Marvel's Runaways are less a team of superpowered adolescents -- now young adults -- than they are a chosen family forged together by young heroes whose blood relatives betrayed them. After several years together, they drifted apart and went their separate ways, but in the inaugural arc of the new Runaways ongoing series, writer Rainbow Rowell, artist Kris Anka and colorist Matthew Wilson brought the titular West Coast-based characters back together. And reuniting was just the first in a long line of challenges for them.
In Runaways #7 Rowell, Anka, and Wilson kick off the series next arc, “Best Friends Forever,” which finds the team wrestling with a number of challenges, including adapting their family dynamic in light of the individual changes each of them has undergone, dealing with one of their family's significant others and coping with the emotional traumas they endured while reuniting.
CBR spoke with Rowell about how the Runaways cast will handle these difficulties, and the roles the city of Los Angeles -- and the Marvel Universe's most infamous Doctor -- will play in this next story.
CBR: Rainbow, your first arc wrapped with the Runaways reuniting. So approximately how much story time passes off panel between the end of issue #6 and when you pick up with the group in issue #7? And what's the overall group dynamic like at the start of this new arc?
Rainbow Rowell: Not much time at all. About a week. We pick up with the gang all reunited in the Hostel and getting reacquainted. There’s sort of a class reunion feeing. They feel nostalgic about the old days, and now it seems like they have another chance to be together again.
But of course it won’t be like it was before. Their roles have changed. Kris Anka’s cover for issue #7 is a dysfunctional family portrait -- Chase is the excited dad, Nico is the reluctant Mom -- and I think that really captures the dynamic going into the next arc. There’s a chasm between the Runaways who have been allowed to grow up -- and those who traumatically have not. Plus Molly isn’t just a kid they can drag around behind them like before… she’s a teenager now.
So, we’re going to see the Runaways try to find new ways to be there for each other.
Most of your cast endured some emotional gut punches in this first arc, but it seems to me Molly had to deal with a lot. She regained her chosen family, but at the expense of the life she had forged with her Grandma, who was revealed to be doing some ethically shady deeds and even appeared to resurrect Molly's mom. So, how's she holding up in this new arc?
I think when you experience trauma – as a child, especially – you sort of shove it down, so that you can keep your head up and keep moving. Molly projects utter resilience. But she’s just made a choice you should never have to make as a 13-year-old. And she’s experienced so much loss already.
This next arc digs into the sort of teenager Molly has become, and how she’s already building a life for herself outside of the Runaways. The other kids expect her to hide in the Hostel and play video games – and Molly is like, “I have stuff to do!”
What I admire about Molly is the way she keeps her heart open. She’s lost so much, but she’s still open to love and support. She sees the other Runaways as real family.
I imagine this is a bit of an adjustment period for Karolina as well, but it looks like in issue #8, her girlfriend Julie Power comes by. What's your sense of Julie? What's it like bouncing her off of Karolina's family?
Julie has been really lovely with Karolina in all of their appearances together. We definitely wanted to honor this relationship and make it an important part of Karolina’s story.
I love that Julie’s sort of an OG teen hero. She literally grew up in the game.
I personally related to her as an older sister. Looking back at old Power Pack stories, it really struck me how responsible she was. How she was looking out for her very young siblings through extremely dangerous situations.
So -- the fun of writing Julie with the Runaways is that she has been a very traditional superhero. Julie has been wearing a spandex costume since she was 10. She has a superhero nickname. (She has three!) Meanwhile, the Runaways are literal dropouts. They’re wearing jeans and eating tacos, and Julie is like, “Let me share these inspirational teamwork quotes I learned at the Avengers Academy!”
Last time we talked, you mentioned you were working on an arc that brings in two Marvel characters that have been important to your cast in the past. Is Julie one of those characters? And if so will we see that second character in this arc? What can you tell us about them?
Yeah, yeah -- Julie is one. And we’ll see the second one really soon. What I can tell you is that, for me, the fun of writing the Runaways is writing them in continuity. Kris and I both want to dig into how their past experiences have shaped these characters. We’re moving forward -- introducing another new character right away in this arc – but these kids will never escape their pasts.