A few years ago I started getting into comics. This new interest of mine was mainly fueled by the X-Men and Spider-Man movies that were being released. Despite having almost no interest in comics, I was really enjoying the movies and characters. My friend Erik suggested that if I enjoyed the characters so much, I should check out some of the comics. I picked up some X-Men and Spider-Man books and while I enjoyed them, I wasn’t quite hooked, yet.
I found the heroes of these books interesting, but not having any exposure to heroes as a kid, they weren’t enough to push me beyond being a casual reader to a full-blown comics fan. Erik assured me that comics weren’t all heroes and tights, so we looked for some other, non-hero stories. One of those happened to be Brian K. Vaughn’s Runaways.
While set in the hero-filled Marvel universe, Runaways isn’t about heroes. It’s about a group of teenagers that discover that their parents are some of the worst villains on the west coast. While the kids come to discover that they have powers of their own, they are far from heroes. Still, they choose right over wrong, runaway from their parents, and then try to stop their evil plans. It’s an amazing coming of age story set in the world of Marvel heroes. It’s just what I needed to push me closer to becoming the comic book geek that I am today.
After writing 42 issues of Runaways, Brian K. Vaughn left the series he created in order to become a writer/producer of the television show Lost. My fears of losing the title to a writer that didn’t understand the characters that I loved were soon relieved when Marvel announced that Buffy’s Joss Whedon would be taking over the comic for 6 issues. While I wasn’t quite thrilled with Joss’ work on it at the time, his run on Runaways certainly holds up over time. Reading all 6 issues back to back as one complete story proves to be a much better experience than reading them in single issues. My claim is backed up by the American Library Association just recently awarding the hardcover of Joss’ Runaways story as one of the 2009 Top Ten Books for Young Adults.
When Joss left the Runaways title to concentrate on television and movies, I was afraid once again for the future of one of my favorite stories. My fears were quickly calmed when Marvel announced that Terry Moore would take over writing duties for the book. Moore’s Echo comic, which he both writes and illustrates, is simply amazing. I had high hopes, but unfortunately he seems to be struggling with my beloved cast of teens. The characters don’t seem like themselves and the story just isn’t working for me. I will admit that the final issue of Moore’s first arc was quite good and renewed some of my hopes, but that was short-lived as the next issue once again didn’t hold up. It also doesn’t help that the new artists on the project are drawing the kids in an almost anime-style. They no longer even resemble the kids I care about! Moore’s 8th issue comes out today. My expectations are low, so I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised when I read it.
All that being said, I strongly recommend Brian K. Vaughn’s original issues when he created this amazing group of teens. If you are someone that is interested in comics but not so sure that heroes are your thing, Runaways is a great book to pick up. It’s also a great title if you are a parent who has teen children that are interested in comics but aren’t sure where to start. The volume one hardcover edition of Runaways is available on Amazon and it contains the complete original story of the kids and their evil parents. I’ve read these initial 18 issues over several times now and it just keeps getting better and better. I can’t praise this story enough.
Update – It was announced just moments before I published this entry that a new creative team (writer and artist) are taking over for Runaways starting with issue 11. Writer Kathryn Immonen and artist Sara Pichelli will be taking over for my favorite group of teens. I haven’t seen any of the previous work from either of these gals, but I’m excited for a changing of the guard at Runaways. No offense, Terry Moore. I love Echo, but you just don’t seem to get these kids.