honestly, I still want a series I’m reading to continue,
or at least reach a point in the narrative that I feel has
shown the characters to have grown, changed, or somehow
been affected by the events of the story in a lasting way.
So I’m happy to bring you two trades, recently (and
by recently, I mean within the last year or so) cancelled
series the both of them, that have actually managed a second
volume: Runaways: Teenage Wasteland and Wildcats Version 3.0: Full Disclosure
When last we left these disaffected youths of supervillains,
Alex, Karolina, Gert, Chase, Molly and Nico were on the
lam from their Pride-ful parents, hiding in an abandoned
hotel and giving themselves codenames, vowing to bring down
their evil parental units.
this vow included a caveat that allowed the kids plenty
of time to hang around and be snarky teenagers, while running
low on food money. It must be noted again that Vaughan handles
writing teenagers expertly well. Gert or “Arsenic”
as she likes now (the line where she refers to “Gert”
as her “slave name” was damn funny), is as perfect
a paragon of “disaffected youth” as a character
can be, without sounding pastiche and two-dimensional. Yes,
she’s cynical in a Janeane Garofalo way, but she’s
realistic in the way she deals with the kids’ situation.
Four days of wondering about your parents being murderers
is bound to make anyone cranky. Molly, the youngest at 11,
is still in a state of naiveté that only someone
her age could occupy about the state of things, and her
random moments of realization, where she misses her mom
but remembers what her mom is, are touching and well used
to highlight Molly’s unique perspective on the Runaways'
And let it not go unsaid that Vaughn understands how idiotic
teenagers can be. The “cat-fight” between Karolina
(Lucy in the Sky) and Nico (Sister Grim) and the reasons
behind it only make sense in the way every fight you had
in high school over a significant other made sense (re:
it seemed like a good idea at the time). I’m reminded
constantly when reading this series of the petty and stupid
things I did when I was 16, and Vaughn’s ability to
invoke these memories in the reader show’s how well
art continues to be good, and while I still enjoy Adrian
Alphona’s realistic line work, I’m quite happy
to finally be getting to the issues drawn by Takeshi Miyazawa.
I’ve enjoyed his manga-ized style since Oni Press’s
Sidekicks came out (and quickly ended) and was
damn glad to see it again. His design for the kids don’t
differ much from Alphona, other than adding his stylistic
touches, but I enjoyed his designs for B-List Marvel heroes
Cloak & Dagger, making Cloak look a bit more ominous
and Dagger more sleek and less like a hooker, which is the
impression I got when I last saw her in Marvel Knights.
Miyazawa also handles the Pride parents better than Alphona,
making them look far more sinister and far less everyday
than they’d previously looked.
for all involved, I’ve heard rumors that Marvel will
be re-launching Runaways in a “season two”
fashion in the coming months, and with only $7.99 as a price
tag for this and the first trade, catching up won’t
be overly expensive.
fact that this series continues (or rather doesn’t)
to be so very good is a damn crying shame considering, unlike
Runaways, there is little chance we’ll see
more of Joe Casey’s sideways glance at superheroics
and the big business world.
The way Casey makes the business aspect as compelling as
the action is still amazing to me. Jack Marlowe’s
consistent cool demeanor is always full of threatening undertones
shifting beneath every surface word, and even an interview
with an inquisitive reporter feels important to the story,
as if every time we hear the former Spartan speak he’s
foreshadowing the actual revelation about his global agenda
he keeps close-to-vest.
notable also is the action quotient. In this volume, there
is less action sequences, toning down the book in favor
of more quiet and disturbing scenes involving many of the
core cast members. Mister Wax’s sudden and understandable
shift in personality from the benign character he was is
smooth. The man goes from cautious observer to utter bastard
participant, and he’s much more likable (or like-to-hate-able)
in this incarnation, sort of a John Constantine for the
Wildstorm Universe, but with fewer morals.
action there is comes from surprise bad ass Edwin Dolby,
who spent most of his time in the last volume being the
Halo Corporation’s ledger-wielding super-accountant.
The discovery of some unseen talents in Mr. Dolby leads
Grifter to begin testing and training the man to his limits,
and we see again that a character in this series is changing.
It all feels like Casey is setting up for a nice third act,
one where more light might be shed on the Halo Corporation
and what it means for them to be operating in the world,
especially when an unforeseen side effect of their latest
product creates a golden and possibly destructive opportunity
for Jack Marlowe.
art by Nguyen and Friend continues to be some of the best
I’ve seen in comics lately and I’ll go to my
grave considering Nguyen underrated for his clean line work,
tight sense of movement, pacing, and character design. I
even thoroughly enjoyed his work on Batman recently,
though I thought the storyline was pretty lackluster (sorry
Judd Winick, but even you have bad days). Nguyen and Friend
also continue to use space and silent panels to give some
inexorably creepiness to many scenes. They’re damn
good. I hope that they continue to find high profile work
because they only add to the books they’re on.