Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Pencils: Kris Anka
Inkers: Kris Anka and Walden Wong
Color Artists: Dee Cunniffe and Jim Campbell
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Kris Anka
Previously on Marvel’s Runaways: After getting caught in some super trouble, Nico and Karolina are saved by LA’s Mos Venerable Superhero Batma-oops Doc Justice! Upon returning home the girls deliver the news, but the Runaways are forced to flee as the Hostel has been discovered. This leaves them with nowhere to go but to Wayne Manor, wait, I mean the home of Doc Justice! There Victor’s hero-worship gets to the rest of the team and they agree to form the new J Team!
Doc Justice and the J Team are here!
The Runaways decide the give the whole “superhero” business another go and agree to assist Doc Justice. He’s been taking the fight to the remnants of PRIDE’s criminal empire and they feel compelled to help take down the rest of their parents’ evil legacy.
However, they need to look presentable while doing it! Victor has accepted the mantle of Kid Justice, but each member has to find their own look.
Cue Runaways fashion show!
While the rest of the Runaways are helping Doc Justice, Gert hangs back and reflects upon herself, her relationship with Victor, and her place with the Runaways. She’s still struggling with the fact that they grew up while she was dead.
But the victorious Runaways return for a post-crime fight pizza party (complete with disgustingly cute couple antics from Nico and Karolina) and the promise of “next time.”
Oh, this issue was ridiculous and I loved every bit of it.
In this issue, Rainbow Rowell offers a clever deconstruction of traditional superhero tropes. Grizzled veteran Batman-like superhero Doc Justice is a wealthy recluse with only his trust butler to rely on. He once had a large rotating group of wards that formed the Justice-family, but they have since moved on.
The deconstruction works on a lot of levels, but my favorite is that this whole thing is an homage to the Runaways’ long history of Batman references and DC jokes.
However, it’s the first half of the issues focus on costuming that is the best.
Nico, unsurprisingly, is the voice of pragmatism poking holes in all of our favorite superhero costume tropes and her costume montage is both ridiculously hilarious and serves as a brief evolution of female superhero costumes.
It’s also the best moment of Karolina’s life.
But what I think is a clever touch are the reactions of Doc Justice and Matthew. These outrageous costumes are normal for them and at one point they’re confused by the Runaways’ negative reaction towards Molly’s Supergirl inspired midriff revealing costume.
These costumes are normal for us as superhero fans even if we know they’re ridiculous and the reactions of the various Runaways, especially to Nico’s rejected costume above, are all reactions we’ve had to superhero costumes.
So, A+ for Rainbow Rowell for crafting this clever deconstructionist narrative, but it’s not without her trusty partner in crime…
This issue sees the brief return of Runaways legend and costuming master Kris Anka. During his tenure on the book, Anka crafted fashionable looks for the Runaways. From Chase’s “Problematic Daddy” shirt to Karolina’s revealing but tasteful looks to Nico’s high fashion wardrobe it was one awesome look after another.
That’s why I was so excited to see him return for this issue. You can tell he had a lot of fun designing these outfits and he did it so well.
Current series artist Andrés Genolet is awesome and is doing great work, but there’s a particular magic that Rowell and Anka have.
Costumes and deconstructions aside, this is a dialogue-heavy issue. Almost too much.
Gert spends time trying to help Gib who, aside from Rufus and Old Lace’s best efforts, is still starving and then reflects on her own place with the Runaways. When the others return from the fight, we see that there is a small divide starting to grow between Gert and Victor. She’s afraid for him and worried his continued use of his powers could cause him to slip, but at the same time, she feels an immense amount of guilt over how much this is hurting Chase.
It’s a love triangle with no triangle. A relationship between Gert and Chase is completely out of the question and everyone knows that, but it doesn’t make this easier on them or on us.
I think the Gert and Victor relationship drama arc is getting a bit old (15-ish issues now), but Rainbow is fond of the slow build, so I do trust her but it’s hard not to be a little bored.
While a little wordy, this was still a fantastic issue and it was great to see Anka back for some fun. Runaways is pushing close to the big 3-0 and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Also, here’s a little bit of Deanoru/Nicolina couple cuteness. These two are so wrapped up in each other it hurts, but it’s going to hurt a lot more when The One takes over…