25 11 2008


Runaways is a property of Marvel Comics and is published in both pamphlet format and trade paperback collections. To date there has been two complete volumes with a third still in progress. The series was initiated in 2003 by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Adrian Alphona who stayed with series for close to two volumes, departing with issue 24 of volume two. The second volume, up to issue 30, was subsequently completed by Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan. The current, third volume of the series is being written by Terry Moore and illustrated by Humberto Ramos.

Marvel rates this series as T+ TEENS & UP (Appropriate for most readers 13 and up, parents are advised that they may want to read before or with younger children.)

Runaways is constructed to subvert many of the conventions of superhero comics. The runaways, a group of teenagers who discover that their parents are members of a super-villain cabal and choose to rebel against their elders, have a very loosely constructed idea of themselves as a team and they don’t adopt a cohesive group identity, theme or begin wearing costumes. There is a higher ratio of female characters, the group expresses a number of different levels of diversity (age, ethnicity, sexual orientation) and the character design intentionally avoids aesthetic cliches or exploitative representations. There is a level of seriousness and consequence to the story arcs and a verite to the dialogue and relationships that is usually a bit absent from superhero comics. If there was ever a North American superhero comic to engage young women, this is it.


Three of the new issues from volume three have been released and Terry Moore’s approach to character development is promising. Moore has focused on developing the relationship between Xavin and Karolina – how many comic series have really good writing about alien lesbians? It’s definitely a rarity.

Getting used to Humberto Ramos’ interpretation of the characters may take some time. While he seems a great match to Terry Moore the stylistic precedent set by the Vaughn/Alphona team left readers ambivalent even about the work of prestige contributors Whedon and Ryan. (One of the aspects of mainstream comics that readers must eventually reconcile themselves with is the existence of characters as the commercial property of the publisher. Beloved writers and artist will move on and loyal fans have to reconcile themselves with the inevitable changes to characters and narrative tone.) The first two volumes of this series are so well regarded that subsequent creators have yet to prove themselves in comparison.

In this video from the Marvel Comics site, Terry Moore talks about his own response to Runaways and some of his plans for the series.

(An aside: a lot of the imagery used in the video is from cover designs and character art by Jo Chen.)

Vaughn, Brian K. (w) and Adrian Alphona (i). Runaways: Pride and Joy v1(April 2004), Marvel Comics. ISBN-10: 0785113797