Hardcover Review: Runaways Volume 1

Let’s jump back to a couple of years ago: I’m working at my local comic shop. One day, a Wednesday, this new book hits the racks called “Runaways”. I’d read the blurb in Previews a few months back but decided against ordering it. I flipped through it that day, decided to rethink my earlier snap judgment and bought the book anyway. I took it home and read it. It was… okay. It was interesting enough to buy a second issue, at the very least. And so it continued, for six months. By the seventh issue, I was so thoroughly bored by the title, that I actually sold the first seven back to the shop. Anyone that knew me back then would know that Billy Z. selling a comic back to the store, any comic, was a huge deal. One of the reasons my collection is so enormous is because I hardly ever sell my books and it usually takes years of bad writing to kick me off a monthly. I’m that guy that sticks it out during the “rough patches”. So for me to sell back Runaways I must have really hated that book. And I absolutely did.

Fast forward a couple years: I’m working on Vs. System for UDE. The job is comics. Reading comics, scanning comics, deciding who’s cool and who’s stains… it’s fucking comics, man! Also, it’s about surfing VsRealms and feeling the pulse of the player base. For a while now, the players/fans have been asking for some Runaways action in Versus. Whenever a thread or a post about this pops up, I instinctively cringe. “Runaways,” I think. “They’re so shitty!” Some could say it’s selfish of me to deny the fans what they want. Others would say, “Who cares?” Well, for one, I do. Besides the first 7 issues, the only other Runaways I’ve read is the abysmal Joss Whedon hackery and the crossover with Young Avengers* during Civil War, which was adequate not great. So, this last week, I decided it was time to give the Runaways their shot. I went online and ordered the hardcovers, volumes 1-3 and they arrived yesterday morning. I finished volume 1 this morning and the following is my review.

First, Brian K. Vaughan is a great idea man. His concepts are killer. Last man on Earth? Yes, please. Teenage runways who’s parents are evil super villains? Sweet, sounds like fun… HA-HA, not fun. Torturous. The first seven issues read about the same or worse than the last time I saw them. Six issues for the first arc? KILL ME!!! Starting with the mediocre #7, the next arc stars a vampire as the main baddie. LAME!!! Come on #11, be better! Actually, it was. I liked the Cloak and Dagger issues. All of a sudden, the dialogue got better. And then, the lame came back. UGH! Seriously, how stupid looking are the “Gibborim”? And how stupid is their plan to destroy the world. I feel like I’m reading some manual on cults and conspiracies and lizard people. I can appreciate that Vaughan planned out this “epic” in amazing detail. I give him that. Even the surprise twist of having Alex Wilder revealed as the traitor was neat. Plot-wise, everything fit together nicely. But, it was the characters that ruined this book. I know, I know, most would say the characters are what made this book. To those people, I say, “Yer Stoopid.”

Nico is two clichés stacked together to make a “meatless” cliché sandwich: a goth chick that cuts herself to activate her powers. Chase, the jock type dude that’s a stone retard. And Gertrude, she annoyed the shit out of me every time she opened her mouth. The teenage know-it-all who doesn’t quite know anything useful. Go play with your dinosaur, loudmouth. Ah, and then we have dumb blonde girl with the secret alien powers that she could control with great effect if she’d only apply herself. The only character I love is Molly, but of course, everybody loves Molly. She gets all the best lines. Even Whedon couldn’t fuck her up.

Hmm, even with two collections to go, I am less than impressed with what I’ve read so far. Am I sorry I bought this one? Nope. The research needed doing. Who knows, it might come in handy one day. But, do these guys really deserve to make it into Versus? We’ve made random stainers before, why not these guys? HAH.

I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon, likely, with a review of volume 2. Until then, read some comics.


*Man, Young Avengers was a quality title… when’s that one coming back?




13 thoughts on “Hardcover Review: Runaways Volume 1

  1. …you spelled ‘stupid’ wrong.

    …I don’t think blue text is possible in the comments section.

    Also, Young Avengers is coming back, slowly, right now with the series of one-shots, and SUPPOSEDLY with ‘season 2’ soon, introducing the Young Masters of Evil. But, he still hasn’t turned in any scripts.

  2. I’m clearly a big fan of Runaways, and I think you are wrong in your assessment of the series. On the surface the characters can be viewed as paper-thin stereotypes, but I felt the first series did an excellent job of showing their depth and humanity. These aren’t self-assured superheroes; they’re kids who just ran away from home, and the characterization rang true.

    Ultimately the slow pacing of the series may turn you off, but you should realize that Runaways is geared towards young adult and manga-fueled audiences. Unlike Young Avengers, the superheroics are secondary to the soap opera. You can’t really knock ‘Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane’ for not having enough action, you know?

    For me watching the characters grow and change throughout the course of the series has been a treat. Chase’s struggle to find his place within the group is an ongoing sub-plot, as is Karolina’s issues with self-confidence and identity. Over time these things pay off, but you have to give them a chance.

    Runaways is one of my favorite comic series for its’ depth of characters, strong dialogue and even stronger storytelling. In time it has built up a large fanbase, not just among comic book fans but from the ‘mainstream’ as well. I’ve loaned out Runaways to several of my ‘normal,’ friends, and each of them have enjoyed it immensely. In fact, it has inspired most of them to visit their local comic book shop for the first time and pick up some back issues.

    Whether you like it or not, Runaways has a big following. No offense to teams like Doom Patrol and Wild Pack, but if they can’t carry their own comic book series what place do they have in the VS. System? Runaways is long overdue, I think, and I hope you won’t let your personal opinion get in the way of showing some love to longtime fans of the series.

    Big fan of the blog, btw.

  3. to braveandtheblog:

    thanks for commenting so passionately. much appreciated. although you make some excellent points, especially in regards to tone (soap opera over super heroics) and target audience (young adults and teens), i’m still not convinced of the overall quality of the first 18 issues. that said…

    i really liked the relaunch (Vol. 2 HC), and later tonight, i’ll post my gushes about that.

    although it’s easy to let your personal bias get in the way when working on something as cool as Vs. (and believe me, i have (CAP!!!)), let me assure you that checks and balances are in place. just because i may hate something, doesn’t mean it has no shot at making it into Vs. in fact, i’ve been the champion of many fan favorite teams and characters that i downright despise. all hope is not lost for the Runaways… they’ll get their due. just wait and see.

  4. I personally haven’t read Runaways, except for the most recent stuff, because it is Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan who are creating it. I love Joss, and I love Michael. I was just saying that I had never heard of someone who disliked it. I’m not saying nobody could dislike it, just that you are the first I have seen.

  5. Billy, I want to read this. You know I respect your opinion but you also know that soap opera is right in my wheelhouse. Hook me up.

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