Runaways, Vol. 1: Find Your Way Home feels like the comic equivalent of a warm hug. With heartfelt and character-driven writing from Rainbow Rowell and emotive art from Kris Anka, this first six-issue collection is a delight, especially if you’re a long time fan of the Marvel superhero team.
A Note To New Readers
While Rowell provides dialogue that quickly catches you up to speed, this volume has a few callbacks to past Runaways storylines.
Because of this I recommend at least reading the issues by series creators Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona first if you can. These issues can be purchased in two convenient collection volumes (here and here) and I think will make for a richer reading experience.
Runaways, Vol. 1: Find Your Way Home – What’s the Plot?
Taking place two years after the death of their teammate Gertrude Yorkes, the Runaways find themselves scattered. Some have found themselves a seemingly normal life while others contemplate where their life should go next.
When Runaways member Chase Stein appears in Nico Minoru’s apartment via time machine with a dying version of Gert in his hands the two quickly work together and are able to save her. With their friend back from the grave, each of the Runaways must now decide if their team is worth reuniting.
Runaways, Vol. 1: Find Your Way Home – The Writing
Rowell showcases a superb handling of the team with an arc that acts much like a character study; each character is put under the microscope allowing us to see their perspective and dynamic within the Runaways.
With these first six issues, Rowell is able to examine the current status quo of the series: What happens to the Runaways once they disband? Were they ever a team in the first place? If so, is it a team the members would want to come back to?
One of the impressive writing feats Rowell pulls off is her handling of Gert. Resurrection in comic books always has the potential to come off as unearned. However, Rowell uses it here to create dramatic emotional stakes.
Gert has to deal with a team not only two years older than her but a team who she thinks moved on without her. From dramatic arguments to hilarious bits of comedy this volume will not only tug on your heart strings but make you laugh.
Rowell’s sharp and well-balanced writing skills can be found all throughout the panels including the yellow narrative boxes. She gives them such a personality that sometimes they feel like characters themselves. In an early scene, one points out with dark humor that a Lyft driver doesn’t mind blood.
Runaways, Vol. 1: Find Your Way Home – The Art
Artist Kris Anka is a perfect match for Rowell’s writing. He is excellent at drawing expressive faces and is able to encapsulate how each character feels – even Gert’s pet dinosaur.
In one particular well-drawn scene Nico talks to her fellow Runaway Karolina Dean about whether they should rejoin the team. As a reader, you are able to see that there are unspoken feelings they want to say to each other but are holding back. If one were to take away the dialogue balloons you would still be able to get a general sense of the narrative just from seeing the looks on their faces.
Anka also shines with his character designs. Specific details such as Molly Hayes’ series signature hats keep the personality of the characters that fans have come to know, but the characters are given new more mature wardrobe styles and appearances. From Chase’s goatee to Nico’s partially dyed hair Anka’s changes effectively show this is an older Runaways team.
The Final Thought Bubble
Runaways, Vol. 1: Find Your Way Home is an excellent new beginning for one of the best Marvel superhero teams of the early 2000s. Writer Rainbow Rowell and artist Kris Anka prove to be more than capable of delivering the next great stories in the series.
Their care for the characters is palpable, and they’ve crafted perhaps the most well-executed take on the characters since Vaughan and Alphona. Heartfelt and thoughtful this is a series new or returning fans won’t want to miss.