Runaways has always had a tenuous relationship with its superhero identity. The book has always been best when it downplays superhero elements to focus on the challenges faced by a group of teens and young adults on the run from authority figures, and writer Rainbow Rowell fully understands this strength. But it’s still a comic published by Marvel, set in a superhero universe, and starring superpowered characters, so eventually it’s going to dive back into the genre. The latest arc of Rowell’s outstanding run leans into the superhero element harder than the series ever has before, bringing the group under the wing of a Los Angeles superhero looking to revive his team of young costumed crusaders from the ’90s: Doc Justice And The J-Team. This story is a fascinating journey through teen superhero team history, and it’s a particularly strong showcase for Gertrude, who is forced to sit on the sidelines because none of the J-Team’s old costumes fit her plus-sized body.
This exclusive preview of next week’s Runaways #29 offers some more background on the team’s new mentor as Gertrude bonds with Doc Justice’s long-time assistant, Matthew. Artist Andrés Genolet and colorist Dee Cunniffe kick off the issue with a burst of energy as they show the J-Team in action, showing quick snapshots of excitement that contrast with the drabness of Gertrude and Matthew monitoring the team. The first issue of this arc featured the return of Rowell’s original Runaways collaborator Kris Anka, who came back to debut the costumes he designed for the J-Team, and it highlighted just how well Genolet has held on to the bright, stylish aesthetic that Anka brought to this series. The character acting in these pages is full of expression, and the detail put into the emotional storytelling strengthens the bond between Gertrude and Matthew, who share more than just a bag of 0% gluten “Worry-Free Cookies.”