By Taylor Anderson
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
There are a lot of reasons to dislike social media, but perhaps one of the best is that it propagates FOMO, or “fear of missing out.” In in a nutshell, FOMO is when people generate anxiety over the fact that something cool is happening right now and they’re not a part of it. What with friends and such sharing all their awesome experiences virtually all the time, it’s not hard to see why this is now a problem. This fear though, must be nothing compared to Gert’s, given that she was dead for two years and resurrected only to find the world completely different from what she once knew.
Chase went back in time to save Gert because he hoped to rekindle their love. He roped (that is, gave her no choice) Nico into saving Gert from a lethal stab wound and now here things are. Gert is alive two years later, whether she’s ready for it or not. The hardest thing Gert has wrapping her head around is the fact that the Runaways simply “drifted apart” after her death.
At first she’s angry, feeling that Chase and Nico somehow disbanded her group of friends on purpose. However, she soon gives way to sorrow, thinking that all the connections she made with her friends was perhaps for nothing. In essence, Gert is feeling left out of the past two years, and frankly she’s justified in that thought. It wasn’t her choice to die and it wasn’t her choice to be brought back to life and into the future. Everything happening to her is coming fast and her reactions of anger and sadness are all too recognizable. Who of us hasn’t experienced the same thing when we find out that some of our friends had a fun time without us?
While there might be some who might complain that Runaways hasn’t really advanced it’s plot much, the simple fact is that Rainbow Rowell is doing what every good writer does. She’s taking time to establish characters and making readers care about them before anything too dramatic happens. For that reason, even though this is only the second issue of the series, it now feels like must-read.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?
There has been a part of me that always wished, when a story skips past the recap, that we actually get to see it. To see how this character would react to learning all of the insane things that they learn. But I’ve always understood the problems with this. FIrst, all the information is previously known. No new information is added, which means the scene doesn’t add a lot. If every scene should achieve multiple purposes, it is hard to justify a scene where no new information takes place. And secondly, a bunch of characters standing in a room discussing previously established information isn’t propulsive.
And this issue has both of these problems in spades. It isn’t exactly what I described above. This has new information, as it combines all the disparate story strands that have happened since Runaways was cancelled, and adds all the stuff that the original stories were missing (like how the Runaways reacted to Victor’s death. There was no room for it in the Vision, but the fact that it happened is something Runaways needs to address). But it has massive problems with information and propulsion. I mean, look at the location change. They leave Nico’s apartment to the Hostel. Nothing shows the lack of narrative propulsion than the fact that they go from the safety of home to the safety of home (got to say, I was a bit disappointed that Nico’s apartment was in LA. You can’t write Runaways without LA, but considering her recent stories and the way NIco was introduced, I had hoped Nico was living in New York. Have a major part of the story be her returning to LA as she returns to her old life).
There’s a lot of good here. I like how Gert is written, which keeps her immaturity at the forefront. There’s probably a good case to make that Gert was the least mature Runaway – Molly, despite her age, was highly implied to be smarter and more mature than she presented herself as. Meanwhile, Gert was obsessed with codenames and anything else that let’s her be anti parent. And it is in display here, constantly ignoring the emotional realities of the characters. She as this idyllic idea of what her friends are like, that ignores the fact that eventually they grew up. I mean, she was among the younger members of the group and she is technically 18 now. What did she think would happen when everyone hit 18 and got to enjoy the privileges of being 18 (like no longer being a teen runaway). Instead, she has an immature idea of ‘RIde or Die’. Hell, she even slut shames Nico, when calling Victor ‘the only guy Nico hasn’t kissed’ (which is, hilariously, wrong. I can’t wait for this book to return to Nico’s messed up romances and intimacy issues).
Meanwhile, Nico is being written fantastically. Roweel realises that Nico is the lead. SHe is the main character of Runaways. It can’t be anyone else. But Nico is being written so perfectly to address that, without having her absorb space and screw the rest of teh plot. Despite so much of it being driven by Chase and Gert, everything comes back to Nico and who she is. Part of ti is Anka’s fantastic art, with Nico either curled up in the chair or lost in shadow. But also how much of the recap comes back to Nico. Whether it is how her inability to deal with AVengers Arena or her struggles with Victor’s death, Nico’s our lead through the emotional aspects even when others get to drive the plot.
Chase, at the moment, is in some ways the wisest of the group, for once. He identifies the problems, reveals the truths. I described last issue as a story about how the Runaways are a bunch of adults who peaked at High School, and Chase is the one who realised that. Going back in time to resurrect Gert wasn’t the wisest move, but it came from an understanding of the problems they face. Where Nico tries to avoid, lock things up, Chase ahs confronted them. It lets him generally be honest.
And then there is Victor. THe possibilities here are endless. Victor’s head is just a good McGuffin. So much you can do, including the possibility of them finding out how Victor really died. But the most important thing is that it is so personal. Very interested in where it is going.
But yeah, the character work is great. Was last time. But last time was a sensational issue with propulsive narrative, story motivated character work and imagination. This lacks all three of them. It does important work, giving you everything you need to tell this story. Runaways will probably be a better book because of this issue. But it is a major step down, the bad issue that needs to happen for the good stuff to be there.
Solicitation text should never be taken seriously, but I look at the solicitation text of this issue, and wonder how much of it would be better if it sounded a little more like the issue they described. Did Chase and Gert’s love survive the years apart? Have Karolina and Nico’s feelings made friendship impossible? Maybe if there had been more of that stuff, things that introduced new information and set up emotional landmines, this issue would work better. Work on a level other than great characters. We’ll definitely get more about the Nico/Karolina stuff next issue (can’t wait. Nico’s messed up love life is one of my favourite parts of Runaways). But it could have spiced up this issue. Because this issue is missing something.
Honestly, looking forward to next issue, now that we’ve escaped recap mountain and can start ahving story alongside out great character work. An entire issue dedicated to Gert reacting to the crazy events since she died sounds like a good idea, but…