Yesterday (the day before this post was written, not actual yesterday…as though you care) I got and read Runaways vol 1: Pride and Joy*. This was a fantastic recommendation from my comics guru Andrew Mocete.
Tag of note: Teen superheroes! Come on, had you at Hello, didn’t it?
Premise: So here’s this group of teens who see each other once a year when they’re forced to hang out together while their parents have their annual meeting for some charity they secretly run. The kids don’t seem to have a lot in common and they don’t really like each other, so obviously they’re thrilled. This naturally leads to spying on the parents and realizing that they’re…da da dummmm…super-villains!
A bit more of the plot: The first volume in trade paperback collects issues 1-6. After that initial setup, with the zealous morality of rebellious teens, the kids decide they need to have their parents brought to justice. But shockingly, reporting your parents as super-villains to the police does not have the desired effect. Our heroes now have to find some kind of evidence in order for the police to take them seriously, while trying to stay under the radar of their ruthless parents. And yeah, they pretty much suck at that.
Characterization: Friggin’ awesome. Seriously, this book was a delight. The writing is absolutely fantastic with dialogue that just pops. I loved it. After a brief introductory skit on the first kid that sets up his character and the idea of the meeting, we meet the other kids and their parents in a series of 1-2 page character sketches that are just brilliant in their ability to deliver a real taste of these kids and their families in such a small space. As a novelist who can’t say 2 words when 10 would certainly make it better, I stand in awe.
Romance: Oh heck yeah! It’s there! New, awkward and sweet, and ever so promising that I had to order the next two volumes and I’m telling you that I paid to get them express. Dude, I never do that. Now I’m not saying it’s a romance. For the most part the boy/girl stuff is subtle and besides the point. I’m just a maniac for that shit.
Style/Readability: As a comic book newb I can tell you that I had no problems with this one. Some I find hard to follow but everything in here really flowed for me. I always knew where we were, it was easy to determine when a scene ended and we shifted into another one, I didn’t have any problem following the order as far as whose speech bubble to read first.
Suitability for younger readers: There’s a T+ on this one, so I set it aside from the mail I was going to share with my six year old daughter and read it alone. In retrospect, I think it would have been fine to let her have at it and to read it to her if it interested her. I don’t remember any foul language, there was no gore, no sex, not even a whole lot violence. If you let your kids stay in the room while you watch the evening news or they channel surf network TV such that they might catch one of those really questionable promos they put on way early or 5 minutes of banter from a show like How I Met Your Mother, honestly, this book is tame. I’m not sure it would hold the interest of a young child, but I don’t think it would damage them.
Note about shopping: If you go hunt these down, the term “volume” may be confusing. The single issues seemed to have been written as three volumes. It would easier to think of them as “seasons.” Then there were two side trips that might be considered mini-series. So what happens in the retailer descriptions is that more than one book called Runaways is said to collect volumes 1-7, etc, because they’re not labeled Runaways Season 1, etc. Add to that the fact that retailers are taking pre-orders for a new printing, so yet more listings, and retailers don’t always provide complete information. The trade paperback “volumes” are all numbered sequentially, such that volumes 1, 4, and 9 are all said to contain issues 1-6, but volume 4 has 1-6 of
volume season 2. I found this Wikipedia article helpful. Comics people just seem to know all this stuff, but all the different printings, special issues, and I don’t know what just make me a little crazy.