Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Kris Anka
Colors: Matt Wilson
Cover: Kris Anka
Published: January 10, 2017
So (revealed on page one) it turns out that the weird mad scientist that has been hinted at in each of the previous issues is… Molly’s Grandma. There were heavy hints in the last issue that something was a little rotten with Grandma, she took a piece of Victor’s hair, she has a bunch of samples of Molly’s blood, and her explanation for why Molly’s parents had the same exact set of powers and grew up together is very thin. Following this reveal we see Molly in bed wearing the same look of concern that she did at the end of the previous issue when Gert said she was staying with them. Each issue thus far has opened with a bit of narration about where the character is mentally/emotionally since the Runaways broke up. After seeing Molly so exuberant about finally getting to be a normal kid again in the last issue, it’s unexpected that the narration over this page is kinda dark. Molly, who has superhuman strength, carries the guilt of her parents’ and Gert’s deaths with her. Whether or not it’s entirely true or would have even been the right thing to do, she believes that she could have saved them, and she’s kind of at a loss about what to do now that Gert is back. The source of Molly’s worry is made clear a little later in the issue, but she’s worried that Grandma, or the situation, or something will change Gert. This worry grows over the course of the issue as we see Molly in bed worried, and trying to talk to Gert, making sure this is what she wants. She worries as she sees Grandma testing Gert on multiple occasions, but Molly can’t even get her to talk, and even Old Lace seems to be getting ignored. The default is for people to underestimate Molly, but she was the one in the last issue who knew that Victor has been playing dead, she knows that her Grandma did some problematic things to her parents, she figured out what her Grandma does to stray cats, and so as the reader you have to trust her feelings about what’s happening. Finally Molly tells Gert about her concerns, about Grandma, that they (or Gert at least) need to leave. In response to this Gert asks why Molly hasn’t left to which she responds, “She only wants to study me.” That is not an insignificant response which evokes (although this might be too favorable to Molly) the idea that Molly feels that she can bear this sort of ogling and prodding by her Grandma but she wants something better for her friend. That might be entirely off base, but there isn’t (and I hope it does come) an ounce of cynicism in Molly and so why not believe that her intentions are the very best.
After their little heart to heart, Molly and Gert get ready to run and decide to leave that night. The rest of the issue focuses on Chase who is still trying to get Victor’s head to work (Molly kept her secret) while revealing all sorts of complicated issues he has with him. Also apparently Chase is twenty-one because he is hitting a bottle of something brown and presumably alcoholic the whole time he’s working. But the real interesting thing is the conversation that transpires once Victor is so incredibly annoyed with Chase that he is forced to reveal himself. The events of Tom King’s Vision book (in which Victor featured heavily) are still having a massive effect on Victor, who takes offense to the parts of Chase’s monologue that imply that he has no free will. This was a significant part of the Vision book (although not directly concerning Victor), about the humanity and self determination of synthezoids which are seen as less than human. Victor got disassembled at the end of that series which is why he’s in pieces, but these questions remain with him, and the choice about whether he wants to return to The Runaways is his, not Chase’s. Nico is no longer at the underground bunker, but has returned to her apartment where Karolina shows up at her door. There’s not much to for them to say as Karolina has (maybe) moved passed being a Runaway. As they fall into a momentary silence, Nico, wildly misreading the situation, moves to kiss Karolina who backs away and asks Nico, “ Why do you always do this?” It’s not entirely obvious what she means by that question. Is she asking Nico why she maybe pressure people to be more than friends and ends up pushing them away, or is it more broadly about a habit of self sabotage? There is little time to ponder of of this as Chase (with Victor strapped to his chest) bursts in telling them that they have to go save Molly and Gert. Back at Grandma’s house Molly and Gert are about to slip out the window when Grandma and her army of red-eyed cats confronts them, and Grandma vows to destroy all remaining traces of the pride (aka Molly’s friends). But before anything can happen Karolina, Nico, Victor and Chase are on the scene, prepared to beat up an old woman?
Although there is still somewhat of a unifying cause to distract them all right now, the question about whether the reformation of the Runaways is a good idea remains. What’s best for Molly and Karolina, Chase and Nico don’t seem to be in emotionally healthy positions and the Runaways would only be a distraction, and as far as what Gert or Victor need who knows? This issue wasn’t as fun as the previous maybe, but Molly’s honesty/earnestness is very refreshing and hopefully we get a lot more from that character. Things may be up in the air going into the next issue, but the art was once again just fantastic. Gert does some fantastic sulking on a number of different pages as Molly looks on in deep concern. It’s been mentioned in reviews of previous issues, but if the art didn’t somehow capture the specific emotions associated with the dialogue this book would really fall down, Without going for a high degree of realism Anka and Wilson use color, context, and subtle facial details (eyes, lips, teeth) to access a huge range of emotions. Two great visual jokes in here are Old Lace eating with grandma’s cats, and then later when those same cats are passed out all over the bathroom after enjoying too much catnip.
The next issue is the final one of this first arc and still that central question of do the Runaways need to exist remains. There is no definite answer as each member has their own feelings/needs when it comes to their former group, but even if the answer is yes, what then?
(Subjective) Score out of 10: 7