If you’re in your teens or older, find and buy this
book.

General Information

Title: Runaways Vol. 1: Pride and Joy

Author: Brian K. Vaughan

Illustrator(s): Adrian Alphona

Original Publication Date: 2004 reprint of material
first published in
2003.

ISBN: 0-7851-1379-7

Cover Price: $7.99 US, $12.75 Can

Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Past comic reviews can be found here.

Premise

Six teenagers learn that their parents are secretly
supervillains.
This collects the first six issues of the series.

High Point

The M.M.O.R.P.G. has great dialogue, and says a lot
about Alex.

Low Point

A velociraptor? Given the amount of effort that went
into keeping
everything out of the public view, that seems
remarkably out of
place.

History of the Title

This was one of the Tsunami titles first released in
April, 2003. It
was the only title with no direct ties to anything
else in the Marvel
Universe, and (along with Sentinel, to be
reviewed later) it
was one of the two that didn’t feature well known
characters. Marvel
launched the titles, using Namor the
Sub-Mariner
as
a 25 cent launch title.

That was a mistake.

Namor’s first issue in that series (which has since
been cancelled, by
the way) was weak, and obviously a set-up chapter
that didn’t have a
complete story. There was barely even a narrative
structure forming.
Meanwhile, Runaways had much better writing,
and no name
recognition to draw upon. Had this been used as the
25 cent
promotional title instead, I’m sure it would have
been a hit
monetarily, and not just critically. (It’s been
hovering just above
the cancellation level for a while, but with
surprisingly little
reader drop-off. Most readers who tried it stuck
with it.) These are
good characters, and they are used well, with
plausible and believable
reactions to the world they have been thrust into.
Give this title a
chance, especially at this price.

The Scores

This is a very original series. We’re not
starting with some
second-tier hero, and we don’t have some weird
origins to cram in, or
some totally inexplicable guest appearance by
Spider-Man or Wolverine
to boost sales. It’s a good story, about a bunch of
kids who lived
normal lives, that is trying to survive the
competition on its own
merits rather than the usual launch title gimmicks.
I give it 6 out
of 6.

The artwork is very well done, although it
suffers a bit in
the digest reproduction. (Some of the dark scenes
are lacking
contrast.) I give it 5 out of 6.

The story is well done. There are only two
points, including
the low point, that bug me even a little. (The
second is the lack of
signature, which seems to be there just to keep the
readers in the
dark.) Neither one really gets much in the way of
the plot, though.
I give it 5 out of 6.



The characterization is very well done.
We’ve essentially
got 6 main characters and 12 secondary characters
going on. We know
something about every one of them before the first
issue is over, and
it just gets better from there. I give it 6 out of
6.

The emotional response this produces is
pretty strong. There
are more than a few genuinely funny moments, which
really help to move
things along. (Incidentally, if you don’t get the
“Arsenic and Old
Lace” reference, grab your credit card and click
here
. It’s
not Bureau 42 stuff, so it won’t be reviewed, but
it’s good.) I give
it 5 out of 6.

The flow is well done, keeping the
timelines, relative
locations, and multiple threads of action well laid
out. I give it 5
out of 6.

Overall, it’s a strong title, that deserves
better sales than
it’s been getting. (In February, for example, it was
#91 overall,
selling only 19,978 copies of #11. That puts it well
behind
Superman / Batman, and Exiles, both
of which I’ve
read and found inferior to this.) This collection
shipped to comic
shops on Wednesday, April 14, with cover art that can
be viewed here.
Find it and read it. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, Runaways receives 38 out of 42.