Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Runaways with Molly Hayes, not Joan Jett

While my driver's license and Facebook page tell me I'm 54, given my level of emotional and psychological maturity, I prefer to think of it as my chance at turning 18 for the third time. Now that I'm a member of the Oakland Public Library, since the choice of scientific texts is minimal, I find myself renting the occasional video and catching up on my comic book reading.

Because, you know, comics are hella expensive now.

I got into a relatively new title in the Marvel universe called Runaways, which was started in 2002 by the writer Brian K. Vaughan, who has since graduated (?!) to the TV series Lost. I think his comic book work is vastly superior, but maybe that's just me.

The premise of Runaways is that all kids at some point think their parents are evil, but for six young people in Los Angeles, their parents actually are. They are evil masterminds in The Pride, a secret society that runs L.A. and has made a secret pact with powerful ancient beings called the Gibborim who want to eliminate humanity from the planet. The parents have different powers and skills, criminal masterminds, dark wizards, mutants, aliens, mad scientists, etc., and some of the kids have inherited powers and others have not.

There's a lot to like about the books, but for my money, the best character in the group is the young mutant Molly Hayes, who would like to be called Princess Powerful, but instead got stuck with the superhero name Bruiser. While all the other Runaways are teens, Molly is eleven and the older kids are protective of her, though her strength is shown to rival that of Thor or Iron Man. Her weakness is that after using her power too much, she gets sleepy.

I didn't start reading the series from the beginning, but instead jumped in on the middle because there were six books written by Joss Whedon, who won an Oscar for the screenplay of Toy Story and an Emmy for the web-based musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog. Whedon takes the group out of Los Angeles, pretty much Nowheresville for Marvel super heroes and puts the group in New York, the center of the Marvel universe. There, they run into old school Marvel characters like the Kingpin and the Punisher.

Here is the Molly vs. the Punisher fight reprinted in its entirety. One punch and the uber-violent Mr. Shooty Guy is knocked out and down for the count.

The other kids yell at Molly for hitting someone who doesn't have powers, though she didn't know. Later in the issue, the Kingpin unleashes an army of ninjas on our heroes.

"Does ninja count as powers?" Molly asks in the middle of the fracas.

"It counts twice!" an older kid answers, and she continues clobbering the ninjas.

There's talk that they will turn the comic book series into a movie. Keep an eye out for it, it could be good. Take it from someone taking his third go-round at being 18.


Zoey and Me said...

Gosh Matty Boy, you're the best Math teacher I've ever known. Sooo I just turned 20 for the third time? WOW! Thanks. I can't wait to tell all my friends.

namastenancy said...

I'm working on turning 18 for the 3.5 time or just a wee past turning 60 for the third time. Thanks for the idea - like Zoey and me, I can't wait to tell my friends.

Matty Boy said...

I made the math tougher than I thought.

If you are turning 60 for the third time, you are 180. Let me say you are very spry for your years.

If your other calculation is correct, Nancy, you are taking your third shot at being 21. Go out and have a drink!

Tengrain said...

Mattyboy -

I've been reading The Runaways for a couple of years (or so I think), but my comic book store that carried it closed down last year, so I am stuck at volume 7. My library does not have it, I've looked.

It really does have Joss Whedon's signature all over it,doesn't it? I used to love Buffy for the dialog, and this is so similar. All the characters have interesting back stories and self-doubts, and flaws as well as strange super powers. It's really compelling.

Molly is one of the best characters. She reminds me of the little girl in Adventures in Babysitting (maybe its the hat?) and the way she can be so naive and vulnerable at the same time having the strength of The Hulk.



Matty Boy said...

I loved the Whedon dialog as well, though there is some strong dialog in non-Whedon issues as well.

I've also been able to go through the all of Whedon's work on Astonishing X-Men through the Oakland Public Library. Not quite as good as Runaways, but there definitely was some fun stuff.