Reviews of trade paperbacks of comic books (mostly Marvel), along with a few other semi-relevant comments / reviews.

26 March 2008

Runaways, v. 6: Parental Guidance

Collects: Runaways v. 2 #13-18 (2006)

Released: October 2006 (Marvel)

Format: 144-page digest / color / $7.99 / ISBN: 0785119523

I always look forward to the next volume of Runaways, and Runaways, v. 6: Parental Guidance gives me no reason to change that.

Writer Brian K. Vaughan has created and sustained a teen drama mixed with superheroics that doesn’t disappoint. In Parental Guidance, Vaughan wraps up the “new Pride” storyline he began in Runways, v. 4: True Believers. Everything comes together as the team falls apart,1 picking up all the bits and pieces from True Believers and Runaways, v. 5: Escape to New York and wedding them into a moving finale.

Runaways, v. 6: Parental Guidance cover In the first story, Molly gets a chance to shine as she’s thrown into a group of pre-teen runaways and immediately has to become their leader in a rebellion against the Proctor, the Fagin-like adult controlling them. Molly, shown at her most mature, immediately after reveals her childhood vulnerabilities. It’s not unmissable, but it is entertaining with an ending that is moving without being precious.

The rest of the book reveals the mystery of the new Pride, which is out to take vengeance on the Runaways. The new Pride is more clever than powerful, but they still manage to be more than a match for the heroes. The Runaways’ problems come almost as much from themselves as the New Pride,2 with the new Pride exploiting their adversaries weaknesses. Vaughan doesn’t sacrifice characterization for the sake of plot or a joke — although it helps that his characters are meant to be witty and clever with the blind spots of teenagers.

Artist Adrian Alphona does an excellent job as always; it’s an indictment of the comics industry as much as a compliment to Alphona to say he can consistently draw women with body types somewhere between “anorexic” and “orca.” He can also go from relatively realistic to the fantastic world of the Gibborim, the giant angels who backed the first Pride, with ease. Unfortunately, the digest size has consistently muddied his artwork — any darkness seems to come out as too dark, obscuring the subtleties of Alphona’s work.

All this, plus an emotional ending I won’t spoil — this is about as good as it gets.

Rating: (5 of 5)

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