Thus begins a new feature of my Patreon: A look at what I'd do with various characters that don't belong to me, if I had my chance!
Marvel has announced a revival of The Runaways comic series. I'm not writing it. BUT I've got some strong feelings about the Runaways, and a while ago I figured out some directions I'd take the book if I was in charge. My focus is on doing 100% original projects from this point forward, so I'm very unlikely to do anything with the ideas. So, why not share them with you, my patrons?
The Runaways is a book about a bunch of teenagers who're forced to run away from home together, after they discover that their parents are secretly a team of supervillains (the Pride). That's the original high concept. And that's fantastic! ...But Marvel totally screwed up, when they let the team's supervillain parents be killed off far, far too early.
As far as I'm concerned, when the team's parents died, their reason to be together — and their reason to runaway — died too. Ever since then, writers have struggled to figure out a new direction for the team. They've mostly just been used as under-motivated, low-key superheroes. And I think that's a damn shame.
For me, Runaways is a book about parents and children — and about the clash between generations. If I were running the series, I'd get it back to that immediately. Here's a couple options for how to do that:
Option 1: Resurrect the kids' parents.
It's comics — so bringing people back from the dead is basically the most obvious option. But it immediately gets the book back to its original high concept. (Besides, the Pride were the Runaways' arch-enemies. How often is it that a superhero's arch-enemy died and stayed dead? Leaving the Pride dead is basically like killing off the Joker... and never bringing him back!)
How would I bring the Pride back? Have them resurrected by their former lieutenants. The Pride weren't just supervillains, they were crime lords. And they were crime lords whose combined powers included sorcery, mad science and time travel. If ever there was a group who'd have a fail-safe, "Pull in Case of Untimely Dead" option, it's them.
BUT, one thing I'd do? I wouldn't bring back the whole Pride. The Runaways all had two-parent families, no single parents around. In the ritual that resurrects them, one of the conditions is that each pair had to designate one of them who'd get the emergency resurrection treatment. So only half the Pride comes back — minus their spouses, their loves. Cue a bunch of angst for everyone! The surviving parents blame their kids for their deaths, and so for the deaths of their spouses. The kids blame themselves. It's like a merry-go-round of rotating knives!
I think this is the strongest option. But bringing people back from the dead is, like I said, the most obvious answer.
Option #2: Hunted by the ghosts of the past... literally!
Again, this plot begins with the Pride's lieutenants gathering together and bringing the Pride back from the grave. Only there's a twist, here. The Pride don't come back as living people. They come back as ghosts!
It's thematic, you know? "The kids are haunted — literally! — by the literal ghosts of their parents!" And while the Pride aren't corporeal anymore, they still have the might of their criminal organization to fall back on. And to make their kids' lives hell.
Option #3: The Pride's crime syndicate comes for its revenge.
The Runaways accidentally caused the deaths of the lords of a major West Coast crime syndicate. And... that seems to be it! There's been little in the way of repercussions (at least, in comics that I read).
What happened to the Pride's syndicate? What happened to their trusted lieutenants, to their soldiers on the ground, and to everyone in between? If you kill the head of a crime family, the family doesn't disappear. There's a power vacuum — and usually, a battle to fill it!
That's what's been going on. Ever since the Pride died, their old lieutenants — who we haven't met, but who each belong to the "type" of supervillain that their Pride bosses were (mad scientists, time travelers, aliens, sorcerers, mutants, regular old street toughs) — have been at war with each other. And, finally, they've reached an armistice and consolidated the organization. And can turn their attention to outside threats.
Like the people who killed their former leaders: The Pride's children. The heirs of the Pride's kingdom.
Suddenly, the Runaways are beset by a new band of time travelers, aliens, etc. who're trying to kill them.
What would happen?
In each case, the story would start with the Runaways scattered, trying to live normal lives — and this time, wanting to live normal lives. And then their pasts catch up with them — and they have to runaway again.
The tagline for the book: Run harder.
Stories in my Runaways series would be literally about the lengths the kids go to run away. They run away to another country — maybe Australia — someplace the new Pride would never think to look for them. But, here comes the Pride! They can't hide on Earth, so they start following their heritages. They run away, to space. The Pride follows them! They run away to a magical other dimension. The Pride follows them! They run away to the future! There's the damn Pride again!
Finally, it's time to stop running. Time to step up, and take the fight back to the new Pride.
That's what I would do, if it were up to me.