Runaways #1-6 (2003)

At last, I get to re-read some of the best comics of the mid 2000s. Runaways had a simple concept: What do the children of super-villains think of their parents?

A group of six kids are hanging out while their parents do “adult stuff,” which is certainly something we all can relate to. The kids get curious and spy on their parents. Again, something we can all relate to. But what they see is their parents performing a human sacrifice of a teenaged girl.

The kids start digging deeper and learn that their parents are in a criminal organization called The Pride, which has deep political and law enforcement connections. They also learn that they have superhuman abilities. In these first issues, the kids uncover a secret room holding a deinonychus dinosaur, and Gertie manifests an ability to communicate with it.

Her parents–now dead–appear as holograms and give the kids more information about The Pride, and tell Gertie that the dinosaur has been programmed to respond to her commands. Later, Gertie will take on the superhero name Arsenic, and will name the dinosaur Old Lace.

Alex, the oldest, emerges as a natural strategist and leader–without powers (so far). Karolina Dean manifests light powers.

Nico has a magic staff that she can pull out of her body, but can only cast her spells one time.

Chase steals some power gauntlets from his evil parents (pictured on the cover to #5, above).

Molly, the youngest, develops super strength.

The parents find out that the kids know, and that leads to fighting between them. The kids have to run away to survive, and we get the classic group angry pose at the end of the arc…

None of the villains are established and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure this book took place in Earth 616 at first. But it does. I’m not tagging them individually because they really are just a vehicle for the kids to develop. That’s not a criticism, either. This is a comic about kids, not their parents.

FANTASTIC FOUR #503-508 (2003)

Doom has been missing in action ever since he got stuck in Hell, so neighboring Hungary invades Latveria(?!?) and the Fantastic Four intervene to stop them and save the Latverians…