Written by: Rainbow Rowell
Art by: Kris Anka
Colours by: Matthew Wilson
Lettering by: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover by: Kris Anka
Published by: Marvel Comics
The only expectation I had walking into Marvel’s relaunch of Runaways was that it was going to look great. Kris Anka is one of Marvel’s best, and any time he launches a series is cause to celebrate. I was unfamiliar with Rainbow Rowell, so I didn’t know what to think on the story side. The last thing I expected was that this issue would make me tear up, and give me one of the most emotionally satisfying single issues Marvel’s published all year.
First of all, I’m a long-time fan of Runaways. I spent two years as a Mormon missionary from 2002 to 2004, and once I returned, Runaways was my first “new concept” trade paperback purchase. I am a huge fan of the concept, and the characters. I once told my wife that if she ever told me that I could only buy one comic series for the rest of my life, it would be Runaways. That was my connection to the material. I’m also of the camp that felt like the series lost a lot when original creators Brian Vaughn and Adrian Alphona left the series.
With that said, Rowell and Anka absolutely knock this out of the park.
Unlike most comics, this issue is a single scene, and in reality takes place in no more than about thirty minutes. Nico Minoru is struggling, contemplating her life without her friends, both the Runaways and A-Force. As she seems to be at her lowest, her apartment is invaded, and her life changes. Her best friend, Chase Stein, has gone back and saved his lost love, Gertrude Yorkes. But Gert is dying from the dagger that originally claimed her life. In desperation, the witch conjures up a doctor and desperately works to save her dying friend, and is barely successful.
Rowell does many things right here. Nico is the perfect gateway character to get the ball rolling, as she’s been the Runaway most active in the Marvel Universe since the series went on hiatus, with Chase close behind. The death of Gert is another event that had weighed heavily on the hearts of Runaway fans, and it was brilliantly portrayed here. Rowell is able to step into each character’s heads incredibly well, seeding some exciting things to come (like Nico’s plight which I won’t spoil). The story is also incredibly tense, even though it’s such a small scale. The downside to the story is that it may be a little too “inside” for someone unfamiliar with Runaways. Rowell provides a decent recap, but new readers might find themselves a little lost.
On the art side though, Anka and Matt Wilson do an amazing job. Anka gives every character weight on the page and genuine emotion. The desperation on both Nico and Chase’s faces is so apparent, and the poor doctor Nico pulled from bed is wonderfully panicked throughout. Wilson is one of the best color artists working, and he nails his portion of the issue, giving wonderful special effects and gorgeous lighting throughout.
While not totally perfect, it’s close, and it sets my expectations incredibly high for the future of the series. If you’re a long-time fan, pick it up. If not, give it a try, and go get some collections to catch yourself up.
Overall: 9.5 /10