What Is It?: Runaways- Volume One (Oversized Hardcover, collects the entire first "season" of Runaways, written by Brian K. Vaughan)
Timing: It's the first thing in the Runaways timeline, and--though it fits into Marvel continuity--isn't dependent on any other Marvel book.
REVIEW (and Art): I'll break it down into categories....
For Runaways Fans: This is THE way to read Runaways. Under the attractive dust jacket, the cover is made up of a soft black vinyl material that is extremely durable. The book itself is huge, letting you appreciate the art in a way that it may not have been able to be appreciated in the original comics and the infinitely smaller digest trade paperbacks. Plus, the book is loaded with extras. We've got an introduction, sketches, a letter from Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Serenity, and the man who eventually takes over the writing duties of Runaways himself), and the actual proposal for the series by Brian K. Vaughan. Whether you're buying this because you want to get the most you can out of the series or because you're a fan wanting to own a true collectors item, this is more than worth the $[...]. Forget those tiny, manga-looking digests. THIS is the way to go.
For New Comers: Not too long ago, I was one of you. I'll help you make your decision. Have you read any of Brian K. Vaughan's previous work? Do you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Veronica Mars, Heroes, Supernatural, YA lit, or comics in general? Do you like quirk? How about a bit of geekery? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, give this book a try. It's a comic series worth getting into.
For Nay Sayers: The biggest complaint I'm hearing is that "Runaways" is 'too young' or 'too immature' for them. I say unto thee: the first issue left that impression on me as well. But read past it. Read between the lines, and a complex story will emerge through what seems simplistic. The mythology of the story (and the villainous "Pride") will grow, and the characters will have a sort of endearing depth to them. Give it another try, will you?
For Me: I loved this book. Eighteen issues of quirky, Young Adult, fantasy-drama written, pencilled, and colored beautifully is precisely what I was looking for when I purchased this book. My reviews for the individual six-issue arcs found in this book can be found HERE (Runaways Vol. 1: Pride and Joy and Runaways Vol. 3: The Good Die Young). The only problem I had with this book was finding a shelf big enough for it to fit in!