Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Kris Anka
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Cover Art: Kris Anka
Published: November 8, 2017
When Chase burst into Nico’s apartment at the beginning of issue one, there wasn’t too much consideration to why he went back in time and did what he did. Love was sort the blanket excuse used to justify his drastic actions, and once Gert was bleeding out on Nico’s floor she doesn’t have the option to really say no. But even from there (in issue two mostly) there’s not really any hesitation about whether or if the gang should be gotten back together. Things haven’t worked out so great for Nico and Chase, (Gert and Victor are sort of outliers) but Molly is okay, and Karolina appears to be doing great! The moment when Gert knocks on her dorm door and they see Karolina’s face, any plans or ideas about their future together come crashing down. They sit together in her room and Gert tries to explain why the runaways need(ed) to exist. But after Karolina is much less than enthusiastic, Gert (and Chase after her) storms out of the room leaving Nico and Karolina alone. The next few pages are where the emotional heart of the issue lies, between Nico and Karolina, who maybe had the closest bond of any of the runaways (excluding Gert and Chase, but maybe not). The Runaways formed and connected over the shared trauma of what they saw their parents do, and that provided enough momentum to keep them together. But when there is nothing left to run from, when the unifying incident has resolved itself, then what do you have left? Carolina tries to tell Nico that she has moved on. She isn’t that kid anymore and there is nothing to hide from (although she may be trying to convince herself of this as much as she is Nico). Nico (as we’ve seen in previous issues) hasn’t had such an easy time of it. She needed Karolina and the Runaways help her grow up and stay on the right path. When that was all suddenly taken away she tells Karolina that she didn’t have much left, and so indulging in the fantasy of being part of a superhero team, being a Runaway even when there is nothing to run from is better than boiling water alone in her apartment.
Meanwhile, as Chase and Gert wait for Nico in the van, Gert has her own sort of breakdown. The realization of what Chase has pulled her into finally settles and it’s a bit too much. Chase may have had the right intentions when he went back in time, but the execution was lacking. Gert is displaced in time and context. While everyone continued on having adventure and growing older, just the other day she was getting stabbed by Alex’s dad. This is sort of covered up by Chase telling her that he loves her and Nico coming back to the van, but the problem remains. As they head towards Molly it is revealed that the villain, who has been seen only briefly, has been using Victor’s head as camera to spy on the runaways.
As has been key in previous issues, the faces of each of the characters really sell the dialogue, and in this issue body language was crucial. When we first see Karolina and she’s dancing round her room as a rainbow colored alien its the type of dancing that comes from pure joy. Or when Nico kind of suspiciously examines Karolina’s room/life, its the behavior of someone looking at something they’ve missed out on or could never have had. It really can’t be said enough about the depictions of each of the characters let you into an inner world that complements, but is just beyond dialogue. Teenagers/young adults feel things really acutely, and without the brilliant artwork a dimension of each of them would be missing.
(Subjective) Score out of 10: 8