good enough for it’s own spin-off book. “Excelsior” not only brings a major new dynamic to the story, but mostly - for long time Marvel readers - it’s just fun seeing who these long lost characters are and how Vaughan handles them.

Before the first series began, I had never heard of Adrian Alphona, yet, nowadays I cannot imagine this comic being as good without him. I’ve never been a fan of Manga because it all looks the same to me, but Alphona employs a heavily Manga influenced style and makes it his own, leaving out staples like the over-exaggerated eyes and speed lines in the process. Alphona has a wonderful way of keeping shadows to a minimum, which really allows for Christina Strain’s coloring to take over and to make the book bright and alive. Once again we also see Alphona’s strongest quality shine through in his costume design, giving every single character throughout the issue its own highly detailed outfit that visually tells a story about each character on its own.

The first installment of this new Runaways volume should be used as a textbook for other creators on how to write a debut issue. No padding, loads of story, fleshed out characters, innovate concepts and enough mystery capped off with an ending that will leave you screaming for more. Buy this issue and you will see why Runaways is the best comic Marvel has put out in well over twenty years and one of the most fun comics I’ve ever read in my life.

- Glen Siegal

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