Graphic Novel Review 75: Runaways – Brian K. Vaughan Week!

Please keep up with all of my old Graphic Novel Reviews here as I quest for 365 in 365 days!

Brian K. Vaughan Week continues with a book that I reviewed way back in 2014.  I feel that I’ve grown quite a bit as a writer since then, so instead of re-inventing the wheel here, I’m going to edit my original 2014 post and share it for my Saturday BKV Week post!  Enjoy:

Title: Runaways

Author(s): Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona, and Takeshi Miyazawa

Publisher: Marvel (2003)

Age Rating: 13+

Hey, everyone! I’m excited this week to bring you a review of a book series (that has ended) that I’ve just started. Like many of you experienced comic readers, I love Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga series.  The art, the story, the writing…all amazing, so after reading a bunch of Saga, I decided to seek out other work by Vaughan.  A friend, knowing that I am a high school teacher always looking for new books for my class, turned me on to Runaways, a series that debuted in 2003, was cancelled in 2004, came back in 2005 and ultimately ended in 2009.

Synopsis: Runaways is the story of a group of high schoolers that accidentally finds out that their parents are a group of super-villains.  The teens, fearing for their lives, and attempting to bring their parents to justice, go on the run, and in the process, discover that they have some cool abilities as well.

Pros (and/or what you can use in the classroom): While I was not immediately excited by Runaways, it had me by issue three.  This can be attributed to two things: the cool characters, and the humor.

The group of teens consists of four girls, two boys, and one dinosaur…yes, they have a dinosaur.  Four strong women protagonists (possibly five…I don’t know the sex of the dino) alone make this a must have for your classroom library. Vaughan does an amazing job making us care about these kids; we want to explore their world with them, and we do care about their success; I can see teens caring about their well-being even more.  Plus, the book does not take itself very seriously, and the light-hearted moments play really well, although, the pop-culture references might have a short shelf-life, so if you add this title to your classroom library, do it quickly, or you might become the “hip” teacher having to explain references that were cool when you were in college.  I don’t know if I would use this as part of a lesson in my classroom, but I am definitely putting a couple of copies in my classroom graphic novel collection for a few reasons: it’s seriously fun to read; I can see both boys and girls students getting into it; it may be a literary entry point for reluctant readers.

Cons: Really, there are only a couple of things that that I can say here.  First of all, this title does lack the weight of a title that I would teach on its own or as a companion piece in a lesson.  Also, as I mentioned before, the pop-culture references have the possibility of eventually growing stale.  That’s about it.  I mean, the copy of book two that I had fell apart while I was reading it, so I would stay away from the smaller “Marvel Digests” version and obtain copies that will withstand some wear because these will get read (a lot) by all levels of high school readers.

Rating: I’d keep this book in the high school classroom.  There is some violence, although, it is toned down for younger readers, and any bad language is edited with $@!#, so that’s good!  For a copy on your classroom book shelf, 10/10 (only if you get the copies that don’t fall apart).  For developing a lesson plan, 5/10.  I know I spoke against it, but as an introduction activity to a lesson or a hook into visual literacy, I could work, and it would leave the kids wanting more for sure, and that’s never a bad thing.

In closing, read this title; I think you will really like it, and explore more of Vaughan’s work.  I for sure will be doing many more reviews on his titles, so stay tuned (and HEY here we are at BKV Week!).

Let me know if you have any questions about the book, and please let me know if this review has been helpful.

Also, this book is about to become a television show, so grab a copy while you still can!

Happy reading!

Eric

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