Very few, if any, of the comics I’ve read have covered the spread of age groups better than Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan. It’s technically a series Marvel marketed for younger readers, and the cover is clearly marked 11 & up, but it’s a comic that I think adults will appreciate just as much as preteens and teens.
Runaways revisits the awkward years in every person’s life, when the world is a scary place, and all signs suggest that your parents are evil and crazy. The twist is, with this superpowered brat-pack group of adolescents, their parents really are diabolical villains. That’s what our heroes discover in volume 1.
The story involves a group of kids meeting each other, most of whom either haven’t met the others or dislike them prior to the events of the story. While at a dinner party attended by their parents, the kids go nosing around the mansion and find a secret passageway. While looking through a 2-way mirror, they see their parents murder an innocent girl as part of a strange occult ritual. At that point, there’s little they can do but run away.
As luck would have it, while they’re hightailing it, they happen to come across superpowers. One of the girls even gets a pet raptor.
Comic book fans will know Brian K. Vaughan for his mature masterpieces Y: The Last Man (one of my favorite comics), Ex Machina, and The Pride (if you haven’t heard of this one, check it out. It’s about a group of lions who escape the zoo while Baghdad is being bombed). The man knows how to craft a good cliffhanger. He even wrote for LOST during the middle seasons. Out of his books, Runaways is one of the few that are appropriate for younger readers.
As I said before, there’s a lot going on here, and adults will appreciate the series too. In addition, I’d say I found this comic to have greater insight into our society than most adult-oriented superhero books I’ve read. There’s other cool things in the series too, such as villains who join the fray later on that are similar to H.P. Lovecraft’s elder gods.
Sadly, Brian K. Vaughan stopped writing Runaways a few years ago, and other writers tried their hand with the series, but none of the newer issues quite worked. I’d recommend just reading the ones by Vaughan. They are conveniently sold in slimmed down graphic novels that resemble manga-sized books for the nice price of $9.99.
I’ve written a book titled The Madness of Art: Short Stories now available as a paperback and as an ebook.
Read other graphic novel reviews.