Runaways #26 Review

by Charles Martin on October 30, 2019

Runaways #26 Review
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Andrés Genolet
Colourist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Runaways #26 takes a little hop from the end of the previous issue, skooching the team straight into Doc Justice's house and unpacking his decades-long war against the Pride.

Gert, of course, is the one who points out the Pride is dead. But Doc explains that a criminal organization that big and that nasty doesn't just evaporate, and the underlings are still a force of evil in need of opposition.

I'm trying to think of some mythological parallel for that situation, some beast that survives or even grows stronger when you cut off its head … I'm sure it'll come to me.

Doc Justice's palatial estate makes a fine new setting. New colourist Dee Cunniffe gives it a distinctive air of retro warmth with rich yellows, oranges, and reds. He gives Andrés Genolet's character art all the supporting depth it needs. And Mr. Cunniffe is also a dab hand at more fantastical colouring. A few panels of Karolina glowing up and some magical energy flow in the outstanding "post-credits" scene prove that he's more than ready to handle zappy action, too.

Andrés Genolet's art is delightful from start to finish. He retains his formidable grasp on the Runaways themselves, but the standout of the issue is the magic he works with Doc Justice's face. There are a host of emotions carefully concealed in those weary, tired eyes of his. Thanks to Mr. Genolet, the old hero's face speaks as eloquently as any of the issue's dialogue.

That dialogue is terrific, too. Rainbow Rowell once again smoothly navigates a tightrope to make the whole Doc Justice situation come off as "definitely creepy, but not quite creepy enough for the Runaways to see it yet." 

The plotting works in tandem with the words on that score. Huh, Doc Justice just happens to have whole dormitories standing by for a clutch of young sidekicks? And uniforms ready and waiting? And an enormous analogue "war-room" dedicated to tracking Pride activities?

Nah, nothing suspicious there, Runaways!

The script's particular standout is its in-depth look at Victor's passionate hero-worship. It's a smooth piece of characterization that achieves a lot of useful goals simultaneously: It massages ominous exposition about Doc's past teams into the narrative, it explains Victor's naivete when his familiarity should make him the most suspicious of the Runaways, and it illuminates the young man himself in a charming, optimistic light.

It all comes together to make a surprisingly swift comic. The Runaways are conveyed with almost dizzying speed from homeless outcasts to teen justice-fighters. They're gearing up for archetypal cape heroics without pausing to question or even really notice how far they've drifted from their comfort zone.

And this fast transformation is amply stocked with pitfalls that could -- that almost certainly will -- put a nightmarish spin on their new, heroic dreams.

In the finely-crafted Runaways #26, the family absorbs enough information about Doc Justice and his ongoing war against the Pride to sign themselves up. The changes are so swift that they're overlooking all the red flags along the way. Thanks to the creators' hard work, those flags are glaringly obvious to us, building breathless anticipation for dramatic and possibly tragic twists coming up soon. 

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
If you're a Venture Brothers fan, Doc Justice should definitely ping your memories of Captain Sunshine. Not that I'm expecting molester-y complications, but both older heroes share a sense of broken desperation that's deeply troubling.