Review: Runaways Vol 1: Pride and Joy by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona

Runaways, Vol. 1: Pride and Joy (Runaways, #1)Runaways, Vol. 1: Pride and Joy by Brian K. Vaughan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book years ago – probably when it was still an active series in its early, obsessive days of new wild-eyed fans who couldn’t believe comics could be this good.

At the time I thought it was a little juvenile for my tastes – who would I be kidding, a grown man reading a comic about a group of teenagers? So I think I put it away and tried to forget how skeezy I felt, and returned to stuff that was a little more age-appropriate (or at least didn’t make me think of how many perverts drooled over the teenaged girls in this book). Weird thoughts, but almost certainly among those in my head at the time (along with “Why did I move to this rain-infested town?” and “When will Americans finally figure out how to write an unambiguous date?”).

Now I’m re-reading this book because my partner Sara (of SaraAndMikeOnComics) is going to try this book soon, and I wanted to have something to contribute to the podcast episode beyond “Hey, isn’t it crazy how they’re kids of supervillains!” Now that I’ve re-introduced myself to these kids, I think I understand why I felt ashamed of how much I liked these kids: it’s the dialogue, stoopid.

As is Vaughan’s signature move, he infuses the dialogue between characters with the sharp edge of real-sounding people who are thrust together but don’t quite like each other enough to hide their conflicting opinions from each other. They’re individuals with different speech patterns, specific desires and interests, and wildly different approaches to solving problems.

So when a group of kids who see each other every year or so discover (not all at once) that their parents aren’t quite the squares they thought they were (and are actually killing and scheming their ways against the good guys, it’s not like they know what to do or even agree on what they should try to do. There’s arguing, bad ideas, disbelief and stubborn refusal.

How these kids get into trouble, and the frankly implausible scenarios that keep them one step ahead of getting stomped, is a pretty wild ride. Vaughan doesn’t let up long enough for us to try to figure out the next move before he throws the next curve ball.

Nice job with the twist there Mr. V, way to up the tension and blow all sorts of holes in how predictably this might play out.

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