With the announcement that Marvel television has complete casting the main characters in the upcoming Hulu TV series adaptation of Marvel Comics’ teen superhero series “Runaways,” CBR thought it would be helpful to fill you all in on exactly who the Runaways are. Be forewarned! There are spoilers ahead for the “Runaways” comic, including a major one that is pretty hard to avoid talking about in a “Who’s Who?”
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The Runaways were created by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Adrian Alphona. They debuted in 2003’s “Runaways” #1, which was part of Marvel Comics’ short-lived Tsunami imprint, which was designed to reach both younger readers and more specifically, fans of manga. Thus, three of the four titles in the launch (“Human Torch,” “Venom” and “Runaways”) had a real manga influence in the art for the series. The series opened with an annual charity event thrown by the parents of five teens (and one pre-teen). The kids only see each other once a year, but they’ve become pretty close due to it being such a regular thing in their lives. This time around, though, they discovered that their parents were actually a criminal organization who call themselves the Pride, and that this annual charity event was actually a ritual sacrifice! The teens then all ran away together and plotted for a way to bring down their parents’ criminal empire while also doing a little bit of good along the way. Here are the six original members of the group, plus three prominent later additions.
9. ALEX WILDER
Ever since he was a child, Alex Wilder was obsessed with superheroes. He was part of an online superhero role playing group for years. A child prodigy with a specific expertise in logic and strategy, Alex was the one who first came up with the idea that the teens all form a group and take down their parents’ organization. However, Alex was always somewhat distant from the rest of the group. He was the only one who chose not to take on a superhero name, for instance. In the end, it was discovered that Alex had remained loyal to his parents all along. He knew that the alien and mutant members of the Pride planned on killing all of the human members before the final part of the Pride’s big plan, which was to exit this world when their masters, the Gibborim, would destroy everyone else on Earth. The Gibborim had room for only six people. Alex planned on the six being himself, his parents and his teammate, Nico, who he was in love with, and her parents. In the end, Alex was killed by the Gibborim.
More recently, Alex was resurrected by Daimon Hellstrom to help tutor Nico in the dark arts when Nico was pretending to become a supervillain herself. Alex and Nico parted ways eventually and Alex has since become a burgeoning supervillain himself in the pages of “Power Man and Iron Fist.”
8. NICO MINORU
Nico Minoru was a teen who was a fan of Gothic fashion, which helped isolate herself from her family and other people. When she went on the run with the rest of the group, she was forced to open up to other people, but this also led to her being quick to rely on people a bit too much. A big example of this was her relationship with Alex, who she began to date after the team had formed. She leaned on Alex so much that she never even noticed that he was manipulating the whole group. This changed when Alex’s betrayal was revealed and Nico had to take on a de facto leadership role in the group. She matured in the role and became a wise and dedicated leader.
Nico is a witch. When she bleeds, she unleashes the “Staff of One,” which helps her perform powerful magic, although the trick with Nico’s spells is that she can only perform each one a single time. Recently, Nico has been part of the all-female superhero team known as A-Force. She initially went by the superhero name Sister Grimm, but mostly just goes by her real name nowadays.
7. KAROLINA DEAN
Karolina Dean’s parents served as Hollywood moguls, so Karolina grew up in the lap of luxury. However, she always felt a little bit out of place. This was seemingly proven true when Alex had her remove the medic alert bracelet that she wore (her parents told her due to her allergy to Penicillin) and she discovered that she had vast energy powers and could fly! You see, Karolina was an alien! Taking the name Lucy in the Sky due to her powers and the psychedelic nature of how she glowed while using her powers, Karolina felt freer than she had ever felt before. This helped her also reveal to her friends (and a little bit to herself) that she was a lesbian.
One of the most powerful members of the group, Karolina is also one of the most sensitive members, and the whole superhero situation has been very hard on her. She gets along very well with all of her teammates.
6. GERTRUDE YORKES
The most sarcastic and cynical member of the team was Gertrude “Gert” Yorkes, whose parents were time-travelers. Gert was passionate and opinionated, but a lot of her strongest views seemed to sort of mask her own insecurities, especially with regards to her feelings for her older teammate, Chase Stein, who seemingly didn’t think anything about her. That ultimately proved to be untrue and the two began a romantic relationship.
Gert’s main contribution to the team was through her psychic connection with Old Lace, a powerful dinosaur that would do anything that Gert asked it to do. The name Old Lace was part of Gert’s superhero codename of Arsenic, as together they were Arsenic and Old Lace, a reference to an old movie that Gert loved. While most of the other members eventually dropped their code names, Gert held on to hers as long as she could, as she was the one who sought out the most distance between herself and her parents. Tragically, Gert died in battle with a newly formed Pride. It appeared at the end of the last “Runaways” series that Gert might have returned, but the series ended before that plot could be resolved.
5. CHASE STEIN
Chase Stein was the son of mad scientists, but he tried to put off that image of himself, as he saw himself more of a rogue. He was the oldest member of the Runaways at 18. He stole a bunch of technology from his parents, including powerful gauntlets and the Leapfrog, the ship that the Runaways used for transportation. As it turned out, even though he gave off a strong sense of bravado (his superhero name was Talkback, after all), he was actually a really sensitive guy underneath.
He developed a romantic relationship with Gert, which caused some problems with Nico began to rely on him for support and the two shared a kiss. But he was devoted to Gert. Sadly, Gert passed away soon afterwards. Chase inherited Gert’s psychic connection to Old Lace. Chase and Nico were kidnapped by Arcade for a battle royale against other superpowered young people and in the process, Chase temporarily ended up with the power of Darkhawk. He and Nico also later helped infiltrate the Masters of Evil, but in the end they both returned to the Runaways together.
4. MOLLY HAYES
The youngest member of the original team, Molly Hayes was a mutant whose powers kicked in soon after the team went on the run. She had superhuman strength and invulnerability. Like the rest of the team, she chose a superhero name, but amusingly she went with Princess Powerful while the others wanted her to be called Bruiser. Again, though, she mostly just went by her real name.
As the youngest of the group, Molly was the one most affected with leaving her parents and the others had to serve as sort of surrogate parents for Molly. In addition, her youthful innocence often worked as comic relief in the series, as the glee she sometimes took in being a superhero was a blast to see. She especially worked well when they interacted with other superheroes. As a mutant, Molly often dealt with the X-Men. As the series went on, Molly began to mature and became a more dependable member of the team.
3. VICTOR MANCHA
The first addition to the team, Victor Mancha was eventually revealed to be the son of a supervillain and a civilian, but who his father was initially a mystery. As it turned out, his “father” was Ultron, who created Victor as a cyborg, using cloned parts of Victor’s mother to go with Ultron’s robotic parts. Victor joined the team and became a steadfast member of the group.
Later on, Victor’s connection to Ultron became an issue following the “Age of Ultron” storyline, and Victor became part of a short-lived Avengers spin-off group led by Hank Pym that consisted of android, cyborg and robot members. Following his work with that team, Victor was sent to monitor Vision and his newly created “family.” Tragically, Victor accidentally killed Vision’s “son” and was himself then killed by Vision’s “wife.”
Xavin was introduced in the second volume of “Runaways.” He was betrothed to Karolina Dean by their parents, as yet another secret that Karolina’s parents kept from her. Xavin was a Skrull. The issue with Karolina was that, of course, she was a lesbian and Xavin was a male. This was no problem for him, though, as he gladly took on a female form to please Karolina. Sadly, their wedding ceremony was interrupted by a war breaking out between the Skrulls and Karolina’s people and Karolina’s home planet was destroyed in the process, with Karolina and Xavin barely making it out alive.
During “Secret Invasion,” Xavin stood against the Skrull invasion alongside her teammates and the Young Avengers (including Hulkling, who was also a Skrull). However, Xavin’s time with the team was relatively short, as when survivors from Karolina’s home planet came to arrest Karolina over what happened at the wedding, Xavin sacrificed herself by impersonating Karolina and was taken into custody in place of her love (who she had knocked out first).
1. KLARA PRAST
The least known member of the Runaways, Klara Prast was a twelve year old who was married to an abusive middle age man in 1907 New York City. When the Runaways traveled to the past, they befriended a number of super-powered young people, including Klara. When the Runaways returned to the present, Klara begged them to take her with them. Considering how poor her situation was, they agreed to her request and took her into the future.
Klara had the ability to “talk” to plants and make them do what she wanted. She served with the Runaways for the whole third volume. Tragically, when the Runaways’ home in Malibu was attacked, Old Lace sacrificed herself to protect young Klara. Later on, it was revealed that Old Lace survived and had just been transported to another dimension. Klara’s personality was a fascinating one, since although she was younger than Molly, even, she was basically acting like an adult with her husband. Over time, though, she began to enjoy the future and act more like a pre-teen. She and Molly were strong friends.
Since their third series ended, the Runaways have not really been seen very much. Chase and Nico played a major role in both “Avengers Arena” (where Arcade forced teen superheroes to fight against each other) and its sequel, “Avengers Undercover” (where the survivors of the first series went undercover as young supervillains, using the cover that they were changed forever due to what they had to do in the first series) and Victor was part of “Avengers A.I” and “Vision,” but the other characters have barely been used, which is a shame considering how compelling they all are. Molly Hayes, for instance, was a very popular character at one point and yet outside of an out-of-continuity appearance in “Secret Wars,” she has barely made any appearances the past five years. Hopefully the Runaways’ profile will expand soon now that they’re going to be TV stars! Jessica Jones got her own comic book series again, so the Runaways are similarly due!