By Spencer Irwin
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
I love this line, not only because it’s so perfectly in character for the prickly Gert, but because it really sums up the relationship all these kid had with their parents: the people who raised them, who tried to kill them, each other, and the entirety of the human race, the people whose deaths they were partially responsible for, and the people whose deaths they still feel guilty for, even years later. In Runaways 6 Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka add another complex, loving, evil guardian to the list of loved ones who will forever haunt these kids: Molly’s grandmother.
Dr. Hayes isn’t the evil caricature, the world-threatening supervillain, that her parents were, but that doesn’t mean she’s any less sinister. She’s motivated out of love, but a love that doesn’t grow or evolve; a love for the way she feels things should be, not the way things are. It’s a conditional love, and conditional love is the worst — especially from family. Think of all the kids out there whose parents will only “love” them if they’re straight (or if they pretend to be), or who withhold love when their children don’t follow their commands or meet their expectations, no matter how unreasonable. It’s monstrous, and unnatural.
This is reflected in Dr. Hayes cloning her daughter, Molly’s mother. In a way this is a twisted reflection of Chase and Nico rescuing Gert from death, because while they brought their friend back to life and have been helping her build a new life in the present, helping her find and choose her own direction, Dr. Hayes decided that her daughter was simply DNA, DNA she could control and replicate to rebuild her family to her specifications. That’s not love, not truly. It’s a worldview that’s rigid and inflexible, and that doesn’t care who is hurt in its wake. Heartbreakingly, Molly was fully aware of who her grandmother was and was willing to be hurt if it meant being with family. It was only when her grandmother’s rigid ideals threatened Gert’s very intrinsic sense of self that Molly couldn’t take any more.
And that brings us around to the main theme of Runaways in all its incarnations: the family we build, not the ones we’re born into. These six kids have been let down by their blood, but they still have each other. They’re not perfect, of course — the issue opens on a full page of Chase’s self-loathing thoughts, at least in part influenced by the way his friends have looked at him throughout the years, and they all snipe at each throughout the issue — but consistently Rowell and Anka show us how these kids support each other when things get tough, comfort each other in their darkest moments, and truly, truly care about each other. Their love is clear, unconditional, and motivated by nothing but pure undying affection for each other.
Hey, who says a family can’t be five orphans, a robotic head, and a psychic dinosaur?
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?