Runaways #35 Review

by Charles Martin on April 07, 2021

Runaways #35 Review
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Andrés Genolet
Colourist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I'm initially tempted to say this comic contains three balanced scenes. But that's not really accurate. It does have three big bombshells, but each is revealed differently.

The page count breaks down as roughly 40%-50%-10%, and each scene gets a similar amount of verbal attention. This is not to say the script is slacking off in that final scene; it's simply that Rainbow Rowell trusts Andrés Genolet to handle the storytelling visually there -- and that trust is well-founded.

Let me summarize the content while keeping spoilers to an absolute minimum. We get, in order, the conclusion of the "does Molly go to Krakoa" arc, a Heavy Conversation between Nico and Karolina, and then the payoff to the "where has Chase been sneaking off to" mystery.

They're all satisfying, and I appreciate the fact that each is handled in a different, yet equally-skilled, way. The second and third bombshells open up vast and promising new opportunities for future development, while the first wraps up the Krakoan question perfectly.

Ms. Rowell's writing is strong throughout, but the Heavy Conversation gives her a rare opportunity to go above and beyond. She has all her usual skill with Nico and Karolina's voices, but directing them into deep secret-sharing has a profound effect on the scene's impact. It allows for transformative character exploration and puts a great curve in their relationship.

On the artistic side, things also reach a positive peak in that conversation. Mr. Genolet's talent for expressive faces gets a full workout thanks to the range of reactions and emotions required. It's a very passionate moment for the characters, and the artist invests his own passion in conveying the import of the conversation to the reader.

(The sheer speed with which emotions change here does slightly interrupt the flow from panel to panel -- but when each panel is so impressive on its own, slight hiccups in the flow are entirely forgivable.)

Colourist Dee Cunniffe does another stellar job delivering a recognizably Californian palette. There's a start-to-finish arc in this issue's colours, starting with bright sunshine at the beginning, moving to more intense indoor lighting in the middle, and finishing off with some excellent night-time blues. It all looks excellent, and sharp divisions between the palettes help emphasize the scene shifts.

I cannot say enough about the terrific skill with which Ms. Rowell has scripted this issue. But I can easily say too much about an issue with such dramatic, long-awaited developments. The best writing choice I can highlight in a non-spoilery way is to point out how artfully the author has shaped this story on a strategic scale. Bringing these three big moments together in one climactic issue demonstrates astute long-term planning. And I appreciate the way she resisted the temptation to space those bombshells out to string the story along. 

By orchestrating three big reveals in quick succession, Rainbow Rowell and the rest of the creative team take Runaways #35 from good to great. It's intensely personal, it's transformative, and it pays off reader commitment in the best possible way. This certainly isn't the place to start reading Runaways, but as the capstone of an arc and the latest chapter in the volume, it's a big reward for following these characters.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
Weird. Do I only review odd-numbered issues of Runaways now?