Back Issues: ‘Runaways’ finds a home on Hulu

Teen team a modern Marvel classic

PARKERSBURG — After finding success on ABC and Netflix, the TV side of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has expanded to Hulu with “Runaways.”

Debuting in 2003, “Runaways” is a relatively new addition to the Marvel pantheon compared to most of its multimedia stars, but writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Adrian Alphona made it an instant classic.

The story revolves around five teens and a tween whose parents meet once a year for a charity board meeting. The kids aren’t thrilled about the gathering or spending time with one another. Out of boredom, they go to spy on their parents and witness them murdering a young woman in a ritual sacrifice.

With no one else to turn to, the kids go on the run together, discovering their parents are a group of supervillains called the Pride. Together, they turn the gifts and abilities they’ve inherited from their elders against them, trying to right wrongs and stop their parents’ machinations.

Alex Wilder, the son of street-level-criminals-turned-West-Coast-crime-bosses, becomes the de facto leader of the group. Despite his only “power” being a brilliant intellect and strategic mind, he gives the team direction and holds them together in their earliest days.

Karolina Dean, daughter of two Hollywood stars, learns she’s not even human but a native of the planet Majesdane who can absorb sunlight and use it to fly and fire energy blasts. Her struggle with feeling like an outcast because of her extraterrestrial origin becomes a parallel for coming to terms with her sexuality.

Molly Hayes, the youngest member, learns her parents are mutants with telepathic abilities, while her power is super strength that leaves her exhausted after using it. Molly’s interactions with other heroes like Wolverine and the Punisher lead to some of the series’ funniest moments.

Chase Stein is the seemingly slacker son of mad scientists. He steals a pair of flame-throwing gauntlets, called Fistigons, designed by his abusive father and later shows more brains and heart than he initially lets on.

Nico Minoru is the child of mystics who bonds with an artifact called the Staff of One, a powerful relic that allows her to cast any spell she can imagine — but only once. This leads to a terrific sequence in the most recent relaunch when Nico scrambles to save a life despite uttering just about every word or phrase related to healing that she could think of over the years.

Gertrude Yorkes is the rebellious daughter of time travelers. While investigating her parents, the team stumbles upon a gift the Yorkes meant for their daughter after their passing — a genetically engineered velociraptor designed to protect Gert and follow her commands. Rejecting her parents, Gert adopts the codename Arsenic and names her new “pet” Old Lace.

Early on, most of the group tried to adopt codenames — Karolina was Lucy in the Sky, Molly picked Princess Powerful though the others called her Bruiser, Chase was dubbed Talkback and Nico went by Sister Grimm — but they didn’t really stick.

While linked to various aspects of the Marvel Universe, the team was not too caught up in any ongoing history or continuity. They didn’t get their first guest stars until issue 11 of the original run, when ’80s runaway heroes Cloak and Dagger were enlisted to track them down.

During the “Civil War” and “Secret Invasion” events, they teamed up with the Young Avengers. Nico eventually made her way onto an all-female Avengers team called A-Force, joining forces with She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, former X-Man Dazzler, Inhuman queen Medusa and the mysterious Singularity.

The team changed over the years with a death, a betrayal and some new additions. Among them were Victor Mancha, the “son” of Avengers robot bad guy Ultron, and Xavin, a shapeshifting Skrull betrothed to Karolina without her knowledge.

The success of the Runaways comics have always hinged on the relatability of the characters even in the most extreme circumstances. Just about everybody feels like their parents are the bad guys at some point; these kids just happen to be right.

The comics feature teens and are best suited for teens and older. This isn’t a title for younger readers.

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“Runaways: Pride and Joy” — Collection of the first six issues, outlining the team’s origin.

“Runaways: True Believers” — A group of former teen heroes are enlisted to bring in the Runaways, who are working to find and stop the son of Ultron after receiving a warning from the future.

“Runaways: Dead End Kids” — The first storyline in the series not written by Vaughan is penned by “Avengers” director Joss Whedon and features Molly’s showdown with the Punisher, as well as a time-traveling adventure.

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