Tag Archives: Gert Yorkes

TV Review: Runaways S2E1 Gimmie Shelter

*Warning: This review contains spoilers*

Runaways Season 2 Episode 1 Gimmie Shelter

Runaways is back, and after an incredibly cheesy cold open where the members of Pride are directed by the LAPD to cosplay knockoff versions of their children, there’s some actual running away in the season 2 premiere “Gimmie Shelter”, which is written by the show’s creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage and directed by veteran TV helmer Allison Liddi-Brown (Grey’s Anatomy, Friday Night LightsParenthood). The episode explores the new normal of the Runaways’ kids, and how they’ve become a family while struggling to survive away from their privileged Brentwood/rich part of LA existences. Like in Season 1, a big portion of the episode is dedicated to their parents and their varying degrees of evil and scheming. Aka Tina Minoru is one scary woman.

The building of community and awareness of privilege is a throughline that gives “Gimmie Shelter” depth and empathy that the prep school sequences in Runaways Season 1 didn’t have. In the beginning of the episode, Chase loses his Fistigons and the group’s money to a low level bike thief named Mike, and they have to humble themselves and get food at an outdoor soup kitchen because they have no money. Ariela Barer, whose performance as Gert, was the standout of Season 1 gets to showcase her character’s softer edges as she realizes that in her call for social justice that she had never really experienced injustice up close.

This sense of community continues in the Wiccan funeral of Graciela Aguirre, who is Molly’s last living relative and gave her a VHS tape with a warning from her parents about Pride and the mysterious Jonah, who still isn’t as great a bad guy as Tina Minoru or the Wilders. Her death is the big plot beat of “Gimmie Shelter”, but Schwartz and Savage take time to dwell on the emotional impact of her passing, especially Gert and Molly. Viewers didn’t get a lot of time to know Graciela as a character beyond her fierce protection of Molly and opposition towards the Pride (Her shooting a gun at the Yorkeses is this episode’s finest moment.), and Molly talks about this in her eulogy. She feels alone in the world until she slowly finds family in the Runaways with a loving shot of her snuggled up with Old Lace after the team finally discovers their underground mansion hideout from the original comics.

Like in Season 1, the extended scenes with the Pride aren’t effective as the ones with the Runaways that crackle with chemistry, raw feelings, and even a little humor. For example, Alex gets a solo plot line where he helps Darius, his father’s old business associate, paint his newborn daughter’s room instead of doing stereotypical “gangster” things. On the other hand, the Pride’s scenes are just a round table of scheming, and Schwartz and Savage’s writing for them is stiffer like they’re trying to get each actor a line in the scene instead of letting the natural charisma of Ryan Sands’ Geoffrey Wilder or Brittany Ishibashi’s Tina Minoru take over. This is because the Yorkeses continue to be grating, and Janet Stein and Leslie Dean sadly have no character apart from their husband/cult respectively.

A continued over focus on the parents aside, “Gimmie Shelter” is an excellent reminder of how talented the young cast of Runaways is, especially as they have to negotiate their identities, powers, and relationships while also being wanted fugitives. There’s also a pretty major surprise wedged in this episode somewhere that gives the series both a plot and character hook.

Overall Rating: 8.0

FlameCon 2018: Artist Kris Anka Talks Runaways and Gert’s Redesign

Kris Anka is one of Marvel’s superstar artists making a splash drawing some of the X-Books before moving onto titles like Captain MarvelStar-Lord and his current series Runaways with Rainbow Rowell of Fangirl and Eleanor and Park fame and colorist extraordinaire Matthew Wilson (The Wicked + the Divine, Paper Girls). He also redesigned Jessica Drew’s Spider-Woman costume and has a keen eye for character design and fashion.

I had the opportunity to chat with Kris Anka at FlameCon about his work on Runaways, approach to storytelling and costume design, and more.

Graphic Policy: Let’s address the elephant in the room. Why are your characters of all genders drawn so sexy? Why are they so attractive?

Kris Anka: It feels like in superhero comics that it’s always been part of it. If it’s people with powers, why not make everyone hot? Everyone can enjoy it. You’ve got something for everybody. It’s fun to make everyone hot, and they’re hot in different ways. Mostly, it’s just a lot of fun.

GP: One thing I like about your art is that the character clothing reflects their personality. What’s your favorite outfit that you’ve drawn in Runaways, and what are your inspirations for the outfits?

KA: Addressing the second question and specifically talking about Runaways, a benefit is that they’ve been around for a while. Hopping into the book, Rainbow [Rowell] and I know these kids. We kind of equate our run and the original run. The original run was looking for them, and now we know them. So, we’ve hit the ground running, and there’s not a lot of questions in our head of who these kids are.

Inspiration is fairly easily, especially since I’m from L.A. I was a freshman in high school when Runaways #1 came out. I was the same age. I went to high school with all of these kids so I knew them. It’s really easy for me to equate what their looks are and who they are in kind of a 2018 vibe.

Inspiration comes from life, and I can sort of string it all together and combine it into who they are. Because they’re growing and hitting their later teens. Chase is 20. That’s kind of the age where people start changing. We can grow with and kind of experiment a little bit. It’s kind of fun with Karolina where she used to be so young hippie. She was a vegetarian and health conscious. And, in L.A. now, people who are health conscious are fitness conscious. She’s part hippie, but she’s also a festival kid. There’s also athleisure, and she’s very active.

We’re kind of able to grow them into new looks that still feels like them. That helps narrow and specify your focus on them. It’s really fun building wardrobes and all these things. There’s not a lot of guesswork. I know exactly where to go.

In terms of a favorite outfit, it’s in [Runaways] #12, and one of them you can see on the cover for issue 13, which is Karolina’s dress. That dress took me eight hours to design. When you see issue 12, it took me so long to draw these pages. But it’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had.

GP: What do you think sets apart the Runaways from the other Marvel superhero teams, who might get more buzz or bigger movies?

KA: The Marvel Universe has always prided itself on being the world outside your door. The Runaways is even more specific where it feels like kids you might actually know. On a superficial level, the fact that it’s West Coast already sets it way far apart. That kind of allowed Runaways to live in its own world. In a lot of ways, it feels like a creator owned book that just happens to be in a world where you understand the powers.

It’s got this different of these feel like actual teenagers you may know. I think that’s what it’s survived on. The personalities are so specific, and it never forced them to be a big superhero book. Because Teen Titans and Legion [of Superheroes] and all those teen superhero books have that to them, but also have the huge, overarching superhero plot. We kind of don’t, and this allows it to be much more about them as people than things they have to deal with.

So, you get a lot of melodrama, a lot of teen heartthrob drama when you’re 18 and all the bad decisions you make. It makes the Runaways feel more whole because we don’t always have to figure out, “Who’s punching this issue?” We can spend a whole issue just crying and look at what they’re going through.

GP: Speaking of crying, the big Karolina/Julie Power breakup in Runaways #10 tore at my heart strings. How do you get in the mindset to draw such a big emotional beat that rips the Internet in half?

KA: That was a big one because Rainbow and I had talked about it for months. We needed to be very clear on what it was, especially in a world where there’s so many kinds of media with bad queer relationships, especially with how messy sometimes breakups can be. We didn’t want to sugarcoat it and not make it real because they’re also eighteen. Eighteen years old don’t make exactly the easiest decisions. They’re pretty damn rough about things. We wanted to ground it in who they are and what they’re going through.

Even if people don’t like the decision, they can understand why these two characters are in that same place and why this is happening. [Rainbow and I] talked about this scene a lot to get the right kind of nuance for it. This thing is happening, but they both have an agency to this decision rather than someone just getting thrown under the bus. I like Julie and Karolina together, but [the breakup] also felt right with this overarching story of bringing the family back together. How messy it got made sense with all the buildup.

So when we got there, it was kind of tough, and it worked with the rest of the story. It wasn’t something where we were like, “We gotta do this.” It felt right.

GP: Yeah, it didn’t feel like the comics version of a sweeps week plot twist. So, I was a big fan of Gert’s new look in Runaways #11 and her walking through L.A. What was your thought process in designing her new look?

KA: We had been talking about the Gert look since I started on issue one. When I signed back onto the book, one of the things that Rainbow really wanted to do was: A- bring Gert back. B was the fact that there’s this huge important factor of (The timeline stuff with her is so strange with the Marvel Universe and sliding timelines.) when Gert debuted in 2003, the idea of having crazy hair colors was so counter culture and a little taboo.

Gert’s whole character was about acting taboo. The guys’ clothes to hide her, having purple hair, and cynical and crabby. She wanted to be the antithesis to all the other girls around her. Now, that we’re in 2018, and [dying hair] is so commonplace, all these things that she had that were countercultural are common. What does that do to someone who is also coming back from the dead and seeing all her friends grow up without her.

Rainbow always wanted [to change Gert’s look], but I don’t remember the beginnings of that conversation. The big thing was that this allowed us to do the lost character arc that she was going through, superficially. Where she’s like, “What do I look like now?” We wanted to have a scene where she sees all these people with purple hair, and she’s like, “Shit, this thing I did to spite the adults and be this kind of rebel, everyone has”. [She’s] no longer a rebel in this world.

We wanted to have Gert refocus on herself where she doesn’t need to be this counter to everybody. She can kind of calm down. She’s still Gert, but we can have it where she doesn’t need to be so loud any more. [Colorist Matthew] Wilson also wanted to hint at the future Gert [who leads the Avengers] so a lot of that first outfit based on design cues from future Gert like the green corset top and the grey skirt. We wanted to allude to all of that, and the fact that she goes back to her natural hair color. It’s kind of fun to go in the middle of [her timeline] and find something that still feels Gert, but doesn’t feel like she’s trying. Because one thing we did in our whole run is that Gert doesn’t have her own clothes. For the entirety of the first two arcs, she’s wearing Chase’s clothes or hand-me-downs because she doesn’t have a wardrobe.

That’s part of it. She never was herself yet. She’s still looking. That’s our first moment. We spent a long time thinking about what Gert’s look was going to be. It took us a year. I remember one day that we arrived at the same thing where [Rainbow Rowell] saw a photo of Chadwick Boseman with this t-shirt with kind of a military button pattern. She saw that, and separately, I thought that Gert seems like someone who would see Hamilton and get really into Hamilton and dress like that. We both brought military jackets to the table and said that should be the Gert look. Also, that’s her parents’ look too: these steampunk military time travelers. We alluded to that, she would definitely be a Hamilton fan, and this was the look that Rainbow wanted so it all fit. That’s new Gert.

And stylistically, it also keeps her separate from all the other girls on the team. She doesn’t look like Karolina. She doesn’t look like Nico. She doesn’t look like Molly. There’s a lot for the individual, but not in a forced way any more. It’s only on one page, but that one outfit took 11 months of work.

GP: It’s cool. I love hearing about behind the scenes stuff. I have one final question not related to Runaways. I’m a big fan of the WicDiv Christmas Annual that you worked on, especially the Baal and Inanna male nudity part. How did you get onboard with that unique project?

KA: I had done the Baal cover of him getting out of the pool [for WicDiv #19], and it kind of became a thing. When [Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie] were coming up with the idea for a Christmas issue, they said one of the stories was about Baal and Inanna doin’ it. They were like “We should get Kris to draw it.” It was all very nonchalant. The amount of nudity that showed was up in the air, and they said, “As much as you want and whatever you’re comfortable with.”

We didn’t want to go super over the top with it, but we wanted to just get some dicks in there. It was very chill job. Let’s just draw these two guys having a good time and draw some dicks because there’s never dicks in comics. It was all fairly easy.

Runaways #12 is out on August 29, 2018.

Follow Kris Anka on Twitter

Review: Runaways #4

In Runaways #4, Nico, Chase, Gert, and the head of Victor Mancha reunite with the final member of the original Runaways team, Princess Powerful herself, Molly Hayes. Writer Rainbow Rowell, artist Kris Anka, and colorist Matthew Wilson craft an emotion filled issue that is limited to the confides of the incredibly adorable homestead of Molly’s grandma, Dr. Hayes. The plot continues to be slow and character driven, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as Rowell digs deep into how Gert feels about still being a teenager compared to the adult Nico and Chase because she was ripped out of time in Runaways #1.

Anka’s use of grids and Rowell’s philosophical, “what does it mean to be human” narration from Victor throughout the comic makes parts of Runaways #4 feel like Tom King and Gabriel Walta’s modern classic, Vision where the body-less son of Ultron made his last appearance. It’s a steady formalism that contrasts with the pure spunk and feeling when Molly reunites with the Runaways as Molly is the only one who he reveals that he is still alive to. Anka spends a whole double page spread on the reunion with plenty of hugs and smiles and cat shaped grilled cheese from her grandmother, who doubles as a biologist and the perfect grandma. Rowell and Anka do a good job making Dr. Hayes a mix of a welcoming and suspicious as she gives Gert some nice pep talks and talks science with Chase, but it seems like she has some kind of a secret agenda. Some of the clues are the colors that Matthew Wilson use for some of her cats’ eyes aren’t particularly friendly, and that the cat Band-Aid that she gives Molly after a “routine blood transfusion” seems like she’s trying a little too hard .

Rainbow Rowell’s writing for Gert is sharp and sarcastic as well as incredibly gloomy in Runaways #4 and is ably matched by Kris Anka’s body language for her.  Gert is a Runaway because that’s all she’s got in her life. Nico and Chase brought her back from the dead, and she’s basically stuck with them. This is why she is so gung-ho on Karolina and Molly rejoining the team even though they are so happy living relatively normal lives in college. Even though it’s couched in the language of science fiction and superhero comics with all kinds of gadgets, artificial intelligence, and time travel popping up, Rowell hones in on that real, awkward feeling of trying to reunite a group of friends when multiple members are kind of over the friendship.

Thankfully, Molly doesn’t want Chase, Gert, and Nico to go away forever and even has a trundle bed for sleepovers, but she’s super content to sleep in a warm house, play the Ducktales theme instead of running for her life. Anka and Wilson use laid back compositions and warm colors to show the Runaways settling down at the Hayes residence with board games, popcorn, and cat food for Old Lace, but Gert is always slightly out of frame with her arms crossed. She’s not buying this good life until she has a heart to heart with Dr. Hayes. Rowell writes the older character having insight about who Gert is as a person and her special bond with Molly (The hug in their reunion tells the whole story), but basic thriller/superhero and hell even fairy tale tropes code Dr. Hayes as not a great person and her advice as false comfort.

In Runaways #4, Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson resist the temptation to get the band back together and have them hitting the road and avoiding evil adult types. That story was told back in 2003 by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona and in 2017 on Hulu. Instead they explore the messiness of picking up relationships after a long gap in communication. But with more robot boys and a dinosaur that is more cat that pre-evolved bird.

Story: Rainbow Rowell Art: Kris Anka Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 7.8 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review