Much like the team itself, the ongoing Runaways series has been characterized by an ability to carry on despite all odds. This charming title, which began its fifth volume in 2017, has survived both the cancelation of its television adaptation, and the tremendous writing and editorial issues that came off the back of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, on issue #33 of the series, one inevitably asks if Runaways still has enough in it to keep going?
The answer to this question: Quite simply, yes. In fact, Runaways #33 showcases why, in a period of fear and uncertainty, we need this band of dysfunctional outcasts more than ever.
The Runaways are good company. Their tendency to wing it through essentially everything—whether that be the end of the world or the school run—is so refreshingly relatable right now. I have no idea what I’m doing at any given minute, and I’m glad that these guys don’t either. Upon finishing this issue, I couldn’t help but think, “No, don’t go. Stay. I’m just like you. I am overwhelmed in a world that is not built to support me or my friends”.
Certainly, the relatability of Runaways #33, and the series in general, is a testament to writer Rainbow Rowell’s ability to sustain ongoing character development. The team has always been a cast of big personalities, which is why Rowell has been such an ideal creator for them since day one. With Rowell at the helm, the series has tended to pause in its pursuit of larger plot elements–opting to take a step back to linger on how each member of the team feels at that given moment.
Runaways #33 shows how this narrative technique can pay off, as we get a detailed look into the fallout of the cast’s last story arc in a way that feels organic and genuine. Until the very end of this issue, not a lot of plot development actually happens. Yet, at the same time, quite a lot happens. Football games are attended, restaurants are visited, classes take place. Runaways #33 shows how much joy, adventure, and indeed, tragedy, there is in the mundane. That the love we have for each other is what keeps us moving forward.
The richness of these characters’ lives comes across just as much in the visuals as it does in the writing. Andrés Genolet and Dee Cunniffe are on art and colors respectively this issue, and both do a phenomenal job of working with the script to explore every corner of life that could be possibly looked at in 22-some-odd pages. Genolet is a master of expression—able to convey the entire range of emotions that a young person feels after recently escaping a secret superhero death cult. Cunniffe’s colors match the busy tone of this issue perfectly. Indeed, the same can be said of letterer Joe Caramagna, whose fun and youthful letters have proven to be the unsung hero of the series so far.
The only thing that Runaways #33 does not have going for it is the benefit of time. Whilst the slow and detailed pace of the series has worked for most of its run, it has been impacted greatly by the broken scheduling conflict under COVID. This is no one’s fault, and I am ultimately glad that the creative team has stuck by this narrative style. However, the series has not gained back the momentum it had before the pandemic. Since it has come back from hiatus, I have had to remind myself of the ongoing plot upon every new release.
Runaways #33 is a gentle comfort in this dreadful time. Rowell, Genolet, and Cunniffe offer a fun and endearing slice-of-life issue, with a now-familiar cast of characters that will bring some company to many readers.
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