Written by: Joey Esposito, Special to CC2K
Runaways, in it's barest form, is essentially a teen drama with superpowers. A group of acquaintance tween-teenagers abruptly discover that their parents are a part of a super-villain society dubbed The Pride. Adventures ensue, and with Terry Moore and Humberto Ramos' new volume of Runaways beginning August 27th, we here at CC2K decided it best to introduce those of you who are newcomers to the cast as it stands with the ending of Volume 2. Since the title's inception, the cast has changed drastically, littered with betrayals, departures, and deaths. But with Terry Moore declaring that his Runaways #1 is a good jumping on point for new readers, we thought we'd take a look at the current cast and their relationships with one another. Of course, nothing beats going back and reading (feverishly) the previous two volumes of Runaways, but with the short amount of time before the next volume is launched, we wanted to provide an introduction so those of you that might not have the time (or the funds) to enjoy the previous stories can still jump aboard without a hitch. While I won't be touching on significant series plot points (those you can discover for yourself!) my goal is that you will be familiar with the cast when you pick up the new volume of Runaways.
Name: Nico Minoru
Superhero Alias: Sister Grimm
Parents: Robert and Tina Minoru, Dark Wizards of The Pride
Powers/Abilities/Gear: Nico is a sorceress, her weapon being The Staff of One/The Witchbreaker's Staff (read: Witchbreaker's Staff is basically the RPG-like upgrade of the same weapon). The Staff remains stored inside of her until she draws blood from herself. Usually, this comes from cutting herself, but sometimes during "that time of the month" no cutting is needed. Her power comes from the staff, which enables her to cast powerful spells with two limitations: she cannot cast any spell more than once, and if she tries the Staff will malfunction, and she cannot use a spell to reawaken the dead. It should also be noted that Nico is the only one with the power to summon the Staff, and it will not hurt her as it emerges from her body, but it will cause damage to anyone else – and more importantly, anyone can cast spells with it once it's called upon.
Personality Traits: Known for her Gothic garb, Nico is the Japanese-American leader of the Runaways. Nico is definitely the most emotional and oddly, the most clingy and needy despite being the leader. Her emotional nature is clearly depicted throughout the series in the many romantic situations or relationships shes had with various other teammates. She has been called a 'slut' on numerous occasions, which only adds to her emotional baggage, sending her from one set of arms to the next.
Romantic Affiliations: Alex Wilder, Karolina Dean, Chase Stein, and Victor Mancha.
Name: Karolina Dean
Superhero Alias: Lucy in the Sky
Parents: Frank and Leslie Dean, disguised as top-tier Hollywood actors, they are actually alien invaders of the Majesdanian species and part of The Pride.
Powers/Abilities/Gear: Like her parents, Karolina is a Majesdanian, whose true form is that of a glowing humanoid, almost free-floating figure. Karolina used to wear a bracelet that she was told by her parents was to protect her from certain allergies that she had, but she soon discovered that wearing the bracelet was to keep her in human form. Later in the series as she spent time on her home planet, she learned to control her powers, eliminating the need for the bracelet. While in her true form, she absorbs the solar rays of the sun and can use that energy to create forcefields, as well as generate blasts of energy to which she can control the temperature up to the point of melting steel. In her Majesdanian form she can also fly. Her main weakness is that her powers are not unlimited, and she needs to use the sun to 'recharge'. Also, her powers are unfortunately ineffective against other Majesdanians, making her essentially unable to fight her parents.
Personality Traits: At first, Karolina casts herself as the outsider of the group because of her struggle with her alien heritage. This is underscored by the possibility (later, the actuality) that Karolina is a lesbian. Because of this, early in the series she seemingly has no will to live and often acts suicidal. As she grows more comfortable with herself as well as her body, she begins to accept who she is and becomes the 'free spirit' of the group. As it stands, her marital relationship with Xavin, the Skrull, is a slight discomfort within the group because of his appearance as a male when they were first introduced, but his willingness to change shape to a female for Karolina's love leaves his/her true gender in doubt, thus a lingering source of insecurity for Karolina.
Romantic Affiliations: Nico Minoru, Xavin
Name: Chase Stein
Superhero Alias: Talkback
Parents: Victor and Janet Stein, The Pride's mad scientists
Powers/Abilities/Gear: Chase has no physical powers, but currently shares a telepathic and empathic link to the team's resident genetically engineered dino, Old Lace; meaning they each mutually feel what the other feels, including pain, injuries, and healing habits. Old Lace is also under the command of Chase, carrying out whatever he wishes of her, although she has free will and can express distaste in whatever he asks of her. Being that Chase's parents were The Pride's mad scientists, he has an affinity towards gravitating to the position of tekkie for the Runaways. In the beginning of their adventures, Chase stole x-ray goggles and a pair of power gauntlets (Fistigons) from his parents' lab. Although lost at one point, in the most recent arc Chase returned from an adventure in time with a pair of upgraded Fistigons. He is also the primary pilot of the Leapfrog, the team's transportation – which is also a device built by his parents.
Personality Traits: Chase is absolutely the loose cannon of the team, even having quit after a certain 'event.' As the oldest of the Runaways, he is too the most rebellious; he's been depicted numerous times as having a rebellious streak that has gotten himself into a lot of trouble. But besides this, he's also one of the most honorable of the group. Though he's had his differences with pretty much everyone on the team, he's clearly looked up to. And even though he's not the 'official' leader of the team, he is a mighty backbone. Chase's more delicate side has emerged on occasion, mostly due to his loving and protective relationship with Gert.
Romantic Affiliations: Nico Minoru, Gertrude Yorkes.
Name: Old Lace
Superhero Alias: Old Lace!
Parents: Scientifically, Dale and Stacey Yorkes
Powers/Abilities/Gear: She's a freakin' dinosaur! But also, she was genetically made to have a telepathic link with Gert, who passed it on to Chase. The link allows Old Lace and Chase to feel each other's pain, as well as letting Old Lace be (mostly) controlled by Chase, though she has plenty of free will. She is also able to communicate her thoughts through this link. It is also in Old Lace's genetic makeup that she cannot harm any of Gert's direct family members.
Personality Traits: Though a dinosaur, Old Lace has shown protection over her master and his/her friends. However, Gert being Old Lace's true master, she has shown that she loves Gert unconditionally, such as the time Old Lace acting disparaging towards Nico when Gert and Nico were having boyfriend drama. However, when Chase at one point tries to fight against Nico, physically, for matters that I can't discuss for the sake of spoilers, Old Lace blatantly growls at him in an attempt to halt him. In another instance, when Chase commanded that Old Lace hurt both Nico and Karolina, Old Lace resisted and instead was affectionate. This shows that Old Lace is not as explicitly bound to Chase as she was to Gert, and also that she has a deep rooted devotion to her team.
Romantic Affiliations: ….
Name: Molly Hayes
Superhero Alias: Princess Powerful, Bruiser
Parents: Gene and Alice Hayes, telepathic mutants of The Pride
Powers/Abilities/Gear: Molly is a mutant like her parents, but being the youngest of the Runaways, her powers have yet to fully develop. Although it has been hinted at, Molly has not yet displayed a full on telepathic ability like her parents. However, ironically, Molly is the source of brute strength on the team, as her manifested mutant powers are superhuman strength and invulnerability. When actively using her powers, Molly's eyes glow a violet color, signifying that her powers are 'turned on'. Although extremely powerful while active, Molly is only able to use her abilities for a limited amount of time before she simply becomes overwhelmingly tired, often times falling asleep instantly. As the series has gone on, Molly has been able to use her powers for longer periods of time, implying that when fully developed, she will have near unlimited access to them.
Personality Traits: Being the youngest of the group, she is often the comedic backbone of the series, and also the most naive. Molly has been the most accepting of the newcomers on the team (Victor, Xavin), oftentimes not understanding the older kids' distrust towards them. The same can be said of the team's discovery of their evil parents; Molly was the last to accept the truth, simply due to her inexperience. And, being the youngest, Molly's primary role amongst the group is most often portrayed as the little sister, yet ironically in the long run she is likely the most powerful one on the team.
Romantic Affiliations: None. As she is still a pre-teen, Molly has no romantic relationships in the series. Instead, the focus of her relationships is sibling-esque, most notably with Chase and Gert.
Superhero Alias: None.
Parents: Prince De'zean (father), mother unknown.
Powers/Abilities/Gear: As Xavin is a Skrull (as is most of the Marvel Universe, apparently), he (she) has the ability to change his (her) form, or shape-shift. In addition, we discover that Xavin is a Super-Skrull in training, and thus he has the powers of the Fantastic Four (Mr. Fantastic's ability to stretch, Invisible Woman's, well…invisibility, Human Torch's flame-on, and The Thing's superstrength and rock-like skin). His limitation, since he is only a Super-Skrull in training, is that he can use only one power at a time.
Personality Traits: Initially appearing in Runaways (Vol. 2) #7, Xavin was seen as more of a threat that was sent to get Karolina's hand in marriage, as her parents had given him (her) Karolina's hand in an attempt to bridge a gap between the Skrulls and Karolina's species, the Majesdanians. Clearly, his (her) most distinctive trait is the ambiguity regarding gender. Essentially, he (she) has three forms; the natural Skrull form, and a human male and female. Xavin uses whichever is convenient for the situation, like the female version when he is in Karolina's presence, the male version in combat. This causes great friction within the group, but more so with Karolina. Xavin is a natural outsider in the group, as he has a brash alien nature that often accidentally offends member of the group. The only one immediately accepting of Xavin joining the team is Molly, the most impressionable of the bunch. Of course, with the impending Secret Invasion, questions arose as to Xavin's loyalty, but he explained that the invading Skrulls were a certain sect of his people whose beliefs were not his.
Name: Victor Mancha
Superhero Alias: None, unless you count the various derogatory cyborg slurs.
Parents: Marianella Mancha, Ultron.
Powers/Abilities/Gear: First and foremost, Victor is a cyborg created by Ultron with the help of Marianella Mancha's DNA. Although his powers range vastly from 'photographic memory' (built in hard drive!), superhuman strength, computer-related skills, communication with machines, and a high IQ – the powers he accesses most, particularly in combat, is his control of electromagnetic currents; manipulating them for flight and levitation, as well as creating high voltage electrical energy. Victor was built so that in the future the nanites in his makeup will mold into his human DNA, thus making any detection that he was an android impossible – although at present he sets off metal detectors. He has various weakness, for instance he has been hacked and turned against his team. Victor's largest weakness though, comes in the form of three questions specially design to throw Victor's wiring into overload (yes, just like tic-tac-toe in Wargames.) Only Chase and Nico are privy to these phrases, and the first one has been used already: "Could God make a sandwich so big that even He couldn't finish it?"
Personality Traits: Victor, along with Xavin and Klara, is not an original member of the Runaways, thus his parents are not members of The Pride. In fact, his parental heritage may be just a tad worse. Victor is the proud son of Marvel Universe super villain Ultron.Not only is Victor an android, but his purpose as Ultron designed him was to be planted as spy in the Avengers of the future and destroy them. What makes this interesting is that, he succeeded. The Runaways become aware of a threat in the future named Victorious that literally wipes out all of the heroes. Pulling a Terminator, they rush off to find this force of destruction as a boy. Ultimately, Victor joins the team and sets out to prove that the future can be changed. As such, Victor was largely an outcast. Eventually, be it through battle or personal discussions, Victor mostly won over his teammates, even starting a physical relationship with Nico and subsequently breaking her heart for some 1907 bitch. Victor also often gets paired with Molly, as with her immense strength, is really the only member of the Runaways that could stand against him should he become corrupted.
Romantic Affiliations: Nico Minoru, Lillie Spieler.
Superhero Alias: None.
Parents: Names unknown.
Powers/Abilities/Gear: Klara has the ability to speak to and control plantlife (similar to Batman's Poison Ivy). Since she is only a recent member of the team, much of what Klara has to offer likely has yet to be seen. Plants also seem to share in Klara's emotions, as when she is sad or lonely, the plants around her droop and wilt.
Personality Traits: Klara is unique amongst the Runaways in several respects, not including her powers. Her differences essentially stem from the fact that she is from 1907, a full century before the time of her teammates, thus creating very real cultural differences. Namely, she's married. Yes, that's right. Brought up in a Christian household, upon discovery of her 'witchcraft', her parents cast her out by marrying her off. She shares Molly's age and at the surface could be seen as a swell companion to Molly, but her marriage to (and abuse by) a middle aged man makes her well beyond her years (and most of the team's) in life experience. In addition, her displacement in time by a century also comes with a mixture of racism and homophobia, as depicted in her shock and disgust when she walks into an intimate moment that Karolina and Xavin share. The brunt of this conflict resides in the low tensions between Xavin and Klara, as not only is Xavin a lesbian, but also an African-American when a male. It is important to know that Klara only officially joined the team in the last issue of the main series, but is sure to play an important part in the upcoming volume.
Romantic Affiliations: Gross middle aged husband.