Last week Hulu announced that they were getting into the superhero business, and would be adapting Marvel’s Runaways into a live-action series. While it’s disappointing for fans who were still anxiously waiting on the film adaptation that Marvel announced way back when, it is still an exciting bit of news. This list goes over the basics of who the Runaways are and what the main story arcs are from the comics. It’s for those that haven’t read the comics and want to know more about the team, or those that are looking for a bit of a refresher. But be warned, this list may contain spoilers for the upcoming TV series.
Runaways is the type of Marvel property that could do very well as a television series, if it’s done right. Although the series is centered around a group of teens, the storylines, at least in the comic books, are much more grown up than typical teen drama. If the show sticks with same tone that the comics had, this series could garner the same responses as Netflix’s collaborations with Marvel.
Here are Screen Rant’s 15 Things You Need To Know About The Runaways:
Runaways was created by writer Brian K. Vaughn and artist Adrian Alphona. The line was initially published in as part of Marvel’s Tsunami imprint. This particular imprint was created by Marvel in 2003, and was meant to appeal to younger readers and those that were fans of manga. The titles of the line had their artistic style in common, but shared little else, making the whole thing rather confusing to readers. The entire line was cancelled in 2003, and the titles were either absorbed into the regular Marvel imprint or they were cancelled.
Sadly, because of these changes, Runaways was cancelled after a total of 18 issues. But, it seems that all was not lost. Due to high sales in the trade paperback format of the issues, Marvel decided to revive the series in 2005. Vaughn, who initially only planned to write the series for six months, continued writing the series through 2007. When he stepped down, he hand-picked Joss Whedon to write the Volume 2 story arc. In 2009, Kathryn Immonen and Sarah Pichelli were chosen as the new creative team for Volume 3, and held the reins until the title was cancelled once again in 2012.
14. Original Line-Up
The initial line up of the team consisted of six teenagers, who would come together on an annual basis when their parents did. Of course, at the time, they thought it was nothing more than a gathering of friends. When they learned that the reason behind the gathering was more nefarious, and consisted of a ritual sacrifice, they ran away and vowed to bring their evil parents down.
Their leader is Alex Wilder, the prodigal, genius son of the Wilder crime family. Nico Minoru is the daughter of the dark wizard Minorus and uses the Staff Of One to cast spells, with some limitations. Karolina Dean is the alien daughter of the other-worldly Deans, and has the ability to fly and manipulate solar energy. Molly Hayes is the mutant daughter of the villainous Hayes family, whose mutant powers include invulnerability and super-strength. Chase Stein is the son of the evil scientist Steins and he uses tech that his parents created, including flame throwing gauntlets and x-ray goggles. And finally, Gertrude Yorke is the daughter of the time-travelling Yorkes, and has a telepathic and empathic link to her pet dinosaur, Old Lace.
13. The Villains
The evil criminal organization known as The Pride was the team’s first and most prominent foe. And it just so happened to be comprised of their parents. The villains controlled Los Angeles, and consisted of six couples: Geoffrey and Catherine Wilder, Dale and Stacey Yorke, Frank and Leslie Dean, Victor and Janet Stein, Gene and Alice Hayes, and Robert and Tina Minoru. The Wilders were the criminals, the Yorkes could time-travel, the Hayeses were telepathic, the Deans were aliens, the Steins were mad scientists, and the Minorus were wizards.
The Pride was brought together by three mythical giants and tasked with wiping out the human race. Once completed, three of the couples would be “chosen” and would rule the new Earth, while the other six perished with the rest of humanity. For some reason, they all agreed to this and The Pride was formed. Things changed when Janet Stein got pregnant, and they all decided to have children and give their six places to their off-spring. Of course, because they’re bad guys, no one was being truthful and eventually they all managed to betray one another before they were defeated by their children.
Although the majority of the members on the team do have super-powers, there are a few, like Chase, who don’t. That doesn’t make him totally useless to the team, however. Given that his parents were genius scientists, they invented some pretty cool tech which Chase just happened to help himself to on his way out the door. This included a pair of X-ray goggles, a set of weaponized gauntlets with the ability to shoot fire, called Fistigons –a later version was also able to shoot electricity and missiles– and a pair of Footsgons, which are rocket-powered boots.
On top of that, the Runaways also have The Leapfrog, a frog-shaped vehicle that is the team’s main form of transportation. Unlike regular transports, which usually fly or drive, the Leapfrog “jumps” forward in order to get from place to place. It also has its own cloaking device to hide it from prying eyes. The main processor is semi-sentient and is often thought of having a “mind of its own.” Recent upgrades have given it the ability to fly, as well as travel through time.
11. Crossovers and Team-Ups
A lot of things changed in the Marvel universe with the release of 2006’s Civil War story arc. One of the things that happened was the Young Avengers taking a trip to Los Angeles, where they attempt to help the Runaways fight the government in regard to the Superhuman Registration Act. This four edition limited series was created by Zeb Wells and Stefano Caselli, and was released in 2006. It acted as a bridge to the first and second volumes of The Young Avengers, just before Civil War #3.
Although the main battle in the War takes place on the East Coast, S.H.I.E.L.D. sends a team to the West Coast to capture anybody with powers, putting the Runaways in the middle of things. The Young Avengers see them on TV and steal a quinjet in order to find and help them. Once there, the teams come up against S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Noh-Varr, a brainwashed Kree who is from an alternate dimension. Although everyone gets captured, they eventually manage to escape. The two teams then part ways, with the Young Avengers heading back to New York and the Runaways heading in a different direction altogether.
The Runaways’ team is made up of more female members than male members, which is a big change from the majority of super teams out there. At any given time, there are four regular, female members on the team to the two male members. But that’s not all. The team is also exceptionally diverse.
Nico is a Japanese-American, Karolina is a lesbian alien, Gert is a Jewish agnostic, and Alex is African-American. Add to that Xavin, a shape-shifting alien with gender fluidity. While Xavin initially presents as male, once they learn that Karolina, their betrothed, is attracted to women, they shift into a female form. While the choice was initially to make Karolina more comfortable, Xavin soon decides that they like being female. All of these scenarios are not only incredibly interesting, but also timely, as the entertainment industry today attempts to be more inclusive and representative of the world we live in.
9. Secret Identities
When the series started, the teens decided that, like all good superheroes, they needed secret identities. With the exception of Alex, who refused on the grounds that he wanted everyone to know who he was so that he could do good with the Wilder name, the others were briefly known as Sister Grimm (Nico), Bruiser (Molly, although she really wanted to be called Princess Powerful), Lucy In The Sky (Karolina), Talkback (Chase), and Arsenic (Gert), to go along with her pet dinosaur, Old Lace.
The code names only lasted through the first volume and then were subsequently dropped for their given names. The team doesn’t wear any sort of costumes or uniforms, instead choosing to fight in their regular clothes. They also never refer to the group as a whole by the name the Runaways, and are in fact nameless to the rest of the world. When discussing them, the characters in the Marvel Universe refer to them as “the Pride’s kids” or “those kids in L.A.”
8. New Members
Like most Marvel teams, the Runaways are comprised of a core group of individuals, but that doesn’t mean that the roster isn’t fluid. Due to some circumstances beyond their control (and that we won’t really get into here, as they contain potential spoilers for those who haven’t read the comics), some members on the team were forced to leave, meaning new members were brought on to take their place.
Those members include Victor Mancha, the cyborg son of the villain Ultron, who was created to take down the Avengers. Initially, he was targeted by the group as a villain, but once they realized he wasn’t going to turn evil, he was admitted to the team. Xavin is a shape-shifting member of the Skrull royal family who was betrothed to the Runaway Karolina Dean when they were children. To appeal to Karolina’s preferences, Xavin eventually took on a female form, but shifts at will to whatever gender is required in any particular situation. Klara Prast is a Swiss immigrant that the team met when they traveled back to New York City in 1907. She has the ability to control plants and the team brought her back through time with them when they returned to the present.
7. The House Of M
The House Of M was a huge shift for the entire Marvel universe, throwing everyone and everything into a little bit of chaos. Well, just about everyone. While the reality warp did cause a few changes to the Runaways and their life in Los Angeles, it didn’t have the same impact on this little corner of the universe as it did others. This was done for a couple of specific reasons. First off, it is because there is technically only one mutant on the team– Molly, and she just so happened to be one of the 198 mutants who got to keep their powers.
The second is because creator Brian K. Vaughn didn’t want to confuse his readers with the convoluted story arcs that resulted from the events of The House of M. He didn’t want Runaways fans to have to go back and read other Marvel titles just to understand what was going on. There was a mention of the phenomenon in East Coast/West Coast Runaways v2, 13 (October 2005), when Molly finally meets her tween crush Wolverine, and subsequently punches him through a wall. His comeback: “Only 198 mutants left on the planet… and that girl had to be one of them.”
6. Secret Wars
The regular run of Runaways might have ended with the release of Volume 3 in 2009, but that doesn’t mean it was the last time the Runaways made an appearance in the Marvel Universe. As the Marvel is wont to do, they created a new and alternate version of the team which debuted in 2015’s Secret Wars: Battleworld. This version of team consisted of alternate versions of Marvel heroes, who all attended the Victor von Doom Institute For Gifted Youths. Members included Amadeus Cho, Delphyne Gorgon, Frostbite, Jubilee, Pixie, Molly Hayes, and Skarr, as well as Cloak and Dagger. (In this universe, the two are siblings, with Tyrone taking on the Dagger persona, and Tandy the Cloak).
The crossover mini-series lasted a total of four issues, although it is unclear whether or not Marvel will be moving forward with the title or the characters during their “All-New, All-Different’]” brand re-launch currently taking place.
5. Time Travel
One of the things that happened to Runaways when Joss Whedon took over for Vaughn at the start of Volume 2 was the team being displaced in time. As a way to escape a fight with both the Punisher and Kingpin’s ninjas on a visit to New York, Chase used one of the Yorkes’ overdrives on the Leapfrog, sending the team back to New York City in 1907.
Because it would be exceptionally boring if nothing happened while they were there, the team soon found themselves in the middle of a battle between the Upward Path, the Street Arabs, and the Sinners (a precursor to the Pride). Kidnapping, romance, and the introduction of Klara Prast ensued, culminating in a confrontation with younger, time-travelling versions of Dale and Stacey Yorke. The team finally managed to escape and headed back to their own place and time, just in time to witness the Skrull invasion of New York City. Seriously, these guys can’t catch a break.
4. On The Run
Because of the nature of the team and the way they came together, the group is often a target of the government and the authorities. Initially, members of the Los Angeles police department, who were in the back pocket of The Pride, pursued them as fugitives from justice. To keep this as spoiler free as possible, we won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say, it was for some serious crimes. They then became the focus of the Department Of Social Services, who spent a great deal of time trying to integrate them into the system. Of course, that is the opposite of what the team wants, as they consider themselves a family, and they spent a great deal of time and energy trying to avoid that outcome at all costs. If that’s not enough, they have also been targeted by the likes of S.H.I.E.L.D., S.W.O.R.D. and The Avengers, often coming into direct conflict with Iron Man, Captain America, Kingpin, and the Punisher.
One of the teams that pursued the Runaways was Excelsior (whose name was later changed to The Loners, due to Stan Lee holding the trademark for the term Excelsior!), a Los Angeles based group of former teenaged superheroes who created a support group for others like them. Founded by former New Warrior, Turbo, and Phil Urich (the heroic Green Goblin), their main mission was to help other superpowered teens come to grip with their powers and abilities and to help them live normal lives. They often tried to dissuade their members from becoming superheroes, and eventually refused to use their powers altogether.
The team first appeared in Runaways (vol. 2) #1, when their was goal to capture the Runaways for a substantial reward. The two teams eventually came at an understanding and left each other in peace. The Loners received their own limited 6-issue run, with the possibility of more to come if the series was a success. Sadly, it wasn’t, and the title was cancelled due to poor sales.
Not all was well within the tight knit group of Runaways, however, as one of the members turned out to be a traitor to their cause.
(This is a huge spoiler, so if you know nothing about the group or the comics and don’t want to be spoiled, you may want to skip this one!)
The team’s fearless leader, Alex Wilder, turned out to be a double agent, remaining loyal to his parents and The Pride. He betrayed the team, offering everyone up as a sacrifice to the Gibborim in order to save the Wilder and Minoru families. When he asked Nico, his girlfriend at the time, to join him in his evil plan, she refused. The Gibborim, who had been summoned to receive their sacrifice, were angry when they arrived and there was no soul for them to devour. For what they considered his insolence and disrespect, they killed Alex. Although his resurrection has been attempted a number of times, he currently still remains trapped in hell.
1. MCU Film
Back when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was new and shiny, and they didn’t have everything planned until the year 2150, Runaways was actually going to be a film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In 2008, Runaways creator Brian K. Vaughn was tasked with writing a script for the film adaptation. At the time, the film had an expected release date of 2011. The thought was that Vaughn would be able to bring the characters to life, and create the same tone and feel for the film that his readers fell in love with in the comics. The film even got to the point where there was a front runner in the director department and preliminary casting had begun. Unfortunately, production was halted when the studio decided to focus on The Avengers in 2010. There was hope for a while that the film would be put back on the slate, but in 2013 Kevin Feige dashed all of those hopes when he stated that the studio had elected not to make the film.
Although the overall run for Runaways wasn’t long, especially when compared with a lot of other Marvel titles, they managed to make a pretty big impression. These are just some of the most interesting things about the team and what makes them who they are. There are plenty of other facts about them out there, but you’re going to have either read the comics of wait for the TV show.
What is your favorite thing about Runaways? Was Marvel smart to turn them over to their television division, or would you rather see them get the film treatment? Let us know in the comments!