Image: Marvel Comics

Karolina Dean’s parents were supervillains who lied to her about her alien biology for most of her life, and she was partially responsible for their deaths. Shortly after she came out, she was abducted and forced to be an alien bride to bring two warring races together. She’s lost family, friends, and lovers, and her superhero life has traumatized her while keeping her away from the typical teenage experience. But she’s given up on all of that. Her team has dissolved and she’s finally able to live as an ordinary young adult. She’s a giddy college student with a roommate and a girlfriend and a much-needed therapist, but all of that stability and happiness is immediately put at risk in this exclusive preview of next week’s Runaways #3.

Image: Marvel Comics; variant by Kevin Wada

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Marvel’s new Runaways series wasted no time bringing Gertrude Yorkes back to life, and the return of the team’s heart might be enough to pull Karolina out of her college comfort and back into a life on the run. Writer Rainbow Rowell, artist Kris Anka, and colorist Matthew Wilson started this new volume with a rush of intensity as they dropped readers in the middle of Gertrude’s resurrection, spending the entire first issue raising the stakes of this life or death situation until Gert uttered her first new words on the final page. That debut chapter showed that this creative team is prioritizing emotion over plot, and is dedicated to making these characters’ interactions feel real in this heightened superhero world. Bringing Gert back means catching her up on everything that happened in the two years she was gone, and last month’s issue provided the necessary background details. It was a catch-up for Runaways fans who may not have followed these characters since the original creators left the series a decade ago, and served as a primer for any new readers who might be following Rowell to comics from her YA novels.

Runaways can start getting the rest of the team together now that the info-dump is over and the foundation for the series has been set, and this preview brings a major change in tone as it reveals Karolina chilling in her dorm room, dancing in a swirl of her alien luminescence. It’s a stark contrast to Nico’s dreary living situation in the first issue, and Anka imbues Karolina with a joyful, calm spirit that is amplified by Wilson’s ethereal coloring for her alien energy. That spirit dissipates when Karolina opens her door, and the art team expertly captures both the tension and the humor in Rowell’s script. That little moment of Karolina’s neighbor making eye contact with Old Lace gives this series a warm charm, and it situates the team as superheroes in a more relatable, recognizable environment. They’re not typical. They’re not ordinary. That’s what makes them awesome.

Image: Marvel Comics

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Image: Marvel Comics
Image: Marvel Comics
Image: Marvel Comics

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Image: Marvel Comics
Image: Marvel Comics

 

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