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Comic Book / Runaways (Rainbow Rowell)
aka: Rainbow Rowells 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, which this series should not be confused for.

Years after Gert's death, and the Runaways' disbandment, the band gets 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 last decade, while also creating something new out of it.

The series ran for four years and 38 issues before being suddenly cancelled in late 2021, leaving several plotlines Left Hanging.


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-Down Romance:
    • Inverted: Gert is brought forward two years in time in order to prevent her death at the hands of Geoffrey Wilder. Since her boyfriend Chase was already three years older than her when she died, he's now much too old for her.
    • In the "Best Friends Forever" arc, Molly's new friend Abigail is a middle-aged woman who is under a spell that allows her to remain 13 forever. Having grown tired of watching everyone she loves outgrow her, she tries to convince 13-year-old Molly to take the same deal so that they can be together forever. Whether her interest in Molly is platonic or not is not clear.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • Alliterative Title: Combining the creators name and the book's title works very well.
  • Almost Kiss:
    • In Issue 5, between Nico and Karolina, until the latter pulls away since she has a girlfriend already.
    • In the "Come Away With Me" arc, Nico comes very close to kissing Guest-Star Party Member Pixie, before pulling away at the last second.
      Nico: That was close.
      Pixie (totally oblivious to what almost happened): It was. You're a cracking magician when the chips are down.
  • 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'''.
  • Artifact Title: The title comes from the fact that its original cast ran away from home when they discovered that their parents were supervillains. In the current iteration of the team, only Gert and Victor count as an actual runaway; Nico, Chase, and Karolina are all legally adults, and Molly is technically legally adopted.
  • Back from the Dead: Gert, thanks to Chase changing time. Victor as well, thanks to being a cyborg and therefore not technically alive. In fact, including Alex, who was resurrected in Avengers Undercover, every Runaway who has died on-screen is now back among the living. Chase actually points this out when he swears to Molly that he'll never abandon her again;
    Molly: What if you die?!
    Chase: You think I wouldn't come back for you? I'm not going to be the only one around here who stays dead!
  • 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.
  • Bioluminescence is Cool: An extinct species of glowing butterflies is mentioned. Gert and Victor use a time machine to go see a flock of them.
  • 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." Cue Nico using the Staff of One to magically become Molly's legal guardians.
  • Civilians Are Irrelevant: In the "That Was Yesterday" arc, the team is given one week to prepare for a mass extinction event that will kill every other human on the planet. Not only do they refuse to warn any actual superheroes about the threat, they don't even bother to give a heads-up to their few civilian friends, instead choosing to spend their last week searching for a way to Take a Third Option.
  • Cliffhanger: The final issue ends on a few: Future!Gert has to take Chase with her in order to stop him from reforming the Pride, Karolina has to go back to her people to heal from her Near-Death Experience, leaving a heartbroken Nico to watch over the remaining team on Earth, Alex is planning something big, and the very last panel implies that Karolina's people are being ruled over by Xavin - who has fully embraced their Skrull identity...
  • Cliffhanger Copout:
    • Issue 8;
      Dr. Doom: Now I have you, Victor Mancha!
    • Issue 9:
      "Dr. Doom": Now I have you, Victor Mancha — Doom's best and only friend!
      Victor: Doombot! Que onda, compa?
      Gert: What in the what?
    • Issue 34 ends with Nico, who is already dating Karolina, about to kiss X-Man Pixie in a moment of passion. Issue 35 begins with Nico restraining herself, nobody else being the wiser, and it never comes up again.
  • 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: 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.
  • Defeated and Trophified: The Staff of One is revealed to be an ancient sorcerer who lost a battle against Nico Minoru's distant ancestor Takiko. As a penalty for losing, he was given the choice of either dying on her sword or becoming it. He chose the latter and was transformed into the Staff of One, cursed to serve the Minoru clan until they either all died off or one of them released him.
  • 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. 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 J-Team, who the Runaways are currently part of, have had numerous casualties over the years, to the point that only a handful of kids survived to be adults. Naturally, this alarms Gert, especially after finding out that Doc was deliberately killing them to boost his own popularity. 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.
  • 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.
  • Funny Background Event: Old Lace provides plenty of them in this series. Most of them seems to revolve around eating something, or reacting to what the humans are saying in funny ways.
  • 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 after the Vision mini-series. 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). He rebuilds his own normal body even later, after he was powerless to help his friends against the Seed.
  • 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.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: In Issue 33, the Runaways come to blows against X-Men Wolverine and Pixie when they come to grab Molly. It didn't help that Wolverine starts a fight with their newest companion Doombot.Turns out they mixed up Molly checking out their website with another mutant in the area sending two suspiciously contradictory messages about coming to Krakoa, and assumed the worst.
  • Love Confession: In Issue 35, Nico blurts out to Karolina that she loves her, after the latter thought Nico was about to break up with her.
  • 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.
  • Odd Name, Normal Nickname: Molly Hayes' birth name was "Mollificent Hayes". She prefers to be called "Molly".
  • Older than They Look:
    • Abigail stopped physically aging when she was thirteen... way back in 1969.
    • Turns out Doc Justice is at least fifty, yet their kid looks older then they are.
  • 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.
  • Queer Colors:
    • In the issue where Nico Minoru officially comes out as bisexual, the cover shows her profile framed in blues, pinks, and purples.
    • During her brief career as a freelance superhero, Karolina's costume consists of a white, pink, and magenta bodysuit, with the colors arranged in the style of the lesbian pride flag.
  • 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.
  • Stripperriffic:
    • Nico, to her annoyance, is initially presented with this kind of uniform for the J-Team; little more than a bikini and some strings of cloth. It's allegedly a bulletproof bikini and strings of cloth, but that doesn't really help when so much skin is exposed. Gert snarks about it:
    "If people start shooting at you, try drawing fire to your nipples. They're mostly protected."
    • Molly too initially gets a uniform that bares a lot of skin — quite inappropriate for a thirteen year old. She looks rather uncomfortable about it and the rest of the team are vehement that she is not wearing that uniform. Thankfully, she quickly gets a much more modest full body suit.
  • Sugary Malice: Abigail, Molly's new best friend, grew up in a happy, functional family, makes friends very easily and is outwardly affectionate towards them, but beneath the surface is a cruel, manipulative bully. And that's not getting into how she's really a full-grown woman who just hasn't physically aged.
  • 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.
  • Take That!: The "Canon Fodder" arc is an extended one to Marvel and DC's habit of killing off lesser-known, usually teenaged protagonists as a cheap way to raise the stakes of an event comic and/or boost the sales of otherwise flagging titles; Doc Justice is a long-time local LA hero who has led several iterations of the J-Team, a group of teens/young adults. The J-Team also has a very high mortality rate thanks to Doc constantly killing them off whenever he felt his own popularity was flagging, using their deaths to create sympathy and boost his own image.
  • 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 superheroes.
  • Two-Timing with the Bestie: Victor Mancha falls in love with Gert Yorkes, the ex-girlfriend of his best friend Chase Stein. Chase is not okay with it at first, but concedes that it's been two years since he and Gert were together, and thanks to time-travel shenanigans, there is now a considerable age difference between them.
  • 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. Finally explained in Issue 15; the spirit in the Staff of One restored it in the hopes of getting her attention after she kept ignoring his attempts to summon her.
  • 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 was often implied to be in love with the latter. Problem is, Karolina is now dating Julie Power. Luckily for Nico, Julie ends up dumping Karolina, leaving her free to make a move.
    • In a more platonic example, Molly took it for granted that she could go off to live with her grandmother and it would have no effect on her friendship with Klara. This turned out to be wrong; Klara quit the team almost immediately afterwards and got adopted, and isn't willing to give up her new life and return to the Runaways just because Molly decided that she needs her again.
  • Unwanted Revival: Victor is livid that Chase reactivated him, as he felt that he had deserved to die.
  • 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: In the beginning of the run Chase is convinced they can reactivate Victor from the head they received in a box. Gert is much less optimistic, and thinks they should give him a proper burial already. Turns out Chase was right — Victor actually reactivated some time back, but was faking his death because he wasn't sure he wanted to come back. There's a few abortive attempts to build a new body for Victor, until he ends up rebuilding himself.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Issue 3 has Chase tampering with Victor's head, causing it to reboot.
    • Issue 12 has Victor and Gert become a couple along with Nico and Karolina, but then Alex Wilder shows up at the end.
  • Wham Shot: The final panel of Issue 12; Alex, who betrayed the team back in the first volume, is back.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Leapfrog 2.0, the team's semi-sentient robotic vehicle from past runs, is now completely absent, and has yet to be mentioned by any of the characters, even when they are forced to abandon the Hostel.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In Issue 35, Karolina is appalled when she finds out that Nico made a deal to allow The One to "bleed" into her soul in exchange for calling the Staff without cutting herself.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Rainbow Rowells Runaways