It comes as absolutely no surprise that, with the upcoming debut of Marvel Television’s Runaways on Hulu, the comics property would see a reboot. What came as a genuine surprise to myself, however, was how much I enjoyed this first issue by Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka. We’ve been burned too often by Hollywood-driven rack revivals, and, as long as I’m being honest here… the success rate for YA novelists tackling their first comic series isn’t great. So, I’ll admit, my expectations were maybe a bit low. I was happy to welcome a return of the beloved characters created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, but after wayward detours by the likes of Joss Whedon and Terry Moore, I wasn’t holding my breath. This week’s Runaways #1, however, effectively restores so much of the magic from that first run, by overwriting, in a way, those less successful volumes. It’s also really freaking good.
And if we’re talking about magic, of course we’re kicking off with Nico Minoru.
The book opens with Nico, feeling helpless and alone, reflecting on her time spent with the Runaways and, more recently, A-Force, “the best girl gang ever.” Then she’s suddenly interrupted by her time-traipsing former teammate Chase Stein, clutching the dying body of Gertrude Yorkes.
This entire first issue is a Nico and Chase book that explores not just how Nico’s powers work, but what happened way back when between Chase and Gertrude. No tedious flashback, no narrative explanations. Bam. We’re right back into it. And I love it. I love the way Rowell ignores typical getting-the-team-together launches and, instead, focuses on a few characters at a time. And I’m totally onboard with the possible return (no spoilers here) of Gertrude.
I’ll admit this isn’t the best jumping-on point for new readers, but I don’t think that matters. The dialogue is perfectly paced, and Anka’s layouts and pencils are seamless. I’m willing to bet that if you did come in cold on the Runaways with this first issue, you’re possibly intrigued enough to explore the back catalog, but definitely excited enough to see where this creative team is going.