Monday, November 29, 2010

VINTAGE - Live Fast, Runaways

VAUGHAN, Brian K. Runaways: Live Fast. Marvel Comics, 2010 (originally published 2006/2007). ISBN: 9780785141556

There's nothing like a little vintage Runaways to get me in the holiday spirit. I can't really claim to be a fan of the shrunken manga style that Marvel Comics is now publishing them in, so when I was using my Turkey Day coupon to pick up a graphic novel at my favorite bookstore, I opted for the 'normal' oversized option. It's much more preferable. What's that? You've never heard of Runaways? Well, it's an amazing series by Brian K. Vaughan about a group of kids who, you guessed it! Ran away. Specifically from their parents who turn out to be a group of evil supervillains bent on wiping out most of humanity. You know, so they could be immortal. And they all hated each other because only half of them would win that special prize. Anyway, the parents sacrificed a young innocent girl once a year for power and usual sacrificial jazz. The only problem is that one year their kids see them. This is when they hatch their plot their plot to run away. To Breakfast Club-ise this, there's the Nerd (Alex), the Goth (Nico), the Jock (Chase), the Weirdo (Gert), the Princess (Karolina), and the Kid (Molly). At this point in the story, both Alex and Gert have died in separate incidents; new members Victor and Xavin have joined the team in their place. Throw in an awesome dinosaur (named 'Old Lace') telepathically connected to Chase, as well as a transportational 'Leapfrog' with an attitude, and you have the whole team.

The story opens with Nico and Victor having just gotten it on. Gert has just died, and everyone is still upset. Nico feels responsible because she's kind of become the kids' leader. Chase is even more upset because Gert was his girlfriend and he loved her. He spends the majority of the story away from everyone else. We'll get to him later. Nico and co. must contend with an upset store owner who thinks L.A. has become to modern and lost all its charm. He gets mad while someone's trying to seal him a nicknack leftover from the evil parents. It transforms the store owner into a really big monster. The kids intervene, mainly because the entire Marvel Universe (or at least the heroes) at that point were stuck in a civil war. The fight goes predictably bad because the kids are outmatched, but Nico caffine-boosts Molly. This increases her strength, and she's able to fling the monster down. Trust me; it's awesome! Nico and Xavin combine magic with shapeshifting to mimic the store owner's wife; they talk him down and he returns to normal. Kind of a fun story, right?

Chase isn't there. Instead he finds a way to contact the evil creatures who gave his (and the other kids') parents powers. He wants them to resurrect Gert. They agree, but tell him he needs to sacrifice "an innocent." After briefly debating killing a stranger, he ultimately decides to kill himself. He tells Nico all this, and she's able to convince the team to go after him. Chase's plan falls short: killing himself would corrupt his soul, therefore making him a less than worthy snack for the creatures. With Nico there, who they view as a real tasty innocent morsel, they decide to just eat her instead. Molly flings Victor to save her "fastball special" style and - well, it's worth the price of this trade just for that one full-page panel. It makes you love Runaways because even though they are heroes, they really aren't. This particular volume has something of a shock ending; I didn't really love it as much as I probably should have. It featured a character I guess I never really liked.

While it still proves to have action and the story moves forward, this collection really highlights just how angsty it is to be a kid in a superman's (or superwoman's!) world. These kids have it rough. Out of six originals, two of them have already died. Even Molly, the lighthearted "baby" of the group, has real moments of kind of sadness here. Nico's a mess. She really can't lead during the monster attack because she's so worried someone will die. I also really like her relationship with Victor. They don't really even want to deal with their gross emotional problems. The situations they keep finding themselves in allow for the perfect distraction from their non-existent relationship. I really believe you can pick up any volume of Runaways and just love it. It's that good.

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