The finale of Avengers Undercover is here! How does it end? Read my review of Avengers Undercover #10 and find out!
The comic starts out with Arcade when he first approached Zemo, who makes it clear that the events of Avengers Arena weren’t worthy of respect, only the technology. For that reason Zemo gave the one who actually made the technology, Corriander, a position of power. As for Arcade, he was zapped, his image grafted onto a meat suit by Hellstrom, and then locked into a cell.
In the present the heroes, who for some reason that Hill expressly points out decided to barge into protected territory on the urgings of the kids, are digging their way out. Again, since when does SHIELD have a sorcery department and what do they do that warrants them being called Necromancers? I don’t see anyone raising the dead there besides Hellstrom.
While they’re doing that various villains over the world are raising hell, which for some reason one of the other dozens of non-SHIELD affiliated heroes are jumping on. Only in an Avengers title, even if in name. Zemo strokes his own ego while Constrictor and Masque go to the lower levels for a final sweep and catch Cammi once again.
Zemo then broadcasts to the world that SHIELD has basically been spying on them like Big Brother and asks who the real villain is. Cue Cammi in god-mode curb-stomping everyone. I mean that literally. She then tells the world about Arcade being alive and the stupid undercover plan, before leaving Earth because she doesn’t feel like she belongs there.
The rest of the kids get off scot-free courtesy of Maria Hill being uncharacteristically generous, especially when you consider that while they didn’t commit actual murder they did commit several criminal acts while on an unsanctioned undercover mission. But since they have to force a happy ending, cue everyone alive and well chilling out on a lake, even the rest of the Runaways they forgot like Klara and Old Lace. Except for Gert, because apparently she stays dead no matter what.
The comic ends with Zemo and his crew, including Alex and Death Locket sailing out in their brand-new Helicarrier into the sunset…. Literally.
Okay, review time.
Well, it ended in a way that I honestly expected so I can’t blast them for that, but it feels a little unfulfilling. While I came for the Runaways and stayed for them, not much changed in the grand scheme of things. Where they’ll pop up next I have no idea, but here’s hoping it’s in something I can actually read where the art isn’t atrocious in the end…
But it’s still better than All-New Ultimates on all accounts. The issue and series as a whole gets a 3 out of 5.
There are hard times ahead for the Runaways in this issue of Avengers Undercover, and I plan to give you my thoughts on the subject in this review of issue #7 of the series.
The story opens with Nico facing off against some Hell-beast as part of her training with Alex flirting with her through some inter-dimensional mirror. She tells him that he’s supposed to be giving her battle strategy training, which he does by pointing out she’s scared of her new powers and if it weren’t for the blood magic that brought her back from the dead she would be killed by now. Then he flirts with her again and it causes her to nearly throttle him until Ax-bro and Hazmat show up to tell her about Chase.
The mission it turns out was to retrieve a prisoner from AIM, which they succeeded in doing. True, Captain America showing up was unexpected, but Chase being in the crossfire naturally pisses Nico off and she asks who is responsible while glowing with evil energy. Shovel-boy states that no one was responsible and it was collateral damage, with Death Locket crying she’s sorry about it and Nico tries to use her magic to fix him.
In the meantime, Maria Hill, Ant-Man, and Captain America go over the events, stating that he was there to retrieve the prisoner because he was an agent of SHIELD. Ant-Man wants to get the kids back, Maria Hill not so much, with Captain America taking the middle-ground and stating Bagalia isn’t someplace they could raid that easily. Basically a lot of foreshadowing some things are going to go down in a few issues.
With Zemo the prisoner is the architect behind SHIELD’s information network. Naturally he’s a game changer in if they have him they can go off-grin and be untouchable, so AIM tried to get his head cracked open but failed because he’s been trained by telepaths and made resistant. He was not, however, resistant to a demonic monster possessing him, so the Bad Guys win.
Back with Nico, she’s watching as the evil scientist doctor work on Chase while thinking she’s responsible for this since she convinced him to stay and eventually loses her patience and wants to help him with her magic. Apparently those blows to the head caused some brain trauma (shovel-boy) and the doctor tells her not to because she doesn’t know what they hell she’s doing, which she doesn’t, so she goes back to her place thinking that good isn’t working for her and she’s going to try being bad for a change and making out with Alex.
We then go to Cammi, who’s locked up behind Zemo’s Living Room, trying to figure out how to escape when her neighbor keeps annoying her. As the comic ends we discover that neighbor is none other than Arcade, who’s in the cell next to her. Alive.
Okay, Review time…
Well, as controversial as this series is, it does show some of the key points of the Runaways. It shows that Nico still has a habit of clinging to romances when she feels troubled and stressed, as well as the fact that of the original Runaways Alex was the strategist, which gives a plausible reason for him being kept around. Providing that it’s really him and not some hell-spawn Daimon molded to his image. She also has a habit of taking betrayal’s badly, so Death Locket is in some deep trouble if Nico ever figures out she’s responsible.
We all figured Zemo planned this, but what was the point of keeping Arcade alive? All that’s going to do is screw his plans up later on.
Hmmm…. I’ll call it a 5 out 5.
The comic opens with Deathlocket enjoying herself by shooting at her fellow villains as they play some perversion of Mario Kart, only she has a laser rather than a Blue Shell. Either way, she thinks to herself that she shouldn’t like this as much as she does, musing on how she should be a bookworm and how listening to her father never got her anywhere considering he turned her into what she was. As she finishes up Chase asks what she sees in the Shovel Boy that Molly beat the crap out of not too long ago, and she says she likes him for the same reason people like him: He knows how to have a good time and he’s sweet and uncomplicated.
Anyway, Chase tries to tell Deathlocket about the spy plan, but they have work to do and hop aboard a plane to A.I.M Island to trash some stuff. On the way over she’s nervous, but because Shovel Boy keeps complimenting her on being a badass, she feels it is sincere since he knows her. Chase sees her getting drawn into it and Shovel Boy, but has to waste time setting some mook on fire.
They get ready to enter into the enemy compound when one of the bad guys shoot a missile and close the exit, which also draws the attention of Captain America. Why he was there alone, I have no clue. But he starts poking around and rescuing one of the A.I.M mooks when Deathlocket gets a lock on him and can snipe him.
Now, here’s the crucible. Shovel Boy is telling her that she needs to take the shot because their friends are inside and Captain America is their enemy now. She knows damn well that a shot to the head will kill, but he insists. He’s the devil on her shoulder at this point, and his words made her take the shot.
The only reason it missed, besides plot, is because Chase is playing the angel on her other shoulder. He starts with knocking her off-shot, setting Shovel Boy on fire, and telling her she’s not supposed to get in this deep. He has to explain that she’s been getting too goo-goo eyed with her boyfriend, who is isolating her and bending her around his finger just like Apex did, and she needs to think for herself.
Then, of course, Shovel Boy gets in a back shot and the two throw down. Chase tells her to pick a side and before she realizes it she takes a shot. The comic ends with Chase bleeding out on the ground from the wound that she just gave him. Is shooting people still fun now, Rebecca?
Okay, review time.
So far this was a mostly Deathlocket-centric issue. She’s not my favorite character, but I do like that we’re getting a look into her mind and what she’s doing. Chase, on the other hand, is playing the role of the sane man, who is trying to stop her from following orders like some kind of love sick machine.
The art was nice. The plot moved. There will be repercussions once Nico finds out about this, so overall it gets a solid 5 out of 5.
Okay, time to see who joins the bad guy in Issue #5 of Avengers Undercover!
The issue picks up right after Zemo’s offer to join him and the other villains. Since this is a big decision he decides to wait until breakfast for them to decide whether they are in or out, letting his captains show them around the city. Constrictor takes Chase and Deathlocket, Daimon takes Cullen and Nico, and the rest go with Madame Masque.
Nico and Cullen go to Hell Town, where dark wizards and monsters live in four blocks of Hellstrom Manor. There Cullen shows that Daimon summoned a cage of hellfire to help him release the soul demon bonded with him. While there Daimon tells her to stop beating herself up over trying to kill him because they all understand she was just trying to protect her own and states that she’s wallowing in misery while he’s stopped pretending he’s not a monster.
At Constrictor’s Snake Pit…really, that’s what it’s called? No creativity. Anyway, Chase is having a blast playing Basketball while Excavator explains that he and his friends mostly do simple work, destroying stuff for an hour and then spending the rest of the time doing whatever they want. Deathlocket finds this dumb, but thinks she needs some dumb in her life.
Madame Masque doesn’t take her kids far. She basically tells them that Hazmat, Cammi, and Axbro were natural leaders, which meant they can live like her and get anything they wanted. She doesn’t try very hard to convince them to take the offer since they seem smart enough to realize they’ve been offered the world on a gold plate. The three realize that they’re being played, but the options are limited to join the bad guys or go to jail, but Hazmat states who heroes go nuts all the time and avoid prison (except for Cyclops apparently) so if they did something to make them heroes again they could get away.
Nico, on the other end, gets involved in some Demon MMA and finds it cathartic. Then a demon hits her and she goes nuts on it and beats it senseless with her witch-arm until she snaps out of it and flees. Daimon chases after her and, after she fears she’s become no better than her parents, he resurrects her ex-boyfriend Alex Wilder…who should be wearing all white and be in limbo. I have mixed feelings about this.
They all meet up again, except for Deathlocket being smitten with Excavator and Cullen, who has already gone evil, and the leadership trio tell Chase and Nico their plan about going undercover to get their hero credit back. Obviously they haven’t thought this out well, and Chase complains he never wanted to go down there in the beginning, Cammi tells him they are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and to pick.
At breakfast Zemo gets his answer. They all are in, except Cammi who leaves to go take care of her mother. Zemo says they should respect that her decision was to leave, but she gets taken down by Constrictor as the comic ends.
Okay review time.
So this is where they decided to go Undercover. It’s… going to end badly. Hero or not, the world already sees them as damaged goods so this won’t get them out of jail either way, so this will fail in the end.
Admittedly we could see they were being played, but they really didn’t have a choice. Cammi was offered up for that reason, to show what would have happened otherwise. Still, at least we’ve reached the starting line and I can’t wait to see where it goes, so 5 out of 5.
In the last issue of Avengers Undercover Hazmat claimed revenge for Mettle by frying Arcade to death. This issue deals with the fallout of cold-blooded murder when you don’t have ties to the Avengers despite the name to bank off the movie that was released. This is my review of Avengers Undercover #3.
The story picks up where we left off, with the kids standing over Arcade’s remains. Well, the dust from his bones anyway. Cammi, being savvy enough to realize that Arcade was an ego-maniac and was probably filming their rematch, asks Deathlocket if she managed to get the extra cameras no doubt hidden around. When she states she probably didn’t it was safe to say it was time to go.
Ax-bro asks if Hazmat is alright as they flee and she states she snapped but she’s well enough so they can fight their way out through the corpses and other murder-addicted clients. Cullen doesn’t see why they need to rush, but Cammi states they violated several laws including watching as Hazmat put him down, which counts as pre-meditated murder even if only one of them did it. And Chase is slightly more jerkass-ish, but that character assassination is par the course since Avenger Arena and sadly I’ve gotten used to it.
Needless to say Cammi is right since SHIELD, who couldn’t find Arcade any other time to this point, manages to drop in right when they are about to escape. And suddenly they’re able to take down Cullen when he just went through wiping out their Brazil base and Nico? Come on.
Hours later they’re all in a containment facility where their friends and family are visiting, except for Deathlocket’s anyway. Ax-bro gets a lecture from his old man, Cullen and his sister argue, Stryker and Finesse visit Hazmat, Molly is blaming Nico for all of this to Chase while Karolina is greeting Nico. Where the hell is Victor and Old Lace in this? I get they probably couldn’t sneak the dinosaur on-board, but what’s the grandson of Hank Pym’s excuse for not seeing his ex-girlfriend in lock-up other than trying to get him to flash his Avengers card and give them the option of going to Avengers Academy or prison?
The above panels are mere bubbles while the meat of the dialogue is between Cammi and her mother. Her mother doesn’t blame them, like me she believes Arcade had it coming and is willing to fight tooth and nail to get her out. Cammi doesn’t want her to and just wants her to focus on taking care of herself, but her mother sees Cammi as the only thing in her life worth something and she’s not letting anyone take her away. Truly, the most heart-warming moment in this issue…
Of course then SHIELD proves to be incompetent and Daimon warps them all out in like three seconds flat. There’s the incompetence I remember. The son of Satan escorts them to Tower Zemo, where the more savvy of the kids note all this seemed planned out while Ax-Bro once again asks Hazmat if she’s hanging in there while Nico chats with Daimon on spell-working until they reach the banquet hall.
Zemo is there and basically states they live in a world where the average joe can live how he likes but people with powers need to ether cover it up or play heroes, not for personal gain. Now, I want to say he’s wrong. But technically speaking I can’t, because in almost every superhero story you read someone looking out for themselves with their powers will either be called out on it, turned into a villain, or seem like a selfish jerk.
For example Spider-man let a robber go past him once because he wasn’t a cop and thus not obligated, yet Uncle Ben dies to teach him a ‘lesson’ about with great power and responsibility. Come on, the chances of that happening were slim to none if they didn’t want to push him into being a hero. That’s part of the reason I liked Otto and Kaine more than Peter at present and I hope when they introduce Silk into Amazing Spider-Man.
…Okay, I didn’t mean to but that sounded like a plug…
Anyway, the kids tell him to skip straight to the point. He states he’s not asking them to do evil, but they have potential that can’t be realized in the normal world (again, he has a point) and asks that they join them as the comic ends.
Okay, review time.
First off since when is SHIELD competent enough to have a sorcery division? Even if Zemo somehow set it up, and I’m not doubting it, that seems both bullshit and contrived at best. Don’t they have someone else’s lives to fuck up?
Next, it really seems like they’re trying to push Axbro and Hazmat together with all this concern he’s showing her. I get someone needs to play mediator and councilor, but they could have just as easily have had Deathlocket ask her. Please, please, don’t force it Marvel. If it happens, it happens, but don’t force it until we feel like we’re being strangled with the red string.
Last is the recruitment offer at the end. In my opinion, if the title didn’t spoil the whole premise of the book, I can see Hazmat, Cullen, and Deathlocket agreeing off-hand. Hazmat’s stint in Avengers Academy was because she was a potential villain and she wasn’t all that close to her parents before all this so she has no real strong ties left, Deathlocket was accepted there with ease rather than being in a SHIELD lab and she doesn’t seem to have any family while Cullen’s already made his case.
Ax-bro would probably go to keep an eye on Hazmat and Cullen, but Nico, Chase, and Cammi are not as likely. Nico and Chase rebelled against their parents because they were criminals, but they’ve lost their loved ones and Chase did go somewhat villainous after Gert died. If the solicits about Alex Wilder coming back is true, then him and Gert are incentives to join up.
Cammi is the token good-teammate. She’s obviously going to have to be pushed into it. She and Ax-bro are probably the ones who consider this undercover thing in the first place.
Someone dies tonight in Issue #3 of Avengers Undercover and read my thoughts on it in this review.
Our story begins with Baron Zemo in the company of the Masters of Evil, watching the seven Murderworld survivors come face-to-face with Arcade via magic. He’s confident he knows how this is going to go down. After all, he can see it in their faces how Arcade is the embodiment of their torment, the one who brought out the worst of them and then put it online for the world to see.
He has a point as Arcade tells the people who gathered there to start the festivities and things go to pieces. Hazmat goes blank and has to be saved by Ax-Bro while Cullen explains that Arcade can’t pull the same shit as before because heroes tend to get a little more than pissed off when you force their trainees into his games, so he has a bunch of rich guys pay him for a chance to do their own Murderworld impression. Cammi is not amused because Cullen dragged them into it, but Nico is all for it considering she actually died because of that bastard. And when you consider that she usually inflicted a fate worse than death on people who deserve it like Gert’s parents before she tried playing hero and died for it, you can damn well guess he’s not getting out of this alive.
Chase only now realizes she’s messed up as Arcade pops up to face against him, Ax-Bro, and Cammi while Deathlocket, Cullen, and Nico go on a rampage to shut his system down. They all pretty much admit they’re messed up as they face off against Arcade and Miss Coriander, his hyper-competent assistant, and it goes poorly. Arcade himself feels unhappy despite tossing his three around because now that he’s won he’s not sure where to go from there, while his assistant has her three tied up but didn’t account for Deathlocket’s new upgrades and they turn the tables on him.
Everyone takes a crack at the man, but none of them goes for the kill. He notes this by saying that they’re all heroes and can’t finish the job, but Hazmat disagrees as she copies what he did to Mettle verbatim and then kills him. The story ends with the Masters of Evil cheering and saying things are going just as planned.
Okay, Review Time.
Well, Karma’s a Bitch. It’s telling that even the Masters of Evil found Arcade so distasteful they set him up to be killed to get their hands on seven potential villains in the making. He had it coming.
As for the survivors, we see more of the cracks in their personalities. Maybe Nico and Cammi still had some issues to work out from their last battle, but this is the second time she’s resorted straight to violence in attacking people she knows when it comes to bringing up Arcade and Murderworld. When you consider how much crap she’s been through in her own series and Arena, I honestly thought she was going to be the one to finish him off.
But Hazmat deserved it more. She was always a little spitfire and had been in love, only for it to be ripped away the night after she consummated her love. She broke down in Arena once and was mocked for it by nerds, only to come face-to-face with the one responsible and completely shut down. Whether or not this signifies her turn to the dark side I can’t say, but she got revenge for Mettle.
This issue gets a 4 out of 5.
Avengers Undercover continues where it left off in the second issue and I’m going to give you my biased opinion as I review it.
The issue opens with the group floating above the entrance to Bagalia and Chase having second thoughts. These thoughts are made more vocal as they go down the rabbit hole and into an underground city. When they get spotted by a bunch of D-rank teen villains, naturally, fighting ensues.
During this little skirmish Nico and Chase argue about the fact that he claims to be there because he considers Nico family and needs him, while she claims he came because she made him despite being the “less” broken of the group and not out of loyalty. It hurts me seeing this because after everything they went through in their own series they’ve gone back to not trusting each other. The rest of the group deals with their enemies in short order, with Death Locket finishing things with her gun arm. As they leave, two of the Masters of Evil muse on their skills and decide they want them.
The group traces Cullen to a club and Anachronism breaks in to rescue him, only to come face-to-face with at least a hundred villains. Luckily Cullen diffuses the situation and explains that he isn’t there against his will. He’s there because they accept him for how he is, no shame or fear or pity.
Hazmat drags Anachronism onto the dance floor and tries to comfort him, stating they need to blend in and stay there as long as it takes to bring him back. Chase runs into two hot women who play paper-scissors-rock for him and decides to chat them up, while Nico tries to convince Cullen they should go back and fails since he states that he’s “a cold-blooded weapons expert who hates people and periodically transforms into a ten ton indestructible man-eating soul beast” and he was always going to be a villain.
The son of Satan, Daimon Hellstrom, notes that Nico is trying so hard to turn him because she feels shame for trying to kill him near the end of Arcade’s Murderworld and states no one is forcing him into trouble. So that means he destroy that SHIELD outpost on his own accord, which is equally worrying. Daimon also shows he’s been helping Cullen control his soul beast and he offers to help teach her a thing or two about black magic without following in any footsteps. Even Death Locket is being charmed by Excavator, who I recall Molly Hayes of the Runaways knocked him sensesless during the beginning of their second series.
In the end only Cammi remains untempted by the offering of the villains and drags them all out four hours later, shaming them by stating she didn’t leave her mom home alone to chaperone them and that they’re going home. Needless to say Masque and Constrictor love her spunk when she tears Cullen a new one afterward, but Cullen has Daimon transport them all to where Arcade’s ass is as the comic ends. Vengeance is coming.
Okay, review time.
I loved it, plain and simple. I was expecting the group to go in and get their asses kicked and coerced into joining the villains, but then we see all this chemistry between them and wonder if they might actually fit in better. I mean, let’s face it, you can’t blame the villains for wanting these guys.
Have you seen what they can do? Nico works with black magic, Cullen has a monster form, Death Locket has nanotech that forms weaponry, Hazmat is a poisonous person who learns to make anti-matter in the future, Anachronism is your muscle guy, Cammi is just badass, Chase…well, he’s a good driver and has those gloves I suppose. They were all villains in the making if things took a really bad turn, so it makes sense they fit in.
That being said, I feel that Chase being a flirt is in poor taste considering what happened to Gert and how he damn near committed suicide. Last time I checked he was still grieving. And where the Hell is Old Lace? Not to mention both he and Nico turned against their parents for being villains, so this is a step backwards.
Leaving aside those issues though, I found this to be a perfect issue and give it a solid 5 out of 5.
The sequel to the base-breaking Avengers Arena is now out and I’m here to review it. While I originally only got into the previous series because I was a Runaways fan, I feel compelled to let you know how this Avengers-in-name-only story goes and my thoughts on it as we see the aftermath of Arcade’s Murder-world three months later.
It starts with Hazmat watching a news report on the footage Arcade released from a diner, where three friends are sitting down and talking about their favorites. One of them finds Chase to be a wuss, waiting for Nico to tell him what to do and getting his ass-kicked by little girls, while the other sees him as a loyal hottie. The third, however, proceeds to talk trash about Hazmat’s breakdown and causes her to scare him by using her powers. It turns out after her meltdown she managed to gain control over them.
We then skip over to Chase giving an interview on television, with him apparently being a celebrity and having a book deal about his time during the events of Murder-world since he’s the most outspoken of the entire thing. He states that while the others are fighting it he sees it as pointless and is more focused on getting what he can out of it. While cold, it seems to be his way of adjusting to everything.
It’s then Nico shows up and they have a minor spat on-camera over him breaking his pact. Chase implies that she’s suffered the most from it, with her even missing Molly’s birthday. Considering that she’s the most mothering of the group, of which Karolina, Molly, and Victor are watching from their home, that’s saying something. She grabs Chase and teleports him elsewhere with a spell after that.
Deathlocket, meanwhile, is apparently being seen to by SHIELD technicians. Her cybernetics seemed to be evolving, but she’s not exactly in full control as she materializes a weapon when one man claims to be a fan of hers. She points out that she had to shoot her best friend in the head, she set a kid on fire, and she had to watch Tim die, before storming out to go someplace else.
Cammi, on the other hand, is attending a recovering alcoholics meeting with her mother to give her support. Her mother had it bad, losing three homes and nine jobs, only hitting rock-bottom after seeing what they said on the news about Cammi being forced to participate in Murder-world. While things between them seemed to be better, Cammi tells her she has to leave in order to go somewhere else and apologizes before she does so.
We then go to a recording of Cullen, who apparently got a plasma cannon for his sixth birthday called Brimstone. He then uses it to burn down Arcade’s home. Unfortunately he wasn’t there, much to Cullen’s rage as he smashes the camera. It then skips to Aiden meeting with Cammi and the others at Bloodstone Manor.
He explains that Cullen basically snapped, leaving school one morning only for Aiden to show up at his place three months later. Cullen’s room is lined with information about the Masters of Evil and Arcade, as well as places he might be and so on, showing he’s gone off the deep end. His latest recording three weeks ago show him going to the city of Bagalia to kill Arcade, to which the others are concerned with the exception being Chase (who pretty much is all for him killing Arcade after what he put them through).
Unfortunately, right after Chase jinxes it by saying what could go wrong we see that Cullen’s monster form on a rampage in Brazil and attacking a SHIELD R & D facility. It seems like one of the Masters of Evil, the son of Satan, managed to gain control over him. Without knowing any of this, the group decides to go and check on him, ending the comic.
Okay, review time.
Well, I’ve been waiting for this one and, while not disappointed, I’ve got to say it could have been a bit better. While they gave us a brief look into what the survivors have been up to, I wasn’t nearly satisfied with the brief panel appearance of the rest of the Runaways without Klara. But the biggest issues were Chase and Nico.
Chase came from an abusive home and was so good at hiding it that no one suspected it until it was brought up between him and Nico. Now you have him giving interviews and crap, getting rich off of it. That’s really out of character for him, especially when you consider than after Gert’s death he really matured.
And Nico outright hitting him was overly aggressive for her. Don’t get me wrong, the girl is quick to draw when it comes to the staff, but only when defending her charges. Unless that’s a side-effect of being raised from the dead, which can be counted as justifiable, then it’s out of character for her.
The others were pretty well done, coping in one way or another, although Cullen seems to be the one who suffered the most mental unbalance and completely snapped. What I really want to see is the adults who fucked up and how they’re dealing with this, starting with when Juston’s family finding out about the LMD sent to replace him and how it weighs on Hank Pym combined with Mettle’s death. But I can be patient for the time being…
Anyway, overall it gets a 4 out of 5 and a solid recommendation. I will be following it along.
I admit I was not into the English Comic Book scene until earlier this year. Because of that, I am now ashamed that I have missed such great stories. This is now one of them.
I didn’t know what the Runaways was until the X-Men Crossover: Event Battle of the Atom took place and unveiled a character from the future called Molly Hayes. Being the curious person that I was, I googled her and found the series. When I do research into a character and their series, I like to be somewhat through and, as a result, found myself interested in the plot and marathon-ed the main series in about three days with distractions.
The Runaways (at least at first) is the story about six kids who find out their parents are a group of super-villains called the Pride, who own a great part of the West Coast which has little to no costumed heroes since most of the super-villains flock to the East Coast. Except for Wonder Man, but he doesn’t count as a hero according to them. The kids decide to run away and have their parents reported to the police, which are owned by the Pride, and end up being blamed for the murder they witnessed their parents comment earlier and kidnapping Molly Hayes.
With no choice they arm themselves and decide to bring down their parents themselves to save the world. Alex Wilder leads the group with his intellect despite possessing no powers, Nico Minoru discovers her powers as a witch, Karolina Dean learns that she’s an alien that derives her abilities from solar energy, Chase Stein steals his parents’ flame-making gauntlets and x-ray goggles, Gertrude Yorkes becomes telepathically bonded to a dinosaur from the 87th century she calls Old Lace, and Molly Haynes discovers she’s a mutant with super strength and invulnerability.
The plot reveals that the Pride were working for six-toed giants who wanted to cleanse the earth of humanity and needed 25 sacrifices to do so over 25 years, with this year being the final one. The kids eventually confront their parents and stop the giants’ plans, but it cost the lives of all their parents and Alex. They were separated by Captain America and sent to foster homes, but they all escaped and stole back Old Lace from Stark’s storage facility deciding to remain Runaways.
In the aftermath of the first volume it is revealed that the Pride prevented most villains from moving onto their turf by eliminating the competition, so with their deaths there was a power vacuum. Now, under the leadership of Nico, the group works to take out all of those looking to fill in the gap when they receive a visit from a future Gertrude Yorkes who warns them about a teenager who becomes a villain before she dies in Chase’s arms.
They confront the teenager, Victor Mancha, which awakens his powers. While Chase was hostile to him, due to the fact that Gert was his girlfriend and he witnessed a future version of her die in his arms, they assist him in retrieving his mother, who is taken hostage. It was revealed he is a child of Ultron, a cyborg who will eventually be able to pass as human in due time. After his mother was killed and Ultron was destroyed, the team takes him into their ranks.
Later on Karolina was chased by a Super Skull named Xavin. It was revealed that her parents arranged a marriage between them as well as sold out their home world to prevent an invasion of earth (which was pointless given the events of Secret Invasion and every other time). Xavin hoped their marriage would cease the hostilities between the Skrull Outpost and her home world. Karolina was originally adverse to the marriage since she’s a lesbian (whose first crush was on Nico), but Xavin shapes shifts to a female form and Karolina left the group to assist in the marriage.
As the series continued the pair returned after hostilities were resparked during the marriage and both the outpost and her home world were destroyed when the Skrulls launched an anti-matter weapon and made a star go supernova. During this time they traveled to New York to assist Cloak and Dagger, who they met in the first series, and dealt with a time-displaced Geoffry Wilder, who sought to sacrifice them in order to resurrect his son and wife. The conflict ended with Gertrude dying in Chase’s arms, giving him her telepathic link to Old Lace.
Chase went mad with grief and consulted with the giants who killed their parents, now stuck in Limbo, who offer to resurrect her for a single soul sacrificed to them. He eventually offered up his own, but since he was willingly giving up his own soul it would not count. In the end the Runaways manage to banish the giants to a realm beyond death, where Alex was assisting the Runaways in atonement to save Chase and fix Victor. Unfortunately they drew the attention of the Avengers and were forced to go to the Kingpin for help.
The Kingpin wanted them to steal an item that was made by the Yorkes, but it was a plot to send them all to 1907, where they met with Lillie, a wonder (meta-human) who could fly, Klara (who could manipulate plants), and the Yorkes. During this trip Victor fell in love with Lillie and she with him, but a war between superpowers broke out after Nico was kidnapped by her ancestor and tortured.
In the end they offered to take Lillie into the future but she was too afraid, instead bringing Klara with them. It was revealed that an aged Lillie was the one who orchestrated the events of the time travel so that she could convince herself to join the man she love rather than live a life of regret, but nothing changed as her past self was too afraid.
In the last volume during the series, the group returns to the West Coast to continue their work but survivors of Karolina’s race came to take her into custody and be held responsible for the destruction of their world since it was her parents that sold them out in the first place. Xavin knocked her out and took her place in the end. The series abruptly ended on hiatus with the Homecoming Arc, where their home was destroyed, Old Lace was seemingly killed, Klara’s powers ran out of control, they were attacked by US Agents, and Chase was hospitalized chasing after a girl who looked like Gert.
Since the series has been on Hiatus since 2009 it is safe to say it won’t start up again, and the movie deal they had seemed to have fallen through. I remain hopeful that one day we’ll see it though. However, the Runaways have not been forgotten. Besides their crossovers with the Young Avengers during the Civil War and Secret Invasion, they’ve appeared in several series since the hiatus.
The first was Daken: Dark Wolverine Issue #19. That issue takes place after the events of the Homecoming Arc that the third volume ended on with Chase having gotten better somehow but no resolution on that Gert doppelganger. Then they appeared in Avengers Academy #27-#28 trying to retrieve Old Lace.
Hank Pym and Tigra are more than willing to help, but since they’ve got a thing about children being runaways, especially Molly and Klara, it leads to the usual hero brawl. This ends quick enough when they decide to talk it out for once and Nico uses a spell to share their experiences with everyone. Hank and Tigra let them go on the condition that the children are brought in once a month for check-ups and Karolina ends up dating Julie Powers after Xavin’s been gone for so long without any contact (which I assume means he’s dead since his people were the ones who blew up their world and they needed a target to hate-on).
After that Victor was recruited into joining Avengers A.I. by his brother, Vision. His characterization seems off, but he hasn’t seen the other Runaways in some time from the sound of it. A future Molly Hayes joined the X-Men in the Battle of the Atom and her present self has been seen in Avenger’s Arena #13, looking for Chase and Nico who she can tell have been missing despite the precautions that Arcade took and Old Lace’s connection to Chase.
Chase and Nico were kidnapped by Arcade in Avengers Arena to participate in Murderworld. There are some continuity issues in Avengers Arena, which is a blatant rip off of Battle Royale (which they even reference in-story as a source of inspiration and I personally recommend the first movie for viewing), such as the issues that Chase and Nico had and the Staff of One being downgraded. It seems like the writers are ignoring Volume 3, which I have admitted to not being a fan of, and some parts at the end of Volume 2.
Anyway, in the story two major things happen so far at the time of the writing between the members of the Runaways:
The first is that Chase becomes the new Darkhawk, courtesy of finding the pendant after the previous wielder went missing from his power turning on itself. Unfortunately the armor is technological and the main villain for the first arc is a technopath. So he’s forced against his will to attack Nico while under Apex’s control and she dies bleeding out in the snow after managing a final spell.
The spell takes effect some time after she’s died, resurrecting her by the Staff of One (which should not be able to bring back the dead but since the spell was cast before she died maybe that was a loophole) using her blood and half-an-arm as a sacrifice. As a result she received the gauntlet that serves as a replacement staff allowing her to cast spells in place of her missing arm and the staff became more of a wand.
As a group they have a generally neutral stand when it comes to heroics. While on good terms with Cloak and Dagger, they dislike the Avengers since they constantly tried to split them up and send them to foster homes. If it benefits them they will work with someone like the Kingpin, although that ended poorly. They don’t particularly trust when it comes to adults but they occasionally connect with other teen heroes.
Born to Geoffrey and Catherine Wilder, Alex is the first character to be introduced to the series. He is a prodigy in Logistics and Strategy and the one to initially suggest spying on their parents’ supposed charity organization. After witnessing their parents’ (who were revealed to be a secret crime ring called “the Pride”) murder of an innocent teenage girl, Alex organizes the mass escape from their parents. He is later revealed to have known about the Pride for a year and served as a Mole, working to ensure that the six spots for paradise would go to his parents, himself, Nico, and Nico’s parents.
For this reason he distanced himself from the other kids, as he felt that they were going to die anyway. Because of Molly’s interference in the ritual and freeing one of the souls, the giants became aggravated and, when he took responsibility for her, they killed him. In the second volume it is shown that he has regretted the actions that he has taken to earn his parent’s approval and assisted the team from a realm beyond death, intent on earning his way out. He showed no hostility to the giants when they join him and even admits that they were probably trying to do the same thing in earning their parent’s approval.
His relationship with Nico was one of the things that hardened her to be the next leader of the Runaways and, despite the fact that he did betray them, she loved him and attempted to resurrect him shortly after his death. His online gamer friends also tried to do the same, although both efforts failed ultimately. The betrayal struck all of the others hard as well, making them more reluctant to forgive treachery and many still hate him to this day.
Nico Minoru (Sister Grimm)
Born to the Evil Magicians Robert and Tina Minoru, Nico herself is a witch whose power comes from the Staff of One, which bonded to her body when her mother attempted to use it against her and only comes out when she bleeds (cutting herself was the most common way, although she disliked it since she wasn’t into that). With it she casts spells using phrases and commands, however the staff itself will only cast the same spell once without failing and she has to summon up painful memories to fuel it in order to get the most out of it.
Later on in the series she gains more power during a trip to the past by being tortured by the her ancestor, as the more pain she can take the greater power she can wield, to the extent she doesn’t need the staff for some minor spells and the staff will eat anyone who tries to use it. After the hiatus and the continuity issues in the Avengers Arena seemed to eliminate those particular power-ups she gained a new one upon her death and resurrection.
Nico becomes the leader in the second volume, where she and the others work to stop the flux of thugs and villains trying to fill in the power vacuum left by their parents’ death. While she considers herself a den mother to them, sewing their clothing and caring for them, she serves as the lynchpin of the group after all they’ve gone through and can be ruthless in dealing with threats to her group.
Nico has been romantically involved with several members of the group due to a psychological need to be close to someone after traumatic experiences or close encounters, which resulted in her romances with Alex (First Kiss) and Victor (Deflowering), as well as her kissing Chase in Volume two.
Her relationship with Alex, who was her first kiss, left her with little tolerance for traitors and she has threatened to deal with those who betray them harshly. Yet she still loves him and attempted to resurrect him without success. Of all of the group she misses him the most at this point.
When Victor came into the picture she opted to give him a chance after losing his mother as long as he did not betray them. Gert’s death motivated her to have sex with him for solace, which they both regretted, but they attempted to start a romance. When Lillie came into the picture she stepped aside, ending their relationship.
With Chase she acts as the motherly figure to his stern approach most of the time. After the incident where she kisses him and Gert’s death, to whom she was an old friend, they’ve had trust issues and clashed several times as she has a case of Survivor’s Guilt since Gert’s death was supposed to be hers. She sees Molly and Klara as little sisters and looks over them. Karolina has a crush on her and, while she doesn’t love her in that way, she sees her as a friend who she cannot bear losing after all of the losses they’ve endured.
Born to a pair of Mad Scientists, Victor and Janet Stein, Chase Stein was the complete opposite of his parents hopes as he was an athlete rather than an intellectual like they were. Because of this his father often beat him.
Chase uses his parents inventions in combat including Fistigons, the world’s most powerful gauntlets that can create and shape flames, and X-Ray goggles, both of which are destroyed in the first volume. In the second volume he serves as the group’s driver using the Leapfrog and slowly becomes more competent in technology, culminating with a new pair of Fistigons and Footigons in Volume three. He uses a switch blade any other time and, after Gert’s death, he inherits her connection with Old Lace. He has also used the Staff of One, discovered three logic questions that can shut down Victor, and recently gained the Darkhawk amulet.
He is the oldest of the group at eighteen and considered a Wild Card. When Gert died he became darker and out of all of the group he is the most likely to resort to lethal force. Out of all the original Runaways he has the most troublesome past due to his abusive father and neglectful mother, once stating that his power was a “poor upbringing” and has the most street-smarts, but he is fiercely loyal to the group barring the single incident he sought to resurrect Gert with his own death.
Chase’s relationship with the group varies depending on the circumstances, but in general he acts as an surrogate big brother to Klara and Molly, an equal to Nico, and a loyal friend to the others including Victor Mancha later on. With Victor, before their roles switched, he disliked him as his future counterpart killed Gert’s and he has implied that he sees Victor as the son his father, who bore the same name, always wanted. He and Gert were in a relationship, with implied sexual relations, until Nico kissed him and it strained the relationship with her dying in his arms shortly after while saying she loved him and giving him ownership of Old Lace.
Born to the criminal time travelers Stacey and Dale Yorkes, Gertrude was ignorant of their activities until the party but always suspected they were evil. She has a cynical view of the world and boasted the second highest intelligence of the original group. Gert did not think highly of her future self and even though her relationship with Chase softened her, she remained cynical.
Her sole power is her telepathic and empathic link to Old Lace, a genetically engineered dinosaur from the 87th century. They can feel one another and share their pain and experience, meaning that if she dies Old Lace dies unless she transferred the link.
Her relationship with the team consisted of interactions with Nico, Victor, and Chase primarily before her death. Nico was her oldest friend and, as such, she was hit the hardest when she kissed Chase, although they made up before she did with Chase. While Victor’s future self killed hers, she bears little hostility against him and ended up defending him against Chase. It was implied her future self and his were in a closer relationship of sorts.
Her relationship with Chase began near the end of the first volume after she gave him CPR once his heart stopped. Since then they bickered but were in love, with the implication that they slept together. However she was had doubts about her appearance and her relationship (he was a jock and she was a nerd, in her words) so the kiss between Chase and Nico ended things. That being said, she did confront the time-displaced Geoffry Wilder to save Chase at the cost of her own life, telling him she loved him as she died.
While she watched Molly and kept an eye on Karolina, their relationships were distant to an extent. Yet her death impacted them all greatly. Had she lived she would have potentially become the leader of the Avengers under the name Heroine.
Molly Hayes (Bruiser, Princess Powerful):
Born to telepathic mutants Gene and Alice Hayes, Molly is the sole mutant of the group and physically the strongest. She is the youngest until Klara joined the team and the most innocent in terms of her perspective, refusing to believe her parents were evil since she did not witness them sacrificing an innocent girl.
Her parents tested her when she was born for the mutant gene but there were no signs of it until her mutation kicked in when the group formed. Her abilities are opposite of her parents in that she has super strength and invulnerability with the only weakness being that she needed rest after each use until later in the series. She is also one of the most insightful characters and intelligent, although she acts younger than she is to hide it, and was the most keen on being a superhero until later on.
Molly is proud of her heritage as a mutant and once had a crush on Wolverine. Even in the Marvel extended universe she is considered one of the strongest despite her young age and when the Decimation of the Mutant Race happened she remained one of the 198 mutants with their abilities.
Molly’s relationships are based on who she spends time with and she had arguably the best relationship with her parents being the youngest. She often misses them and one of the easiest ways to anger or sadden her is to point out how cruel they were to their enemies. Most of the others treat her as a surrogate sibling and she does the same.
In Battle of the Atom she has resurfaced from an alternate future as one of the X-Men, who as a child she admired but did not join because she saw the other Runaways as family and doesn’t like to be separated from them.
Born to exiled Majesdanian aliens Frank and Leslie Dean, Karolina is a vegan and protestor. Early in the series her heritage as an alien and circumstances left her suicidal, but she overcame it later in the series and regained her free-spirited nature. At times, however, she feels as an outcast being the group’s only alien and lesbian.
As a Majesdanian she absorbs solar energy and radiates it as a rainbow colors, with her main weakness being a special metal that inhibits her abilities and that when night falls she has a limited amount of energy stored to use. After visiting her home world before its destruction she became adept at using her abilities, allowing her to fly, use lasers, force-fields, and concussive blasts. Her blood is toxic to vampires as well.
Karolina has generally good relationships with all of the Runaways and is an open lesbian with a crush on Nico that has persisted even upon her marriage with Xavin, although she loves her just the same. There have been moments of where their relationships have been strained, such as Xavin’s identity.
When the Majesdanian survivors came looking for her, she was willing to go in order to appease them and prevent a fight between her friends and her people, but Xavin took her place and left her grieving. Later on she has begun dating bi-sexual Julie Powers.
The child of famed Skrull Prince De’zean, Xavier is a Super Skrull who hoped to end the war between his outpost and the Majesdanians by claiming Karolina’s hand in marriage. It was clear that Karolina’s parents intended for him to die in the war before this could come to pass but she survived. Xavier at first defaulted to a male form however switched to a female form in order to please Karolina, but in general he/she has a bit of a gender identity crisis.
He has the powers of the Fantastic Four but his limited training with them has at times left him unable to use them to their full potential. He can use more than one at a time, but it rarely occurs due to his lack of training once more.
His attitude is somewhat warlike but he detests the notion of war, having lived his entire life in one. He clashes often with the others due to his different upbringing, questioning Nico’s authority and demeaning Victor as his race sees robots as less than equals, but later on it improves as he /she works to understand what it means to be human.
Xavin has left the Earth in Karolina’s place and hasn’t been seen since, potentially being killed as it has been made apparent that Majesdanians have a hatred of Skrulls.
Victor Manchas (Victorious):
A Cyborg created by Ultron using the genetic material of Marianella Mancha, who could not have children due to being used as a Drug Mule. Like the original Runaways his father is a villain, but he had a decent relationship with his mother, who Ultron killed in front of him. He is the brother of Vision and Hank Pym is his grandfather.
Victor’s body is filled with nanites that will eventually convert his body into that of a human’s, rendering him undetectable by metal detectors while retaining his abilities. He primarily uses electromagnetism in combat but also possesses some level of superhuman strength, incredible speed, a powerful jumping ability, and an automated self-repair function. He is also the only one outside of Chase who can pilot the Leapfrog. Because his future counterpart was designed to infiltrate the Avengers in adulthood and kill every hero, he is knowledgeable about heroes in general and has a fanboyish attitude towards them.
While he was originally under watch by the others he proved himself a loyal member of the team and begun a relationship with Nico after Gert’s death. Once the team was sent to 1907 during the last arc of the second volume he then fell in love with Lillie and she with him. However, she refused to join them in the future, leaving them both heartbroken and with regrets.
Klara Prast (Red Rose):
Klara Prast is a time-displaced mutant from 1907 the team encounters during their stay in that time period. She was sold off to be married to a traveler heading to America after her mother discovered her ability and called her unholy. He often abused her, which Karolina witnessed and later confronted her on her being the one who helped them with some trouble earlier in the arc.
When she witnessed Karolina and Xavin in female form kissing she left feeling it was something she couldn’t tolerate due to her Christian upbringing. This led Molly chastising her and leaving her behind. As the group was preparing to leave the past she appeared before them, beaten even worse, and was taken with them into the future.
Klara can manipulate plants in general by simply asking them to do what she wants but likes roses as she can hear them speak. Her powers are somewhat uncontrollable when she is distressed or panicked, such as when she saw Old Lace killed and entombed the team in their house within out of control vines and nearly killing Nico.
Klara is closest to Molly, as they are around the same age and she helps her adapt to the time period. However, because of the time period she comes from and her religion, she sees Karolina and Xavin’s relationship as something abominable due to race and gender. She has tried to get better about it and the change in the time period has made her much happier than living in her own time period.
What I like about this series:
Cover Art: Let’s be clear, in the first and second volumes especially, the covers are goddamn beautiful.
Plot: The plot goes from clearing their names and turning over their parents for murder to saving the world and then keeping their city safe, all while remaining on the run from the authorities and most other heroes.
Character Development: The characters grow as the story continues, maturing slowly as they struggle to not be like their parents. Even though there are moments when they seem just like them.
Relationships: The relationships are flawed, much like real life relationships, but they struggle and love. These relationships evolve over time and are realistic.
Concept: The idea of villains’ children becoming heroes (sort of) is one that isn’t commonly explored, but while they admit their parents were bad people they still hold some affection to them and their memories. Most of them anyway. The kids distrust authority like most teens but take things into their own hands and have slowly come into positions they are comfortable with.
What I dislike about this series:
Volume Three: In general Volume three has been my least favorite due to the weak plot with the exception of the Xavin/Karolina story and the fluctuating artwork. The Rock Zombie arc was just ridiculous and the Homecoming arc was flat out confusing and ended at the worst point, only to be skipped over as the characters were transferred to guest roles in other series.