RUNAWAYS #10 by Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson
Despite skimming over some of the ethical issues in RUNAWAYS #10, Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka have crafted one of the best stories in the series yet. With a well-paced plot dealing with real human issues, as well as some fantastic characterization, this is a must read for comic fans.
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Immortality is almost always a losing proposition. It seems strange to say. However, with the inevitable loss of everyone you care about and the sudden onset of loneliness, it is no wonder that most comic book immortals lose their minds. Now, imagine immortality without any of the benefits of being an adult. In RUNAWAYS #10, Molly Hayes’ new best friend has lived as a thirteen-year-old for over fifty years. Thanks to a magical spell from the Enchantress, she hasn’t had to grow up. Now, she has accidentally cursed Julie Powers of Power Pack with the same fate. The team must band together and take the fight to their first teenaged foe. However, can they hope to succeed against someone with fifty years of training?

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Super Reality

RUNAWAYS #10, Page 1. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

The greatest of the original RUNAWAYS stories turned everyday issues into superhuman ones. Whether it be evil teachers or vampiric first crushes, the team has a habit of facing very human threats. This made the team incredibly relatable to young readers. Now, Rainbow Rowell has continued that trend in beautiful fashion with RUNAWAYS #10. I have fallen in love with her narrative up to this point, so it says a lot that this is her best issue yet. She jams so many powerful themes into this issue, each of which speaks to any number of readers. Long distance relationships, the trials of young teenagers, the issues faced when a best friend betrays you. All of these and more are discussed incredibly well in this issue.

I never found any issues with the plot in particular. It flows along rather nicely, especially considering it is very dialogue heavy. I do wish the ending superfight lasted a little longer. Watching the team get beaten by a thirteen-year-old is oddly satisfying. However, these are paltry issues in the grand scheme of things. Everything connects together in a really striking way, and no character truly feels shortchanged. RUNAWAYS #10 absolutely screams with personality. I have come to expect that from this series, but never so much as in this issue.

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The Face of Immortality

RUNAWAYS #10, Pages 2-3. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

One of the strongest elements of RUNAWAYS #10 comes from the relationship issues between Julie and Karolina. While it doesn’t quite get the same pinpoint focus as last issue, it still provides a nice emotional background to the story. The way Rowell approaches these two characters feels realistically sad. It isn’t overblown, and the emotions expressed really work. Julie makes a strong case for why she needs to break up with Karolina, despite love still existing between the two. They simply don’t work together with their differing obligations. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this particular dynamic in comics, which is odd because it likely happens every day. Here again lies the strength of RUNAWAYS: the ability to delve into the human through the superhuman.

The true standout star of RUNAWAYS #10, though, is Molly’s friend Abigail. The new focus on her origin story, while falling a bit into deus ex machina territory, made sense. Her ties to Enchantress, and by proxy Thor, ties her into the greater Marvel universe without forcing her into a bigger role than she needs. However, I did find some issue with the way Rowell closed out her narrative. Unless Abigail returns soon, as it stands, the Runaways have doomed this young girl. She made a mistake eating Enchantress’ cupcakes, yes. However, she will soon have to watch her elderly parents die. The team touches on this major ethical dilemma, but it never gets the page space it deserves. They simply sweep it under the carpet.

Balance in All Things

RUNAWAYS #10, Page 4. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

I’ve sung Kris Anka’s praises a number of times throughout my past reviews of RUNAWAYS. However, his work in RUNAWAYS #10 is especially successful. This issue has a number of panels featuring the whole team. This represents an interesting challenge for an artist. Now they can’t just focus on the posing and expressions of one character, but five or six. This is especially true for Anka’s Runaways, each with their own unique body types and number of limbs (looking at you bodiless Victor). He manages to make it work though. Matthew Wilson has a similarly successful run as color artist. His work with the backgrounds especially interested me. There isn’t much background detail, so Wilson has to use color gradients to set the atmosphere in fascinating ways.

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RUNAWAYS #10: Final Thoughts

As I said, RUNAWAYS #10 may just be Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka’s best issue to date. This success stems from the fantastic look at real human problems through a superhuman lens. The way Rowell tackles break-ups and teenaged struggles feels incredibly realistic. Plus, she barely skimps on the cool superhuman fights that draw us to comics. Some of the ethical dilemmas surrounding the treatment of Abigail aren’t fully explored. However, the characterization of the character, as well as that of Karolina and Julie, felt very satisfying. Pair that with some fantastic art, and you have a winning story.

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