Monday, April 02, 2007

Yes, it is good.

Runaways Vol 6 – Parental Guidance
Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona
ISBN: 0785119523

I really love getting these digests and I may actually switch to this format for a few other comics that are available this way. On the same note I’m pretty sure the oversized or hard-cover formats that Runaways is printed in, is where the art really gets to shine. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with how it’s presented here but every time I’ve flipped through a copy on the stands the artwork stands out that much more because there is simply more to look at and appreciate.

This is one of those titles I heard everyone raving about but was far enough into the series that I just never bothered picking it up. Also, it was essentially a teen drama (same for Young Avengers) and I didn’t really need any more teen drama in my life. My job supplied me with enough melodrama and ineloquent angst for any one man. But it looked beautiful, so I gave myself a note to pick it up in trades. One library card later I’m more or less caught up on this series and I am extremely happy I’ve been picking these trades up.

This is a comic that reminds me of those cult movies that sort of hit the big time for a little while but aren’t exactly pop-culture worthy. Whenever you discover this item you’re surprised at how good it actually is because while people talked it up and said it was good they never really said how it was good or the explanation was sort of all over the place and sounded like a piece of work that’s been done a lot before. Well that’s sort of what Runaways is. It embodies the creative era of superhero comics because it’s giving us new characters but going through some pretty classic and time-tested ordeals.

Yes, there are teen-drama books, superhero team books, great-power vs. great responsibility stuff all over the place but here it’s new and it works because it simply doesn’t have the baggage of other big-two titles. It’s rare enough for a new book based on new heroes to survive at all beyond a few issues in today’s market which in and of itself should be hint enough to its quality. I’m just worried that the Q-Continuum at Marvel will see that this book is consistently performing and then cock it all up (and lets not turn the comments into a pro-Joss, anti-Joss dichotomy until we’ve seen a few issues).

I don’t think it was Spider-girl but this book that was the little comic that could. It simply works on all levels. Great art, interesting characters and team dynamic as well as the creator’s knowing both the history they are working with and creating. This is the nostalgic comic we all want to remember – the new one created for a new audience that hits all the notes that made those comics of yore stick in your mind for so long. This is that Marvel comic as a bookend to Marvel Adventures: The Avengers, which is pretty much a great Avengers book for anyone with a joi-de-vivre.

This is the “serious” counterpart to the summer action flick of the other. Drama versus action is sort of the dividing line in that one has drama and action while the other pretty much has action.

Oh yeah, the plot. The Runaways are back in LA and there’s the requisite Oliver Twist runaway children being exploited by a thief story. Then there’s another counterpoint team of older computer geeks who try to resurrect the Runaway’s traitor only for a very cool twist to pop-up. Heck, any book where the team’s mode of transport is based on a leap frog and they team up with a super-skrull in training who also happens to be betrothed to one of their members is really good in my book. Plus actual character development and consequences. Very good stuff that is wrapped in one of the most attractive art packages on the stands for the big-two.

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