With the current comic market not supporting quirky and fun titles like "Runaways," it's nice to have the book's cast guest-star in "Avengers Academy" #28, the conclusion of a two-parter teaming them up with the regular crew. While Christos Gage, Karl Moline and Jim Fern are clearly enjoying the chance to tackle these characters, it's hard to shake the feeling that this is one-and-a-half issues worth of material stretched into two.
Last month's installment had placed both teams in another dimension to rescue the previously-deceased Old Lace and about to come to blows because the Avengers wanted to have the two youngest members of the Runaways stay at the academy. So this month, the conflict... promptly deflates. It's one of those "don't blink and you'll miss it" sort of moments with all the tension draining away and "Avengers Academy" #28 rapidly turning into a comic book version of a clip show. Except in this case, Moline and Fern still have to draw everything.
It's a strange decision on Gage's part; we're given flashes of backstory for the entire cast, but one would have expected that to be unloaded at the beginning of the two-part story, not at the conclusion. This feels like we're just now having new readers get refreshed on the other half of the characters, but by this point either you're interested in the story or you've moved onto something else. The sad thing is I think the little character snippets are handled well, it's just at a point where it feels... well, pointless.
Moline's pencils look nice and while I'm not used to having Fern ink them, it's not a bad combination. The pair make the other dimension feel lush and untainted compared to the real world and both casts come across well. I think Moline's strength is shown especially when we get all the flashes into everyone's past; with just one panel per character, there's still a lot of energy in those brief moments. That's not an easy feat to pull off.
Despite the strange plotting of "Avengers Academy" #28, I do think Gage clearly gets the Runaways cast and if a new "The Runaways" comic ever started I'd be pleased if Gage was in charge. It's a nice glimpse into what these characters have been up to as well as an opportunity for them to appear again before long. I don't know if it'll happen or not, but I'd welcome them in this book's pages again.