Before Saga and Ex Machina (and early in Y: The Last Man), Brian K. Vaughan’s Runaways was a blast of pure, bright imagination (still with sinister undertones) in 2003, as Marvel was succeeding with imaginative reboots and Mature Readers updates. The initial, self-contained run about a group of teens thrust together as they flee a deadly secret is a perfect book to introduce new fans to reading comics.
Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan is the #44 Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus of 2017 on Tigereyes’s Secret Ballot. Visit the Marvel Masterworks Message Board to view the original posting of results by Tigereyes. And, check out the Guide to the Runaways to track down every single issue.
Past Ranking: A 2017 debut!
Probable Contents: Collects Runaways (2003) #1-18 & Runways (2005) #1-24.
A second volume would be “Runaways by Joss Whedon, Terry Moore, & Kathryn Immonen” – check out 12 Must-Read Marvel Runs (that ought to be an omnibus) – 1998 to 2008 to see my predicted contents.
Creators: Writer Brian K. Vaughan and penciller Adrian Alphona created the team, with Alphona alternating art duties with Takeshi Miyazawa (宮沢武史) with inkers David Newbold and Craig S. Yeung.
(If those pencillers sound familiar, it’s because they are also the team on G. Willow Wilson’s ultra-popular Ms Marvel.)
Both pencillers are initially colored by Brian Reber, with Christina Strain taking over from issue #8 and remaining with the team across all of their runs.
Can you read it right now? Yes!
Runaways might be Marvel’s most thoroughly-reprinted series of the modern era outside of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men! You can get it in original hardcovers and paperbacks, oversize hardcover, pocket-sized digests, and hefty Complete Collection paperbacks – all as described in the Guide to the Runaways to track down every single issue. It’s also available in full on Marvel Unlimited!
Runaways is about a group of unwitting teen heroes finding their powers and themselves amidst an unravelling mystery about their families.
Notice I didn’t call them a “team.”
Brian K. Vaughan and artist Adrian Alphona created a cast who were teenagers first and superheroes second. Or third. Or maybe not at all.
Runways doesn’t feel like X-Men or Teen Titans. There are no costumes or codenames. We don’t even get to any super powers in the initial issues.
Instead, we’re dragged to a boring annual holiday party thrown by a set of ultra-rich parents, where they’re kids are stuffed in a room and told to “have fun” each year despite many of them not liking each other all that much.
This year’s party is different. The kids witness what they think is a murder at the end of issue #1 and aren’t sure what to do or to whom they can turn.
Vaughan’s cast of characters is delightfully not the norm for a Big Two superhero comic – four girls and two boys of a mix of ages, body types, races, and teenage problems (as well as sexual orientations, as we learn later). None of them feel entirely like a trope – beauty queen Karolina and California dude Chase come off the most flat to begin with, but they each have a character arc that proves them to be more than they originally seemed.
A lot of that can be credited to illustrator Alphona, who was a newcomer in comics at the time. His figures have a hint of dancerly Manga tweeness, but his ripped-from-real-life wardrobes ground them and connect to their distinct personalities. More than any other new group of Marvel characters in the past few decades, the Runaways feel like people.
As the kids begin to learn to rely on each other and themselves, they find that each of them has inherited a special power from their suddenly-mysterious parents. The powers are wildly different not only from each other, but from the comic book norm – Nico Minoru and Gertrude Yorkes especially stand out for their unusual abilities.
Runways is a metaphor for teenagers realizing their parents are real people with their own histories and mistakes, but Vaughan doesn’t tend to pound readers over the head with those narrative themes. Runaways never delivers “a very special episode.” It’s just about these six character bumping up against each other as they work through their problems.
Many fans enjoy the subsequent Runaways volume, also largely by Vaughan. I felt as though some of the magic was lost with the group’s main raison d’être resolved and a key personality missing from the cast. While Vaughan still writes the characters well and creates some gut-wrenching turns, the story feels tacked on to the original run.
Subsequent writers have always had the same struggler. Why should the Runaways keep running away? Even with the team-as-family theme that emerges over time
Will we see this omnibus in 2018? Yes!
With Marvel’s Runaways coming to Hulu as an original series in early 2018 and this run already collected in every other possible format, there’s no way Marvel will be able to resist releasing yet another reprint to reel in new readers.
Would I recommend buying it? No.
This series is already perfectly well-covered with affordable paperbacks, including recent Complete Collections that will allow you to own the entire thing (beyond just Vaughan’s issues!) in a single format across four volumes.
Past the completeness concern, I’ve found Runaways just doesn’t have re-read potential. It’s one of the few sets of oversized hardcovers I’ve ever downgraded to paperback.
The 2017 Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus Secret Ballot Results
- #60 – What If? Classic Omnibus, Vol. 1
- #59 – House of M Omnibus
- #58 – Captain Marvel by Peter David, Vol. 1
- #57 – X-Force by Kyle & Yost
- #56 – Namor, The Sub-Mariner, Vol. 1
- #55 – X-Force, Vol. 3 AKA Cable & X-Force, Vol. 1
- #54 – Conan The Barbarian, Vol. 1
- #53 – Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron
- #52 – Incredible Hercules by Pak & Van Lente
- #51 – Amazing Spider-Man: Brand New Day, Vol. 1
- #50 – Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch, Vol. 1
- #49 – Captain America (Silver Age), Vol. 3
- #48 – Doctor Strange by Roger Stern
- #47 – Marvel Horror of the 1970s
- #46 – Killraven
- #45 – Captain America by Mark Gruenwald, Vol. 1
- #44 – Runways by Brian K. Vaughan
- #43 – Superior Spider-Man