In 2003, a group of Los Angeles teenagers ran away from their lives after discovering their parents were agents of evil, and in doing so they found a new family in each other. These adolescents were the title characters of Marvel Comics Runaways series, created by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Adrian Alphona, and for several years they used their unique super powered gifts to battle the evil of their parents and any other threats to the L.A. Area.
With the end of their ongoing series in 2009 the individual team members drifted apart, and embarked upon adventures on their own and with other heroes. Sadly, this resulted in tragedy and trauma for many of Runaways, though some have managed to forge a path of their own. Those individual paths are about to converge in the recently launched Runaways, by writer Rainbow Rowell and artist Kris Anka, because Chase Stein has decided to reunite his family. In the first issue, he took a big and brash step towards accomplishing that goal by using a time machine to save the Runaways' first casualty, Gert Yorkes, who just happens to be the love of his life.
CBR spoke with Rowell about Chase and his family members, the role seemingly deceased artificial intelligence Victor Mancha played on the team, her plans for the Runaways' original leader and later betrayer, Alex Wilder, and the sinister figure that's been monitoring the team's reunion.
CBR: Rainbow, in these first two issues you've been slowly unpacking the history of what happened to the Runaways outside of their book for new readers and fans who may have missed those stories. It feels like one bit of past continuity that will be relevant to the stories you're telling is the physical and emotional trauma Nico Minoru endured during the Avengers Arena and Avengers Undercover series. Do you think she's truly confronted and dealt with what happened to her in Murderworld and after?
Rainbow Rowell: Kris and I are really focused, in this first arc especially, on how these characters have been shaped by their experiences and relationships. They were brought together by the greatest trauma – losing their parents – and then they lost each other.
Nico feels like she’s lost everything. All she has left is her magic. And she’s never had a comfortable relationship with that power. It’s not like Nico woke up one day and realized she could fly, you know? Her power has always been associated with pain and limitation.
The Nico we see in this story is tired of hurting. She’s looking for ways to push back.
Chase Stein fought side by side with Nico in Avengers Arena and Undercover, and it looks like part of the way he's dealt with some of the things he's endured is by jumping head first into repairing things; both devices and relationships.
Yeah, I think you nailed it – Chase wants to fix things, and he doesn’t stop to think about the consequences. If you go back and look at the Runaways’ history together, Chase was probably the least powerful, but that never kept him from rushing into a fight. I think Chase figures he’ll act first and figure things out later. That’s how he ended up in a relationship with Gert -- and that’s how he brings her back.
Founding Runaways member and eventual betrayer Alex Wilder returned from the dead in Avengers Undercover and later menaced Power Man and Iron Fist in the pages of their most recent series. Does Alex factor into your plans for Runaways?
I can say that Alex isn’t part of our immediate plan. When I first started on the book, Alex was tied up in Power Man and Iron First, which was okay because I already had a lot of rounding up and resurrecting to do.
But I think Alex is an important part of this family. And even though he betrayed the other Runaways, they’re always feeling his loss. He was their leader, and no one has ever really stepped up to replace him.
We saw Molly Hayes in Runaways #2, and it seems like the world has been kindest to her. What's your sense of Molly? Is she as happy as she appears to be?
I think Molly has a really strong sense of herself. She says what she’s thinking and feeling – and what she wants. We’ve seen her stand up to the Avengers and to Wolverine. Anytime someone tried to separate Molly from the other Runaways, she’d push back. “This is my family. This is where I belong.”
When we meet Molly in this arc, she’s two years older (13), but still very much the same kid. She has a lot of clarity about what – and who – she wants in her life.
Karolina Dean returns to the Runaways in issue #3. What can you tell us about what she's been up to since readers last saw her?
Of all the kids, Karolina is the one who’s really trying to process everything she’s been through, all the trauma and loss. When we catch up with her, she’s a freshman in college. She has a girlfriend. She has a therapist.
Gert, Chase and Nico show up at her door, like, “Let’s get the band back together!” And Karolina kind of pours ice water over their plans. “I love you guys, but we can’t go back to what we were.”