Writer Rainbow Rowell details Karolina's headspace in the new series.

We’re coming up to the three-issue mark of Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, Carry On) and Kris Anka’s (ALL-NEW X-MEN, CAPTAIN MARVEL) RUNAWAYS series and things are only becoming more trying for our favorite band of young heroes. They’re not the tight-knit family they once were with some of them (cough Karolina cough) just wanting to live normal lives away from all that world-saving stuff. They’re the same characters, but definitely not the same people. What does that mean exactly? Marvel.com caught up with super Runaways fan and writer Rainbow Rowell to discuss the answer to that very question and much, much more.

Marvel.com: So we’re nearly three issues into your debut Marvel series. What’s it been like so far?

Rainbow Rowell: EXCITING. I’ve been working on RUNAWAYS for almost a year now and it‘s been such a long wait to actually share this story. All those months knowing the kids were coming back and not being able to tell anyone… It feels so good to finally be able to talk to other RUNAWAYS fans! That’s one weird thing – being a fan and also the writer. Like, obviously, as a fan, I wanted Gert back. But, as the writer, it was my responsibility to bring her back in a way that felt right and real.

Marvel.com: In Issue #3 itself, we find a Karolina Dean who is complacent with just being a college student. What’s her journey been like since discovering her extraterrestrial origins to now?

Rainbow Rowell: Well, I wouldn’t call her complacent! I think she’s the only Runaway with any direction at the beginning of this arc. She’s in school, she’s in therapy, and she’s in a healthy relationship. Karolina has always been so generous, so willing to sacrifice herself. But her good intentions have backfired on her. She rushed into an arranged marriage to save her home planet –and then her wedding led to her planet’s destruction. That’s a lot of guilt and shame to carry. Someone else might bury those feelings and let them fester. But Karolina wants to process them. She wants to be a good person – a functioning person.

Marvel.com: What kind of arguments can we expect the other Runaways to make to convince her to join them?

Rainbow Rowell: I mean the biggest argument is just, “We’re a family.” Gert especially doesn’t understand how Karolina – or any of the other kids – could walk away from the Runaways.

 Marvel.com: Can you describe the thing keeping the Runaways together at this point and the headspace they’re at when one of them just wants to live a normal life without responsibilities?

Rainbow Rowell: Well, I think Karolina is in many ways the most responsible. Gert wants something that doesn’t exist anymore; she wants her gang back. She wants it to be us-against-the-world again. And Chase wants whatever Gert wants. He wants a do-over where she never died at all. Until Issue #3, Nico’s motivation is less clear. She seems unwilling to burst Gert’s bubble. I think Karolina comes in as the voice of reason: Things have changed, we’ve grown up, we can’t go backward.

Marvel.com: I gotta ask: What the heck is Chase keeping in his backpack and what are the Avengers gonna do about it?

Rainbow Rowell: What does Chase have in his backpack? My heart. This is a MAJOR SPOILER for anyone who hasn’t read Issue #2….At the end of that issue, the gang realized that the Avengers had sent Chase a box with Victor Mancha’s head inside. (Victor was killed in the VISION series by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, which you should read right now if you haven’t already. Victor is one of my favorite Marvel characters. He’s smart and kind and humble. He has this wonderful dry sense of humor. I was so hyped for him to be in this book that I went to the comic shop as soon it opened that Wednesday morning, just to see Victor’s face in print. And of course, in Kris Anka’s hands – with color by Matt Wilson – Victor looks breathtaking. Not just handsome – but real. I’m in awe of how good all these characters look. Somehow Kris makes them look exactly like themselves and also better than ever.

Check out Runaways #3 from Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka on November 8! And don’t miss “Marvel’s Runaways” debutting on Hulu this November 21!

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Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka detail the original team's epic return!

One of the breakout hits of the early 2000s, RUNAWAYS exploded onto the scene and set a new precedent for young super groups across the Marvel Universe. Its team of relatable, plucky, young protagonists has lived long in the memory ever since—and much to our delight, the Runaways are entering the fray once more.

On November 21, the group makes their on-screen debut with “Marvel’s Runaways” on Hulu—and on September 13, the original cast returns in comic book form with RUNAWAYS #1, by writer Rainbow Rowell and artist Kris Anka!

We caught up with Rainbow and Kris to find out what’s happened to Nico, Karolina, Molly, Chase, Old Lace, and Gert since we saw them last.

Marvel.com: We’ve seen Nico go through a lot lately (most notably with A-Force and Ulysses)—what kind of mindset will she be in at the start of issue #1?

Rainbow Rowell: We’ve seen more of Nico in the Marvel Universe than any of the other Runaways—and she’s been through so much trauma. (I mean, she was a prisoner on Murderworld.) Then, just when she started to find some stability with A-Force, she lost them, too. When we meet Nico in RUNAWAYS #1, she’s alone and wondering where she fits—and still (always) struggling to understand her relationship to her own power. That’s a core theme for Nico: she wields great power, but she doesn’t understand it. It just dropped in her lap. And it comes with all these painful limitations.

Marvel.com: When we last saw Karolina, the Runaways were going through a difficult time. What’s she been up to recently?

Rainbow Rowell: I feel like Karolina is the stealth Runaway. We know the least about what her life has been like since the book ended. But we do know that she has a girlfriend—Julie Power. When we meet up with Karolina again, she’s been doing a lot of emotional work to make peace with her past. (Having super villain parents, betraying them, causing interstellar disasters, etc.) She’s doing her best to move forward, which means leaving the life she had with the Runaways behind.

Marvel.com: Molly’s a mutantwhere has that taken her over the last few years? Can you describe her headspace these days?

Rainbow Rowell: Molly is living off the super hero grid. She’s living with a loving guardian, who’s trying to let her have a normal tweenhood. I think Molly’s reunion was one of the most fun to write—because she just really misses everybody.

Marvel.com: Chase often served as the friendly, upbeat member of the group. Will we see more of that from him? How has he been impacted by his recent experiences?

Kris Anka: Yes, definitely [he was the upbeat teammate]. We pick up with Chase looking to bring his family back together. I think he’s been through a lot of trauma over the past few years and I think that’s made him feel a bit rudderless and desperate to find something to drive him again. Rebuilding his Runaways helps with that a lot.

Marvel.com: Old Lace—the Runaways’ favorite dinosaur! How has she gotten along without Gert? Does she still have a telepathic link with Chase?

Kris Anka: I feel like she’s been doing alright. She’s missed Gert a lot, of course, but knowing that Chase would also do anything for Gert has given Old Lace someone to bond with. But she’s immensely glad to have her Arsenic back.

Marvel.com: Without giving too much away, can you tease anything about how Gert comes back to life? After being dead for so long, what kind of state will we find her in?

Kris Anka: Well, it hasn’t been too long for her. She’s going to be dealing a lot with how, to her, it has felt like a quick nap. It’s quite a shock for her. As for a tease, you’re not going to have to wait long to find out how!

Marvel.com: How’s your experience been resurrecting such a popular series?

Rainbow Rowell: Oh, I hope people are looking forward to it. Fortunately we’ve managed not to focus too much on people’s expectations…I had the arc written before the series was announced. And when I’m working with Kris, we’re just really focused on the characters. (We were both huge fans of the original series by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, so we hit the ground running.) It’s been such a gift for me to collaborate with someone who’s as invested as I am in this story. I can talk to Kris in minute detail about these characters—and he’s right there with me. It feels like we’re making this book for the Runaways.

Kris Anka: It was hugely daunting. It actually took some convincing to get me on board with this, honestly [Laughs]. Having grown up on this book, it wasn’t something I wanted to mess up. It’s been a great book to work on though. It feels a lot like meeting up with old friends again.

“Marvel’s Runaways” debuts on Hulu this November 21! And on September 13, Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka present the original team in an all-new comics adventure with RUNAWAYS #1!

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The Runaways fight for the future in the second volume by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona.

Before Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka’s RUNAWAYS launches in September, take a look at all of their major adventures as seen on Marvel Unlimited!

After taking on the Wrecking Crew, the gang returned to their hideout under the La Brea Tar Pits Museum only to discover a time traveling Gert appearing out of thin air. She gave warning of an all-powerful foe named Vicot Mancha before dying, thus giving the team a new threat to focus on.

Meanwhile, a group dubbed Excelsior attempted to track down the kids at the request of a mysterious benefactor. Dedicated to offering former teen heroes a chance at a normal life, Turbo, Phil Urich, Chamber, Julie Powers, Richocet and Darkhawk agreed to take on the assignment in exchange for a healthy cash infusion to their organization.

This, of course, did not sit well with our heroes. Everyone wound up smashing into each other at East Angeles High School where Victor attended. The Runaways landed right on the football field to grab their prey, but Excelsior appeared not long after.

In the ensuing super hero brawl, the kids made an escape with Victor in tow. They returned to their base where he continued telling him that his parents consisted of a mom working three jobs and a Marine who died in the line of duty.

Before long – and right in the middle of a less-than-great escape attempt on Victor’s part – the group headed out to save Mancha’s mom Marianella from his real dad, Doctor Doom! Well, that’s what they thought at least. See, Mancha turned out to be a cyborg created by an Ultron who also got his steely hands on a Doombot and used that as a ruse. After revealing his true identity, Ultron killed Victor’s mom.

While taking over Victor’s programming and using his pseudo-son to knock the Runaways around, Ultron gave the young man a tour of their shared past. As the kids lost the advantage in the battle, Karolina literally blew the roof off the place, giving the members of Excelsior a pretty good indicator of where the action was.

As the more experienced heroes jumped into the fray, the proved effective enough to take out the android while Chamber watched the kids in another room. He let them bail out, this time with Victor attending of his own free will, though devastated by the loss of his mother.

LOST & FOUND

At the end of this arc, the members of Excelsior learned that Rick Jones acted as their mysterious benefactor after Captain America let him know about the Runaways. Though Chamber turned out to be an impostor – more on that in the next installment – Jones asked the others to continue working together which lead to an appearance in MARVEL TEAM-UP #15, a name change and a spinoff limited series in 2007 by C.B. Cebulksi and Karl Moline called THE LONERS. Their ranks grew to include Mattie “Spider-Woman” Franklin, the second Red Ronin known as Namie and former Generation X member Penance, then going by Hollow. Eventually, the remaining members signed up for further work in AVENGERS ACADEMY #21.

Next time, Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona and Takeshi Miyazawa introduce the gang to new heroes, enemies and a very important person in Katarina’s life in RUNAWAYS #7-12.

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Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka reunite the teen super heroes this fall!

For most kids, finding out your folks belong to a world-dominating cabal of super villains would be about the craziest thing in the world—but they’re not the Runaways! Back in 2003, Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona introduced us to a book called RUNAWAYS and a cast of characters that we instantly fell in love with. The adventures of Nico, Karolina, Chase, Molly, Alex, and Gertrude grabbed a faithful fan following that led to a number of volumes as well as appearances in other books like AVENGERS ARENA and A-FORCE.

In September, the newly announced RUNAWAYS creative team of novelist Rainbow Rowell and artist Kris Anka will have plenty of plans for the kids as they continue to grow up in a world jam-packed with threats large and small constantly threatening existence. The gang will get back together again starting with Chase and Nico who haven’t exactly been on the best of terms lately. We talked with Rowell and Anka about the importance of this book, where they plan to take it, and how they’re working together to get there.

Marvel.com: Was RUNAWAYS a book you got into when it was coming out? What does it mean to you as a comic reader and a creator?

Rainbow Rowell: Yeah, I read it in real time when it was coming out, and stuck with it ‘til the end.

I think I started reading RUNAWAYS because I’ve always liked teen teams. I was really into NEW MUTANTS and GENERATION X, too. But then it became my favorite comic—and introduced me to Brian K. Vaughan, who is one of my favorite writers, in any genre.

RUNAWAYS felt like nothing else I was reading at the time. It was completely character-driven. It had teenagers that acted like real teenagers. And they were so funny and heartbreaking. And they made so many mistakes.

Also, thanks to Adrian Alphona, the book didn’t look anything else I was reading.

I just loved everything about it. I remember trying to talk my friends into reading it. Even people who didn’t read comics.

Now that I’ve written books of my own and created my own teen characters, I realize how hard it is to write an ensemble where every character feels distinct and engaging.

Kris Anka: That first issue of RUNAWAYS came out just as I was about to be a freshman in high school. I was born and raised in L.A. There had never been a book that so distinctly lined up with me and my friends. I remember passing around the first few issues with all my friends. It didn’t quite hit me until I was reading the script for the new series that I fundamentally have been preparing for 28 years of my life to draw this book.

It’s not an understatement that I understand this book and these kids through and through. As I was rereading the previous runs and preparing for the new book and getting into the [heads] of the characters it really struck me that I know these kids. Each of the characters reflected someone I grew up with. I mean I literally went to high school with a blonde girl who was the daughter of a well-known actor! I knew a Karolina, I knew a Gert, I knew a Nico. You could almost say there are no other characters in the Marvel Universe that I understand better then these characters.

Marvel.com: The Runaways have gone through a variety of trials and tribulations since their last series ended. How does this new volume find them when it picks up?

Rainbow Rowell: So many trials and tribulations! The series picks up with them really down on their luck. I mean, half of them are dead. They’ve been squashed and scattered, and the ones who are left don’t even think of themselves as Runaways, necessarily. They never chose each other, you know? They were just kids who got thrown together in a crisis.

This whole first arc is about trying to getting the band back together—when you can’t even agree there was ever a band.

Marvel.com: It sounds like the book kicks off with Chase and Nico reuniting. How does she react to letting him back in her orbit?

Rainbow Rowell: She’s so fed up with him. Nico and Chase have spent the most time together since RUNAWAYS ended. They’ve—maybe literally?—gone to hell and back together. And he was a thorn in her side the whole time, constantly on her nerves.

So, Chase shows up in Nico’s living room, trying to get her to help him with this spectacular mess he’s made. And she doesn’t want to! She doesn’t want to get dragged back into his dysfunction.

Marvel.com: Kris, Would you say it’s more difficult working on a super hero comic like this where the characters have very distinct looks and styles, but don’t have regular costumes?

Kris Anka: Absolutely. On most other books I’d have the costume to fall back on that they’d probably be wearing most of the time. On a book like this it’s entirely reliant on a robust and character fitting wardrobe that I have to build for all of them.

Marvel.com: These characters have grown and evolved so much over the years, what still makes them “Runaways?”

Rainbow Rowell: These four people—Chase, Nico, Karolina, Molly—have been through something so tragic and so traumatic and so specific. They betrayed their parents, they saved the world, they made themselves orphans. There’s so much unspoken between them that no one else will ever understand. I think they’ll always feel like home to each other. They’ll always be Runaways.

Marvel.com: Given their ages, the Runaways are always evolving. When coming up with their current looks, how was it balancing what we’ve already seen of them while also evolving them forward? 

Kris Anka: The first big challenge of this book was boiling down their essences and finding what their styles have developed in to in modern L.A. The trouble with teen looks, especially in L.A., is that they don’t last very long. A lot of the styles from the early 00s just aren’t around nowadays and I didn’t want 18-20-year-olds to look dated.

Karolina who started as the daughter of actors sort-of-flower child Socal blonde would definitely be a Yoga-doing-Coachella kid nowadays. Nico’s Goth look has become the witch and crystals look. I spent weeks building Pinterests for each of the characters so I could have a multitude of outfits for them. What we see on the cover just happens to be the first look I [came] up with, but it is in no means the only look for them.

Marvel.com: Kris mentioned looking back at earlier runs; Rainbow, how much did you look back at the previous series or other teen comics to get a feel for these characters?

Rainbow Rowell: A lot. I’m a continuity junky. So there was never any question for me about whether to go back. I reread everything. The whole run. And then I read every appearance the characters have made since. Then I went back to the Vaughan/Alphona stuff again.

I didn’t really need to get a feel for the Runaways or teen comics; I already had that. But the exciting part of the project for me was moving these characters forward in a way that felt true to who they really are and what they’ve been through so far. Really bringing them back to life.

I wanted to write them in a way that would feel true to old Runaways fans—like me—and that would endear them to new readers. I hope that new readers fall for these characters the way I did 14 years ago.

Marvel.com: From a writing perspective, how has it been shifting from prose to comic scripting?

Rainbow Rowell: I’ve spent the last two years working on screenplays and the graphic novel I’m doing with Faith Erin Hicks, so I was all warmed up for RUNAWAYS.

But I’m still getting used to the pacing of a 20-page book—and how fast it goes. I think my original pitch for this six-issue arc would actually cover five years of monthly comics. Kris and Nick Lowe, our editor, have been really patient and generous with me.

Marvel.com: Kris, Rainbow comes from the world of prose writing. Do you think that gives her a different approach to comics?

Kris Anka: Definitely. In sort of a selfish way Rainbow’s new-ness to comics really helped me sort of specify early on and help us develop our work flow better so that we worked more fluidly with each other. There would be normal things you’d put in to a script that for this book I wasn’t looking for this time that helped lessen the learning curve for her and gave me more freedom.

When I got the first [drafts] of the scripts Rainbow had broken most pages down into beats, but it read so clearly to me and was so captivating I had no trouble in figuring out the panels and pacing that I asked her not to bother putting the panels in because it was already so clear. Plus given Rainbow’s skill in capturing characters I just couldn’t put down the scripts and I kept wanting to read more and more, which definitely helps get me excited to draw the book.

Marvel.com: Along similar lines, how has it been working with Kris on this series so far?

Rainbow Rowell: It has been, without exaggeration, a pure delight. Kris is a bountifully talented artist. And he brings everything I was specifically hoping for to the book. Adrian Alphona set the bar high for these characters. He drew them with distinct body types and each with their own sense of style. Kris gets that. I remember looking at Kris’s first drawings of Chase and thinking, “This looks exactly like Chase, but also brand new, and also somehow better than ever.”

Kris was already a RUNAWAYS fan. So we were both starting at the same place, and I think we immediately trusted each other with the evolution of these characters.

To see that next step in their evolution, check out RUNAWAYS #1 by Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka in September!

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Kris Anka brings Frank Castle home in an exclusive sketchbook!

In a lot of ways, New York City made Frank Castle the man he is today. In THE PUNISHER #13, he’ll return home to continue keeping families safe from the kind of tragedy he suffered all those years ago.

After sending Frank on a series of adventures across the American Northeast, series writer Becky Cloonan and guest artist Kris Anka plan to welcome The Punisher back with all the flair, violence and bloodshed you’d expect! With the issue hitting on June 28, we talked with Anka about his love of the character, returning Castle to the city that never sleeps, and developing his targets with Cloonan.

Marvel.com: The last issue of STAR-LORD hit not too long ago. Is it a big transition going from a series like that to PUNISHER?

Kris Anka: Sort of, not really. It’s no secret that the PUNISHER MAX series by Garth Ennis is one of my favorite [comics] of all time, so I’ve definitely always itched to draw a Punisher book. Thankfully, I finally got to scratch that itch. The fun part was I was able to stretch muscles I’ve never gotten to really play with before. There was a fair amount of me just cutting loose and experimenting with things on this issue that helped make it fresh for me and [embraced] the tonal shift between this book and STAR-LORD.

Marvel.com: What are the key visual and physical elements in capturing Frank Castle?

Kris Anka: The word I kept going back to with Frank was “foreboding.” I wanted the character oozing intimidation as soon as he steps in to the room. There are a lot of scenes in this issue of Frank walking up to people, and I wanted the terror of Frank to be immediate and believable. A lot of what went to this was hiding Frank in shadow a lot; not seeing everything helped to shape him more of a force of nature rather [than] just a human.

Marvel.com: Becky Cloonan is an artist as well as a writer. Does that come across in her scripts or your communications with her about the story?

Kris Anka: There is a conciseness to her scripts that helps convey just enough for me to picture what she has in mind. However, there is still enough wiggle room for me to really make the pages my own without feeling like I’m stepping on someone’s creative toes.

Marvel.com: This issue finds Punisher back in New York City. How does operating in his home town change the way Frank does his business?

Kris Anka: Yeah there is sort of an ease to it. These are environments Frank is comfortable in so he doesn’t have to constantly be on edge and looking over his shoulder. This is his home, and he’s here to remind everyone of it.

Marvel.com: Can you talk about any of the targets Frank will be aiming for? What’s the design process like for developing them? 

Kris Anka: The targets this issue are mostly normal people, people who have forgotten about Frank. Something that was fun I got to play with was rather than making Frank be full on attack [instead] keeping him reserved. Playing with less is more, that it doesn’t take a lot to remind them of who Frank is and why they should be afraid.

Frank Castle heads back to the Big Apple in THE PUNISHER #13 by Becky Cloonan and Kris Anka on June 28!

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