Written by Rainbow Rowell
Art by Kris Anka and Matthew Wilson
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
The original Runaways title was about a group of teenage orphans who became a family, but as the heroes grew older, we saw the team move towards different paths in their lives. With acclaimed novelist Rainbow Rowell joining the Marvel Universe with superstar artist Kris Anka, Runaways #1 unites the team with the return of a lost family member, giving this new creative team the perfect reason to direct these lost children onto the same beaten path. This new volume of Runaways brings all the flavor we loved about our teen heroes into the world of young adulthood.
This premiere issue focuses on the Runaway character we’ve seen the most active over the years, Nico Minoru. But what do you call a Runaway with nowhere left to go? Rowell says it best with a single word: “Alone.” Well, that is until former teammate Chase Stein appears in a time travel machine, holding a dying Gert Yorkes in his arms right in the middle of Nico’s apartment. And even though it’s been awhile since they’ve seen each other, Rowell makes the relationship between Nico and Chase feel seamless.
The issue’s biggest strength is the inner monologue Rowell conveys for Nico. One of the most appealing aspects of Nico from the first Runaways title was the originality of her magical powers. Nico can’t use the same spell twice, and because of this she is having a hard time saving her friend. This struggle creates for a very interesting back-and-forth between Chase and Nico – as Chase is desperate to revive his girlfriend, while Nico is riddled with self-doubt, as she free-associates spells in a dazzling medical sequence. Artist Kris Anka gives this scene a nice dramatic effect as Nico’s wrong spell forces rain to pour on them as Gert fights for her life. Anka does a great job at expressing the emotional pain both Nico and Chase are feeling during this tense situation.
Meanwhile, Kris Anka on art is the perfect fit for this revision of the Runaways . Anka does a great job at giving a more mature look for both Chase and Nico, now that they are young adults, without losing their personal style from their original character designs. Anka hits all the necessary emotional beats with this story, especially with the issue’s opener. Anka is really able to capture Nico’s loneliness as she sits on the floor crying while she looks at pictures of her past life.
This scene is also one of the best uses of Rowell and Anka’s collaboration together. Rowell transitions from novel writing to comic book writing effortlessly as she uses more visual context to convey Nico’s emotions rather than overwriting her scenes with lengthy captions or exposition. This great dynamic is showcased throughout the whole issue, and gets me excited to see them work together even more as the series continues – which is exactly how a first issue should make you feel.
Runaways #1 may not have all your favorite Runaway characters in the premiere, but the issue still shines a great spotlight onto Nico and gives the Runaways a real, emotionally-driven reason to become a team again after years of separation.