Written by: Joey Esposito, Special to CC2K
Beginning on August 27th, the new chapter of the Runaways saga begins. In this third volume (why can't they just keep going?), writer Terry Moore (Echo, Strangers in Paradise) and penciller Humberto Ramos (Spectacular Spider-Man, Wolverine) – along with inker Dave Meikis and colorist Christina Strain – the creative team looks to continue the stories brought forth by series creators Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, as well as "Dead End Kids" arc author Joss Whedon, but at the same time create a solid jump-on point for new readers and bring the characters to new levels all their own. Moore has stated in past interviews that although he will be picking up where Whedon left off, to expect a whole new direction for the series, or as he put it, for him "to do something very energetic with the series."
To long time readers, starting over with a new #1 issue and an entirely new creative team is very intimidating. When Whedon took over from Vaughan, it was well publicised that he would be carrying on the series with Vaughan's blessing. And, his arc was good, albeit rife with delay upon delay. I think the real reason that Marvel has decided to start with a new volume is to not only show the new direction of the series, but also as a subtle promise to jaded readers that their book will be delivered on time.
Terry Moore is known for his intense devotion and attachment to the characters that he writes, often resulting in phenomenal world building and character development laced throughout his issues. Moore, who usually writes and draws the books he works on, is left to solely handle writing duties as artist Ramos steps in. Hopefully, this will allow Moore to truly connect with these characters and deliver a story that's worth starting the series over for. He's also stated in interviews that in the first issue of his run, something "major" happens that can be traced back to the first arc of the series. While this is exciting for us longtime readers, he also states that new readers need not be deterred – the story is fashioned in such a way that new readers can jump on easily here, and if they get hooked, going back to read the original stories will be a treat. It should probably also be noted that this new start also takes place post-Secret Invasion, so whatever changes (if any) to the Runaways team occurs in the current Young Avengers/Runaways Secret Invasion cross-over mini-series should be in full effect.
Personally, my biggest concern with this new direction is the drastically different art style. Ramos is insanely talented, that's for sure, and he has to be given much credit for bringing his own style to the series. Many times the series has delved into it's anime/manga influences, and while it may not be my personal cup of tea, the style certainly fits the content and Ramos knows it. With this new volume, Ramos' Runaways take on a much more cartoonish look than they have seen in the past. Even Moore has admitted that prior to seeing Ramos' pencils he could not imaging the Runaways characters looking like anything other than what we have previously seen, and I'm sure that most readers agree. Although, he subsequently stated that after seeing Ramos' work, he fell in love with them all over again. So while, for this fan at least, it might take some getting used to, these characters, especially under the care of a writer like Terry Moore, transcend whatever visual incarnations they may inhabit. Again, I'm not taking anything away from Ramos' work – in time I'm positive that his interpretations will be just as ingrained in our fandom for this series as Adrian Alphona's original designs; the more I see of Ramos' designs the more I love them.
Here's hoping that Moore and Ramos deliver the goods. While Whedon's arc was good (when you can read it cohesively without months and months in between issues), I feel like it failed to capitalize on the emotional notes that Vaughan hit square on the nose with his closing arc of his run. Between their isolation from adults, failure to fit in anywhere in the Marvel Universe except for within themselves as a group, their tween-teenager angst, having a Skrull on their team, and loves lost and loves scorned, the pickings are ripe for a fully realized, action (and emotion!) packed comic book world.
Stay tuned to CC2K for all things Runaways!