This week the Runaways return to Marvel, and dragons are REAL in the new Image series Realm!
Realm #1 (Image Comics)
Post apocalyptic fiction is a dime a dozen these days, especially at Image comics, the home of The Walking Dead. But while Seth Peck and Jeremy Haun’s series Realm definitely has some similarities to other stories, the reason for the apocalypse in this world is what makes it stand out. Instead of zombies, a plague, or nuclear disaster, in the world of Realm, its dragons, orcs, and other fantasy creatures that cause the demise of the world we know around us.
Realm picks up well after whatever occurred to destroy our world, and finds the people of this new Earth becoming fairly adjusted to the world around them. Many have taking to calling themselves kings and queens, and others, like our main character Nolan, are just trying to get by. A soldier for hire that takes on any job available to him, Nolan is adept at living in the world around him, but isn’t without a sense of honor. After one of his jobs goes south, he’s got to scramble to come up with something else, and continue to survive in a world that now has more orcs and dragons than human beings.
Realm jumps around to show us different aspects of this world, and while that may sound like an annoyance; it actually does wonder to help set up this series. Seth Peck’s script does a great job of setting up the world of Realm without making us suffer through a ton of exposition. Everything about Realm feels extremely lived in, and while we still don’t know much about our characters, none of them are boring or outshine the others.
Jeremy Haun is well known to comic fans thanks to his series Beauty, but he really hits a new level with Realm. Haun’s strong character work is on full display with Nolan and the other humans who populate this world, but it’s the creatures where Haun really shines. We don’t see his take on dragons yet (those are kept to the backgrounds, circling the sky like a warning to those who decide to fly too high), but his orcs and other creatures are dynamic and truly stand out. Realm is a great showcase of Haun, and I can’t wait to see what else he brings to the series.
A book like Realm has all the markings of a great comic, and I really hope people check it out. It’s a series that has a strong hook, a cool group of characters, and looks to have the right creative team to be a huge hit. An awesome, modern day Dungeons and Dragons campaign, Realm is definitely a comic you should pick up.
Runaways #1 (Marvel Comics)
The original Runaways series was one of the best Marvel books of the early 00’s. With creative talent like Brian K Vaughan and Joss Whedon, the series created a bunch of new characters that were immediately beloved, but sadly weren’t as widely available as you would expect. Of course, now that the Runaways are coming to Hulu this year, Marvel is putting out a brand new series, but unfortunately the new series from Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka doesn’t capture that same magic that the original series had.
This opening issue focuses on Nico Minaru and Chase, two of the five members of the Runaways. There’s no recap to fill in new readers about the Runaways’ history, and the entirety of this issue is Nico trying to find a way to use her magic to save Gert, a member who died years ago, and is brought to the present by her boyfriend Chase, who’s trying to bring her back to life. With no easy entry for new readers (full disclosure, I’ve only read the first half of the original Runaways run by Vaughn), the emotional hook of the issue is lost on new readers, and I don’t think it’ll be that accessible for fans of the original series either, as it’s been so long since the Runaways were last featured in anything that I doubt people will remember the events of the previous series.
Rowell’s script isn’t a total loss though, as she does do a fun job of explaining Nico’s powers and how they can be used. But, this issue makes me worried about the pacing of this new Runaways series. If each issue is going to be focused on a member of the team, then that’s going to get old really fast, and I can’t imagine many people sticking with the series for that long.
On the art side of things, Kris Anka is one of the better artists in Marvel’s stable, and he does a good job with what’s given to him in this script. But at the same time, there’s not a lot of action for him to draw, unless you count Gert lying unconscious while Nico yells spells at her as action. Anka’s talents are great, but they’re wasted on an issue like this.
I wish this new installment of Runaways had a better start than it does, I really do. Since the show will be hitting soon, I’m sure people will pick this up, thinking it’ll give them something similar to the show they are watching. But like all Marvel properties that have a new series released around the same time as their TV/Movie adaptations, there’s simply too much that has changed in the Marvel universe to make this a good jumping on point for new readers. If Marvel truly wanted to get that result, they probably should’ve just re-released the original Runaways stories instead.