Runaways may not have won the Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series at last week’s ceremony—the great Giant Days took the trophy home—but getting a nomination shows how far this series has come since its revival two years ago. Writer Rainbow Rowell gives these characters more dimension than ever before, evolving their personal dynamics by taking advantage of their different connections to the larger Marvel Universe. Victor Mancha has been an especially prominent hero outside of the Runaways, appearing as a team member in Avengers A.I. and a tragic figure in The Vision. Rowell uses plot points from both of those series to drive Victor’s emotional growth, and in the current storyline, Victor puts his well being on the line to save his old A.I. teammate, Doombot.
This exclusive preview of next week’s Runaways #23 has Victor going into Doombot’s mind to reconfigure his evil original programming, with guest artist Nico Henrichon drawing the pages inside the cyber mindscape. The rest of the pages feature art by Andrés Genolet, colorist Matthew Wilson, and letterer Joe Caramagna, highlighting how Victor’s friends respond to his current state. Genolet is an excellent replacement for departing artist Kris Anka, maintaining the same clean, animated aesthetic and continuing to explore the distinct clothing styles Anka developed for each character. Colorist Matthew Wilson did win an Eisner last weekend for his work on Runaways (amongst other titles), and after a few issues away, he’s back to liven the visuals with his vibrant palette. The title page is an especially strong example of how Rowell steps back and lets the art team carry the emotional weight of the scene, and the contrast of the bright pastels with the seriousness of the circumstance sets a complicated emotional landscape for the rest of the issue to navigate.