Monday, July 09, 2007

Runaways #27
This issue is not as good as I would have expected, but it's certainly not bad. Last time, the Runaways got shunted back in time. This time, they discover they've been time displaced 100 years, and meet another gang of superhumans, or "sticks", one of whom is apparently the winged monstrosity from last time. Though the art doesn't quite make that clear. Also, there's a puzzling scene where Karolina fends off an attempted rape, upends a flower cart, and then inspects the roses fallen from it before inexplicably flying off to sit on a building and spy on the urchin who was apparently selling them. It's not bad art, it's Whedon's fault. It truly feels as if there's at least a page's worth of exposition missing from this issue, and being that there's no letters page, there's no excuse for that. Plus there's some sort of Punisher analogue around, but his presence remains entirely obscure. Perhaps it's supposed to be ominous, but with zero context to put it in, it's merely puzzling - and instantly forgettable. Good comics craft would dictate that this character be introduced in a later issue wherein his appearance will be somehow immediately relevant to the plot.
Still, Whedon keeps the pace moving, and we find out that there's a group of superhuman bad guys around in this era too, being led by the late lamented Gert's parents.
My major concern with this issue is the potential problems it creates with Marvel's historical continuity. I'm not so familiar with Marvel history, but I seem to recall the original Human Torch being the first superhuman in the Marvel universe. Or possibly Namor? The presence of other superhumans, several decades early, throws that long-held belief into question. Sure, 1907 seems like a long time ago, but it really isn't. We're getting dangerously close to messing with the fabric of time as far as the Marvel universe's history goes. Now, perhaps this is the intended effect, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
Also, although I have read every issue of this book, it'd still be nice to be told who the characters are - at least by name - ONCE in the issue. But only four ever get named, most of them indirectly. And the dinosaur too, also indirectly. Their powers are also not clearly defined for new readers. Sure, I'm NOT a new reader, but since this book would like to pull in the kids, it'd be natural for nearly every issue to be a jumping-on point. Perhaps this is the odd issue out. Perhaps. I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt as far as that's concerned. But it's really not good form to issue a book as impenetrable to new readers as this one.
Barely OKAY.

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