Review by Ian Keogh
Over their first three graphic novels the Runaways discovered their parents were criminals with technology and contacts way beyond those normal on Earth. They solved that problem, but it left them a bunch of teenagers, the oldest eighteen, without parents or a home. Since then they’ve lived through a lot, but discover early that the actions of their parents have come back to haunt them. The opening pages detail that Karolina Dean is the target for a group of aliens who believe her responsible for the destruction of their planet.
It’s actually a little more complicated than that, involving a skewed sense of justice and some convenience of plot. Terry Moore’s background is working on comics featuring extremely naturalistic relationships and conversations between largely female casts, and judging by the size of his name on the hardcover collection, there were high hopes of him applying that expertise to the Runaways. The dialogue patterns certainly change from previous writers, with a lot of cross-cutting and interrupting, which is more lifelike, but it also slows the story down considerably to no great purpose. There’s a lot of disagreement among the team, reflected by considerable dialogue. However, midway through the book Moore ends the chapter with a brilliant revelation and it seems as if all is to be forgiven, but he takes it nowhere. As might be expected, his greatest success is the sympathetic characterisation applied to the women of the team, particularly the younger Molly and Klara, but the lead male Chase, the oldest of the Runaways, appears almost to have regressed to their age.
The exaggerated cartoon style of new artist Humberto Ramos takes some getting used to, moving Runaways further toward the wackiness of Teen Titans Go!, but he’s great at big boots and the character interaction. By the end of the book it’s difficult to recall the cast were ever drawn differently. He goes a long way to compensating for the extremely slow release plot, always providing eye-catching images.
It’s not enough, though. What we have in the end is about four chapters of plot occupying six episodes, and an unconvincing lead-up to the ending that’s going to have the intended effect on very few readers indeed. Sadly, it also demolishes the most interesting relationship on the team. The villain for the following Rock Zombies is already in place here. Alternatively, both volumes are collected along with the subsequent Homeschooling, in Runaways: The Complete Collection vol. 4. As with previous Runaways collections, this is available in hardcover, paperback and digest formats.