Science fiction mogul Joss Whedon has recently added another incredible story to his already extensive resume with the comic book Runaways. While no rookie to comics, (Whedon's popular Buffy has lived on in paper form, as well as the very popular Astonishing X-Men) this is much different. For starters, the initial story of Runaways was not Whedon's to begin with, but fellow writer Brian K. Vaughan (who is currently penning for season three of Lost.) Vaughan came up with the original story line and first 18 issues before Marvel temporarily cancelled the series. With huge trade paperback sales however, Marvel reopened the doors for Vaughan's Runaways, and he promptly pumped out another 24 issues. This award-winning series has captured the hearts of quite a wide fan base, including boys, girls and adults, and has now been taken over by Whedon.
So what's the story? It is a complex tale of every kid's thoughts at one time or another: their parents are evil. Except in the case of six kids, their parents are truly evil, meaning super-villain evil. Discovering this, the six teens decide to run away, and must deal with their parents' vast connections across Los Angeles and the United States, as well as being on their own in a very confusing time of their lives. The beauty of this story is how well it is written, with everything tying back together and double and even triple meanings spanning this amazing limited run. Full of pop culture and humor, Vaughan certainly knew what he was doing. Accompanied by artist Adrian Alphona, who penciled just the right style for this lightly humorous but gripping story, it was hard to see where it would go next. Enter Joss Whedon.
Whedon is a very popular science fiction writer, director and producer. His most popular works are the shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly. One of his biggest film achievements was writing and directing Serenity, an adaptation of his cancelled series Firefly. This doesn't mean that Whedon is a rookie in writing comic books. His Astonishing X-Men have been nominated for several Eisner Awards, even winning one for Best Continuing Series in 2006. He is certainly up to the challenge of being left to him by Vaughan. Whedon himself is a huge fan of the Runaways series, and even wrote a letter of appreciation, something that may have boosted early sales.
The first issue with new writer and artist seems to be a success. The same cheeky attitude of the characters is visible, and the art does not stray in the wrong direction, but remains playful and fun with a serious overtone. This issue seems to draw in even more popular Marvel characters, something certainly missing from Vaughan's issues, who remained loyal to his crew of misfit teenagers and unpopular villains. In a way it seems that Whedon has sold out the story to these mainstream characters, but this only being the first issue, it's too early to tell.
Hopefully as the story unveils, it will be apparent that this was not simply a marketing ploy, but instead leads somewhere creative to make us thirst for more. Runaways #25, written by Joss Whedon and penciled by Michael Ryan, is in stores now and waiting for you to jump into this astounding series.