RUNAWAYS #6 by Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson
With some of the best art and characterization in the series thus far, you'd think that RUNAWAYS #6 would be a must buy. However, while I highly recommend this issue, the lackluster and high paced plot left me scratching my head on more than one occasion. While the events of the plot had me excited, the pacing broke down the strength of the events within.
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Ever since Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka rebooted the RUNAWAYS comic line, things have been a bit different. The team, divided by years of struggles, comes together again after the resurrection of Gertrude Yorkes. The series has stood out for its intensely poignant characterization and modern appeal, but it has suffered from a lack of supervillainy. As a superhero story, I found it odd that the only powers we have seen thus far have been used in passing. All of that has changed in the last several issues, though. Ending the first arc of this new run, RUNAWAYS #6 sees the team taking the fight to none other than Molly’s grandmother and her army of telepathic cats. Yeah, I never believed I’d ever write that sentence.

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After she experiments on Gert in RUNAWAYS #5, Molly’s grandmother is decidedly unhappy to discover that Molly and her long-time friends have chosen to escape suburbia. With her experiments in dire straits, she must turn to her platoon of superpowered cats to stop the gathered teens. However, this isn’t the only trick up her sleeve. With the Runaways on the verge of defeat, a long-thought-dead enemy returns to the fray to end the battle. Can the Runaways escape with their lives?

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Runaways #6
Courtesy of Marvel Comics

RUNAWAYS #6 has incredibly enjoyable elements. Above them all, the characterization in this issue leads the charge. In short, the characters and dialogue in RUNAWAYS #6 are some of the best in the series to date. The moment Molly, in all her youthful innocence, tells her friends to fight, but not to hurt any of the cats or her grandma, felt really on point for this fan-favorite character. More importantly, this issue feels effortlessly funny. Throughout, Rowell manages to spotlight each of the varied heroes on this team, which isn’t easy. Seven team members make up the core of the RUNAWAYS roster, and each has a massive personality.

The biggest surprise in terms of characterization came from Molly’s grandma. Rowell has done a lot in previous issues to make Dr. Hayes relatively likable, if not slightly creepy. And that makes this character incredibly compelling as the first arc’s villain. She has a legitimate motivation in her drive to give people superpowers. She feels extremely guilty for the ways her children turned out. Most importantly, Molly represents her second chance at a family. Readers can’t necessarily get behind her many distorted actions, but she at least has a believably coherent backstory.

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Psychic Cats And…

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

My sole complaint with RUNAWAYS #6 comes from the plot. Rowell has the character aspect of the issue nailed down, but her plot felt fairly lacking. The only true through-line is the battle with the grandmother. Even here, though, potential issues arise. There isn’t that much action in this final battle sequence. The Runaways themselves are barred from doing any actual fighting by Molly.  More importantly, the events just flash by in quick succession. Rowell doesn’t leave the reader with much breathing room until the end of the issue. Normally I would enjoy this breakneck pacing, but only if things are actually happening.

The greatest example and the most grievous comes with the reintroduction of Alice Hayes. Though her character poses one of the greatest threats yet, she appears only to disappear pages later. There are no explanations around her rebirth, no conjecture, not even a creepy villain monologue. She is simply back among the living, go comic book science. The character reasons, again, make this reappearance rather interesting, but when the threat goes away in mere moments, the tension drips away. I appreciate fantastic characterization, but not at the sake of an interesting plot.

Burning the Daylight Oil

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Despite its lackluster plot, RUNAWAYS #6 may simply be the most aesthetically stunning of the series thus far. As I’ve said before, Kris Anka’s bright, cheery approach to the artwork had me a bit skeptical at first. I have quickly learned that in this new era of the comic, this style gives the story an added inertia. Every line comes off the page with so much energy. I loved the opening image, with Chase carrying Victor’s head. The utter jubilation in Chase is apparent. A lot of the character work in comics comes from the art, and in this single instance, I know Chase just that little bit better.

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Matthew Wilson’s work on the colors only aids in selling the new visuals. The color palette differences between heroes and villains give a lot to the story. The setting itself, grandma’s house, is set in a lot of cool, dark blues, and Dr. Hayes herself wears a lot of dark greys. Contrast that with the Runaways, whose clothing design is steeped in reds, greens, purples, and whites, and you have something very iconically pleasing. The way the darks and lights play into the battle of evil and good may be a cliche, but through years of repetition, these palette swaps have become synonymous with this conflict.

Final Thoughts: RUNAWAYS #6

RUNAWAYS #6 is a good comic. In terms of art and characterization, it trumps all of the others in Rowell, Anka, and Wilson’s take on the series. The focus on giving as much detailed info on the villain gives readers exactly what they want from modern comics. The art gives great insight into the conflict and characters. The only failing stems from the plot, which rockets by so quickly that it feels unfulfilling. Some really cool events happen throughout, but they only get moments to come to fruition. That doesn’t make for a strong plot. Still, this issue still deserves your attention. The final few pages alone should garner the respect of longtime fans of the series.

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