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Rainbow Rowell to write Marvel's new Runaways series

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Marvel’s Runaways may be making the jump to television, but now they’ll also be returning to their comic book roots — and each other. EW can exclusively reveal that Eleanor & Park author Rainbow Rowell will be penning the upcoming ongoing comic series, joining Kris Anka who is the artist on the series.

“This is my favorite Marvel book. When [editor Nick Lowe] first reached out to me a few years ago about maybe working for Marvel, it was the first thing I asked him about,” Rowell tells EW of how the match-up came to be. “The characters and original story by Brian K. Vaughan (Paper Girls) are just so great and so beautifully built. I was really excited because I always felt like there were more Runaway stories and that book should just have kept going.”

The series, which was also co-created by artist Adrian Alphona (Ms. Marvel), debuted in 2003 and saw five teenagers (Alex Wilder, Nico Minoru, Chase Stein, Karolina Dean, and Gertrude “Gert” Yorkes), an 11-year-old (Molly Hayes), and a telepathic dinosaur (Old Lace) reluctantly team up when they run away after discovering their parents are part of a criminal organization known as The Pride. But since Vaughan and Alphona’s run on the series (which wrapped in 2004), the group’s original members have gone on to do other things within the Marvel comic universe.

So part of Rowell’s task on the new series is reuniting most of the original cast — Alex Wilder is currently a part of Power Man & Iron Fist — and that includes bringing Gert back from the grave. In fact, this will be most of what the book’s first arc will be about, as Rowell slowly begins to get the “band” back together.

“It’s kind of funny calling them the Runaways because it’s not like they’re the Avengers or the X-Men. They were not formed with a mission and a purpose. They’re just kids who ended up in the same boat,” explains Rowell of one of the major things the team will face. “At the beginning of this series they are scattered to the four winds and half of them are dead. One of the challenges now is who are they when they’re apart? They got thrown together, but now they’ve been pulled apart. They’re trying to figure out who they really are without each other… This arc is very much about them choosing to be together.”

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That’s not the only hurdle the teens will face when they return this September; they’ll be up against two very different kinds of villains.

“The first is literally the act of growing up, something we can all relate to as one of the hardest things to figure out,” says Lowe. “There is also an actual adversary in this story as well. Although it might not seem that way from the get-go. One of the cool things about Runaways is the core concept from the launch of that book, which was, ‘What if your parents were supervillains?’ and then the parents got killed. So that’s one of the struggles to any Runaways story. So we were searching for what new twist on that we can do and I think Rainbow came up with something really incredible with it. You’ll start seeing that but there are story elements that we don’t want to give away.”

This isn’t Rowell’s first time dipping her toe into the medium. The bestselling author has long been a fan — as readers of Eleanor & Park may well know — but this actually marks her second venture as a creator. As EW previously announced, the Carry On and Fangirl author will also be partnering with artist Faith Erin Hicks (The Nameless City) for two upcoming graphic novels. For Runaways, Rowell’s creative partner will be Anka — something she and Lowe are very excited about.

“Because of the huge shadow that Adrian Alphona cast on [the series], and what he brought to those characters, the artist has to know fashion and has to be able to draw kids, and all that stuff,” Lowe explains of what they were looking for in an artist. “That’s why Kris is so perfect.”

For Rowell’s fans looking to jump into the series, the Fangirl author recommends picking up Vaughan and Alphona’s original run, which consists of 18 issues and three collected volumes.

“One thing that is good about the Runaways is that they have a short history. I’ve reread all of their appearances. That’s actually doable. And that’s the best comic book. Why wouldn’t you go back and read it? It’s so great,” says Rowell. “Also the reason I wanted to write this book is because these characters feel related to my own. They resonated with me because that’s the kind of character I like to write. I feel very confident telling my readers, ‘If you like Carry On, a motley crew of kids coming together, you’re gonna love this.’ It’s the same kind of story.”

At the end of the day, Rowell simply wants to write the characters that fans of the original series — herself included — fell in love with. “It’s kind of like The Force Awakens,” says Rowell. “When you go to see a Star Wars movie, you’re not gonna want them to totally shift everything up and give you a whole new universe. You want the Star Wars universe you love and then great stories inside of it. That’s how I feel about Runaways. I don’t need to do anything to them other than telling great stories with them.”

Rowell and Anka’s Runaways will make their debut this September. You can get an exclusive first look at the first issue’s cover above, and some of Anka’s character design teasers, below.

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