Most of us go through the "angsty teenager" phase. We might act out, cut ourselves, question our sexuality, or feel awkward about our bodies... but pretty much everyone goes through a time where they think their parents are evil.
What if they really were?
Alex, Karolina, Chase, Molly, Gertrude and Nico are all living the lives of "normal" teenagers when they just happen to stumble upon their parents' sacrificing a young girl to legendary Biblical giants. Rebellion seems entirely out of the question until a bit of snooping turns up a cache of super-weapons, a psychic dinosaur, and instructions for unleashing Karolina's ability to fly. As the teens continue to discover special powers of their own, their parents start to suspect they might not be sitting at home doing their homework after all.
After an explosive confrontation with their supervillain parents: the kids head to an old caved-in hotel and make camp. At Gertrude's insistance, they adopt "code names" to match their abilities:
-Alex, a 16 year-old African-American MMORPG nerd, becomes "Wilder", a born-leader with ambiguous powers determined to redeem his super-villain family name.
-Nico, a 16 year-old gothic lolita-styled Asian-American, becomes "Sister Grimm", a sorceress with a staff inside her that can only be summoned by drawing blood.
-Gertrude, an overweight 15 year-old intellectual elitist, becomes "Arsenic", psychic controller of a rather intimidating dinosaur partner called "Old Lace".
-Karolina, a conflicted 16 year-old lesbian, becomes "Lucy in the Sky", a flying alien being somehow connected to the powers of the sun.
-Chase, an incredibly likeable 17-year old intellectual wasteland becomes "Talkback", a mechanical genius with access to his family's legacy of futuristic superweapons.
-Molly, an 11 year-old Harry Potter fan becomes "Bruiser", a little girl mutant with superhuman strength.
Vague super-hero personas in place, the kids find themselves pitted against their parents (and each other) in a battle that will decide all of their futures.
As silly as this all sounds, it all somehow comes together to form a credible teenage fantasy... not to mention one of the best super hero comics to come along in the last 25 years. "Runaways" is laced with snappy pop-culture references, in-jokes and stereotype reversals (the fat girl gets a good-looking guy, the "stupid" character is actually quite smart, and the final hero-heirarchy may surprise you). The fights are epic, the relationships are interesting, the plot-twists are believable and the characters are refreshingly loveable.
With covers as lovely as anything you'll ever see on the manga shelf and vibrantly-colored interior artwork that remains incredibly solid even through ocaisional artist changes, there's virtually nothing about "Runaways" likely to turn off even a persnickity manga fan. The stories pop visually and the characters' expressions really breathe life into their adventures.
I'm not a huge fan of super-hero comics, but "Runaways" makes me a believer. Not only is it just the thing to bring a teenager you love into the cult of comics, it's likely to remind you why you still bother with comics at all in the age of 600+ X-men.
Can we get a "Runaways" film now please?!
More Images from the First Volume (minor spoilers):
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