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I’ll always meet a new book announcement from Rainbow Rowell with mad squealing and a pre-order. But when the news came that she’ll be rebooting her favorite comic, Marvel’s Runaways, I knew I had some catching up to do.
Turns out this earns me pop culture extra credit too—Hulu has a show based on the comic coming in 2018. While Rowell says there’s no need to read the original to understand the new issues coming in September, I wanted to know what to expect (and have an outlet for my fangirl excitement), so off to the library I went and grabbed the first four volumes. What I discovered is a comic that, if I’d read it without knowing about the author’s reboot, I might have told you, “This feels like it’s probably Rainbow Rowell’s favorite comic.” Here’s why:
This plot is as young adulty as it gets, and I am here for it. It takes all the standard anxieties of teens and their parents and ratchets them up to 11 so they’re both incredibly poignant and hilarious. Namely, from the kid’s perspective:
And from the adults:
There’s also endless romance and friendship drama. Heck, since EGBTT there’s even an angsty, condescending, beautiful vampire boy.
While the Runaways has its standard comic-book babes, and adorable little Molly Hayes, it also has the glorious Gertrude Yorkes, she of purple hair, extra flesh and deep wells of both sarcasm and friendship. I knew I’d love her from her first frame:
If she wasn’t too busy wrangling with nefarious parents, she’d be a great friend for Cather Avery, Eleanor Douglas or Penelope Bunce. As it is, she’s so cool that it didn’t seem like shark-jumping when she acquired a telepathic velociraptor. I know you don’t believe me now, but you’ll love the darn dinosaur.
Gert feels especially apt for 2017. Girl takes no crap, and I’ve found plenty of use for this frame in my life:
Reason 1002 to start reading comics: sending pictures of great frames instead of emojis is deeply satisfying.
Rowell is the master of weaving funny pop culture references into her fiction. (My favorite, of course comes via Cath and Regan in Fangirl: “’Have you been watching me sleep?’ ‘Yes, Bella.’”) The original Runaways comics do this in delightful, early 2000s ways:
Are there Britney references? You bet there are. Is classic children’s programming deployed for insults? Check! Source
Will you giggle while watching fifteen year-olds lose everything and try to save the world? Yup. I cannot wait to see what new pop culture obsessions Rowell gives the Runaways… and then to reread them in fifteen years and laugh at how dated they are.
Rowell has said she just wants her beloved characters alive and back on the page, but there are a few tweaks I’m guessing she’ll bring us.
First, I’m hoping for a longer introductory period. The origin story/ training is always the most interesting part of a super-hero, and day-to-day battles veer quickly into crazy or boring. Runaways is no exception—the first two volumes are fantastic, the third is ok, and the fourth was a bridge too far for me. Let’s keep them on Earth in the 21st century, figuring out their powers and relationships as long as possible. Landline is the exception to my irrational hatred of time travel stories, but let’s not push the envelope too soon.
Second, I’m looking forward to that patented Rowell dialogue. The original comics fall into the trap of characters suddenly announcing that they’re in love without any build-up, and I’m looking forward to watching the characters slowly build romantic tension as they talk about everything and make jokes even in dire circumstances.
Bea loves life in the Pacific Northwest, rereading old novels and weird varieties of pickles. She can dive deep on Harry Potter, Twilight, 90’s CCM, celeb fashion or foreign policy. She’s trying to figure out what to do when the little one goes to kindergarten, what to make for dinner and how to be a feminist who can’t pass up a princess book.
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