Taking on the title of one of the most popular Marvel Comics run’s in the last 15 years and doing so with only one returning characters is quite a daunting task. Of course, no one would turn down this opportunity, but the deck could easily get stacked against you if the execution fell flat. Noelle Stevenson and Sanford Greene had a tough task in front of them launching the Secret Wars tie in Runaways, but with their fresh new take and a brand new cast of characters it ended up being a great success.
Issue #4 is an absolutely fantastic conclusion to the impressive four part run. Noelle and Sanford turn the book completely on its head, something I was definitely not expecting out of this story and one I welcomed with open arms. I praised issue #2 for it’s creative use of the title Runaways and now I will praise issue #4 in it’s defiance of the title. In this fourth and final issue, the runaways team head back to the school. They head back firstly to save Delphyne and Cho who were captured, but also to announce to the rest of the school what exactly is going on at the Victor Von Doom Institute for Gifted Youths. In the second issue, when the students found out about the real purpose of the “final exam” they fled. They ran away from this horrible scenario and left everyone behind. In just a few short issues, the teenagers have come to realize that they cannot just run away from all of life’s problems, instead they will face it head on, so that at least they can warn others. This was an unexpected maneuver, but an obvious one when it plays out. Any student who wants to join them can stand up and throw away what they think is their future, for a chance to do what is right. This issue has some fantastic lessons to take away, especially for teens and amazingly Stevenson and Greene are able to do it without layering on the cheese. It feels real and it feels meaningful.
The highlight of the book is Stevenson’s talent at characterizing teenagers. Perhaps my favorite part of the final issue is that the teens who have the most tension between each other are the ones who end up together. Isn’t that how it always works when you are a teenager. The teenage emotions are kept so close to the surface that sometimes a little misdirection is necessary.
Terrific job by this team and a very clever closing. The final page is a conclusion and at the same time a hanging ending. They don’t put the word “End” anywhere on the page. My prediction is that we will see this team of Runaways again sometime soon. If Marvel is smart it won’t just be the character team that remains the same, it will be the creative one as well.