Marvel’s Runaways is the latest television offering drawn from the pages of Marvel Comics. Despite being a book that many people will not have heard of, Runaways has been around for over a decade, debuting in early 2003 to critical acclaim.
Created by Brian K. Vaughan, best known for comic series such as Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, and Saga, with art by the talented Adrian Alphona, the book tells the story of a group of teenagers who discover that their parents are more than they appear, being part of the super villain group ‘The Pride’.
Alex Wilder is the son of Geoffrey and Catherine Wilder, and the first member of the group introduced in the book. He’s the one that suggests the kids spy on their parents, which leads to them discovering their bad guys after witnessing them sacrificing a girl, and organises their runaway. Over the course of the books Alex becomes obsessed with the Abstract, a mysterious book belonging to their parents, and doesn’t really integrate into the team. Over the course of the series Alex is revealed to have his own sinister plan for the Runaways.
Chase Stein is the son of Victor and Janet Stein, the scientific members of The Pride. Brash and rebellious, Chase went against his parents even before he found out that they were villains. Failing to get the grades his father wanted in his studies, and rejecting their desire for him to go into the sciences, Chase was often physically abused by his father. As a part of the Runaways he’s often the most reckless of the group, charging into danger using his parents tech as his weapons.
Gertrude Yorkes is the daughter of Dale and Stacey Yorkes, who are revealed to both be time travellers. Already disliking her parents even before discovering their true identities, she quickly accepts the life as a Runaway. Whilst she doesn’t have any physical attributes or powers herself, she does possess a psychic bond with a velociraptor called Old Lace, which she can command to attack people.
Karolina Dean is the daughter of famous Hollywood actors Frank and Leslie Dean, who the Runaways discover are actually members of the alien Majesdanian race. Discovering that she herself is alien, and the medic alert bracelet she wears actually hides her powers, she removes it and unlocks the ability to absorb and radiate solar energy. Over the course of the series it is revealed that Karolina is a lesbian, and even enters into a number of relationships with other heroes.
Molly Hayes is the youngest member of the Runaways at just 11 years old, and is the daughter of Gene and Alice Hayes, who she discovers are mutants with powerful psychic abilities. Having inherited her parents mutant genes, her powers manifest, giving her super strength and invulnerability. Despite being the youngest member of the team she often displays emotional maturity, and is always willing to put herself in danger for her friends. She’s so strong that she was named the fourth toughest female character in the Marvel universe behind She Hulk, Rogue, and Miss Marvel.
Nico Minoru is the daughter of Robert and Tina Minoru, who were dark sorcerers. Using the Staff of One, stolen from her parents, Nico begins to practice magic, and eventually becomes the leader of the Runaways. Standing out in her ornate Gothic wardrobe, Nico is one of only a few Japanese-American super hero team leaders.
Over the course of Runaways the team have to deal with betrayal from within, time travel villains, their future selves, vampires, and alien engagements, as well as all the stress and difficulty of being a teenager.
The series forces the Runaways to not only confront the sins of their parents, but also to look at the kind of people they are, and who they want to be. Personal and romantic relationships shift, outlooks change, and some are even lost to death.
Runaways might seem like a book for teens, focusing on a group of kids, but it has a lot more layers than that. It displays surprising maturity and complexity, and connects to numerous parts of the Marvel Universe.
It’s not clear how closely the series is going to remain to the books, there have already been some big changes within the backstories and personalities of the team itself, so if you do enjoy the show but want to see some different stories with the characters, and to see them interact with people like Wolverine, definitely go and check out the books.