Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka’s Runaways has been all about getting the old team back together, resurrecting both Gertrude Yorkes and Victor Mancha to recapture the magic of Brain K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s original series. And it works. Rowell and Anka have reinvigorated the title by doubling down on the interpersonal relationships that have always been the book’s biggest strength, building a story that focuses on the joys and challenges of growing up rather than any particular superhero conflict. There are still some major players who haven’t come back, but Rowell has been waiting until the right moment to give those returns maximum dramatic impact. That moment has arrived: Nico Minoru and Karolina Yorkes just began a romantic relationship years in the making, so naturally this would be the time for the team’s old leader and Nico’s ex-flame, Alex Wilder, to show up at the Runaways’ doorstep.
Next week’s Runaways #13 features guest art by David Lafuente, who drew a series of gorgeous covers for Runaways’ third volume but has never tackled this team in sequential form. So much of this book’s appeal is the strength of the characterizations, and Lafuente’s highly animated artwork fills Alex’s return with emotion. It’s fun to see this current volume follow in the footsteps of the original series with a guest artist who has a more cartoonish approach, and Lafuente holds on to the style and specificity of Anka’s work while adding his own distinct point of view to the page. After two issues with no action sequences, this preview pits the characters against a giant three-headed monster looking for their dead parents, and Lafuente’s artwork with colorist Jim Campbell accentuates that rush of energy as Alex screws everything up for his old friends.