Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Kris Anka
Colors: Matt Wilson
Cover: Kris Anka
Published: July 18, 2018
After an issue that, while good, was a pretty large bummer, issue #11 tries to bring the vibe back up until it all comes crashing down. We’ll get to that ‘crashing’ near the end and how it further pushes some of the questions that have been brewing for a while, but let’s start with where the Runaways are after the difficulty of the previous issue. Truth is that they are mostly fine. Karolina only mentions Julie once, and nobody mentions Abigail (odd no?). The issue starts with Chase and Gert working on something as narration runs of how outsiders view their relationship as odd. After Gert sees Chase’s tattoo of her name this inspires a moment of crisis and Gert quickly leaves the room and the heads for the front door. Gert has only expressed her fears (back in issue #2 or #3) about being pulled into the future. She was left behind when she died, but doesn’t have time to catch up in the present. It comes up frequently, but the question of whether or not Gert wants to be here hasn’t been answered directly. As Gert leaves she passes Nico doing Karolina’s makeup on the couch. It is a rather intimate moment as she stares into Karolina’s closed eyes, which is broken when they begin discussing the difficult relationships they’ve had in the past. Nico asks Karolina if it is truly over with Julie, and when Karolina says yes she offers her a reassuring smile. As the two of them are talking, Doombot walks past and up the stairs to deliver a new body to Victor. Throughout everything that has happened Victor, not because people haven’t offered, has remained just a head. So when Doombot arrives with a new body that turns Victor into a giant gun, he immediately breaks into tears and Molly removes him from the body and they run off. He will later describe his reaction to Molly as an ‘allergic’ reaction, but it’s more complicated than that. None of them know how Victor lost his body, an event that took place during Tom King’s Vision run. That series focused on Vision and was (broadly speaking) concerned with the idea of self determination and the threshold between human and machine. Victor saw the each member of the vision family struggle with this question and seems to have internalized it with regards to his own circumstances, namely that he was built by Ultron to be an instrument of death. That still haunts Victor who isn’t yet sure that he is in control of his thoughts and subsequently his actions. He carries the fear of what he could become at all times, but is still unable to express all of this to his friends.
Between the scene with Victor and Doombot and then Victor and Molly is an entirely wordless few pages following Gert as she walk around L.A. She has always prided herself on her individuality which is expressed both in her fashion, the things she talks about, and her hair color. But as she walks around L.A. she sees so many, too many, people with purple hair like hers. We can’t be sure of her internal dialogue, but it’s not too hard to imagine that she might be wondering how you express yourself as an individual when everyone stands out. Whatever she might have been thinking she buys hair dye and new clothes and has a big reveal back at the hostel. There’s a great page as Gert comes down the steps and the reactions of the group border her on the right. Chase looks much more concerned than the rest of them, which inspires questions about what Chase thought he was doing when he went into the past to save her. He loves her, but he didn’t choose to go back to save just fifteen year old Gert. She’s going to grow up and become the person she was meant to and that isn’t Chase’s decision. This part of the issue ends before there is any response much response to new Gert and we get some interesting backup material.
In case anyone was wondering what happened to Klara (she’s from the Runaways comics in 2007, I didn’t know who she was), this little backup fills you in. Similar to how the Runaways showed up to Molly’s grandma to bust her out, they plan to do the same with Kiara. The short of it is that they show up to take her away, assuming that all grownups are evil, and Kiara puts them down definitively. In her room she works her way from Gert to Karolina to Nico to Victor to Molly, asking them (not in so many words) are they really doing okay? The final panels show the Runaways brushing off Kiara’s question, except for Molly who seems genuinely affected by what her friend said. And what Kiara said (and we’ve been wondering since issue #2) is, is it good for the Runaways to be back together? Considering just this issue, the Runaways seem in an okay place. Victor is struggling a little and Gert is figuring some stuff out, but Karolina, Nico, Molly, and Chase seem largely okay. But if we consider the last ten issues and also assume that the answer to this question isn’t the same for each of them, what happens then? This question potentially divides the Runaways into three groups, Nico and Chase, Karolina and Molly, Victor and Gert. Nico and Chase didn’t have much going on before the group got back together so are potentially doing better. Karolina and Molly were in stable situations and might be a little worse off. And Victor and Gert have sort of been included against their will and are still figuring where/how they fit back into the group. The Runaways don’t know yet whether they are better off and the whatever answer they may come to is messier than just yes or no, because families are messy and they are one. The other question that Kiara posed to them more implicitly asked them to consider why they are afraid of growing up. This question ran through the whole last arc with Abigail and the cupcake, but we still don’t really know what it is exactly that they fear about the future. None of them have had parental good role models, but eventually they will have to acknowledge the burden of not becoming their parents and figure how to shoulder it together.
Kris Anka and Matt Wilson can’t receive enough plaudits for how good this book looks every month. It seems to always come back to the faces and the clothes, and there was some fantastic work in this issue. When Nico is doing Karolina’s makeup and eyebrows while staring at her she looks so content. This all switches when they start talking about Julie, but the panels stay focused on each of their faces and so much of the emotional work of that conversation is done right there.There’s the moment when Molly grabs Victor’s head off his new body and he’s breaking down and Molly doesn’t quite know what to say and the background of the panel is entirely black. They’ve been doing black backgrounds for the more intense panels in the last couple of issues and it works really well to focus the reader in. The final shining moment is Gert’s makeover. She has brown hair that’s curled at the end instead of straight, a new jacket, jeans, and knee-high boot that match the jacket. It’s a great new look that doesn’t try to hide her figure, but takes pride in it. It doesn’t look like something Karolina or Nico or Molly would wear because she isn’t any of those people and she’s not trying to be. Anka and Wilson created something that is uniquely Gert, and it’s great.
(Subjective) Score out of 10: 7