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Runaways #14

Posted: Monday, May 10, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Adrian Alphona (p), Craig Yeung (i)

Publisher: Marvel

The Plot:
After looking in on the Pride where the suggestion that they simply give up on the children is being bandied about, we rejoin the teens as they find themselves backed into a corner by a SWAT team. However, thanks to a wall of fire that Chase sets up, and a earthquake that Nico causes, we see the Runaways manage to get out of their newly collapsed secret headquarters in one piece. However thanks to this encounter the Runaways have been made away that one of their own is a back-stabbing traitor, and this in turn results in a feeling a mistrust between the teens. However, this doesn't stop them from making an ambitious plan to attack the Pride.

The Good:
This issue is yet another highly entertaining chapter in what is turning out to be the strongest arc of this book's short run, and my fingers are crossed for this book's continued survival, as it's easily one of the most engaging concepts for a new series to come out of Marvel in quite some time. I mean I like the idea that this book isn't simply a rehash of a series that was a proven success in the past, and that it's idea of an appearance by characters that would build up the book's fan base is not Wolverine or Spider-Man but rather it's Cloak and Dagger as this tells me that the book is more interested in using characters who suit the underlying theme of the series, rather than pandering to the typical formula that I've yet to see save a series from cancellation. Now instead of using this column to express my growing concerns that this book is on the verge of cancellation, instead I'll use it to praise the elements that I feel make this book deserving of a healthy reading audience, starting with the simple fact that it stars one of the more engaging cast of characters in comics, as Brian K. Vaughan has given them all a clearly recognizable personalities, and a role to play within the confines of the team. I mean my personal favorite character in the cast is forever shifting back and forth between Gertrude and Molly, as they are the opposite sides of the same coin, with Molly being young and delightfully naive, while Gertrude is often the only one in the room who is able to point out the group is acting like a bunch of dumb teenagers. The mystery of the mole hidden in the team is also a wonderfully compelling mystery.

The covers to this series are lovely to look at, but except for the Cloak and Dagger issues I believe they've all simply been poster worthy shots of the individual characters, and I have to say if there is one area that I would argue might gain this book new readers it would be to offer up covers that manages to convey more visual excitement. Show the team squaring off against a SWAT team, or being crushed by the mountain of rubble, and I guarantee you'll at least have readers giving the book a second look on the stands. As for the interior art it does a wonderful job of the big impact moments, like Chase's wall of fire, or the big reveal as we see the Runaways trapped under a mountain of rubble. There's also a wealth of little details like the opening page shot of Alex's father as he looks back on photos of happier times, or the way the art sells the idea that Molly is getting frustrated by the idea that she's being forced to live a life that is becoming increasingly unpleasant. There's also a wonderful sense of evil plotting capture in the final panel of this issue, as we see some members of the Pride have made plans of their own.

The Bad:
One problem I had with this issue is that it does offer up a somewhat casual dismissal of the idea that the cave-in that Nico causes looks to have killed some of the police officers that were sent after them, and while they were the bad guys, I found it a bit strange that the only moment where Nico receives an earful regarding her actions is from Chase and he's more upset by the idea that her actions destroyed his secret clubhouse, than the idea that it might've killed several people. I mean if nothing else it would've been nice to see some expression of guilt by Nico that she might've killed someone, as they have no way of knowing if the officers that had come after them were all evil, as they are wanted for murder and kidnapping so it wouldn't be much of a stretch to believe that most of those cops were simply doing their job, as unlike us readers, the Runaways didn't get to see the second encounter where we see this group of officers asking how high when the members of the Pride tell them to jump, and as such they would be operating under the belief that these could very well be true blue cops who were simply following the orders of a lieutenant who is under the Pride's control. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that this lack of concern reflects badly of the group, as the general rule of all heroes is that they are suppose to make every effort to save lives, even if they're saving the life of their deadliest enemy. Than again this book has never really established these teenagers as living by the super-hero code, so perhaps their behavior more in line than what I'm expecting.

And The Walls Came A Crashing Down:
Yet another enjoyable issue as this series continues to challenge for the top spot as my favorite monthly series, and this is even more impressive when one considers it's a title that features an entirely new cast of characters, and that I've only had a year and change to become so attached to them. This issue offers up a wonderful mix of action and humor, as the Runaways square off against a heavily armed SWAT team, and in making their escape they manage to get themselves buried under a mountain of rubble, as a rookie mistake brings the secret headquarters down on their heads. While all this excitement is playing out there's also some laugh aloud moments like Chase's opening comments in the battle, that display he's not exactly up on world events, or his outright goofy idea of where to build their new secret headquarters. The book also opens with a great little scene where we see not all the members of the Pride are out and out evil, and this in turn gives the surprise twist in the final pages even greater impact. I also have to say my interest in the idea of the mole has jumped up considerably, as this issue offers up a scene that neatly spells out the idea that it could very well be any of the six (even sweet, adorable Molly), and having the teens aware that they have a traitor in their midst makes for a nice sense of mistrust.



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