What is the Runaways if these kids aren’t trying to fix something broken? Even if that thing is Doombot, it still matters when he has somehow found a way to impact this group in a way that most new people fail to. As I said before, it’s refreshing when they are out there trying to save other people, and their own people, instead of dealing with the usual drama.
Now that isn’t to say that they are one-hundred percent drama free. A majority of the group may be more mature than the rest, but the rest are still young and prone to emotions that they can’t control. I was just a bit disappointed that through it all, Gert remains the same person who lashes out without too much justification. Having someone to care for again might do that to a kid, but even so you can’t help feeling like some of these characters should have grown beyond things that are trivial by now. What helped to overlook this was Chase and Gert finally having that talk that they have avoided since she came back to life. Since that happened, they have been walking on eggshells about the fact that their age keeps them apart. There was no better time than now to air out everything that has made the atmosphere awkward around them. Especially if it helps Chase move forward.
Fortunately, this was only a small thing when most of this chapter deals with Victor inside of Doombot’s head to fix him. This was one of the more sincere scenes for the fact that Victor is trying his hand once more at freeing Doombot from his original programming. Something that he’s trying to accomplish in a short window of time in contrast to the time had to do this in Avengers AI. It helped to also put someone alongside Victor who he has a genuine friendship with. This thing with Gert is new, but what he had with Doombot has lasted much longer in contrast. Part of anchoring down that humanity is cherishing every connection, which makes this one more important than most. Now what stood out more than anything on their end, had to be the focus on choice. This has been a consistent theme for Victor, and it made a big difference to see him preach something that he is still working on himself.
Aside from that, the ball got rolling for some other developments too. I welcomed the choice to jump straight into the next stage for Karolina. Dragging on this secret of hers was going to be problematic with the lack of effort that we clearly see her putting into concealing her acts of heroics. How this was received was even better when we needed a more mature engagement from this group.
It was interesting to jump between two different art styles in this current arc. Normally I might have a problem with this if there’s no reason for it, but good on this creative team that they did this to better distinguish what’s going on inside of Doombot’s head from what’s going on outside of it. Last month I was worried because we were given the impression that this change was what they were going for in general. Better that this wasn’t the case since there was a lot going on in this issue beyond that. We wouldn’t have gotten the same energy or emotion from Gert and Chase coming to terms with the distance between them, or the fun innocence from Karolina and Nico proving that they are at a place where change doesn’t scare them as much. Getting back to the style they chose from Victor and Doombot, the detail in the pencils was commendable, the range in the colors used, not to mention the style of the panel borders. I loved the way that the metal tubing wrapped around these panels.
Runaways #23 is definitely one of the stronger issues of this run. It goes a long way to have chapters like this where these characters can pour their hearts to one another without leaning too hard into what tends to be cliche for their age.