REVIEW: Marvel's Runaways Season 2 Is Uneven But Still Promising

One of the major frustrations with the first season of Marvel’s Runaways was that the title characters never, you know, ran away. The second season solves that problem immediately, opening with teenagers Alex (Rhenzy Feliz), Chase (Gregg Sulkin), Gert (Ariela Barer), Nico (Lyrica Okano), Karolina (Virginia Gardner) and Molly (Allegra Acosta) on the run from their parents, who operate the nefarious Pride organization. As in the first season, Pride isn’t nearly as nefarious on the show as it is in the Runaways comic books, and creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage double down on the semi-sympathetic portrayal of the Pride members in the second season.

The real villain here, as in the first season, is the sinister alien Jonah (Julian McMahon, now a series regular), who enlisted the Pride members for his own ends, promising them power and prestige in exchange for helping him with his mysterious goals. The second season reveals more information about Jonah’s origins and motivations, as well as his connection to Karolina, who learned in the first season that Jonah is her father. With all the members of Pride still active, scheming against Jonah and each other while still searching for their missing kids, the second season is a pretty direct extension of the first, not doing much to expand the series’ world (at least in the first six episodes).

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At least one new face from the Runaways comics by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona shows up in those six episodes, although his presentation and backstory are so different that he’s essentially the same character in name only. Otherwise, Schwartz and Savage continue to focus on the tension between the teenagers and their parents, and despite living more or less on their own, the kids cross paths with their parents in nearly every episode, sometimes in ways that seem contrived just to make sure the characters continue to have face time with each other.

The kids do set up a home base in their signature “hostel” from the comics, a decrepit abandoned mansion buried underneath Los Angeles. They also start behaving more like superheroes, using their powers to combat threats and training to fight together as a team. The show’s fight scenes are still relatively sparse, though, and they’re not particularly impressive when they show up, especially compared to other Marvel shows like Daredevil or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The special effects, too, remain weak and sometimes laughably unconvincing. Karolina’s rainbow glow is meant to evoke awe and beauty, but it too often looks like a demo screensaver for a decades-old computer.

NEXT PAGE: Runaways' Character Work Shines, Though the Stakes Feel Far Too Low

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