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Adrian Alphona

Runaways: Pride & Joy

Tagline: At some point in their lives, all young people believe their parents are evil…but what if they really are?

Geared towards teens, this graphic novel perfectly captures children’s angst towards their parents and their thoughts of how they will be better than them and their wicked ways. The story begins with six families preparing to meet for their annual meeting in which the parents gather to supposedly cut checks for charity, and the youth hangout together. The youth range in age from 12-18, and as they have gotten older this motley group no longer anticipate the gatherings. Once all the adults have sequestered themselves in the library, the six youth sneak down a secret passageway to spy on their parents. They are horrified to discover their parents are super villains, who have banded together in a group they call The Pride. They witness a murder and then need to hide from their parents what they saw. They vote if they should report the crime, but then the authorities do not believe them. This then sets them off on a journey of discovery, each discovering secrets of their origins and powers they now need to harness and understand. The six sets of parents discover that their children know the truth, and use their nefarious skills to try to stop them. The youth are forced to band together and hide, vowing they will bring their parents to justice. However, one child seems to waver, not believing that their parents are evil. So, who is the mole????

In the beginning it was hard to keep track of all the families, so here is a cheat sheet: Wilder Family- Alex is a prodigy at strategic thinking & planning and is the child of mob bosses, Yorkes Family- Gertrude has a telepathic bond with a dinosaur and is the child of time travelers, Stein Family- Chase is a jock who steals technology from his mad scientist parents, Hayes Family- Molly is the youngest in the group who discovers she has super human strength, and is the child of telepathic mutants, Dean Family- Karolina finds out she is an alien with flying ability, with her parents masquerading as movie celebrities and the Minoru Family- Nico discovers she has magical abilities and is the child of dark wizards.

Pride & Joy collects the first six issues of the Runaways series, and each section opens with alternative art of the six youth. These splash panels give a different perspective of each teen, and is done in a different art style than the novel. The series artwork is clean and attractive, and that they include the time and location at the top of some of the panels helps the flow of the narrative. In 2005 the author, Brian Vaughan, won the Eisner Award for best writer for this series and is also the author of Saga. The artist, Adrian Alphona, now draws Ms. Marvel. I love seeing writers and authors I have liked elsewhere in books I am now reading (although Runaways was written first)!

-Nancy

Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal

I’ve heard a lot of good buzz about Ms. Marvel, so I checked it out to see if the hype was accurate, and I’m happy to report it really was. As an origin story, it hit all the right spots- we were introduced to Kamala Khan who is a relatable Muslim Pakistani teen; and we are given background on her family, school and identity issues. Kamala comes from a devout and traditional family, so all she can see is how different she is from her high school peers. Her love of the Avengers represents her wish for everything she is not: to be blonde, powerful and sexy. When a mysterious mist takes over the city one night she is at a party, she gets her wish-suddenly and without warning, she is transformed into the retro Captain Marvel. Kamala is confused and struggles with understanding and harnessing her new Inhuman powers. The rest of the story deals with who Kamala confides in, how she establishes her own identity and look (thus, she takes the name Ms. Marvel to differentiate from the original version), and how she can balance fighting evil with a curfew from her loving but in-the-dark parents.

The illustrations remind me of Manga art at times, for some of the panels are intricate with much detail, while other panels are cartoonish in nature and show oversimplified caricatures of some of the characters. The colors are muted, almost washed out, but are appropriate of a city setting. Strange animal mascots are hidden in many pictures, with the animals appearing more often once Kamala becomes Ms. Marvel. I was puzzled by this and was wondering if there was an explanation as to how and why the animals are part of the storyline. Adorable yes, but also somewhat distracting to me as I glimpsed them. Humor was an added bonus throughout the story and was a good balance to the more serious aspects of this graphic novel.
I definitely want to read further issues and get deeper into Kamala’s odyssey as a new superhero. Having her meet the Avenger’s team in the future (beyond the confusing  “vision” in the mist), and finding her place as a hero, friend, daughter and young woman will be a journey I want to take with her.

-Nancy

Ms Marvel 2

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