Best Shots Extra: Runaways v3 #1

Ramos: Ready to Run with Runaways

Runaways vol. 3 #1

Writer: Terry Moore

Art: Humberto Ramos with Dave Meikis and Christina Strain

From: Marvel Comics

Another number one. Huh. For a book this young (only 50 some issues, including mini-series and one-shots) to be on Volume 3 already is bizarre. I’m not quite sure where the choice to go with a new #1 came from in this case, as the book isn’t going in a radically new direction, aside from the new writer/artist team. At any rate, faithful Runners get to meet their team for the first time all over again in this week’s first issue from Moore and Ramos.

Faithful fans of the series however are clearly not who this book is aimed at. It’s hard to look at this book as a new reader, having read every issue of the series over the years. I can’t imagine a new reader would come out of this knowing much about the characters. They will likely think Molly is cute, Chase is vapid, dumb, and shallow, Xavin is some Skrull dude hanging out with them, and Karolina betrayed her alien race. There’s no sign of who Nico is or what she can do (odd for an up-to-this-point team leader), with newest member of the team Clara getting more facetime. Oh, and the problem with all of those things being what a new reader would come away from this knowing? They’re incorrect or incomplete.

Molly is cute, and even still retaining some naiveté, so I’ll concede that one. She’s pretty well in character here.

Chase’s voice, characterization, and actions all fit his character- from the very first arc of the book. Since, he’s been in leadership capacity, watched his girlfriend die in his arms to save his own life, struggled with that to the point of nearly resurrecting her at the cost of a friend, and most recently traveled through time with the express purpose of getting smarter and more prepared to help his friends. Where did all that character growth go? It honestly felt like they had plucked Chase out of the past- it really made no sense, and completely tore me right out of the story.

Xavin, meanwhile, is the girlfriend of lesbian character Karolina Dean. Or at least, Xavin was. In this story, Xavin remains in male form at all times, both in a “human” style and in Skrull form. The only allusion to the relationship between Xavin and Karolina comes from a throw-away line by Xavin and lines from outside, new supporting characters. Now, Humberto Ramos already tried to do damage control on his blog on this point, saying “when he is with the boys he is shaping to male, but mainly Xavin remains in her girl shape.” Unfortunately, even in a scene where Xavin is in a kitchen with the other four girls, the Skrull is still portrayed as male. This may seem like nitpicking to some readers, but great pains have been taken to establish Karolina Dean as a strong lesbian young woman, comfortable in her sexuality, and with Xavin wanting to comply with her wishes and remain feminine. As recent as issue #29, Xavin reverts to human female form during a heated argument, which pleased Karolina to no end. I just don’t buy that she has no problem with Xavin being male non-stop for two days.

So what about the story outside of characterization? Well, the menace this time around will be alien, which is great for a team that’s faced their parents, godlings, the Initiative, and even the Kingpin. The setup could draw an interesting parallel with what’s happening in Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers, comparing Xavin and Karolina’s plights, so we’ll see if that story thread is picked up on.

The art is classic Ramos. You’re going to either like his art already, hate his art already, or tolerate his art already, and you won’t see anything here to change your mind one way or the other. I think he does a good job here, with the action sequences popping (although part of that credit definitely belongs to colorist Christina Strain), and the character moments showing the emotions that the script apparently calls for. Everyone has a unique look and style, which is much more than can be said for other artists working with team books.

I was really excited for Runaways to get another shot at a high-profile creator coming on with a relaunch. Unfortunately, mischaracterization, or at least aged characterization really killed any excitement and most of the enjoyment I could’ve gotten from this book. Thanks to interviews, I do know that Moore has expressed an affinity for characters like Chase, so I’m not giving up all hope just yet. If issue #1 sets the tone for his run, however, it’s one I’ll be staying away from.

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