RUNAWAYS: The Good Die Young by Brian K. Vaughan
The Good Die Young, the third collection of Brian K. Vaughan’s Marvel’s RUNAWAYS, brings the original story arc to a successful, if sad, close. Our six young people, who have had to adjust to discovering they are the children of super-villains, come of age and make their own decisions, graduating to full hero status.
The book starts with Alex, the leader of the Runaways, announcing that he has fully translated the book they stole from their parents after they discovered the truth. From there, the reader gets a flashback to the parents: aliens, sorcerers, time travelers, mutants, crazed inventors and professional criminals. Long before their children are born, they are all summoned by a race called the Gibborim, who remember when Earth was a “peaceful Utopia” before humans evolved, and want to make it that way again. The six couples enter into a catastrophic deal with the Gibborim, because it feeds their desires for power and wealth.
In The Good Die Young, the reader and the heroes suddenly see that the stakes have been raised. In the two earlier books, the biggest issue was some degree of self-awareness for the young people. Now they must decide how to work together not only for their own survival, but also for the sake of the world’s.
The story raises the complexity as well. It’s even harder to understand the motives of the parents, since the destruction of the earth will include their children. As the chapters alternate between youth and parents, the twisted plan of at least a couple of members of the Pride is revealed. The previous volume did a good job of keeping the reader guessing who the “mole” in the Runaways was, mainly by giving at least three of the six believable reasons for remaining loyal to their parents, and by making sure they all had means and opportunity for the phone calls and occasional contacts with the Pride. Vaughan does a good job, when the mole is revealed, of making it both surprising and plausible.
Things don’t go smoothly for the Runaways in this volume. There is betrayal; there is death. At the end, the Pride fails to keep its agreement with the Gibborim, with some bad results for them. The young people are left on their own. Tellingly, the government and other superheroes, particularly Captain America, are not sympathetic to our main characters, who find themselves in foster homes or shut up in government institutions. At the very end of the book, each one of them makes a choice, and the group reconvenes. They have matured, learned the hard lessons, and have goals now. They are poised to become full-fledged superheroes.
Adrian Alopho’s artwork as always is lovely, as is the coloring. The climactic confrontation with the Pride takes place in an underwater chamber and the color palette contains watery blues and grays. Karolina is usually depicted in pale yellows and pinks, capturing the feeling of her otherworldly glow. Characters are not locked into a color palette, but the artists use the colors subtly to remind us who’s who and to evoke emotion.
This book brings the coming of age story to fruition. It’s engrossing, emotional and funny. The series showcases strong young women. I would be happy to recommend the first three trade collections of RUNAWAYS to any girl or young woman who enjoys comics.