Trade Junkie: “Runaways: Pride and Joy”

Everyone growing up has problems with their parents from time to time. We may even think that they’re bad guys, but what if you’re parents truly were just cold blooded super villains?

Runaways was originally an in universe story created in 2003 by Brian K. Vaughan for Marvels “Tsunami” imprint. Tsunami was Marvel’s failed attempt to create a line of comics in the style of Japanese manga, a style that had recently grown in popularity among American audiences at the time. The imprint inevitably failed after less than a year with most of the series within it being outright cancelled. All except for Runaways which was eventually revived in 2005.

Pride & Joy, the trade I’ll cover today, compiles the first six issues of the original run of Runaways. The story itself is simple enough. Six teenaged kids uncover a startling and disturbing secret about their parents. They discover that each of their parents is gifted with unusual powers and skills leading the kids to believe that they’re superheroes. That is until they watch them murder a young girl before their eyes.

While the story is rather simple it’s not without its charms. It puts in several story elements that in any other series shouldn’t mix, but Runaways manages to include them all in interesting and downright fun ways. While it is fairly linear the quirky aspects of the story are what carries it along making an otherwise mundane premise into a funny and energetic series. That said while certain aspects of the story, such as time traveling dinosaurs, make the story fun the humor comes out as a mixture of pop culture references and acknowledgment of general teen angst. This brand of humor is certainly funny, for 2003. Almost ten years ago. For an audience understanding of the references the humor is pulled off well, unfortunately for most readers it may come off as being overly dated.

When it comes to the characters be prepared for a LOT of angst. Most of the general cast are teenagers of various archetypes. The characters like the story are rather liner, but again like the story they each come with their various quirks. Each character covers a specific purpose and they cover it well and manage to interact between each other rather fluidly save for a few jarring pop culture references here and there.

On a personal level the art is really just alright for me. While it certainly doesn’t inhibit the story any it doesn’t really stand out and comes off as being fairly basic. Despite being attached to the ‘Tsunami” imprint the art carries vary little manga influence if any and is set overall as pretty standard western art.

That said on a brighter side to the art each cover is much more highly detailed and unfortunately manages to stand out a bit more than the actual art used throughout the course of the series. While I won’t usually touch upon cover art too often I felt it was worth mentioning the positive aspect that this particular art brought to the book, giving each character a far more interesting aesthetic than that presented within the series art.

Runaways: Pride & Joy is available from Marvel in a number of formats including manga style digest and the more recent traditional trade paperback and hardcover. This volume consists of the first six issues covering the origin of the Runaways making it an obvious jumping on point whether you’re in it for the long haul or just interested in a quick story.
The Runaways series is currently on hiatus as of 2009 and is currently not slated to make a return. The currently released volumes cover the entirety of the ongoing series and are widely available from online retailers. Each book stands at twenty dollars retail but are frequently marked down exponentially.

Despite its flaws Runaways manages to be a fun short series with interesting story elements and incredibly fun quirks. That said this is certainly a situation were the humor and art may simply not be to your liking and may very well take you out of the experience. Overall I recommend the first story within the Runaways series, Pride & Joy, if only to test the waters and see if you like it. Personally I pulled a lot of enjoyment and entertainment out of it despite its faults.

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Retail Price: $19.99
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Adrian Alphona
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Superhero
Original Release: January 07, 2009
Availability: Somewhat Common

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