Runaways #15 Review
Perhaps one of the hardest tasks given to a comic book writer is to write a good “All-Ages” comic book. Often, the comic is either seen as too childish for older readers or too mature for younger readers. Brian K. Vaughan, I believe, has toed the line extremely well with his work on Runaways for Marvel, and that continues to be the case with this week’s issue. The big change in the comic in recent issues has been the emergence of Adrian Alphona (always a good artist) as an exceptional artist, especially for the type of stories Vaughan wants to tell, stories that rely heavily on the reader knowing exactly what it is each character is feeling just by looking at them. Credit is due, as well, of course, to Alphona’s inker, Craig Yeung and his colorist, Christina Strain. Toss in an excellent cover from Marcos Martin (my fav’rit), this is just a completely well put together comic book.
As great as the art has become as of late, this book continues to exist mainly as a centerpiece for Vaughan’s writing, and he does a very nice job in this issue. Perhaps because of the relative sales expectations for a Marvel superhero book as opposed to a Vertigo or “Wildstorm” book (I use the quotes because Ex Machina might as well be a Vertigo book), Vaughan seems to write this comic a bit differently from his other projects, with more of a reliance upon things happening, and less of a level of predictability.
The clever ending from last issue, with the return of not Alex Wilder, but his father from 1985, continues into this issue, as Geoffrey Wilder leads Alex’s gaming friends against the Runaways in an impressive display of strategy. One of the coolest bits in the comic was the way one of the new Pride (are they calling themselves the Pride? I forget) hacks into the newest member of the Runaways, Victor, “son” of Ultron. Their attempts at controlling him tie directly into his OWN worries of his control over himself (the Runaways were warned that he will grow up to become the greatest villain in the world), and make up the basis for Martin’s awesome cover.
Humor has always been an important aspect of Runaways, and it continues to be so, with quite a number of funny lines being exchanged in this comic, but the real star of the book is the interactions between the characters. Geoffrey Wilder is quite adept at using their own secrets against each other, but it is fun to see him use the friendship his son had with these gaming people to control THEM. It is so great to see how brainwashed the gaming people are by first, Alex’s diary, and now, by his father. This is where Alphona’s art shines – you can tell how uncomfortable these basically decent people are doing what they are doing, but they are just so convinced that the Runaways screwed over their friend that they are willing to do anything to avenge him.
So yeah, we have a lot of good character bits, some cool strategic ideas, a pretty cool dream sequence, a pretty cool action sequence, and a really nice cliffhanger (and one that plays fairly, in case anyone was curious). Just another impressive issue of an impressive book. And one that manages to be interesting for older AND younger readers. No wonder Marvel is doing a X-Men/Runaways issue for Free Comic Book Day. This is the type of book they should be crowing about. Recommended without reservation.