By Spencer Irwin
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Miscommunication has always been a major threat in superhero comics: after all, one of the most famous tropes of the medium is the idea of pitting heroes against each other simply because they didn’t take the time to talk and explain themselves first. Of course, the Runaways have never really been superheroes, so the miscommunication that plagues their team is a more subdued, realistic one. Don’t let that fool you, though: it’s easily the greatest threat the team faces right now.
Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka still kick off Runaways 9 with a more traditional comic book misunderstanding (the team isn’t being attacked by Doctor Doom, but by Victor Mancha’s former Avengers AI teammate Doombot, who I guess is just being a jerk?), but quickly delve into far more subtle and relatable examples of misunderstandings and miscommunication.
For example, here Victor states plainly what he wants, but Chase and Doombot are too busy trying to one-up each other to even hear him. That kind of miscommunication, where one can say something and be completely, sometimes willingly ignored, is far too common because sometimes people just live in their own realities and only hear what they want to hear. Of course, Victor’s communication skills here are suspect too — he’s saying exactly what he wants, but leaving out the traumatic reasons why. It’s easy to understand why his friends might not take his requests seriously under those circumstances.
Poor communication prevails throughout the rest of Runaways 9 as well. Karolina can’t seem to nail down what she wants to say to Julie, just that there seems to be some unease, and she won’t give Julie a chance to speak at all. Molly’s requests for advice, meanwhile, lead to two incredibly awkward and unhelpful conversations with Chase and Gert.
Chase is me whenever somebody asks me a question: I get so caught up trying to figure out what answer they want to hear that I often never understand why they’re asking. Gert, meanwhile, gets so caught up in semantics that her advice is completely useless. Yet, much of the fault lies with Molly too, who keeps asking vague questions instead of just coming out and saying “hey, my friend gave me a magical cupcake that would let me stay thirteen forever, should I eat it?” Without that vital bit of info, there’s really no way Chase or Gert could’ve responded that would have helped Molly.
That’s what I love about the conflicts in this issue: they can be frustrating, but in a good way, because they’re rooted both in the individual personalities and flaws of these characters and in the common dysfunctions of human communication as a whole. By reflecting our own worst communication habits back at us, Runaways 9 is a perfect guidebook on how not to communicate.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?