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Threefer: Runaways: Civil War, Vol. 8 & 9

November 19, 2010

Three, three, three reviews in one! I don’t always have a ton to say about comic books, particularly when they’re pretty far into a series, so instead of flooding your feed readers with three separate posts, I’m going to do a trio of mini-reviews for the three most-recently published installments of the Runaways series.

Genre: Superhero Science Fiction, Young Adult

Where did they come from? The library.
Why do I have them? Although the Runaways series has had its ups and downs, there’ve been enough ups to keep me reading.

138. Civil War: Young Avengers and Runaways by Zeb Wells, Stefano Caselli, Daniele Rudoni (2007)
Runaways, Vol. 7.5

Length: 112 pages
Started / Finished: 04 November 2010

Summary: The plot of the Marvel “Civil War” series is essentially that of the third X-Men movie: all super-humans are being required to register with the government, and while some are complying, many are actively opposed. The twist in the comic books is that the registered superheroes are being sent to hunt down the non-compliant ones – hence, a civil war. The Runaways have largely stayed under the radar, but when they get involved in a scrape with the government that makes the national news, the Young Avengers figure that super-teens of all stripes should stick together… but before they can work together to save some of their own, each team will have to convince the other that they’re friendly.

Review: This book highlighted two main reasons that I am not more into superhero comics. 1) There are so many intertwining characters and storylines and history and do-overs and cross-overs and general shenanigans that I don’t know where to start, and jumping in mid-stream is utterly confounding; and 2) there is suspension of disbelief and toleration of narrative silliness, and then there’s “Years ago, married Avengers teammates Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) and the android Vision conceived and bore twin sons, Thomas and William, via Wanda’s magic. Unwittingly created from two lost souls, the twins were actually born from fragmented energies of the hell-lord Mephisto.” That’s from the character bios at the back of this volume, and it goes on for pages like that. No thanks.

To be fair, this book did a pretty good job of summing up the civil war and dropping me in the middle of that, so at least I understood the context of what was going on. But I didn’t know who the Young Avengers were, what their powers were, and what their backstories were, so I missed the significance of at least half of what was said and done. The art wasn’t helping me out much, either – it was sort of sketchy and distorted, and it didn’t provide many additional clues to help me tell the characters apart. In short, not a terrible read, but not one I got much out of, either. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: This might be best for someone well-versed in the Marvel universe as an introduction to the Runaways series (albeit with MAJOR spoilers for preceding books in the series), but readers who are only interested in the Runaways’ side of things can pretty safely skip this one.

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First Line: “All clear here. Copy.”

139. Runaways, Vol. 8: Dead End Kids by Joss Whedon, Michael Ryan, Rick Ketcham, Jay Leisten, Andrew Hennessy, Victor Olazaba, Roland Paris, Christina Strain (2009)
Runaways, Volume 8

Length: 152 pages
Started / Finished: 05 November 2010

Summary: The Runaways are in New York, fleeing trouble in L.A. They find themselves working – against their better judgement – for a crime lord known as Kingpin. But when an operation goes badly and they use the a mysterious artifact in order to flee, they wind up in even more trouble – because the artifact turned the Leapfrog into a time machine, and now they’re stranded in New York City in 1907.

Review: I have to be honest, this volume was why I started reading the Runaways series in the first place (my local library shelves it with “Whedon” instead of with the rest of the series.) Still, I was a little bit apprehensive about the first volume written by someone other than series creator Brian K. Vaughan, even if that someone was Joss Whedon. And, while it didn’t go as badly as it might have, that’s not to say there weren’t a few bumps. Whedon throws in a score of new characters, most of whom appear for only a few panels at a time, and almost all of whom we’re never going to see again, which made things a little confusing and more cluttered than they needed to be. The book also starts more or less in media res, without explaining how things got to this point. Still, the writing was as snappy and funny as you’d expect from Whedon, and the story at the core of this volume was solid and touching. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I suspect that fans of Whedon’s comics that pick this one up cold will be thoroughly lost, but while I’ve more or less enjoyed the series, if it’s way out of your comfort zone then I don’t know that this installment is worth it.

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First Line: “As you know, the Pride is dead.”

141. Runaways, Vol. 9: Dead Wrong by Terry Moore, Humberto Ramos, Dave Meikis, Christina Strain (2010)
Runaways, Volume 9

Length: 136 pages
Started / Finished: 07 November 2010

Summary: An alien force comes to earth, demanding that Karolina return with them to atone for the sins of her parents – namely, the destruction of their homeworld. If they want to keep their group intact, the Runaways are going to have to stand together, but instead they all seem to be falling apart.

Review: I actually enjoyed this one quite a bit. I like Runaways volumes more when the focus is on the kids and their team dynamics, rather than on the external villain or whatever Marvel characters can be tied into the storyline. Luckily, one of the points of this installment was the team dynamics, so I was golden. I liked the addition of Klara to the team, I loved the artwork, I thought the mixture of action to dialogue was well-balanced, and I definitely laughed out loud more than once. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Just when I’m thinking of letting it go, this series manages to pull me back in.

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First Line: “How much longer are we going to sit here?”

Other Reviews: Once Upon a Bookshelf (Vol. 8), Reading Rants (Vol. 8)
Have you reviewed any of these books? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

© 2010 Fyrefly’s Book Blog. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Fyrefly’s Book Blog or its RSS feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is being used without permission.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2010 11:41 am

    I stopped reading after the first Runaways volume, but I guess I forgot that Joss Whedon had written one farther down the line. Bother. I’m trying to decide if that volume annoyed me too much to spend the necessary extra time reading the intervening ones to get to the Joss Whedon one that might not even be that good once I got to it. TRICKY. (I’m not being sarcastic. I hate reading only part of a series.)

    • November 22, 2010 3:50 pm

      Jenny – If it makes a difference, the parts that annoyed you about Vol. 1 are mostly gone or no-longer-important by Vol. 3 or 4. After that, though, the parts that annoyed me about the series (namely, extensive crossovers with established Marvel characters and a shifting of focus off the Runaways themselves) start cropping up with more and more regularity.

      I feel you on not finishing a series, though. At the very least, if you keep reading them and they keep annoying you, you’ve only wasted a little bit of time. (Assuming you get them from the library rather than buying.)

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