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Comic Book / Rainbow Rowell's Runaways

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The original crew: Old Lace, Nico, Chase, Karolina, Molly and... Gert?!

Runaways by Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka is a 2017 relaunch and Soft Reboot of Brian K. Vaughan's "it" book of the 2000s, released just in time for the hit Hulu series.

Years after Gert's death (two, that is), and the Runaways' disbandment, the band get put back together with the unexpected revival of Gert. Now the Runaways must... run away once again when trouble finds each member, and rediscover what it means to be a family.

Bringing back most of the original cast, and starting the numbering from the beginning, Runaways aims to recapture the magic that the original did the last decade, while also creating something new out of it.

The run currently consists of multiple arcs:

  • Find Your Way Home
  • Best Friends Forever
  • That Was Yesterday
  • But You Can't Hide
  • Cannon Fodder

Not to be confused with the 2017 Hulu series, though they were released at near the same timeframe.


The 2017 relaunch provides examples of:

  • Adoptive Peer Parent: After Molly ran away from her grandmother's home, Chase and Nico end up being these for her thanks to a magic spell from Nico's Staff of One.
  • Age-Inappropriate Dress: While the Runaways are trying superhero costumes at Doc Justice's house, Molly's first costume consists on a sleeveless midriff top and a very short miniskirt, which leaves a lot of her skin exposed. Naturally, it draws an outraged "NO" from the rest of the group.
  • Aimlessly Seeking Happiness: This is Karolina's main character arc from "You Can't Hide" onwards. With her academic career in shambles and her relationship with Nico having hit a plateau, she becomes a superheroine again because Good Feels Good. She also figures that if she can get Nico involved, it will give their relationship a boost.
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  • Almost Kiss: In Issue #5, between Nico and Karolina, until the latter pulls away since she has a girlfriend already.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: How Dr. Hayes describes the Pride.
    Dr. Hayes: I begged my Alice and Gene to walk away from the Pride. I know they were trouble—thieves, magicians. Actors.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Issue 12 has two — the first between Victor and Gert among a flock of glowing butterflies., followed by an epic kiss between Nico and Karolina following a fancy party.
  • Black Comedy Pet Death: Old Lace's consumption of Dr. Hayes' cats is played for laughs, with Old Lace being shown rubbing her stomach like she's had a big dinner.
  • Blunt "Yes": Molly asks Nico and Chase to be her legal guardians, so that she can go to school. Chase thinks that they can try it, and Nico snarks that "Right, we'll just magically become Molly's legal guardians". Chase thinks that it's a great idea, she can use the Staff and do it!
  • Continuity Nod: When Nico wonders if the X-Men could help with the Seed of the Gibborim, Karolina points out that the last time she saw the X-Men, she was nearly deported. This references an encounter with Hank McCoy and S.W.O.R.D back in 2010.
  • Contrasting Replacement Character:
    • Abigail, introduced as a stand-in for Klara, is filled with Sugary Malice compared to Klara's Sugar-and-Ice Personality - while Klara would close herself off to people because of her traumatic past and resultant trust issues, she was very loyal to those who earned her trust. Meanwhile, Abigail, who grew up in a happy, functional family, makes friends very easily and is outwardly affectionate towards them, but beneath the surface, she's a cruel, manipulative bully.
    • Gib, introduced as a replacement for Xavin, has a past similar to Xavin's, being the child of an Absolute Xenophobe race, but while Xavin was a former child soldier who struggled to shake off years of indoctrination, Gib is more of a blank slate who only hatched recently and is still figuring out his own morality.
  • Cosmic Retcon: A minor one. Chase changes history so that instead of the Runaways burying Gert, they never found her body. Nico's memories have specifically changed to reflect this.
  • Criminal Amnesiac: Victor's programming as Victorious initiates when Chase tries to reboot him.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Issue #4 seems to suggest that Chase actually does have super powers when Gert is talking to Molly's grandmother, but the latter is cut off elsewhere.
  • Derailing Love Interests: Julie can't handle the emotional distance of Karolina when she starts running with the Runaways again. On top of that, she accidentally eats Abigail's eternal youth cupcake which de-ages her to 13 years old and makes her just as emotional as she was at that age. She spends the whole time sniping at everyone until she is turned back to normal. At the end of it she and Karolina are broken up.
  • Dramatic Irony: The "Cannon Fodder" story arc reveals that Doc Justice's entire motive to recruit the Runaways as the new J-Team was so he could have another disposable group of empowered teenagers he could exploit to keep himself in the spotlight and get the money needed to further his hero career. Gert learns Doc's personally orchestrated many of his past recruits dying to get the exact same thing, and he's planning on killing Karolina next. Matthew asserts no one cared about the other J-Team members until after they died, and their deaths were crucial to make Doc stronger while Gert argues they don't exist just to fuel someone else's story. Prior to Rainbow Rowell's arc, the Runaways were already victims of this type of logic. Gert died to give Chase something to angst about, Klara was introduced as a child bride who'd been heavily implied to have been raped by her husband, Xavin was Put on a Bus so Karolina would have something to angst about, Old Lace died, Nico and Chase were both traumatized by Arcade in Avengers Arena and Nico even lost her arm, and Victor was retconned into having a drug addiction before he was murdered by Virginia Vision after he killed Vin Vision. Having Gert be the one to recognize Doc Justice is planning on having her friends, specifically Karolina, killed to exploit the drama around her death suddenly feels extremely appropriate.
  • Driven to Suicide: After suffering nightmares about Gert dying in Issue 20, Victor seemingly kills himself by unplugging his head and dropping it into a bathtub full of water.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Molly's grandmother.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Julie narrowly escapes being permanently stuck as a 13-year-old, which promo materials outright called a fate worse than death. Played straight with Abigail.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended:
    • At the start of the series, both the Runaways and A-Force have been broken apart.
    • Issue 2 has Nico explaining to Gert how the Runaways split. Much of it long-time fans already knew (Xavin leaving Earth, Victor joining the Avengers, Murderworld and going undercover), but we also find out what happened to the rest of the kids: Nico decided not to come back to the group after the events of Undercover and went off on her own, eventually joining A-Force. Klara got taken by the State, Molly's grandmother took her in, and then Karolina decided to leave, making Chase the only one left.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: A mild case for Gert. Time hasn't changed too much, but her friends have in the span of two years. For instance, she refers to Victor as "the only boy Nico hasn't kissed". Turns out, Nico and Victor did kiss, shortly after Gert died.
  • Foot Popping: Karolina does this when she kisses Nico at the end of issue 18.
  • Fountain of Youth: Abigail gave Molly a magic cupcake that could stop her from aging, but Julie Power accidentally ate it, instead, and it de-aged her.
  • Grand Staircase Entrance: Nico gets one in issue #12 before she and Karolina head out together. Karolina is stunned.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Nico isn't very happy anytime Karolina mentions her girlfriend, Julie Power. And that's even before Julie herself comes to visit Karolina and, by extension, the rest of the team.
    • Abigail's origins involve an almost-literal green-eyed monster - The Enchantress, who was at the time sulking about Thor rejecting her advances.
  • Happily Adopted: Klara has been adopted by her new foster parents.
  • The Heart: Lampshaded. Gert cannot, for the life of her, understand as to why the group fell apart after her death, stating that she was the appendix of the group. Both Nico and Chase correct her - Chase is the appendix, not her.
  • High School Rocks: Molly just loves going to school.
  • Holiday Ceasefire: One issue sees the team trying to throw a Christmas party while under house arrest by the Seed, their latest nemeses. Not wanting to be bad sports, they make sure that their guard, Gib, receives a present during the party. This ends up benefiting them, as Gib turns against the other members of the Seed, enabling them to survive the battle.
  • I Choose to Stay: Klara chooses to remain with her new foster parents rather than live with the Runaways again.
  • Imagine Spot: When Gert mentions Putting the Band Back Together, Old Lace imagines the group forming an actual band, with her at the drums.
  • Inconvenient Summons: In a desperate bid to heal Gert, Nico summons a doctor who happened to be brushing her teeth at that exact moment.
  • Internal Reveal: Gert learns about Nico and Victor's brief relationship in issue 18, after Alex offhandedly refers to Victor as Nico's ex-boyfriend.
  • Jealous Pet: Old Lace is shown to have a bitter feud with Molly's new cat, Rufus.
  • Keeping the Handicap: Sometime before the beginning of the series, Victor Mancha's head was separated from the rest of his body in the hopes of salvaging him after his evil sister-in-law ripped out a chunk of his chest. After being revived, he refuses offers to have a new body built for him because he feels he deserved being beheaded for accidentally killing his nephew. He eventually changes his mind after getting tired of the increasingly-embarrassing ways that his friends devise for getting him around (at one point, they tape his head to Chase's shirt.)
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Chase says that "everything fell apart" when Gert died. Many fans consider Gert's death the moment the series jumped the shark.
  • Morality Chain: How Nico saw the others. She's afraid of going bad, so she was hoping that all of them would keep her on the straight and narrow.
  • Never Found the Body: Chase traveled back in time and compelled Old Lace to drag his past self out of the observatory, enabling him to take Gert into the future just before she died. As a consequence, the team never found Gert's body in the new continuity, and thus never buried her.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Nico's decision to leave the team after her experiences in Murderworld led to child services moving in and taking away Molly and Klara, which in turn caused Karolina to leave.
  • Older Than They Look: Abigail stopped physically aging when she was thirteen... way back in 1969.
  • Opt Out: In Issue #3, Karolina opts out of rejoining the group since she's established a life elsewhere.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: When the doctor is teleported back to her house, she thinks that it was all just a weird dream... and notices that she's still wearing the x-ray glasses.
  • Ouija Board: In the first issue, Nico summons a ouija board to try and figure out if they need to bring Gert to a hospital.
  • Platonic Co-Parenting: Nico casts a spell that somehow enables her and Chase to be recognized as Molly Hayes' legal guardians, in order to protect Molly from being sent back to foster care after her grandmother is arrested.
  • Psychic Powers: Molly's grandmother gave her cats and her children psychic powers.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The first arc, with Gert driving it. The trope is name dropped quite a few times in issue #3.
  • Refusal of the Call: Karolina rejects abandoning her new life and rejoin the group. Though it's implied she felt really bad about it. This turns into a Changed My Mind, Kid when the entire team is gathered to rescue Gert and Molly from Molly's grandmother.
  • Sequel Series: The series is set 2 years after Gert's death in Volume 2.
  • Spoiler Opening: Gert comes Back from the Dead (thanks to Chase's time traveling) in the first issue.
  • Stuffed in the Fridge: An invoked in-universe version of this occurs in "Cannon Fodder." Doc Justice did this to two of the three deceased Princess Justices and possibly several other women who were on the J-Team to get media recognition for their deaths and to boost his own image. He's going to do the same thing to Karolina after realizing she's become more popular than him. When the the original Princess Justice died, it was an accident, but it still got Doc publicity all the same.
  • Superhero Team Uniform: The original J-Team all wore matching outfits. When the original 60's-style costumes went out of style, the team started using more individual costumes.
  • Survival Mantra: Karolina has one, taught by her therapist, which she seems to chant quite often.
    Karolina: I'm a good person. I'm my own person. My parents' decisions don't define me. I forgive myself for the mistakes I made when I was too young to know any better. I deserve to be happy.
  • Temporal Paradox: Nico warned Chase against going to save Gert through time-travel because of this. Chase retorts that she only died because of the various other time travelers involved, from her own parents to Alex's.
  • They Do: Nico and Karolina finally become a couple in in issue 12.
  • Time Travel Escape:
    • How the first issue starts. Chase went back in time to try to stop Geoffrey Wilder from killing Gert, but he was too slow and got there just as she got stabbed. So he had Old Lace drag his past self out of the building, and brought her in that condition to Nico in the future to heal her.
    • Gert tells Chase to do the same with Victor, but as Chase points out, unlike Gert, Chase has no idea when, where or how Victor was reduced to a head.
  • Trigger: Double dose for Victor; first he has to shout at Chase to get some vibranium, which caused an addiction that directly lead to his death, away from him, then he breaks down crying when Doombot puts him in a highly weaponized robot body, since it reminds him of his greatest fear of being a Manchurian Agent for Ultron to kill all superheros.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • While the events of Avengers Arena and Avengers Undercover are still in continuity, Nico's left arm has been restored. Chase pointedly asks her about this, but Nico refuses to explain. It turns out that she didn't know the answer herself.
    • Despite undergoing extremely crude surgery in the first issue, Gert is mobile again by the third issue.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • Gert brings her Deinonychus to a college campus, and the biggest reaction they get are a few raised eyebrows, and some particularly dense student mistaking her for a dog.
    • Similarly, Klara's foster parents don't seem particularly shocked when the team brings a dinosaur and a disembodied talking head to visit her.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Nico never explicitly reciprocated Karolina's feelings for her in prior series, but is now implied to be in love with the latter. Problem is, Karolina is now dating Julie Power.
  • Unwanted Revival: Victor is livid that Chase reactivated him, as he felt that he had deserved to die.
  • The Victim Must Be Confused: The team tries to "rescue" Klara from foster care, only to discover that she's been Happily Adopted. Unwilling to accept that Klara has good reasons for not wanting to return to the team, Gert suggests that maybe Klara's foster parents are supervillains who brainwashed her, as Molly's grandmother tried to do. Considering that Klara Has Two Daddies, this does not go over well and Klara asks them to leave.
  • Voodoo Shark: In Issue #2, it's stated that it's only been two years since Gert's death, but given how many major Marvel events the Runaways have been involved with in the decade since Vaughan left the series, this raises some serious questions about just how chaotic the Marvel Universe truly is.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Chase is convinced they can rebuild Victor. Gert is much less optimistic, and thinks they should give him a proper burial already.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Issue #3 has Chase tampering with Victor's head, causing it to reboot into Victorious.
    • Issue #12 has Victor and Gert become a couple along with Nico and Karolina, but then Alex Wilder shows up at the end.
  • Wham Line: Well, more like Wham Code Line, near the end of Issue #3:
    Execute <"Victorious">
  • Wham Shot: The final panel of Issue 12. Alex, who betrayed the team back in the first volume, is back.
  • A Wizard Did It: Molly loves school, but being a runaway, she can't go to school because they would take her to foster care. But there's a solution: let Chase and Nico be her legal guardians! The paperwork and bureaucracy are not needed: just take the Staff, say "Legal adoption", and that's it.
  • Womanchild: Abigail is at least four decades old. But since she stopped aging when she was 13 years old, she always acts like that age.
  • Writer on Board: Rainbow Rowell has made no secret of her preference for the original run and distaste for subsequent runs. One of the most poignant examples is Klara Prast being taken into foster care and adamantly refuses go with the team when they try to pick her up, because she's finally found a place where she can live a happy life. The team's heartbroken, especially poor Molly, but they accept her wishes and leave her be.


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