Headscratchers: Runaways

  • When the six families are first introduced, Victor Stein is the only parent shown mistreating his own kid: he punches Chase in the face for getting bad grades. Later in the same installment, Chase claims that his parents are "practically saints". In the third volume, Victor is one of the more sympathetic parents, insisting that he literally loves Chase more than life itself and telling his wife in a flashback that he wouldn't want to live forever without her. Is this a case of Values Dissonance, or did Brian K. Vaughan just forget how he originally characterized this guy?
    • I figured that when Chase said his parents were "practically saints", he was talking about the public eye. They were both rather well-known scientists and were thought to be good guys by most of the world. While they might not have been saints toward Chase, they were publicly saints.
    • I thought it was more a case of the abuser trying to justify his actions by claiming it was for Chase's own good and Chase not wanting to admit that he was being abused because of the Tough Guy image he tries to project.
    • The sad fact is, both abusers and their victims can end up with a lot of issues that seriously twist their perception of the abuse. Chase later says to Nico that he started 'making up lies' to make himself believe he 'deserved' the abuse rather than face the fact his father beat him for no reason, which is why he says he killed someone and that his parents were saints. As for Victor, well, unbelievable as it is, a father can deeply love his son while abusing him - abusers aren't the one-dimensional monsters we like to think they are.
    • Chase's father did not beat him for nothing! Bad grades are Serious Business for a Mad Scientist like Victor Stein.
    • It all depends on how Chase was raised - it could be he sees violence (and let's remember it's not all that extreme) as a perfectly acceptable "tough love" form of discipline, and his dad as a sensible no-nonsense guy.

  • Now, I've only just started the series but why is it that as soon as the kids discover the Pride they immediately assume that their parents want to kill them. Granted, the Pride are supervillains, but from what I've seen, most of them are decent parents and want what's best for their children. Is it just teen angst turned Up to Eleven or what? It bothers me that they never give their parents a chance to explain themselves either.
    • A day ago, none of these kids had reason to believe that their parents would ever hurt them (except of course for Chase, but he's in deep denial about that). They also had no reason to believe that they were capable of killing a woman in cold blood. Now they have no idea who their parents really are or how low they might be willing to go. If you thought there was the slightest possibility that someone was going to kill you, would you start interrogating them to find out for sure, or would you get the heck away?

  • If Chase killed his Uncle, how was he an innocent?
    • Based on his description of the event he ran over his uncle by accident which could let him pass for innocent.
    • It sounds more like Vehicular Manslaughter, which is usually an accident.
    • And who said that he was innocent, besides himself? The Gibborim rejected him. He's just a teenager with dellusions of grandeur.

  • In "True Believers", it's explicitly stated that Victor is a cyborg, created from his human mother's DNA and Ultron's cybernetics. But then when Gert hits him with a giant monkey wrench in "Parental Guidance", there's no blood—just a hole in his forearm, revealing the circuitry underneath. So exactly what part of him is human?
    • Apparently the DNA from his mother was used for a biological overlay (think Terminator) and as a template for his nanite organs to transform into over time.

  • At the end of "Live Fast" worn out from their fight with the Gibborium (Molly was asleep, Victor not at full power after BSOD-ing, Karolina out of charge and Xavin not in full control over his powers) they got confronted by Iron Man and SHEILD agents for not registering with the SHRA. When the book picks up again they are in New York talking to the Kingpin. How did they get past Iron Man?
    • That's probably why Joss Whedon skipped over that part of the story. But all you need is for Nico to say "Get us away from Iron Man!" and bam. New York, New York.

  • The end of the "Rock Zombies" story. First, that no one else can touch the Staff of One—okay. It's a little less of a Deus ex Machina because Nico has been getting more powerful (although is it me, or did that particular Deus ex Machina look like the Gibborim?), but why has the Staff imprinted or whatever on Nico now and not before, and without her knowing when she's been getting better at knowing what's going on? And why is that even still the Staff of One when it doesn't look like—not the point. The problem—the really big problem—is that playing the song backwards fixed the zombies. It's like they went "We have three pages left to wrap this up! Quick! What's some BS a kid would think of that we could pretend would work?" The magic was not the song itself. It was in the chant. Which presumably was in some language that actually had a vocabulary and grammar and syntax since it was used as a chant for a very specific purpose. And as we all know, playing a sentence backwards does not give you the opposite of the sentence. If you record "This is the most idiotic ending ever" and play it backwards, you will not hear praise to the GENIUS that is the conclusion of Rock Zombies. Same goes with other languages. You would need a different chant for the antidote spell. At least they could go to the next track on the CD!
    • Saying a spell backwards to undo it is fairly common, actually. This'd just be another example of that.
    • It's the Staff of One, the upgraded version. Nico obtained it during the group's field trip to 1907 after she was tortured by her great-grandmother "the Witchbreaker" who was trying to see if she was worthy of being a sorceress. Obviously the new and improved Staff is more touchy about who handles it.

  • After getting tortured by the Witchbreaker, Nico's Staff of One takes on a new form. But when it's owned by her mother, a more experienced and powerful magician, it's still in its "weaker" form.
    • Is it possible that when Nico's mother wielded the Staff of One it wasn't in a "weaker" form? What if the Staff of One changes according to whoever is wielding it, so it didn't change for Nico until her powers grew? Basically, it's original form was the "strongest" when wielded by her mother, but became a "weaker" form when wielded by Nico.
    • Witchbreaker said that the blood of her family got weaker and weaker as it continued down the line. Perhaps the reason it was in the weak form with Nico's mother was because it doesn't have a weaker-er form to go to with Nico.

  • This isn't as much of a qualm with the plot as it is something this troper has had trouble with while reading the series. Is it determined whether Karolina's name is pronounced as "Ka-ro-LEE-na" or "Ka-ro-LIE-na?" My gut tells me it's the latter, seeing that her parents took the surname of American actor James Dean when they came to Earth, which probably means they wanted her name to sound more "American." But at one point, Molly calls her "Lina bean." It could be read as "LEE-na bean," as it would be a rhyming pun, but it could also be read as "LIE-na bean," for its closeness to "Lima bean." Wow, my brain really hurts...
    • Word of God said on his website her name is "Like the state", which would be Karo-LIE-na, as in North and South. Also makes the "Lina Bean" joke actually make sense.

  • Why are all the Runaways single children? I know it would mess with the dynamic of the book, but it's a bit of a stretch that none of the couples in the Pride had more than one child, or went childless altogether.
    • Have you just started the series? It's explained in Volume 1, Issue 13. Originally, the Gibborim promised the Pride that three out of the six couples would be granted eternal life in paradise if they aided them in their plan to wipe out the rest of humanity. Then Janet Stein got pregnant with Chase. To make a long story short, the couples all agreed to have one child each so that their six offspring would all be guaranteed eternal paradise. They all must have been extremely careful not to get pregnant a second time and screw up the plan. What bugs me is that every single one of them goes along with it—including Frank Dean, who explicitly says that he doesn't even want kids!
      • The Yorks, the Steins, the Minorus, and (it's implied) the Wilders and the Hayes are all fine with having children (the Hayes only protest that they just might not be able to conceive). Mrs. Wilder explains the benefit of them all going along with the plan as a way to ensure that all of their legacies are passed on. In other words, the kids will be ambassadors of their parents, rather than risking that entire couples in the Pride are left out of Paradise. That's probably why the Deans went along with it - to make sure that their service to the Gibborim wouldn't be forgotten.

  • Nico sentences the Yorkes to a fate worse than death, crossing the Moral Event Horizon in my eyes, and no one says a word about it. What the heck?
    • Are you going to call out your pissed off much more powerful leader who just inflicted And I Must Scream upon supervillians that you only defeated previously due to sentimentality and coincidence like it was nothing, or would you be too scared shitless to question it or even think that hard about it?
    • Probably because the Runaways think it's a punishment they richly deserve. Let's not forget that those two nearly killed thousands with one of their bombs in that very issue and were willing to wipe out all of humanity.

  • Klara Prast: is she a mutant or isn't she? The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe claims that she's a mutant. If that info is supposed to be canon, then why hasn't it been mentioned during the few times the Runaways have crossed paths with the X-Men in the last few years? Everyone in the X-Universe as gotten all excited over the five new mutant signatures detected by Cerebra at the end of the "Second Coming " arc; you'd think they would have been just as excited over a new mutant being brought back from 100 years in the past. And if for some reason the Handbook is wrong and Klara isn't a mutant, then where are her powers derived from?
    • In the WMG section, there's a theory that Klara's powers are somehow from the gods. The reasoning is that the other runaways all have different sources of power (kingpins, mad scientists, sorcerers, aliens, mutants, robots, and time travel), so gods are what is missing.
    • She has said that she has always been able to make plants grow by talking to them, which doesn't gel with Marvel mutants (who get their powers by puberty). Children of mutates are born with their powers (see: Franklin Richards), but at that point in time there wouldn't be any significant sources or radiation to trigger that.
    • Probably, the X-Men detected Klara, all right, and when they detected that she was with the Runaways, they lost the interest. I'm sure that Wolverine still remembers when he gave a tour of the mansion to Molly, and he must not be very interested in repeating the experience.

  • Leslie Dean claims that Gert was always the one child the Pride considered expendable. Shouldn't that be Chase? At least Gert is smart.
    • That's why she is expendable; she is the one child that would not blindly follow the Pride's plan.
    • Chase has street smarts, his own method of transportation, his own hideout (in case the Pride might need to ditch their hideouts), and presumably, connections to other youth in the L.A. area, all of which would make a valuable addition to the Pride. Gert is only smart, and the elder Steins seem to be even smarter. They even make gadgets that Chase can figure out (the glasses, the fire-gloves) so that he can use them as an intimidation factor, as well as a weapon. Or does this belong in the WMG section?

  • Exactly how were the Runaways able to just waltz back into LA after the whole 1907 incident? As far as we all know, the Civil War is still going on (I believe it's 2006 by their timeline). What's to stop Iron Man and the cape killers from coming back to arrest them? Even if Civil War has ended, woundn't that mean the 50 State Initiative has been set up? Shouldn't there be a registered team patrolling LA or did I miss an issue?
    • There probably is one, and the kids have just been avoiding them. They're called the Runaways for a reason; the Pride, the LAPD, the Avengers, and Excelsior have all tried and failed to catch them. It stretches credibility at times, but the story wouldn't really work otherwise.

  • In the "True Believers" arc, why would the team be so willing to beat the crap out of Victor? In the third storyarc, they chastied Cloak and Dagger for having a typical "superheroes meet and fight then sort out differences", just seems hypocritical of them to do this.
    • Because Future Gert had just come back in time, with fatal injuries claiming that in about 20 years he will single-handedly kill every superhero on Earth including the Avengers, the X-men, the Fantastic Four (or Fourteen), and probably them as well. The kids certainly aren't going to chalk that up to a simple misunderstanding like with Cloak and Dagger.
    • It also adds that Chase loves Gert, and having Gert die in his hands (even if it's a future Gert), telling him who had just killed her... is the sort of thing that makes a guy go on a rampage of vengeance.

  • Why did none of the A-list supervillains like Green Goblin or Doctor Doom never try to take over LA? Let's see - access to time travel, powerful magical artifacts, hi-tech superweapons - what, Doctor Doom can take over an entire country but can't take over one city?
    • If you want to set up base on the West Coast, you could wage war against The Pride to try to take L.A.... or you could just go to San Francisco, or Seattle, or something like that, and not have to worry about them. Most would take the path of least resistance.

  • So would there actually be more than one staff of one? I thought it was called "a" staff of one, as opposed to "the" staff of one, implying that there was only one. Maybe it's just a typo.
    • I always assumed the "one" part was refering to the weilder, like how people can refer to themselvses as "oneself" making it more "the staff of me/you" than the "staff of almighty power of the universe" or it could just be a case of Ye Olde Butchered English. And well yes the Witchbreaker obviously had her own one in "Dead End Kids"
    • It's the Staff of One, as in you can cast any spell with it one time. There's only one of it. The Witchbreaker has that same staff, since she's Nico's ancestor and they've gone back in time.

  • In "True Believers", the Runaways debate killing Victor Mancha because in some far-off future, he becomes a mole in the Avengers and kills every superhero in the universe. Except there's some major Fridge Logic at work: Victor was created by Ultron and nearly every one of his creations has rebelled against their Ultron programming, including Victor himself. So how in the future does Ultron-1 (built in the 1970's) outdo his decades of Ultron-XXX upgrades in creating an AI that actually works?
    • First of all Sliding Timescale, Ultron-1 was built no earlier than 1990, probably later. Second the story referenced when he was defeated by the West Coast Avengers was well after he had upgraded himself about as far as he is in modern times.
    • Victor has a number of glaring weaknesses, including three logic bomb questions, feedback errors when close to another one of Ultron's creations and he's just as hackable as any computer.

  • I want to know what they plan to do about getting older. if they don't trust adults, how will they react to becoming adults?
    • Going off of Homecoming,it seems that they seem to become jerks and die(?) after 18.which I guess is one way to handle that problem. as for why only Victor reacts poorly to attacking Spiderman,lets remember he was designed as a major fan boy and hasn't yet expierienced the less favorable adult supers that the rest have.

  • I can't believe no one else has brought this up, or am I the only one bugged by Nico? She starts out okay, but once she becomes de facto leader of the group, she makes a lot of bad choices no one calls her on. I'll be lenient and chalk up all of her previous bad choices in Vol. 1 to inexperience and the trauma of her parents being evil, but let's look at a piece of her track record: kisses her best friend's boyfriend, covers it up, sleeps with the other guy on the team after the death of her best friend and tries to cover that up, casually decides to date him, then encourages him to cheat on her with a girl from 100 years in the past. Actually, the biggest thing that bugs me about this is her decisions when handling Victor, kidnapping him and sets it up (unintentionally, but still with unforgivably poor planning) in a way that ends with Vic's mother DEAD, despite that Victor wasn't going to turn evil for 20 YEARS. Does anyone ever bring up how lousy a job she's doing? No. Vic apparently forgets his mother was just murdered before his eyes and develops a crush on Nico (later either spending the night or sleeping with her), Gert turns around and forgives Nico for molesting Chase and lying to her, and Chase goes so far as to trust her with his final wishes when he goes off to sacrifice himself to the Gibborim. Heck, even the Gibborim think she's innocent, even though the only thing she's been innocent of is directly killing someone with her own hands. Another thing that bugs me: zombie KNOT!? How did she lose all those badass powers she had only a few issues ago? Did she get smacked on the head and lost all memory about how to use the Staff of One?
    • They actually do discuss this. Earlier when Nico had performed the spell 'Scatter' it not only affected their enemies, but also affected the kids' abilities to operate as an effective team. Once the whole "zombie knot" occurs, they figure that her powers have been acting strangely ever since she was tortured by the Witchbreaker.
    • It was more her powers were growing in bursts she couldn't control
    • She's a sixteen-year-old girl dealing with problems that would terrify the average adult on top of all the usual adolescent crap. It's a miracle she's done as well as she has.
    • They all thought that kidnapping Victor was a good idea, and Victor himself came up with the plan to rescue his mother. Kissing Chase was definitely not cool, I'll give you that, but it was done in the heat of the moment and she regretted it immediately. I thought that what she did to the Yorkes during Whedon's run was absolutely evil, but I seem to be the only person, both in-universe and in the fandom, who had a problem with it (see above). Besides, who else would call the shots? Molly and Klara are too young, Chase is too dumb, Victor is the new guy who's supposedly destined to become evil, Xavin is the even newer guy/girl who half the team can't stand, and Karolina...well, she just doesn't strike me as leadership material. Gert would probably make a great leader, but she doesn't want the job. That only leaves Nico.

  • The fact that Brian K. Vaughan killed off Gert bugs me more than any other event in fictional history, and not just because she's my favorite character. (MASSIVE SPOILERS ahead for anyone who hasn't finished the second volume.) From a narrative standpoint, Gert should have been the last character he considered killing off. At the beginning of Volume Two, we find out that Gert is going to be leading the Avengers in twenty years. Gertrude Yorkes, who calls superheroes "super-fascists," who has no powers and no combat training, who calls Nico a dope for thinking that she could ever lead their little band of runaways, grows up to lead the most famous superhero team in the world. That is an absolutely fascinating turn of events. What makes Gert change her mind about superheroes? How does she end up joining the Avengers? What talents does she discover in the next twenty years that make her a candidate to lead them? We'll never know, because Vaughan killed her off. I know everyone complains about how comic book characters never stay dead, but I think someone should resurrect Gert just so that they can do this storyline justice.
    • I assumed that this was to illustrate that You Can't Fight Fate doesn't apply here. That said her dead Avengers were the MC 2 team which itself has been declared an alternate universe particularly after One More Day.
      • I still say it would have been a thousand times more interesting to keep her alive.
      • Not really, have you seen what happened after Vaughan left? Status Quo Is God. Gert would never grow up and never lead a superhero team, because nobody ages in comics.
      • I have once read that the point in killing Gert (as with Alex before) was that she was the most important character of the story, so her death would have the strongest impact. It would have been far more easily to cause cheap impact by killing Victor.
      • Since Victor at the time was not going to become Victorious, then Gert as leader of the avengers may not have happened. That said, the biggest deal in her character is that she goes from a self righteous upstart to becoming a real hero. By her death, she has become a hero, willing to sacrifice her life for someone else. Yes, it may have been interesting to see Hero!Gert, but when this happens, she already HAS reached that conclusion. Yes there would be new story ideas, but her character arc is the same in both cases.
      • I've thought this over many times, and have discovered an exact science to why Gert was killed off:
      • Killing Nico would've made it look like only non-whites die. Plus, stupid ass leadercide.
      • Killing Chase would've left us with a "harem plus one guy" again.
      • Killing Karolina wouldn't have been as sad since she was gone for so long, plus then Xavin would've had absolutely no reason to stay on the team. Also, as with the above issue with Nico, he may have been averse to killing off one of the few canonically queer characters in the entire Marvel universe.
      • Killing Molly... Aw, come on, who'd want that!?
      • Killing Victor wouldn't have been as sad because he wasn't around as long, plus racist implications once again.
      • Killing Xavin would've been the least sad, expecially since he looked like a douche in his earlier appearance.

Plus, if you've read Vaughn's other works you'll notice the man has an obsession with having Glasses wearing people die. Y: The Last Man has that bespectacled Amazon leader get killed, Ex Machina has a kid with glasses shoot himself, that one Tom Strong story he did, has a bespectacled villainess jump out a window and die.
  • Am I the only one who has noticed Xavin spends most of the crossovers in male form even though she usually stays in female form in her own series?
    • Well he/she/it only stays in that form as a favor to Karolina. It's possible he/she/it wanted to stretch his/her/its legs a bit.
    • This was actually addressed at some issue, and Xavin finally embraced her female identity for good, and not just for Karolina's comfort.
  • Isn't Xavin's plot to spare Karolina doomed to failure as soon as her Majesdanian kidnappers expect her to be able to use the normal Majesdanian powers? S/he has all the normal Skrull powers and the Fantastic Fours', but I don't think that means s/he's able to mimic Karolina's. Maybe s/he's hoping to be held under the same sort of power limiter as Karolina's Med-Alert bracelet?
    • She did not intend to stay as Karolina forever. Once in the Majesdane home world, he would reveal himself as a Skrull, and try to amend the actions of the Skrulls that destroyed that planet.
  • If the Abstract is supposed to have the future written in it, and the Pride had several years to study it... shouldn't they had known that, in that specific Rite of Blood, their sons would see them, escape and ruin the whole master plan? There are so many things they could have done, such a fake Rite of Blood that they could see and got their original idea that they were super heroes; or simply gave them a free trip to Disneyworld instead of staying bored at home during their reunion.

  • Mutant powers are unique, with no two mutants being entirely the same, right? How the ever-loving fuck do Molly's parents have powers that are identical down to the letter, including the same glowy eye effect? It's also noteworthy that they look exactly alike with the same colour hair, eyes and skin tone. How?
    • Perhaps it's a power that only works when they both use it, similar to the one of Andrea and Andreas Von Strucker. And they may look similar because one of them thought it would be romantic to have a facelift to seem similar.

  • Is it just me or are the Majesdane soldiers who come to arrest Karolina just completely incompetent? I mean, 1) Xavin once mentioned that Karolina could recognize her scent no matter what form he took, which I assume to be a trait of Karolina's race. If it's not, then this point is moot, but if Majesdanes have enhanced senses, or at least a better sense of smell than humans, then why couldn't they recognize that the Karolina they took wasn't the real one? 2) They know that Xavin is Karolina's Skrull lover. They know this, and yet it doesn't occur to them that she might try to take Karolina's place? They've dealt with Skrulls for a 15-16 year war! They should know not to trust that anyone is who they say they are! 3) Why didn't they go after Xavin once they realized who he was? She's a Skrull (ex)prince! He was in charge when the missile was fired and Majesdane was destroyed! She might be only indirectly responsible for the destruction of Majesdane, but he makes a far better scapegoat than Karolina does! They could have taken her or even both of them! Why limit themselves to someone who wasn't by any stretch of imagination responsible for anything when they had a Skrull there to blame it all on? There's more, surely, but I've lost my train of thought. What do you think?
    • The dude the Runaways captured is a student, his sister is a soldier, and I don't know about the rest of the group, but I assume they're also soldiers from the way they interact and also how they have weapons and ships and stuff. Besides, it's not like you have to be a soldier to know that when dealing with shapeshifters, it's best that everyone is accounted for. Or that a high ranking member of the species that was directly responsible for the destruction of your planet following 15-16 years of conflict is a much better prize to raise troop morale than a scared, innocent teenager of your own species.

  • Here's something I've always wondered: Why is Nico's last name Minoru? In all my studies, I've found that in real life, Minoru is just a male first name, never a surname, so what the heck? I know Brian K. Vaughn to be a guy who does his research, so was he trying to be ironic somehow? What do you think?
    • If the 1907 arc is anything to go by, Nico's ancestors came to the States sometime in the 19th century. Perhaps the first one to arrive in the states was a man named Minoru, he introduced himself to the authorities in the traditional Japanese nomenclature (family name before given name), and the authorities accidentally recorded the given name as the surname. Alternatively, perhaps the family changed their surname to "Minoru" after Witchbreaker became involved with the Upward Path, the better to avoid further harassment.

  • The Gibborim said they'd only let half of the Pride, the six members who served them best, into paradise as an incentive to make them work harder. But serving the Gibborim seems to consist solely of feeding them a young woman's soul once a year, and if they ever miss a sacrifice they'll all be executed. So how exactly is someone supposed to serve the Gibborim better than anyone else? It seems like a pretty simple pass/fail system.