Back in 2003, all-star comics writer, and all-around good dude Brian K. Vaughan gave birth to Runaways, Marvel’s significantly slicker version of DC’s Teen Titans. While the Titans reflected their adult hero contemporaries, the Runaways were distinctly their own characters. They were a ragtag group of super-teens who kinda-sorta killed their evil parents.
Their story was one of distrust and isolation from the larger scope of Marvel’s super-powered world. The Titans and even Marvel’s own Young Avengers felt sanitized in comparison, making an instant fan-favorite of Marvel’s new teen title.
After his initial, gut wrenching run, Vaughan eventually left the title in the hands of Joss Whedon. While Whedon’s book was still pretty good, it’s a generally accepted fact that things only went downhill from there. Over time, the Runaways were split up and slung into distant corners of the Marvel U, seemingly never destined to reunite. Then Hulu announced a Runaways television series, and lo and behold, here we are with a long overdue relaunch of everyone’s favorite emotionally maladjusted teens.
At the helm is Rainbow Rowell, arguably the queen of cute young adult fiction, having penned Tumblr favorites such as Eleanor & Park and Fangirl. Bringing in outside industry talent can go either way, but with her first collected graphic novel, Rowell proves herself more than capable of the task at hand. This Runaways installation, Find Your Way Home reads as an extended “getting the band back together” episode, but in those moments of trope, Rowell rediscovers what made the team special to begin with. As advertised on the book’s cover, Rowell opts to return long deceased character Gertrude Yorkes to the plane of the living, thereby resuscitating the heart of the Runaways.
Gert’s return is not all joy and roses. While the reunion with her psychically bonded deinonychus Old Lace (yes, this comic is in fact, lit) is a powerful and touching moment, her rebirth is marked by a messy, emergency kitchen floor surgery. When she comes to, she realizes her time-traveling boyfriend (along with all her other cohorts) are a solid two years older than her, thus recapturing those feelings of teenage isolation which made the original series shine so brightly. Gert becomes hell-bent on gathering up her old pals and searching for familiarity and comfort in what has become an unfamiliar world.
Not all of the Runaways are interested in … well, running away again. We find that many of the titular wayward youths have found new homes, family and passions since their last encounter as a team. While everyone is happy to see Gert alive and well, Gert finds herself disappointed in everyone’s newfound interest in adulting. The book takes a few dramatic turns, chasing the highs of arcs past and manages to set itself up for what may be the greatest run on the title since BKV’s seminal tale. These initial pages provide primarily tonal cuteness and catch-up information, setting up for a larger plot. Positioned as Marvel’s tactical dip into the young adult literature market, Rowell’s Runaways seems destined to become a runaway hit.