Published January 10, 2018

Runaways: Coming to a Head

Catch up on Runaways with writer Rainbow Rowell!

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Nico, Karolina, Molly, Chase, Old Lace—and even the recently resurrected Gert—have reunited; together again after years of painful separation. But after the initial celebrations, the friends now find themselves struggling to repair their once fractured family.

Ever since Chase brought Gert back, something sinister has been stalking the team. And on February 7, this looming threat becomes a menace in writer Rainbow Rowell and artist Kris Anka’s RUNAWAYS #6!

We caught up with Rowell to talk about the fate of Victor Mancha, relationship drama, and Gert’s rocky return. Now that this story arc is coming to its climax, what did you aim to achieve over the course of the first six issues?

Rainbow Rowell: Well, Gert and Alex died in the original run. After that series ended, the remaining characters were scattered to the four winds. Nico and Chase were taken to Murderworld. Victor joined an all-robot Avengers. And Karolina and Molly kind of disappeared.

We’ve been telling a getting-the-band-together story. I wanted to reunite the Runaways in a way that felt real and authentic, and then to give each of them a chance to choose whether to stay together. They were thrown together in the beginning; it wasn’t a choice. But in our story, they get to decide: are these the people I want to spend my life with? The big plot development on everyone’s mind has been the long-awaited return of Gert. How did this miraculous revival come about?

Rainbow Rowell: Chase and Nico brought her back in issue #1. Basically, Chase used Gert’s parents’ time machine to go back and save her from being stabbed. But he got there too late. So he brought Gert back to the present, knowing she was mortally wounded, and asked Nico to save her life with magic. Nico ended up performing magical surgery with the help of a doctor. (You have to read the issue to really appreciate how Nico pulled this off.) How has Gert’s return affected the group? How has it affected Chase?

Rainbow Rowell: Well, Gert has been gone for two years. Everybody else has grown up without her. Chase was already almost two years older than Gert—now he’s four years older. She’s 16 and he’s 20. Gert feels like her boyfriend has been replaced by an adult. It’s been hard on them both, but I think you can still see how much they care about each other. For her part, Gert seems awfully grumpy to be brought back to life…why is that?

Rainbow Rowell: [Laughs] Well, Gert has always been kind of grumpy. It’s something I love about her. Gert is disappointed with the rest of the gang for letting themselves drift apart. She can’t believe they’d abandon each other. Back in her time, they were all for one, one for all. Elsewhere, can you remind us what that disembodied head of Victor Mancha is all about?

Rainbow Rowell: Victor met a sad end in the VISION series by writer Tom King and artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta (which is one of my favorite Marvel comics). Victor lost control of his powers and killed Vision’s son. Then Vision’s grieving wife killed Victor by pulling out his heart. His old friends assumed Victor was dead; the Avengers even sent Chase a box of Victor’s personal effects. But when they opened that box in issue #2, they found Victor’s head inside. Presumably someone—perhaps Tony Stark?—saved Victor’s head and sent it to Chase for safekeeping.

Chase has managed to jumpstart Victor’s processor, but so far, Victor has been playing dead. He’s not sure he wants to come back to life… What’s going on with the dynamics of the rest of the team?

Rainbow Rowell: Everyone is trying to find their way. They’re not used to being together. They’ve lost touch. Gert has become their shared burden. She’s back and she’s traumatized, and they need to take care of her—but they’re still kids, too. So far, Karolina has decided to stay in college and protect the forward momentum she has in her life.

With Karolina and Nico specifically, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface every time they talk. They’ve each felt rejected by the other in the past. They’ve never been able to feel their feelings for each other in a safe way. There’s been a group of cats mysteriously watching the team. What’s brewing there?

Rainbow Rowell: There is definitely something sinister happening with those cats! Beyond just general cat-ness. Actually, the mastermind behind the cats is revealed in issue #5. And we’ll learn even more about that scheme in issue #6. How has Kris Anka’s art enhanced this story?

Rainbow Rowell: Oh, in more ways that I can say, really. I wrote the first arc before an artist was assigned, so I didn’t really know what to expect from that relationship, stylistically and otherwise. Once Kris came on board, it became a daily collaboration. We talk a lot about what we want from the story and for the characters. We’re both huge RUNAWAYS fans, so it’s important to us that our run on this comic enriches and shores up these characters; we want them to feel more like themselves than ever. You’ve mentioned before that you’ve been a fan of the series for a long time. How has it felt bringing new life to these characters—literally and figuratively?

Rainbow Rowell: You know, it’s weird: I feel like I’m writing this comic and consuming it at the same time. I’ll make a decision that I know is right for a character—like Gert and Chase sort of breaking up after he saves her—but then my heart will break as a fan.

I feel so honored to be writing them, and so joyful. And I also feel very responsible. I know these kids aren’t really mine and won’t be mine forever, but I’m looking out for them right now. And I just want to give them the best stories I can.

Join the team in RUNAWAYS #6, by Rainbow Rowell and artist Kris Anka, on February 7!