RUNAWAYS #7 by Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson have masterfully crafted RUNAWAYS #7. From plot, to characterization, to art, this issue may just be one of the best of the reboot so far. Pair that with a unique tale about superheroes on their days off, and you have a story set for greatness.
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RUNAWAYS couldn’t exist without the shared sense of family between its characters. They may not like each other at times. They may gripe and fight very openly in public. However, at the end of the day, they still belong together. This only makes sense. After all, they did watch their parents murder an innocent girl. This small group of teens and young adults really only has each other. However, none of the comics have truly focused on this family aspect. It has always crept into their many story arcs, but no writers have truly explored it. That is, no writers until Rainbow Rowell. Her approach to RUNAWAYS #7 puts the focus squarely on the everyday life of the team, and it is an utter joy to watch.

After the defeat of Molly’s cat-loving grandmother, the Runaways have taken some much-needed downtime. Considering that they have no food at the Hostel, though, Chase and Nico decide they need jobs. Meanwhile, Karolina prepares for the arrival of her girlfriend, and Gertrude has a heart-to-heart with Victor’s robot head. Most importantly, though, Molly returns to school. With Chase and Nico subbing in at her parent-teacher conferences, nothing could go wrong. Right?

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The Charm of the Everyday

RUNAWAYS #7, Page 1. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

When you think of superheroes, you typically picture burly human beings punching crime in the face. While this particular action focused storyline does provide a number of compelling narrative threads, there is so much more to the genre. Very few writers actively tackle the heroes after the heroing is done. Stories like OLD MAN LOGAN breach into that territory, but not many felt like they covered “a day in the life.”

RUNAWAYS #7, then, is rather special. Set in a modern setting, our heroes’ biggest threats come from very relatable sources. Chase has to find a job, and like all high school dropouts with no prior work experience, he has a hard go of it. Nico struggles to adapt to a life away from the Avengers, where magic can’t solve every issue. Not a whole lot happens in this issue. However, I never once felt bored. Rowell gives readers an experience that feels so unique.

We get to see past the glitz and glamour of the tights and capes community. This issue reinforces the fact that these kids are real human beings, facing real human problems. They simply have some extra superhuman issues thrown in for good measure. The tone comes across as beautifully light, and the story feels charming as it explores this life behind the hero game.

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Robot Haircuts

RUNAWAYS #7, Page 2. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

The only way a story like this could work, though, is through solid characterization. Thankfully, Rowell nails it. RUNAWAYS #7 really feels like a team book because each character has their moment of focus. Each of them has the opportunity to speak their mind to the reader, which is so important to solidify personality. Rowell manages to balance the characterization by filling the pages with small moments between the characters. There is brief exposition throughout, which showcases Rowell’s brilliant writing. Seriously, the opening section which has Nico contemplating the Staff of One’s effect on her had the perfect tone and atmosphere.

However, it is the small moments that win the day. Rowell gives readers so many heartwarming cues toward this healthy family life. Gert and Victor’s banter during his haircut has nothing to do with the plot, but in exploring Gert’s insecurities and Victor’s fears, it couldn’t have succeeded more. The cafe meeting between Nico and Karolina showcases their deep friendship. More importantly, these character moments often feed the tone of the plot. Molly, for example, absolutely adores her school life. She wouldn’t give it up for anything. So, of course, Rowell introduces something near the end of the issue which may threaten the life she has come to love. Everything intertwines perfectly in this issue.

Sunshine and a New Suit and Tie

RUNAWAYS #7
RUNAWAYS #7, Page 3-4. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

I’ve said in previous reviews that Kris Anka’s work didn’t appeal to me in the same way that previous RUNAWAYS artists had. However, I take that all back with his work in RUNAWAYS #7. This artist has truly found his footing in this issue. Every character is so expressive. There is a small sequence after Karolina and Nico share a coffee, where Karolina is simply talking on the phone for 6 panels. Most artists couldn’t make this sequence interesting, but every single detail comes across so clearly with Anka’s style.

Whether I have simply grown more accustomed to his work or if he has grown more confident with this series, I don’t know. But Mr. Anka, if you are reading this, I hope that you have the chance to illustrate many, many more issues of this series. Also, his cover, which pays homage to one of the original series’ most famous, is absolutely genius.

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The same goes for colorist Matthew Wilson. I’ve applauded his work in other series, most notably THE MIGHTY THOR. I am actually incredibly surprised by the vast difference between the two titles’ colors. In his work on THOR, Wilson isn’t afraid to experiment with color, creating a heavily saturated light show on every page. However, his work here looks much simpler. He uses more flat colors. This, in turn, informs the atmosphere of the story. This isn’t some grandiose adventure narrative like THOR. RUNAWAYS #7 is a story about a group of kids trying to make their way in the world. Those flashy colors simply wouldn’t work in this story, and thankfully, Wilson has recognized that.

Final Thoughts on RUNAWAYS #7

RUNAWAYS #7 isn’t for every reader. Simply put, this isn’t a high octane superhero story. However, what readers will get is much greater. Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson have put together a story about a haphazardly constructed family. They have no idea where they need to go in life. Even with their great powers, they have to come to terms with the mundane side of their life as well. This type of story simply isn’t told very often. However, I wish more writers would dig into this subject matter. We always see what happens when everything goes wrong for the hero. But what about those times where everything flows at equilibrium? This exploration takes guts, and I give this creative team a lot of credit for their success.

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