Runaways # 14
Alex wiggles a way out of the current Gibborim crisis faced by the crew, though he still isn’t entirely trusted by them. There’s now a clock ticking as the children of the pride only have seven days to make good on the deal their parents reneged on by…well, dying. Meanwhile, Old Lace is the focus of a day (night?) in the life story that hints that our team may be taking on a new member.
This issue is cut in half, with roughly half the page count continuing the main story we left off with last issue and the second half being more of an Old Lace focused interlude taking place after the A story ends. Though the A story felt short, it did feel structurally sound. Let’s start with that. The team is in a standoff with the Gibborim Jrs., who are demanding that this new pride finish off where the old Pride started by sacrificing another young girl to complete the ceremony of lightning. The team, of course, is adamantly against it, but don’t really have a way to back their bite. Alex agrees to the deal but demands more time to deliver the package, ending the standoff.
Not a lot of consequence occurs in this installment, owing to the shortened length of the A-story in the issue. Perhaps Anka just has to draw certain key scenes, requiring that the bulk of the main arc be saved for the next issue. Alex continues to worm his way back into the team, which is worrying to me on several levels. The plot and writing seem to want to imply that the team is entirely without any options, but as presented, it doesn’t really sell the notion that Alex is their only salvation. Now, as most people who know me and possibly follow my Tumblr, I love me a good problematic antihero fave and Alex would seem to fall into that category. But, he just isn’t that compelling to me on that kind of register either. His last-minute turn in BKV’s Runaways came too late to really paint his villain persona with any kind of nuance or subtlety and his appearances in the recent Power Man/Iron Fist series didn’t do him any character development favors either. He remains more of a flat and manipulative villain type that hasn’t been developed or given more layers that might justify his inclusion on the team for dramatic purposes or make the reader nod and follow along to see what his end game is. The issue with Alex’s sudden appearance is that the team seems to not be taking enough precautions around him while this reader’s sensibilities are all but ringing alarm bells at where his arc in this series will go.
There are a few character beats that were truly enjoyable, even in such a shortened story page count. Nico’s new spell, and Gert’s ‘oh so Gert’ response to it, was delightful. It’s nice when a writer finds a creative way for Nico to do magic with new words she’s never used before (at least, I think she hasn’t. Editorial is keeping track of this, right?), even though the intended effect may not have been what happened. Nico and Karolina’s relationship continues to develop, which I want to see more of.
The second half of the book offers a kind of ‘night in the life’ deleted scene mini-story focusing on Old Lace as she wanders around team HQ looking for some affection, which unfortunately most of the team is a little bit busy to provide. Watching adorable anthropomorphic-esque animals walking around doing fun stuff is always a delight in its own right, with the various scenes Old Lace walks in and on varying its produced mileage. The scene shared by Alex with Molly leaves me with the same concerns I’ve mentioned above…and should the team really be letting him walk around HQ without supervision? We see where Nico and Karolina go after the conclusion of the A-story, which was a cute, if not plot/development heavy moment. It was nice to see a callback to the sunroof Chase installed two issues ago. There is a moment of genuine connection with ‘Gib’, the Gibborim enforcer left behind to make sure the kids are working to fulfill their end of the deal with the Gibborim, the next generation, who if I was a betting man I’d say will probably be a team regular soon enough. The diabetic-coma inducing sweetness of his scene with Lace certainly seems to be telegraphing that.
The sequence ends with Chase, who seems to be the only one of the OG crew who has a bit of time and affection to give, which makes sense and also hints at some potential rifts between Gert, Chase, and Victor. Overall, this second half of the book is a nice, fluffy cupcake of an interlude. Sweet and nice, if not entirely satisfying as a full meal.
David LaFuente continues on art duties on the A story, and you can read more about my review of that here. It was nice to see Runaways veteran Takeshi Miyazawa on art duties on the B story. He knows these characters and his style has improved dramatically since that early first run so long ago. The characters ooze with style, personality, and expression. He also manages to nicely convey intent and feeling very well in a script that takes place almost entirely from Old Lace’s perspective and thus contains very few actual words. His art had to do the bulk of the storytelling and he does it very well: from the creative picture world balloons to the endearing expressions Old Lace’s face takes on. I hope he does more fill-ins for this run sometime soon. I want to see more of improved and even better Miyashawa on Runaways.
This issue is a textbook definition of ‘fill-in’ and ‘set-up’ issue, though it isn’t entirely without merit or moments of fun. The B-story feels like the better half of them, as the A-story feels like an extended scene that could perhaps have been truncated if not for the need to keep a monthly schedule on the book. It might have been a better approach to end the standoff with the Gibborim in the last issue and then have this issue focus entirely on Old Lace and giving Takeshi Miyazawa more pages to draw.
Runaways # 14 A Nice Fluffy Piece of Cake
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 7/107/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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