By Miguel Acuña
Back in 2003, Marvel wanted to breathe some new and younger life into their comics and introduced many titles as part of “Tsunami” launch. They started off a new set of comics with some familiar and fresh characters. One such group of new characters was a team of teenagers which were featured in the comic “Runaways.” The comic essentially revolves around the initially very privileged children of a secret cult of very evil parents and their adventures in trying to stay off their radar, while dealing with the regular teen issues, and doing what they can to make a change in a world. It’s a great story because they don’t have the wealth and fame of Tony Stark and weren’t as powerful as the X-Men, but attempt to make due with their resources and each other. They are kids trying to survive in a world that regularly reminds them, they are not special and each day may be their last.
Runaways was created by writer Brian K. Vaughan (also of Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina fame) and artist Adrian Alphona (known for his art on Ms. Marvel and Uncanny X-Force). They brought forth a new series that visually was very striking at a time when most comics began a deep descent into a much grittier aesthetic. This doesn’t mean the art on other comics was bad, but it was a relief to see artists using colors on another end of the spectrum. The story itself was slightly more grounded in the sense that it’s always a bit hard to empathize with Captain America when he’s the ultimate super-soldier and more with a kid who feels lost. They do bring in a bunch of much more fantastic stories with aliens and gods, but the writing always makes a way where the focus will shift to something much more relatable than “How can we find more Infinity Gems?” This is what made Runaways one of my favorite titles from this launch. I followed them through the initial run by Vaughn, continued through Joss Whedon’s story arc, and then slowly drifted away after some major character changes. The story had evolved and just didn’t hold my interest as it did initially, but it also stood out as one of the most creative and different comics I’ve ever read. It instantly became one those stories that whenever I thought of it, I’d think “Man, this would be a great movie or show. Too bad, it’s not popular enough.” When people would ask for less mainstream comic recommendations, Runaways would always be on that list. Thankfully, I sold my soul to the right person, as many years later, the rumors began on a Runaways TV show was finally greenlit. I didn’t consider it a done deal as many shows get greenlit to move forward, but ultimately fall into the void. Only time would tell if this amazing story would get a chance to reach a bigger audience.
Fast forward MANY years to our current golden age of entertainment. We are in a time where some of the best shows being created are no longer on “regular” TV but are being created with amazing writers in smaller seasons and are available to enjoy completely at once through different mediums. The reigning superpower is Netflix with many contenders to the throne. Companies such as Amazon, VUDU, HBO, and Hulu are snatching up the rights to series which they produce on their own. This plan has created the beloved Game of Thrones, American Gods, and multiple Marvel based Netflix shows. Marvel has extended their Hydra-like reach beyond Netflix and has their tentacles in other companies like Freeform, FX, and Fox. After a ton of production stop and go’s and initially being set as a “Phase 3” movie, it was finally confirmed in May of this year, that Hulu ordered a 10 episode series. My personal dreams were coming to fruition as another beloved story was bringing brought to life. I held some reservations about the show until New York Comic Con. I was able to attend a screening of the first episode, a panel with the cast, and a preview of the upcoming season. Like a good trailer, there’s always the possibility that they logically only show the best parts to get you hyped, but the episode I saw was amazing. The young actors are incredibly true to their comic counterparts and the story is set up to be a great mix of actual teen issues mixed with the overwhelming feeling of being thrown into a world that the protagonists are completely unprepared for. While some shows end up disappointing fans despite an interesting build up, this was one that just felt like it would have the legs to push through and survive the current battle royale of entertainment.
The stars have aligned and the day that I had almost lost faith would never arrive, is here. Runaways is appearing on Hulu on November 21st and I greatly urge people to try and catch this show. At a time where there is so much intensity and strife in today’s world, it helps to escape to something more lighthearted than The Punisher but more relatable than Legends of Tomorrow. If you haven’t read the comics, this is a great starting point for you to get into the series and check out the comics when you can. If you’re familiar with the source material, the show will still diverge just enough to keep you surprised in the direction the show will be taking. Marvel could have easily pushed another of their better-known properties and ride the waves of the MCU, however, Marvel’s strategy of taking risks could greatly pay off. There is always the possibility of the show not succeeding despite connections to more popular series (cough Inhumans cough). Of course, there is also the chance that a show will succeed despite not having a major mainstream fanbase previously. In all honesty, not many people cared or knew who the Guardians of the Galaxy were 5 years ago. I wholeheartedly hope that Runaways will be one of those unexpected gems. It might not feature Avengers or X-Men, but between great dramatic writing, impressive effects for a show not banked rolled by a major network, and the support of fans; Runaways will come home to fans and new viewers who will finally get the opportunity to enjoy one of the best-kept secret’s of the Marvel universe.
Runaways premieres on November 21st, on Hulu!