Runaways #29 Review

by Charles Martin on January 15, 2020

Runaways #29 Review
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Andrés Genolet
Colourist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Before I opened CTG's review copy of Runaways #29, I was thinking it might be time to take a break from the title. Not from reading it, but from reviewing it issue by issue.

Runaways is one of Marvel's -- heck, one of the industry's -- most delightfully consistent books. Every month, the creators deploy formidable storytelling skills to develop their ongoing, character-driven drama. 

That means Runaways is always a delight, but maybe it doesn't need a lot of critical attention. This volume features steady (albeit occasionally slow) forward motion and an incredibly high average level of quality. There's no question of skipping this arc or that arc; you read a chunk of issues starting at #1, and if you fall in love, you just keep rolling.

That being said, #29 is just momentous enough to keep me hooked on not only consuming Runaways but also yakking about it incessantly.

From one viewpoint, it's a slightly-slow issue that devotes all its pages to running a microscope over Gert's ever-changing opinion of Doc Justice and the J-Team.

From another viewpoint, it's a critical turning point in the arc where Doc's mask begins to slip and the Runaways -- Gert in the lead -- see the nastiness underneath.

Gert's heebie-jeebies are launched by an extensive scrapbook-browsing session with Matt, Doc's portly aide. Turns out there are 50 years of J-Team history to go over, and they include an endless cycle of death and replacement that gets Gert justifiably scared for her friends.

Us readers get the advanced Heebie-Jeebies 202 course from another Doc/Matt scene at the end, where Doc's plans for the Runaways take the jump from suspicious to flat-out wrong. 

Not only is he counting on them to make him a lot of money, but he also has romantic designs on Karolina. Which would be hilarious if it weren't horrifying. 

Note that all of this is pure plot. I haven't reached the prose, the art, or the characterization -- all of which, are, as usual, terrific. 

Despite a slightly slow pace, Runaways #29 delivers a boatload of plot development at the exact moment the arc needs it. (Which, in retrospect, I should have expected following the faster but plot-shy #28.)

Andrés Genolet does his usual sterling job bringing the Runaways to life. He stretches his character-rendering muscles further by pouring extra love into the snapshots and news clippings of past J-Team members, ensuring that even with just one or two appearances, they get some character of their own.

And Mr. Genolet brings those ghosts back (rather literally) for a remarkable pair of linked double spreads at the issue's climax.

Colourist Dee Cunniffe is also on form in this issue, recreating strong, consistent palettes for different sections of Doc's compound. The chilly blue subterranean levels, the blood-red library, the sunny training rooms. I wonder if, when this story is complete, the settings' different colours will reveal thematic meanings? With a series this finely crafted, I would bet on it.

Rounding out my reactions to the storytelling, I need only say that this is not the issue where Rainbow Rowell's writing disappoints. The dialogue is, as ever, natural and perfectly suited to each character. 

What Gert learns in this issue doesn't just push the plot forward; it also does a fine job illuminating her character. The same can be said of key conversations she has (separately) with Chase and Victor. Rifts in one relationship heal while the other gets strained.

Runaways #29 delivers the title's usual dose of excellent, reader-spoiling storytelling and tops it with some welcome plot progress. Doc Justice makes the leap from "seems wrong" to "definitely is wrong." The creators still have several hidden cards on that score, with this issue revealing just enough to spark excitement, dread, and endless speculation among fans.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
Okay okay okay, I gotta say it. I've always been a close observer of the way Mr. Genolet draws Doc Justice. At the end of this issue … does he look … younger?