Runaways Episode 1
RUNAWAYS Ep. 1 "Reunion"
Plot
Acting
Design
Summary
Everyone's favorite teen heroes come to the small screen in the Hulu Original RUNAWAYS. With a fantastic cast and a well-paced story, new and old fans alike should jump at Marvel's amazing new series.
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Teen Drama and Superpowers
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In 2003, Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona brought the RUNAWAYS to the page. Through their joint effort, this creative team told the story of a group of teens who learn that their parents are supervillains. Together, these young friends escape from their homes and right the wrongs of their parents’ evil reign. RUNAWAYS hit a lot of landmarks in its seven-year run, and the series left behind a cavalcade of devoted fans. Now, Marvel is bringing our favorite teen heroes to life in a new Hulu original series of the same name. Set to premiere on November 21, 2017, RUNAWAYS looks to be a faithful recreation of the original series. ComicsVerse got an early look at the series, and we are here to bring you all the gory (and brilliant) details starting with RUNAWAYS episode 1!

Marvel Comics’ RUNAWAYS and SPIDER-WOMAN Artist Kris Anka at Flame Con 2017

Two years ago, Amy Minoru committed suicide. Her friends Alex Wilder, Gertrude Yorkes, Molly Hernandez, Chase Stein, Karolina Dean, and her sister Nico’s were united through this girl. Amy’s death forced a rift in the group. Now, Alex wants to bring his friends back together. Their parents, Los Angeles’ richest residents, plan on holding their annual charity fundraiser at the Wilder home, and they gladly accept the kid’s presence. Though unwilling to attend at first, one by one the teens arrive at Alex’s party. As they talk, they realize their parents have gone missing. The group finds a secret passageway beneath the Wilder home. Following it, they happen upon their parents in the midst of a strange ritual, a young runaway at the center. The parents, together known as the Pride, kill this girl while their children watch.

Pride or Disappointment?

runaways
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

As a long-time fan of the RUNAWAYS comics, I had high expectations for this series. I grew up with these comics, and they acted as my first introduction into the medium. For the most part, this pilot nailed it. RUNAWAYS Episode 1 feels like the comics; it bleeds the brilliant teen drama aesthetics and the superhero undercurrents. It masterfully captures everything that I loved about the RUNAWAYS while adapting elements to better fit the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. Director Brett Morgen and writers Josh Schwarz and Stephanie Savage nailed the darkly comic tone.

RUNAWAYS Episode 1 succeeds most in the ways it diverts from the source material. Typically, the closer a show is to the original story, the more fans will praise it. And RUNAWAYS episode 1 manages to brilliantly adapt moments from the comics. The Pride’s sacrifice looks and feels like it was torn straight from the book. So much so that it gave me chills.

However, RUNAWAYS Episode 1 also expands on aspects that the comic neglected. The team were friends in the comics, though only by their parents’ yearly meetings. In this, that friendship extends far further, but it fell apart. We see these teens two years after Amy’s death. The tension skyrockets in the high school drama moments because everyone but Alex wants to forget those days. And yet, in the best subtle moments, we see these characters slip back into their old ways. This expansion gives the eventual banding together of the team that much more meaning, and the battle with their parents more tension.

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Straight from the Page

runaways episode 1
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Speaking of the young cast, these actors absolutely nailed their roles. Ariela Barer (Gert) and Allegra Acosta (Molly) perfectly fit their roles. Gert came off more positive in this RUNAWAYS Episode 1; her mannerisms, and her personality shine on the screen. Barer elicits a lot of laughs, and I’m excited to see her character in later episodes. Gert acts as the glue for the comic book team, providing advice and the blunt truth at all avenues. Thankfully, Barer manages to give a bit more context and personality to this role in “Reunion.”

Acosta plays the youngest member of the team, but she is also the first character to gain her powers. Unlike the comics, we get to see her experimenting and playing. When she first discovers her super-strength, she starts by pushing around the Yorkes’ VW Bus. Acosta manages to represent the viewer’s potential reaction to superpowers. She doesn’t immediately dress up in a costume and fight crime. Molly tests out her new skills in a realistic way. She actually cheers when she manages to move the bus, and that really spoke to her youth and positivity.

Bright Lights

Virginia Gardner (Karolina) and Gregg Sulkin (Chase) manage to steal the spotlight throughout RUNAWAYS Episode 1. Gardner’s Karolina feels far more innocent, and for that reason, she differs the most from the source material. The adaptation’s version of the character was raised in the Church of the Gibborim, an institution run by her mother Leslie. Karolina has begun to question her faith as she starts to learn more about herself. We see her rebel in this episode, which lands her at a party with Chase.

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For those questioning whether RUNAWAYS is for you, this party might be triggering for a very brief scene of attempted rape. This might be a spoiler, but viewers should be warned. During this party, Karolina first experiences her superpowers. The shock of it knocks her out, and two party-goers drag her unconscious body to a bedroom. Chase sees them leaving with Karolina and seeks them out, stopping them just before the rape. Luckily, Gardner and Sulkin manage to make the scene very powerful. The portrayal of the perpetrators, Chase’s Lacrosse team buddies, seeps depravity. Their actions come off the screen as disgusting, as they rightly should. Most of this stems from Chase’s violent reaction against his former friends, and the tenderness he shows to Karolina as she wakes up.

This scene in particular displays the new additions to Chase’s character. In the comics, Chase is nothing more than the dumb jock. He’s a good guy with an interesting personality, but he isn’t going to solve the world’s problems. In “Reunion,” Chase shows off a new-found intelligence. He shows a talent for engineering, and he doesn’t let characters walk over him. He stands his ground for the people in his life. Sulkin pulls of this dichotomy well, making Chase a far more rounded character.

Into the Darkness

still from runaways episode 1
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

With four of the six team members holding the spotlight, Rhenzy Feliz (Alex) and Lyrika Okano (Nico) don’t get the same opportunity to shine. It’s not that they are underutilized by any means. We do get to see Nico interact with her parents and her continued hurt over Amy’s passing. We also get to see her practice a Wiccan ritual on the beach, giving new insight into her character. Also, Alex acts as the gateway for new viewers, giving a glimpse into the show’s history. Both of them did fine jobs, but they were simply overshadowed. In further episodes, where their arcs take center stage, I cannot wait to see what Feliz and Okano bring to their characters.

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The same goes for the parents. The Pride do have moments throughout. Brittany Ishibashi (Tina Minoru) and James Marsters (Victor Stein) manage to strike a cutting pair on the screen. But for the most part, the parents feel underutilized in this episode. This makes sense, as the focus should be on the kids. Still, I’d like to see more of the parents in future episodes. They seem so true to the comic books that I’d hate to see them go to waste.

Final Thoughts: RUNAWAYS Episode 1 “Reunion”

RUNAWAYS Episode 1 brilliantly introduces viewers to the RUNAWAYS world. With a deep focus on the young actors and their drama before their parents’ betrayal, we gain a deep insight into their minds. While the parents do not get the same focus, I fully trust that future episodes will give them a deeper spotlight. As a long time fan of the RUNAWAYS comics, I give this series a major stamp of approval. It differs greatly from the comics, namely in the strange addition of the Church of Gibborim, but it delves into these differences with pride and gives viewers a new twist on a fan favorite story.

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