Runaways #25


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Runaways #25


  • Words: Joss Whedon
  • Art: Michael Ryan
  • Inks: Rick Ketcham
  • Colors: Christina Strain
  • Story Title: Dead-End Kids
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Apr 4, 2007

The kids form an uneasy alliance in New York as Joss Whedon takes over the reins of one of Marvel’s best series.

With the onset of the Superhuman Registration Act, the Runaways are not only considered juvenile delinquents and unaccompanied minors but fugitives from SHIELD. Thus when their running takes them to New York City and straight into the lion’s den, they decide to get some backup from the big, bad hippopotamus lurking nearby. That would be none other than Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, a man powerful enough to hide them from the authorities…if they do him a favor in return.

With series creator Brian K. Vaughan moving on to other projects, the fate of the Runaways now lies with a new architect (some guy named Whedon. Maybe you’ve heard of him). Though Joss of course comes with an impressive writing pedigree, he nonetheless has big shoes to fill. So how does he fare?

Admirably well, all things considered. There are few writers more suited to pen the Runaways’ clever, snarky, pop-culture-laden dialogue and the emotional core that accompanies it. The characters’ voices are definitely there. Whedon has a good handle on Nico’s self-doubt, Molly’s uber-cuteness, and Chase’s bravado and occasional verbal faux pas. He continues to explore the complex relationship between Karolina and Xavin and the issues of gender, identity, and honesty that abound within it.

Only a few scenes come across a bit awkwardly. One, a character roll call, is a necessary evil for any new readers and/or Whedon fans coming into the series blind. The other, the kids’ aforementioned deal-with-the-devil, is something I’m not entirely sold on yet. While the group has never operated within traditional heroic boundaries, to make a pact with such a deadly individual seems a bit odd, particularly right in the heart of superhero central (where, y’know, everyone will be looking for them). We’re never told just why the team wants to be in New York in the first place, unless it’s simply desperate times calling for desperate measures. Without this crucial information, it’s a bit difficult to make the leap of faith the story requires.

New series artist Michael Ryan can’t hope to match the distinctive East-meets-West stylization of his predecessor, Adrian Alphona. However, Ryan has an appealing style of his own, smooth comic book realism with just the right touches of a cartoonist’s hand. He shows considerable skill in the characters’ faces. In them, we see the ever-changing stew of emotions that teenagers so often experience. The reaction shots to the Kingpin’s entrance alone are priceless and so telling of each of the characters’ personalities. With a thick, defining ink line from Rick Ketcham and the gorgeous colors of Christina Strain, the visual side of the series seems in good hands.

I’ll need to see more to make a final decision on Whedon’s approach. But barring a few unanswered questions, so far he seems an excellent fit.

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