Runaways Vol. 1

illus. by Sanford Greene. 120p. (Secret Wars: Battleworld). ebook available. Marvel. Dec. 2015. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9780785198826.
Gr 8 Up—Part of Marvel's "Secret Wars" story line and set in Battleworld, a planet that's compiled of various Marvel universes ruled over by Victor von Doom, this volume collects the four issues of this miniseries. Following a group of freshmen who are all attending the Victor von Doom Institute for Gifted Youths in Doomstadt and prepping for the final exam, this title details the adventures of the ragtag bunch of misfits, led by Jubilee. The teens discover that their final exam is actually fatal, and in order to advance every school year, the "passing" students must kill their fellow classmates. Using their smarts, special abilities, and friendships, the young people rebel against the Headmaster (Victor von Doom's daughter, who is only a child) and her group of robots led by senior Bucky. The book references the earlier iteration of the series originally created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona in 2003, but the only returning character is Molly Hayes, a rambunctious child with super strength. The team members also eschew the usual superhero costumes and experience their own bouts of teenage woes while trying to save their school. This selection showcases complex relationships that can be found in any YA novel: Jubilee and Sanna (Ice Girl) turn from frenemies to maybe something more, mixed-race siblings Tandy and Tyrone (Cloak and Dagger) stay loyal to each other and their friends, and even villain Valeria Doom struggles to defy her father's wishes when her friend Bucky Barnes's life is at stake. The pace and sarcastic quips are fast and furious, and the issues' artwork reflects that same vivacious flair. Stevenson's fans won't be disappointed.
VERDICT Purchase for comic collections in need of fresh, diverse, teen girl-powered superhero adventures with lots of heart.

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