RUNAWAYS #5 by Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson
While certain marketing decisions keep RUNAWAYS #5 from perfection, the overall plot and characterization of the issue come across as some of the best the series has to offer.
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Molly Hayes and Gertrude Yorkes plan a daring escape, while Chase Stein attempts to resurrect an old friend. All this and more in RUNAWAYS #5 by Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson.

The main sources of drama in the original RUNAWAYS comics came from the outside. As new supervillains arrived to fill the void after the death of the villainous Pride, the young team took on the role of legitimate superheroes. Sure, as the battles played out, the team learned more about themselves through intense characterization.

However, the main focus for most of the series fell on the plot. Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka and Matthew Wilson’s current run on the series have shown the reverse. The focus has fallen on the heroes and how they have grown since they first ran away. The newfound spotlight on pure characterization has done some good. However, it is time for some action, and RUNAWAYS #5 delivers.

After she moves in with Molly’s grandmother, Gert slowly falls away from her former self. After escaping death through time-travel, Gert has begun to question everything about herself. Meanwhile, Molly reveals that her grandmother may not be the kindly old woman she seems to be.

An army of glowing-eyed cats roams the house, and Molly begs Gert to run away again. Back in the Hostel, Chase begins working on Victor Mancha’s decapitated robot head. But when Victor’s head wakes up and tells Chase to save Molly and Gert, it may just be time for the Runaways to come together.

Blast from the Past

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Let me start by saying that RUNAWAYS #5 is the best issue of the series so far. Rainbow Rowell has finally found her voice with these young characters, and the plot flows perfectly. I did have my qualms originally about the passage of time in this issue. As Molly and Gert go about their new lives, Rowell insinuates that a lot of time has passed. I wanted to see more of these abridged moments. Molly and Gert don’t get many moments to simply talk about this issue, and after their sisterly bond in the original comics, I wanted a bit of a deeper connection.

The RUNAWAYS: From Panel to Screen

With that said, though, the way Rowell approaches these abridged moments is nothing short of brilliant. As I said, her focus with the RUNAWAYS thus far has been on characterization. All of the drama has come from within the team. While this has seemed incredibly interesting, it has led to a story that is all talk and no action. Since issue 1, this new run has been a superhero story without a supervillain. Rowell pays close attention to this in RUNAWAYS #5, giving only brief time to the mundane elements of the plot before finally delving into the mysteries at hand. And the final revelations held within this issue are so satisfying, giving a new depth to the entire RUNAWAYS mythos.

Caught in the Escape

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

What catches my attention in RUNAWAYS #5, though, isn’t solely the flow of events. Rowell does such a brilliant job in this issue balancing plot and characterization. As events occur in the story, we continually gain new insight into the characters. As Molly’s grandmother conducts experiments on Gert, we dig more deeply into Gert’s own apprehensions of being alive again. Everyone around her has aged, has suffered, and has distanced themselves from other people. For the first time in her life, Gert has no one but her pet dinosaur to turn to, and the actual character process involved in this sequence should hurt any true fan of the character.

Gert and Molly receive the majority of this character work, but lesser characters also have a chance to explore themselves. In attempting to fix Victor’s head, Chase goes into depth why he seemingly disliked Victor in the original series. Even Molly’s grandmother gets the chance to discuss her motivations and why she hated the Pride.

It All Starts to Come Together in PHOENIX RESURRECTION #3

The only thing in RUNAWAYS #5 that feels lacking is Nico Minoru. This is not at all Rainbow Rowell’s fault, but one potentially of editing. The cover of this issue showcases Nico trapped within the hollow space of her Staff of One. Even the official summary talks about Nico’s struggle with her powers and with her own emotions. What we get in the issue is three pages of Nico, and while Rowell handles these pages well, I expected so much more. Nico has always been one of Marvel’s most interesting characters, and in recent years, she has received the credit she is due. However, I am disappointed in the execution here, almost as if Marvel intended to use this popularity to push the sales of this issue.

Anka and Wilson: A Picture Perfect Story

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Adding to the wonderful characterization and plot of RUNAWAYS #5 is the beautiful artwork by Kris Anka and Matthew Wilson. While Anka and Wilson have acted as the artistic leads since issue 1, their work in issue number five is their best yet. Anka’s artwork has been divisive among fans. Despite an accuracy to the source characters, his style is somewhat light-hearted in its stylization. This hasn’t entirely fit the more serious nature of the previous issues’ plots. The art in the past has not been of a lower quality. Rather, it hadn’t been a story that fit Anka’s artwork.

RUNAWAYS #5 is the perfect type of story for Anka’s style. While the subject matter is serious, the characters actually get the chance to feel like real kids. The dialogue and the story feels goofy and energetic, which fits Anka’s art so much better. Adding to the high quality of art in this issue is Wilson’s colors, adding to the overall cartoony feel. Characters are defined by their color palettes, with Molly’s scenes filled with purples and pinks while Chase is surrounded by an air of greens and yellows. This colorization gives the story a more rounded Saturday Morning Cartoon feel, which only aids the fun energy that seeps off these pages.

Final Thoughts: RUNAWAYS #5

RUNAWAYS #5 is one of the best issues in the current run thus far. Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson have found a flow with the writing and art that reaches the high standards of the first series. Despite a single marketing foible with Nico Minoru, the plot and characterization of RUNAWAYS #5 surpasses my expectations. Hopefully, Rowell takes this issue as a standard for the rest of her run. In short, RUNAWAYS #5 feels like vintage RUNAWAYS in all of the best ways.

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