Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Comic Book Review:
Runaways Vol. 3 #10

This is a comic with scope. Not epic, trans-continental, War & Peace-y scope, but emotional scope. It goes from funny to sad and back to funny again in less than two dozen pages, and there's not a single false note or misstep along the way.

The story itself is simple. Eight year old Molly Hayes (a.k.a. Princess Powerful, although she's the only one who refers to herself this way) is taking a tour of Xavier's new School for Gifted Youngsters, and she's been assigned Wolverine as her tour guide. While this sort of 'comedy of opposites' set-up usually begins to feel monotonous after the second gag, writer Chris Yost keeps things interesting by allowing some melancholy to seep into the story. For those who don't know, the premise of the Runaways series is that a group of super-powered kids found out that their parents were one of the world's most diabolical groups of super-villains, and decided to try and stop them. This went far less smoothly than the kids would've liked, resulting in the deaths of all their parents. So now they're on the run from, well, pretty much everyone, as the good guys think they're murderers, and the bad guys want revenge for the stuff their parents once did. But while the older Runaways have come to terms with their parents' evil alter egos, young Molly is having a much harder time accepting the dichotomy of loving parents who were also cold-blooded murderers. It's this made-for-metaphor conundrum that gives the issue its emotional resonance, making it succeed as both an Abbot & Costello-style comedy and an I-can't-believe-I'm getting-choked-up-by-Wolverine's-dialogue character piece. As for Sara Pichelli's art, it's spot-on: clean, cartoony, and easy to navigate. Not only that, but Pichelli possesses that seemingly rare ability to draw kids that actually look like kids, and not like adults with bigger heads and (marginally) smaller breasts.

I'd give this issue of Runaways to any young girl on the fence about superhero comics, as well as any older, ex-comics fan who grew tired of comics' grim and gritty cliches. I mean, hell, who doesn't want to see the X-Men's Danger Room used to create a unicorn and butterflies?

Note: Runaways vol. 3 #10 is a self-contained, stand-alone story. That means you get the complete story -- beginning, middle and end -- in this one issue. Not only that, but there's a bonus, 11 page back-up story, too. Hmn...if I didn't know better, I'd almost think Marvel was courting new readers.