What Is It?: Runaways: Season Three #1. (You can call it Volume Three, but that's kinda wrong for two reasons. While this is, by the numbers, the first issue of the third volume, the second half of Season/Volume Two was referred to as Volume Three when it was released in hardcover. Also, creator Brian K. Vaughan has referred to the volumes as "seasons," so I'm rocking with it.)
Timing: Directly after Runaways: Season Two #30
REVIEW: New series writer Terry Moore sure had some huge shoes to fill. Let me give you a little history on Runaways and me. Runaways is like the comics version of Buffy for me. It's a really human story about superpowered teenagers that have spitfire, quirky dialogue. They're constantly in really dangerous situations that have crazy shocking and emotional twists, and every beat of the story was so intelligently written that if never felt as if you were reading a comic consciously directed at teens. I love this story so hard, and when I heard that Brian K. Vaughan would leave in, I was a wee bit heartbroken. The only thing that could have possibly made it better is if my favorite writer were to take the series on... and he did. Joss Whedon took the reigns for the last few issues, closing out the second season. Even with the man who I consider the best writer of our time on writing duties, I was scared that even he wouldn't be able to write these characters as exceptionally as Brian K. Vaughan, the man who created them. I didn't need to worry, though, because Joss--as he usually does--did a wonderful job, and let these characters once again capture my heart. Now, with the knowledge that these characters and this story is strong enough to survive without their creator scripting new issues, I welcomed Terry Moore's take on the series with open arms.
And I couldn't be more let down.
I hate to give this a bad review, because I love the Runaways. I also realize that this is now the team that is going to dictate their story, and that this will effect everything that comes after it. But I just can't help but notice how absolutely awful literally everything about this comic is. I wanted to love this, because as I said before, it's like the Buffy of comics (which is sort of ironic to say, now) to me, and it would be as if a new team of writers and directors made a new televised season of Buffy. But I really just have to be honest. This is a bad comic.
Terry Moore couldn't have captured these characters' personalities less if he made a conscious effort to write them out-of-character. Molly is suddenly five, and she has the complexity and humor of a bad Saturday morning cartoon. Xavin's speech paterns and his actions are nothing at all like the character we've come to know for many issues, and Chase has lost the thick shell and inner pain the character had picked up of late, and is--to be blunt--an idiot. It's as if Terry Moore asked someone what the most basic aspects of these characters were, forgot most of them, and then scripted this.
The basic plot is that Karolina's planet has been destroyed, and the survivors of her race seem to think its her fault, and have come to Earth to capture her. Meanwhile, Chase wants to get a job as a radio personality so he can pay for gas money. It's not the worst idea for a plot, but its the execution that absolutely ruins this book. The panel to panel movement is non-existent, and you feel like you're simply being shown glimpses of what is going on. You would think an experienced author like Terry Moore would know how to script a comic so readers will know what's happening, but apparently not, because during the scene where the Runaways went into the Malibu house, were attacked by security daemons, defeated them, and then took over the house... I literally had to hold my hands back from ripping the comic in two. What... the hell... did I just read?
Here's a bit of positive to mix things up a little. The comic wasn't all bad. In fact, I'm going to give it a 1/10, because one line saved it from being the worst comic I've ever read (which would make it tie with the retched Anita Blake comic). And that line is one from Molly. "Television. It's like YouTube for old people." But alas, Brian K. Vaughan and Whedon used to fill up entire issues with that kind of stuff. With Moore, this is a one shot deal.
If that wasn't enough, all of the romantic and dramatic tension between the characters are gone. They've poofed. From the one-liners, to the depiction of the characters, to the choice of artist, it has never been more apparent that this is aimed toward a younger audience and only a younger audience. Brian K. Vaughan and Joss Whedon managed to make the stories accessible to all ages and, while they may have been directed primarily towards teens, they were universal stories that all ages can enjoy. This feels like Spongebob Squarepants. I am beyond upset with the choices made with this series, and as much as it pains me to say, I am beginning to wonder if it wouldn't have been better to just finish off the series with Whedon's run.
Art: Do you really need to ask? Here. Check it out here. Sure, it would be stunning art if it were made for a REN & STIMPY/RECESS cross-over, but for Runaways? Where is the integrity? Why does Victor, a Latino man, look like a fusion between Sayid and Jin from Lost? Why does Nico wear a shirt that says "Witch"? Why is Molly suddenly four? Why does Old Lace's snout look like a droopy old leather shoe? Why do they all have button noses? Why are the freaking ads the part of this comic I look forward to?