Runaways Vol 2 & Vol 3 (issues #1 – 24). Brian K. Vaughan (writer) Adrian Alphona, Takeshi Miyazawa, and Mike Norton (illustrators). Graphic Novels/Comics
Runaways is still better than most mainstream (especially superhero) comics out there. But I have to be honest that Volumes 2 & 3 fell considerably for me from the bar Volume 1 set. Like Volume 1, the strongest aspect of Volume 2 & 3 are Vaughan and Alphona’s likable realistic characters and the fantastic art. But also like Volume 1, the weakest aspect in the subsequent books is the forced plot.
As I read Volume 2 and 3 however I had to consider that maybe I’m just too old to be reading Runaways…maybe it succeeds on all levels and I fail it by simply being too old? It’s entirely possible, because like Volume 1, Volumes 2 and 3 are beautifully drawn and well written, but I just can’t seem to fall in love. I found the plot to be weak in these two volumes overall and I really wasn’t pleased that Vaughan killed my favorite character (Gert). Though it’s possible she could come back, in a way I hope she’ll stay dead as bringing characters back from the dead in comics is one of my least favorite and most overused devices. There were some great little arcs in these two volumes: Karolina’s off world love story and subsequent growth is interesting and her fiance a good new complex character; the ‘Gert from the future’ story was pretty cool and inspired; the bit with Spiderman eating sushi and Wolverine fighting Molly was fun, as was Molly’s one issue adventure as a sewer thief, but that’s about where my enjoyment ended.
Aw Gert, I’ll miss you.
So I really really could have done without all the crossover bullshit. Not only was the Cloak and Dagger stuff out of place and boring (I guess they used to be ‘runaways’ so it’s supposed to relate – but it didn’t work for me), but using Runaways as a cheap launching vehicle for the new Loners book is frustrating and lame. None of the characters we see set up here are interesting and they only drag the story very very far away from our main Runaways characters. I know it’s hard to launch a new book and I don’t blame Vaughan and Alphona for trying it, but it really dragged the quality of the book down pretty badly and I was pissed. Plus, the only truly interesting ‘Loner’ was Chamber, who got all the good lines and turned out to not really be Chamber. Bummer. A bad bad story arc, that if I had been reading as a standalone comic, rather than collected, I would have put down and probably not picked up again.
Overall I’m undecided on the Victor arc as he was the reason for the ridiculous cross-over-y ‘Loners’ element, but Victor as a character is strong and he brings a much needed element to the team (not to mention some testosterone – which I never thought I’d actually be ASKING for). The element of Victor’s story that is about his father and mother and all of that seemed pretty played out and uninteresting, but as I said, overall he’s a good character, so I guess I’ll put Victor in the plus column at the end of the day.
Geoffey Wilder’s whole ‘gaming group of “heroes”‘ was pretty wildly unbelievable and a bit on the lame side as well. Seeing Alex again and then reading through that arc felt as if I’d been robbed of a real story there again and that Alex was just thrown in there for shock value. Which I don’t really appreciate as a reader.
Lastly, on a personal note – Nico kissing Chase? Not to sound like a bitchy 15-year old (since I’m considerably older than that), but Nico is an uber bitch and that was the last straw for me in really liking or not liking her as a character.* I don’t mind so much that she’s a borderline slutty character, or that she’s having trouble finding herself…but I draw the line at backstabbing and cheating your best friends/teammates for no real reason. Doesn’t seem like a very solid leader quality…you’d never catch Scott Summers (Cyclops of the X-Men) pulling that crap in any capacity (I’m one of those people that IS a big fan of Summers and his boyscout-y ways). I was kinda on the fence with Nico anyway, and that just sent me flying over. Nico and me…? We’re done. Done I say!
Boy, I sure reverted to teen for a minute there.
Back to my adult self, I guess I was just really disappointed with the inconsistencies here. Even the art, though still wonderful, is less consistent than in the first volume. It’s a hard thing in comics to keep up consistency, but as such it’s something I really think should be rewarded and here I just don’t know if I can give that reward.
After much deliberation I’m going with 3.0 Stars overall. But they barely missed the 2.5…it’s the interesting characters that Vaughan and Alphona originally created and in many cases are developing and actively pursuing, as well as the beautiful art that is saving it from that dreaded 2.5 mark.**
*Of note is the fact that I read someone else’s review of Vol. 2 today and they contradict everything I say – they love everything I hate and hate everything I love – right on down to Nico and Chase’s kiss…so I guess it’s really true that there’s no accounting for taste – we’ve all got different likes and dislikes…reviews be damned.
**All that said, I love Joss Whedon, and I’ll definitely be checking out his Runaways arc to see what he can do with it.