Episode 49: The Runaways
Created by Brian K. Vaughn
First Appearance: The Runaways #1
In this episode of The Heroes, Villains and Sidekicks Show we’ll be talking about not just be exploring the origins of one character, but a whole team. We’ll be talking about the teenageers who make up The Runaways. This team has also made the big leap from the printed page to the small screen and is soon to be on HULU. Now I keep forgetting to mention this, but there will be spoilers in this episode that may or may not happen on the show, but who knows. This episode also scratches another itch. I’ve pretty much just talked about heroes and some sidekicks for a while, but this episode we have them all, heroes, villains and sidekicks.
So for this episode I’ll be talking about each member of the Runaways team, covering their powers, a little about their parents, and some of their story arcs and adventures. Now I’m going to be brief as I can, six team members is a lot, but this is a team and I want to cover each one of them because they, and the premise of the comic is pretty neat. Now since we’ll be covering so many characters, The Pride, The Runaways all that I’ll just be concentrating on the first volume of the series that covers everyones origin and backstory.
The Runaways was created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona and the first issue was released in July of 2003 and as part of Marvel’s “Tsunami” imprint, but it was canceled in September of 2004, but here’s the thing, it sold so many trades and was so popular that Marvel brought it back in 2005. And that’s how I learned about this series. I was and am a huge Vaughan fan but I missed this and when I saw the trade I picked it up. And man, it was good.
The series has started and topped a bunch of times with some crazy amazing creators. Here’s the shortlist, Brian K. Vaghan, Joss Whedon, Terry Moore, Humberto Ramos, Kathryn Immomen, and Sarah Pichelli. But let’s take a look at where the group started. So before we get started there will be spoilers in this episode and really all episodes, we are talking about the characters histories and their presents. So be warned. I’ll do an overview of the comic's plot and characters then dive in and take a closer look at each character, then jump back out to talk about the series.
The Runaways team consists of: Alex Wilder, Nico Mioru, Chase Stein, Karolina Dean, Gertrude Yorkes and Molly Hayes. The teenagers are all pretty close in age with Molly being to youngest being I’d say about 11. Now these guys are pretty different and don’t really have all that much in common. What they do have in common is the fact that their parents all meet once a year at Alex’ house for a charity event, other than this once a year meeting the kids don’t really ever get together, and none of them ever really want to go with their parents to the thing to boot. And having a teenager, I get it.
The kids think they have boring old parents who get together and have a little charity thing once year while they watch TV and sit around sulking and being moody teens. But one year, Alex discovers a passageway that leads to an underground and underwater lair where they see their parents sitting around a table in some very strange get ups. It looks like a meeting of superheroes and that’s what the gang thinks, until they bring out a teenage girl, say some strange words and Alex’s dad stabs her in the stomach and kills her. Now as you can guess this freaks the kids out a bit and they take off. They realize that their parents are not superheroes at all, but bad guys. They freak out and take off, but they make a bit of noise when they see the murder and their parents hear them and now know that their children know what they are.
But what are The Pride? We learn in later issues when Alex, having found their parents journal just what The Pride are and what they have been doing all these years. He deciphers the book and recounts the tale to the others of the team. The retelling starts with Alex’s parents Geoffrey and Catherine Wilder speeding away from a bank robbery, when they are teleported away. We then get to meet all the other parents. Dale and Stacey Yorke show up in a fancy time machine complaining about now being stranded there in 1985 when, pop, they are beamed away. Then Frank and Leslie Dean are beamed away off the set of General Hospital where they are actors, Victor and Janet Stein are working away in their workshop, and pop, then Gene and Alice Hayes are zapped away when they are being attacked by an angry mob, see they are mutants, and lastly Robert and Tina Minoru.
They all find themselves in an underwater citadel of some kind wondering how they all got there. It’s then in a flash that these huge creatures appear before them and explain to them why they are were summoned. These giants are really neat looking, very mythical. They explain to this motley crew that they are the Gibborim, three mythical giants who used to have massive power to reshape the world but are now greatly weakened. They wish to cleanse the world with fire and reshape it into a utopia and repopulate it with a select few. The Gibborim collected them because they needed agents on earth to begin the process, they needed a group that consisted of The Thieves, The Travelers, The Colonists, The Wise Men, The Outcasts and The Magicians.
The Thieves are the Wilders, The Travelers are the Yorkes, them being time travelers from the 87th century, The Colonists are the Dean’s, they are not really human, they are aliens from the planet Majesdane, The Wise Men are the Steins who are Stark level inventors, The Outcasts are the Hayes who are mutants and The Magicians are the Minorus who are masters of the black arts. They inform the Pride that if they make a sacrifice to the Gibborim every year for twenty five years they will have enough strength to achieve their goals. And if they agree they will have unimaginable power and wealth on earth during those 25 years and after, when the world has been destroyed and reformed they will live forever in paradise. They are all for the deal then the Gibborim add a little stitch into the deal, not all of the 12 will get a free pass to paradise, only the six that serve him best will be allowed in. The crew decide what the heck they are young and are going to live forever anyway right, all that power for 25 years, they jump at the chance.
So The Pride setup shop in LA and start to build their massive criminal organization. But there’s a bit of a snag along the way, Janet Stein becomes pregnant and wants to keep the baby. It’s then that in a group meeting the other members reveal that they all want to have children as well, it’s then they decide that the couples will each have one child, and that they will give the six spots in paradise to their offspring figuring none of them know if they will even make it into paradise. And all this time, before and after they have their kids, every year in a ritual called the “Rite of Thunder” they murder a girl sacrificing them to the Gibborim.
And all that sets the scene for when they kids see their parents murder a girl during a Rite of Thunder. So back to the night the kids find out about their parents. The Pride believe they hear their kids and rush up to Alex’s room to find them playing twister. The do a great job of hiding the fact they know but the cat is soon out of the bag. Alex, Gertrude, Karoline, Chase and Nico sneak out to investigate and find out just what the heck is going on. While doing this they all go to check out each other’s houses for clues. In doing this they all find out about their parents and discover some other cool stuff. Gertrude gets the biggest surprise when they find a dinosaur that she alone can control, it’s pretty cool. Chase finds his parents secret lair and takes a bunch of cool tech, first and foremost some pretty powerful gauntlets. And Nico gets a pretty powerful staff from her mother. Now all this happens as their parents are attacking them, see they know now because Alex called the police on his parents. The police work for the Pride and they head out to round up their kids. They defeat their parents well enough to escape but they realize that Molly is still at home with her parents and doesn't really know what's going so they go to save her. It hits the fan when all the kids are together at Molly’s. It’s parents against kids, everyone at full power fighting away. The kids of course get away and find a lair of their own and their parents prepare for what they have to do, kill their children. But they do find a note from one of them that tells them they have a friend on the inside, that one of them is a mole on the Pride’s side. More on that later.
So who are The Pride’s kids now that they have knowledge of who they are and what they are able to do. Let’s start with who becomes the leader of this bunch of Runaways, Alex Wilder. Before that fateful night they stumbled upon the Rite of Thunder all Alex was interested in was video games and perhaps one day becoming a game developer. His parents had another idea. They wanted him to be a doctor and knowing how powerful his parents are, it’s pretty obvious that he wasn’t going to have a choice in the matter. He has no powers, but you can tell right off he is a born leader and very smart.
Nico Minoru, the daughter of powerful dark wizards. During her first battle with her parents, when they are all trying to escape their parents Nico absorbs a power staff her mother is attacking her with, surprising her mother. When Nico bleeds the staff exists her and she is able to wield it. Nico is able to do this because she has inherited her parents abilities. Her and Alex share a brief romantic relationship, sharing their first kiss while on the run.
Karolina Dean is the daughter of famous actors, she also discovers after she removes a medic ID bracelet her parents told her never to remove, that she discovers her true origin. Once she removes it, a rainbow glowing power radiates from her and she can fly and shoot energy from her body.
Molly Hayes is the youngest Runaway and a mutant with incredible strength and near invulnerability. Due to her age, throughout much of the first arc she is a little confused about why they are on the run and what is actually going on and she only half believes her parents are evil. But she is having way too much fun as Princess Powerful, having fun with her new powers to really think about it much. She’s very much a child.
Gertrude Yorkes is a typical sarcastic teen with purple hair, oh, and a pet dinosaur. While she and the gang were checking out her house they found a velociraptor that she is able to control. She learns from holograms of her parents they went to the future and had it made to be her protector.
Chase Stein, the oldest of the group at 18, doesn’t have any powers either, but he did steal a pretty powerful weapon his father created, gauntlets called Fistigons. He plays the part of loose cannon and rebel. Later in the series he will also be physically linked with Gert’s dinosaur after she is killed in a battle.
So how does this all work itself out. Before the big battle we learn an interesting piece of information. The Dean’s and the Hayes have been planning on killing the rest of the Pride and entering paradise with their children. Being mutants and aliens, they can’t stand the humans in the gang and are ready to off them. But before they can the Runaways show up to stop them from performing the Rite of Thunder and killing the final sacrifice. During the battle we also finally get to learn who the mole was all along.
Just when things are going well for the Runaways they are betrayed by one of their own. Alex attacks Karolyn and knocks her out with the Fisticons and imboilizes Nico. See Alex found out about his parents the year before they all did and started devising his plan. He lead the others though his game with the end goal being to kill members of the pride and He, Nico, and their parents would now inherit paradise. It was a pretty big surprise. I remember being taken totally by surprise when he revealed himself. But things go sideways when Molly destroys the canister that holds the soul of the final sacrifice. This brings the Gibborim who are not pleased to loose their sacrifice. They now don’t have the power to reshape the world. Alex, steps up and takes full responsibility thinking they will understand, and they do. They say they respect him taking responsibility and then they incinerate him on the spot. The Gibborim then destroy the Pride’s underwater lair killing them all, luckily the Runaways escape. It’s a pretty tight 15 issue story arc. The team then go on to do some superheroing with some changes of membership along the way, losing some and recruiting others. And now you’ll get to watch The Runaways on the small screen, Hulu to be exact. The series starts on November 21st and I have to say makes perfect sense for a series. I’m really looking forward to it. You can see the trailer over at the site, heroesvillainsandsidekicks.com. The trailer is pretty cool and you can see this is going to be a pretty dark series. Since it’s a Hulu original and not on network TV there’s swearing and by the looks of it a lot of violence.