Before, I continue, a few comments on the last part that LJ didn't let me post cause it was too long:
But I might as well also use the chance to talk a bit. This part was a bit hard to write, taking me longer in the first couple issues (except the first) than most of the rest combined. I really loved the idea of Nico and Karolina having a "truth talk", but once I began writing it, I realized that I was going up against one of the major "don'ts" in fiction - 'you can't just have people announce how they feel' (that makes me so angry!), and also something that's a bit of a worry point in comic-writing: an all-talking head issue, no combat. As with all the rules, there's a time and a place to break it if you're aware of it, and although I think the dialog itself needs work, I think conceptually it's enough to get around the "announce how they feel" problem. The 'just a lot of talking' problem, I'm not so sure about. I still think I need a bit more justification, or smoother transition at least, to Karolina deciding to 'break it off'.
Then of course, the solo/duo stories. The goal of each was to strip down and focus on a couple particular characters. Karolina and Nico finally address their relationship, in theirs, and not for the best turnout. Xavin and Klara's was informed somewhat by a few conversations with nefrekeptah, specifically about Klara and how her old-fashioned views seemed to disappear in the series, when realistically she'd probably just hide them but be torn up inside about the conflict with what she's been taught. So I tried to work her religious crisis of faith in it, and Xavin's faith in Karolina, and all in all wound up with a richer story than I originally intended (Which was to be something of a 'filler' issue, just fighting dinosaurs), so I'm pleased at that, even if I'm not sure I succeeded (dealing with religion in a comic is always a thorny issue). I contemplated making Xavin an explicit fan of Octavia E. Butler and believer in basic tenet of the Earthseed religion "God is Change", but I couldn't really work it in.
Victor and Chase's story I worried didn't focus as much on THEM as I'd've liked, and instead became something of a 'hey, look at future Molly!' story. Tying in Victor's fear of his personal future and Chase's 'I don't really care' didn't do enough to do it.
And Molly... well, her location in time was a desire for symmetry. Although it would never make it into the story, I kind of assumed that 2009 was the 'pivot', the original, intended destination (even though the issue would theoretically be published in 2010, that doesn't matter, they didn't know for sure how to set the coordinates). Karolina and Nico landed in 1989, 20 years in the past. Victor and Chase landed in the future, 20 years. Xavin and Klara wound up 65 million years in the past. So Molly and the Time Machine wound up 65 million years in the future. Making the future Earth a museum of Earths past, long-abandoned by post-humans, let me have the best of both worlds, and I think I like the spirit of Molly's story the most of the solo stories - turning your back on what you were taught your life had to be, if it gets in the way of making a better one, that parents/ancestors can only go so far in determining the fate of the world before new people take up the mantle and recreate the world in their own image, and also Molly, alone, dropping the 'little kid' act a little and actually acting for her self. But not the best execution.
And on to the new:
Runaways #34 Solicitation:
(cover: Noor, being kissed on his head)
Resurrection, Part Three:
Back in the city, the Runaways try to come up with a plan. Nico must learn if she can still do magic, and Chase suspects a betrayal of his own, closer to home.
Runaways #31 Outline:
The issue begins with the Runaways rushing for their hostel door, realizing they don't have much time left. They want to arrive at a specific time... after everyone was knocked unconscious, but before the Cabal take over the Hostel.
They do get in just before the Cabal. Since I tend to be wordy and this is mostly action, which is often an artist's chance to shine in plotting, I'll just give a 'big picture'. The Runaways get into the Leapfrog just as the Cabal are coming, and have a brief fight. The Runaways almost lose, but then the Leapfrog comes alive, killing two skrulls (the Cabal then manages to enclose it with a magic spell). The Runaways' efforts are hampered by the fact that Chase is suffering from a severe headache almost from the moment they enter the Hostel. The reason? Their past selves are still there, and Chase's empathic link with Old Lace is echoing, causing interference, static. Anyway, they're forced to fall back and hole up until their past selves leave. Then they come out again, and although they make a valiant effort of it, the Runaways are captured.
So, the Runaways are captured. Karolina's hit with a deenergizer again. Noor's father introduces the whole Cabal to the imprisoned team:
"The Thieves" : a pair of financial advisors who bilked investors out of billions with a pyramid scheme.
"The Wise Men": a pair of scientists, who we've already met.
"The Travelers": The Yorkes, however an older version of them from an alternate universe. They don't recognize the Runaways, and scoff at having children.
"The Sorcerers": Who remained robed figuers of mystery who do not want to reveal their faces. They're holding the staff of one and looking at it appreciatively.
"The Outcasts": Noor's parents themselves, ex-mutants. The reason Molly recognized them was that Noor's dad used to work for Molly's Dad at the hospital, and more importantly, as an underling in the Pride.
He then points out that they're missing one group of pair-bonds required for their plan. The Colonists, were Skrulls, but they're dead now. However, there's another set of potential Colonists already with them... Xavin and Karolina. Noor's dad says that they are not evil people, they simply do what is necessary. They don't care about the Runaways themselves, only some of their possessions. The only reason they'd harm them is to prevent them from interfering. However, since they need all six pairs for their plans, they're willing to make a deal. Each pair bond needs to be willing when they enter the Gibborum's domain. If Xavin and Karolina join them, willingly, they'll let the rest go. They can take the leapfrog and do whatever they want with their lives, but the Hostel and the Staff of One remain theirs. Nico is against it of course, calling them stupid for thinking they'd willingly go with people who want to start up the Pride and make another deal with the Gibborum to destroy the world. This leads to some laughter among the Cabal, and they reveal the truth. They don't WANT to make a deal with the Gibborum. They want to destroy them. They're not evil, they insist. They'll harvest the power of the Gibborum themselves, much like the Gibborum harvested human souls. They'll each use the vast magical power contained within the Gibborum for their own ends. One 'wish' each, agreed upon in advance. Some are selfish, but none are intentionally hostile.
Noor's parents want to reverse M-Day. The Yorkes want to find their way home. The Thieves want their criminal records erased and their (consequently) their money back (since what good is a billion dollars if they have to live in hiding like common criminals). The Wise Men want a peek at scientific advances for the next hundred years. The sorcerers want to raise somebody from the dead. The original Skrulls wanted an ability called "X'alra'K" which Xavin translates as "The Perfect Change", a Skrull myth about the ability to shapeshift without detection or limit, even into energy. Some prophecies say someone with that ability would unite the Skrulls after a great tragedy. "Originally they wanted to conquer the Earth, but we vetoed that. That's the way the magic works, we must all agree to all wishes. And that's why we need your willing participation. You'll get a wish too, of course."
Karolina agrees, speaking for herself and Xavin at once. If the rest of the Runaways can leave now, in advance, and take the Leapfrog with them. One of the Cabal warns that if they try to stop them later, the Cabal has the resources to hunt them down and destroy them, especially if they're without a home. The other Runaways are opposed, but Karolina convinces them and the Sorcerers help using the Staff of One to cast a Truth spell in which the promise of safe passage is made.
So they load the other Runaways into the Leapfrog (and remove the door that the Leapfrog has inside it), and open the doors to the Ghost Town. K and X are restrained, but only lightly and temporarily. They promise that the doors will be closed and moved immediately after they leave, so they'll have no way to find the Hostel again, but the Yorkes insist they have no hard feelings. One, however, is not so generous. One of the Wise Men secretly plants something in the Leapfrog. The group leaves through the portal. Once they're through, the Wise Men guy presses a remote control button.
On the other side, we see the Leapfrog explode.
TO BE CONTINUED!
Runaways #35 Solicitation:
(Cover: The Gibborum)
Resurrection, Part Four:
The Cabal has broken into the Gibborum's Limbo. But will this upstart Pride get what they want? And do they even all want the same things? Friends, enemies, and people formerly in both categories must decide where they stand.
Runaways #32 Outline:
We start at the moment in the last issue when they leave the Hostel. The explosion isn't right away, though. They have time to stop and talk for a bit about what just happened. Nico wants to turn right around and go back guns blazing to rescue Karolina, since they'll never expect it. Chase is worried if they close the gate while they're halfway through, it could kill them all. He agrees to go down and see if he can access the gate controls to hold it open. They get to arguing on their way to the downstairs hatch about who let who down in the assault and how they could let Karolina go. Klara seems depressed at the arguing (or the group splitting up or Noor) and stays up in the Leapfrog's cockpit as everyone else is in the bottom level of the Frog. Suddenly a message comes across the Leapfrog's communicators. "CHASE GET OUT NOW" Molly's the first to notice it. It's followed by the words "BOMB BOMB GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT" They panic, but move swiftly. Molly realizes that Klara's upstairs and goes after her, and Chase is going to get her, but Molly knows Chase and Nico are the most vulnerable, tells Victor to make sure they get out and run, and protect them, while she gets Klara. Molly reaches Klara, but it's too late. The 'Frog explodes, the explosive force sending them crashing through the Frog's windscreen. Victor warps pieces of metal around him, Chase, and Nico, protecting them some (though Chase is a little injured falling to the grond, maybe a manly cut over his eye). Molly and Klara land on the ground (in Klara's garden), both seemingly injured - Molly bruised, and Klara hard to tell with her wood-form. It's raining, by the way (the storm that was coming way back in issue #25).
In the Hostel, the Cabal is having a little bit of a celebration, to a job well done. A toast, mainly. After the toast, the Sorcerers must leave... they have preparations to make. Noor (who is lurking about sheepishly), is also sent away, given some money to pick up some food. Karolina and Xavin (who are no longer actually bound, but have power-dampening devices on them to prevent them from directly striking) look on with some dislike, and ask about how long it's going to be before they're done - a day or two at most, maybe even just hours. In the meantime, one of the Cabal suggests, they should be deciding what they want their wish to be.
Karolina declares she already knows what they're wishing for. Xavin can finally get their full powers back. Xavin objects, surprised. Xavin instead suggests using it on something bigger, cleaning the oceans, instead of "wasting it on me". Or, they could use it to bring back her friend Gert. Karolina's outlook is that Gert's dead. Even though she didn't really believe, Karolina has to believe if there's a heaven, she's there, and happy. The living get priority. This prompts a bit of a conversation with Stacey Yorkes. She heard about Gert from the files of the Pride, but she never had a kid of her own, and wants to know what she's like.
Back at the Ghost Town, the Runaways are panicking. Molly's insisting she's okay, but to check on Klara. Nico cuts herself, before remembering that she doesn't have the staff anymore. Chase keeps staring back at the broken, flaming wreck of the leapfrog.
Klara regains consciousness, but is spacey. She says she can't move, thinks she's hearing her mother. While the Runaways debate the wisdom of _trying_ to move her (since it might cause more damage), they notice that parts of her body are actually rooted into the ground.
We also see the "Sorcerers" talking, outside of the Hostel in the city. One's reading a copy of the Abstract, and comments about the Scientists secret bomb attempt. "Did they survive?" "The Pride's kids did. It's vague about the others." "We'll have to deal with them, eventually. We should just have kept them locked up. Our Lord might be hungry upon his return, a few extra sacrifices might have come in handy." "We'll deal with them."
We close back with Klara's predicament. Victor complains that he's tried calling for help, but the authorities don't think there's a town here (Nico's spell). Klara's growing weak, and coherent, asks where she is, and is told she's in her garden. Finally she says, "This is my favorite place. I think I can stay here." She starts a phase of rapid growth, until finally she transforms into a tree. The same tree that was in the Garden in the future, when Chase and Victor visited (although a little smaller). Molly freaks out the most, it being her best 'same age' friend. Nico promises they'll find some way to undo it. We'll fix her." Chase asks Victor (privately) if he recognizes the tree, and he does. The issue closes with "I don't think we're going to fix this."
Runaways #36 Solicitation:
(Cover: Alex, holding the staff and looking sinister)
Things have gone very, very wrong for the Cabal, and even if their alliance was an uneasy one, that's bad news for Karolina and Xavin. Who will survive, and who will die? Oh yes, there will be death. Oh, and, by the way, wasn't somebody else in Limbo with the Gibborum?
Runaways #33 Outline:
Molly's still freaking about Klara's Tree-sformation, but Nico points out they have to get back to the city. The Cabal double-crossed them, which means they're going to double-cross Karolina and Xavin, too. Klara will be all right, they hope. Of course, the leapfrog's gone, the Staff of One is gone, and all the team's Flyers are gone (except Vic who can electro-hover, but he can't carry everybody), and they're miles away from any kind of civilization. They also don't have their cellphones (taken away), except Victor, who's got one in his head. Chase thinks there's somebody who he can call for help, so he takes Victor aside and asks if he can dial a number and relay his voice.
In the Hostel, Noor enters K and X's room, with a bag of food. He's trying to be friendly, maybe overly so - he got both of their favorites. Xavin calls him out on this, that he's doing this to assuage his guilt. Noor's both defensive and apologetic. He is genuinely sorry for deceiving them, but he was promised none of them would get hurt, and they are working toward good goals, destroying monsters. They question this, Karolina pointing out that the Pride thought they were doing good, but good for them was bad for everybody else, and how there were all sorts of collatoral damage on the way of getting here. Plus how it didn't seem like they were trying to make sure 'nobody got hurt' when they took over the Hostel. "The ends don't justify the means. And that's assuming the ends are as good as they say they are." Noor asks if they don't believe them, and Karolina gives the old 'never trust adults' line, before pointing out that he can read minds... did he ever read theirs. He read the minds of some of them while his father was recruiting them, but he was kept out of most of their meetings and not allowed to eavesdrop. "Yeah. There's probably a reason for that."
Time passes. Molly dozes with Old Lace under the Klara tree, Nico watching over her but worried. Chase and Victor search through the leapfrog's wreckage. Chase is looking for the memory, just in case he can save his parents. Their warning saved them, after all. He finds a box he think might be the memory, and puts it in a backpack, though realizes that he might not ever be able to build something that can access them. They also try to save one of the lasers, so they can have some firepower, but it doesn't work. Suddenly there's an approaching van. Everybody stands up, ready, but Chase says, "Relax, it's just her." But he hasn't told the others exactly who was coming for them. It is, of course, Lotus.
Back to the Hostel, Noor decides to take the conversation with Karolina and Xavin to heart, and starts going by the nearby members of the Cabal and reading their minds. They're mostly in the process of moving the gates to new locations so the Runners can't find them. The scientists are thinking about how the whole operation could be worth it just for the technology they raided from the Steins - they don't fully believe in the magic part. The Thieves are trying to do as little work as possible, wishing they had 'people' to do these things for them. That's what people are for, after all. With the Yorkes, it gets a little sinister. One of them's focused on what happens when they get home - something like "the smallpox vaccine alone will save millions of lives and make us heroes... more than enough to make up for what we did here. It's not our universe, after all. There's another one next door where we saved her." Finally his parents enter. He can read the disgust off them, they can't wait until the job is done and they can be rid of the worthless bunch. Then, in his father's thoughts, he hears "Noor, what have I said about eavesdropping." Noor is embarassed and apologizes, and his father sends him to his room, to stay there until he calls for him.
In the Ghost Town, Lotus is looking over Chase's injuries, Nico rages behind them, silently at first, but then busts out, saying she had a feeling he was seeing somebody, but... HER? Chase handles it stoicly, not answering, Lotus is the one who has to speak up for herself - she had to duck out of work and rent a van to come here and pick them all up, so is she going to shut up and get in, or does she want to wait for somebody she doesn't hate to help them out. Nico shuts up, and gets in, telling Chase "We'll talk about this after we rescue Karolina." He's all "can't wait."
Closing scene is the Hostel's portal room. Everyone except the Sorcerers are there. The scientists say they've got a call from the Sorcerers. They've run into a little delay getting some of the mystical mumbo jumbo they need to break into the Gibborum's limbo, but they should be ready. They'll meet at the "appointed place" in a few hours. Noor's parents decide that they'd better all get going, then. Karolina and Xavin ask about what sort of things they're gathering, get an uninteresting answer, and ask for reassurance that, after all this is done, they'll be able to rejoin their friends. They're assured on all ends that it's true.
Last page is Noor, in his room, door open, his nose bleeding. We hear the same conversation, but this time, some of the thoughts behind it. For example, unspoken, in the answer aout 'what sort of stuff are they getting', is "the soul of the innocent girl we murdered." (Yorkes) And of course, responding to "will we be able to rejoin our friends" is a "yes, I'm sure you'll be joining them in the grave soon enough." (scientists)
Runaways #37 Solicitation:
(Cover: Group shot. Maybe the team looking up.)
Reckoning, Part One
Karolina and Xavin might have made their peace with Noor, but the rest of the team still has a thing to say. But Noor isn't the only one about to be called to account for past actions. An alien warship shows up in orbit, and they've got a whole planet to avenge.
Runaways #34 Outline:
Issue starts with Noor's parents saying goodbye to him before they go out on their mission (though they assure him everything's fine). He begs them not to go through with it, it's wrong. This angers them, especially his father, both for questioning him and for using his powers on them. However because Noor's reading them, they genuinely don't know about the attempted murder of the other Runaways. They do know about the 'innocent soul', but refuse to talk about it, pulling the "I'm your father and you'll do as I say." Maybe Noor appeals to religion (with a quote from the Qu'ran, maybe, but I'm not going to look out an appropraite one for an outline), and it's revealed that his father doesn't actually believe in religion, except as a guideline (not that I think that's necessarily a bad thing, but a) I want to set up a contrast between Noor and his parents, becasue he does, and b) I'd like to sidestep worries of a "Muslim villain" by having them not be devout or political, it's just an aspect of their background, unrelated to any evil plots, and c) I kind of like the idea of a (former) telepath like Noor's Dad not believing in part because he couldn't sense 'the mind of god' like he could sense other minds). Anyway, Noor's told to stay in his room, they'll discuss things when they're done.
In the van, we get a bit with the Runaways. Maybe Molly says that it's nicer than the last van they were in, of course, that time she was TIED UP. Victor/Nico discuss Lotus a little, Victor in favor of trusting her, she was duped by Alex's father when they went up against her. Nico breaks down a little, tells him that fine, they'll do what he thinks. At first he thinks she's just agreeing with him, but then she makes it clear - she doesn't want to be in charge any more, he can take over. When he protest, she points out that they've lost everything, and it's all her fault because she's the leader. The hostel, the Leapfrog, Klara. "I've lost Karolina." Vic tries to comfort her, that she can't give up leadership that easily, and if she did, he's the last person who should have it, and gives standard "and we haven't lost Karolina, we'll get her back, Xavin too..." type talk), and she admits to him, telling someone else for the first time, that Karolina decided they they shouldn't be friends anymore. Victor tells her that of course they're still friends. Even if Karolina wanted to, she can't just turn off her feelings like a switch. Maybe she just needs some time to realize what she'd be missing. (Nico snuggles up to Victor a bit at this, not romantically but just for comfort... still, Victor's pleased at the development).
Cut to Karolina and Xavin with the rest of the Cabal. They're in a helicopter. maybe a bit of dialog with Xavin/Karolina before they arrive at the 'appointed place'... the donut shop portal that they used last time they needed to get to the Gibborum. Only one of the sorcerors is there, the male, holding Nico's staff, and a copy of the Abstract. He promises his wife will be there soon, she has a few loose ends to tie up. In the mean time, donuts?
The rest of the Runaways gather in Lotus' apartment. Nico's not especially cheered up, and when Molly raises the prospect of coming up with a plan, she points out that they don't know for sure where Karolina is or how to find her (the donut shop is brought up as a possibility, but so is the location of the underwater Vivarium, or a place they've never heard of), and even if they did know, "They've taken my magic away." Lotus points out that they took her staff. That's not the same thing. She offers to try and teach Nico a few things, and reveals an altar she keeps in her apartment, white magic.
Jump ahead a bit as Lotus is in a magic-circle type situation around the altar, with Nico, trying to teach her 'white' magic, Victor tries to hack satellite feeds while Molly tries to convince Old Lace to follow Xavin or Karolina's scent (with Vic telling her OL needs a trail, but Molly insisting it's a telepathic dinosaur so it should be able to find her telepathically). Chase, uninterested, goes into the kitchen area to look for something to eat, and notices something on the fridge. The van's rental agreement, and a fridge calendar with work days circled. Chase goes to the bedroom. Lotus is reaching for an ornate dagger. The issue ends with Chase grabbing her hand and saying, "Don't even think about it."
Runaways #38 Solicitation:
(Cover: Karolina, in her wedding dress)
Reckoning, Part Two
Runaways in Space! Xavin is taken to trial for war crimes, and as Karolina remembers what was supposed to be their wedding day, she's forced to confront the possibility... that he might just be guilty!
(Xavin identified as male then, hence the use of the male gender in the solicit).
Runaways #35 Outline:
Noor starts off he issue breaking through the door. He starts towards the portal, then darts out and comes back with a Fistigon.
But, onto the cliffhanger. Lotus claims that the dagger's part of the ritual, to inscribe the sand, but he doesn't take it for an answer, insisting that she's been lying to them. He lists off the signs. She rented the van a few days ago, and already had the day off. She knew this was coming. And she's playing him for a while - the 'accidental' meeting in the grocery store when they first got back to the city. His only question is if she's just working for the Cabal, or if she's actually the mysterious robed female wizard.
She protests her innocence, even tells Chase she loves him. As the others surround her, she confesses, okay, yes, she knew about things in advance. Not specifics, but she knew they might need help, and she knew where to run into him months ago. She never destroyed the Abstract like he told her to. But she's not involved in the Cabal, she didn't even know what they were planning. She tells him where to find her copy of it. She's been trying to help. When they ask her why she didn't try to warn them, "What was I supposed to say? The magical book I'm not supposed to have that I've been using to spy on your future went blank? Maybe it just ran out of juice." Nico looks at it and confirms that by feel - it's magic has either run out, or it was siphoned away. Or it's a fake. Maybe Victor has a lead, and pipes it to Lotus' computer, looking up the "thieves" and finding a photo of their last known sighting, where they're in the company of a few people Lotus recognizes... the Sorcerers (unmasked), who tried to buy some of the magic supplies the she got from the Pride. She didn't sell to them because they seemed dark.
See the Cabal, with K/x of course, enter the strange Limbo area.. not the white void one, but the one full of ghostly tenants that the Gibborum were in before that. They set up some sort of machine composed of magical and technological gadgetry, which they explain to the Runners is to 'pierce the void beyond Limbo, where the Gibborum now rest'. They make a ceremony, all together, joining hands. "We beseech thee, Gibborum, having come before you as in the old ways, as six pair-bonds, to wake from your slumber" yadda yadda yadda. A portal of brilliant white opens, and they hear a voice saying that they require a sacrifice to return. This naturally freaks Karolina/Xavin out because they never heard anything about that, but they're told "it's already been taken care of". A box is hauled out and opened. Karolina tries to intervene to stop it, but her powers are still deactivated, and she's restrained (by the Yorkes?), and the soul is released into the void. It opens more dramatically, and the Gibborum step out, though much smaller than before, weakened from before. As they ask what this New Pride wants, warning that they don't have much power without more sacrifices. The Sorcerers use the staff of one, first casting a spell to bind them, then casting a spell "Harvest". A bolt strikes out one of the Gibborum (the big blue one that I always think of as the not as cool looking one), killing it, and causing a lot of smoke. The Sorcerer is charged with power. Some of the Cabal cry foul - this wasn't the plan, they were supposed to all be in position when the sacrifice was made, and we get a bit of a melodramatic villain speech about how they were just pawns, needed to get entry, but sacrificable. However, if they are properly supplicant, they may be allowed to live and serve the dark Elder God, (insert evil sounding name here). Then remarking about how much power s/he feels, and that was only from one of them.
The remaining Gibborum, restored to their full size, and so broken free of their bindings, cut off this speech by killing the Sorcerer, throwing his body (and the staff) into the void-portal. "Fools. Did you think because we could not kill him ourselves that we would hesitate to feast off our fallen brother?"
Some of the Cabal try to abort, leave through the exit portal, but with the wave of an six-fingered hand, it's gone. They're sealed in.
Runaways #39 Solicitation:
(Cover: Xavin, in chains)
Reckoning, Part Three:
Xavin is put on trial, and the rest of the Runaways aren't keen on leaving their friend to the mercies of an alien justice system. But they're not the only ones who want the trial to end prematurely.
Runaways #36 Outline:
We begin with Noor, waiting for the Runaways. He's got Chase's fistigon. Chase seems to show up alone. Noor shows the fistigon, and says, "I've got something to say... I'm sorry. I was wrong." "I've got something to say too. Sic 'im." Old Lace knocks him down, gets teeth around his throat. Chase gets the fistigons, warns him that if he tries his jedi-mind tricks, Lace will sense it and bite down hard. The others in the area come out of the surrounding area, confirming that he seems to be alone. Noor tries to show them he can be trustworthy, saying he locked the hostel to Steins only again, and will tell them where his parents went, but they suspect it's a trap. Still, even if it's a trap, at least it gives them more information, so they learn (What they expected anyway), that it was the donut shop they planned to do their ritual. He also notices the lack of and asks what happened to Klara. Molly tells him "She's dead. Your team killed her." We probably won't be cutting back to them very often, as the bulk of the issue takes place with Karolina/Xavin.
Inside the void, the Gibborum are trying to kill everybody. The thieves get taken first. Karolina makes a break for the portal behind them, reasoninmg that if they're going to get out, they'll need the Staff of One. Xavin agrees to try and distract the Gibborum, maybe gets one of the Scientists to take off the power dampeners on them. Karolina makes it inside the White Void, where she's confronted with, at the foot of the Sorceror's body, Alex. He's holding the staff, and says, "Hi, K."
Outside, the Gibborum continue to slaughter. They complain that none of them have the nourishment of an innocent soul, but they will suffice for now. The Yorkes die. Xavin tries their best to fight them while the scientists try to use the 'dimensional drill' machine in reverse to get them out.
Inside, Karolina confronts Alex, preparing to fight him for the staff. He scoffs a bit, considering she's currently depowered, but then reveals that he's not here to fight her. He came to help. Except, he can't leave the void. He's been there since she died. She doesn't trust him, but he says she doesn't have to, she just has to listen.
Maybe a quick glimpse of the other Runaways (Noor not with them) on their way (still being driven by Lotus, maybe this would be a good time for a conversation with Chase, where she tries to 'forgive' him for doubting her, in hopes of getting forgiveness for her deception, but he officially ends their relationship. "It isn't right. It never would be. And it couldn't last much longer anyway. After we're done, I don't want to see you again."
Then it's back to K. Alex still has the staff, asking if she understands. She says she does. "Tell Nico... you know, don't tell her anything. One last thing to do before I say goodbye." He casts a 'recharge' spell, giving K back her abilities, and then disappears, the staff falling to the ground. K grabs it, and flies out.
Last bit of the fight. The Gibborum smash the dimensional drill, and are about to smash Xavin and the scientists, but X uses a force field to protect them, and K bursts out, using her energy field in combat, distracting them long enough for her to fly up to Xavin. She uses the staff and casts "Exit", making a portal appear, however it seems to be at great personal cost. It seems to cause her pain AND removes all her glowiness. The scientists push past them and get out. Karolina and Xavin exit, (with Xavin nearly dragging her), looking back at Noor's parents, who are still alive but trying to hide among the non-Gibborum residents. One of the Gibborum is about to smash them when Xavin drags Karolina out.
They get out and the Scientists are rushing for their helicopter. The other Runaways arrive then, just in time for it to take off. Molly complains that they're getting away, and Chase uses a fistigon... damaging the helicopter, but it's too far away to see where it crashes or if anyone survives. The Runaways get a few moments of reunion. Nico and Karolina get a reunion, too, but before they do, K gives the staff to Xavin, telling them to hold it. Then they hug, a bit awkwardly, and Nico asks about her staff. K just says they have to talk, and then X or K asks the question, "where's Klara?"
After that, we get a last scene, in the Runaways void. The remaining Sorcerer is in the Gibborum Limbo. She's asked "who do you serve?" and tells them, "You." "Good. We require more sustenance. You will be our agent in the world. We will remake the world into a paradise. Only this time, we will work more quickly.
So, that's it for year 3. Yes, I do have firm plans for at least the first arc of year 4, and some plans for issue #50 and general plotlines for beyond, but this may be the last of my 'full year' outlines. I'll probably outline the Reckoning arc, which takes me to issue #40 or so, and then maybe, if I come up with a good idea for a fill in, up to 43, which would be the "pass BKV" point (18 issues of the original run, 25 issues of Vol 2, = 43 issues written total. + the FCBD, but the Molly/Klara/Katie Power one-shot covers that). After that, I'd just do a point of general, unformed plan.
Anyway, I did rush a bit to finish this up, so some of it might be a little less formed than I like (non-linearly though), because I wanted to finish it before most of my writing energy was spoken for in November (PersonalExtraWritingMonth), and I won't start on the next arc until at least that's over probably. But I'm still enjoying the overall plot.
Some thoughts on the second half: Yeah, I got rid of Klara. The miracle is it took me this long. She's an okay enough character, but I never really wanted her on the team. She takes away from Molly as being the 'team kid', her powers aren't that impressive for combat or non-combat (usually making vines or barriers, and lots of other people can do most of that). However, I was determined that if I was going to get rid of anybody, I'd try to give them some spotlight and development first, so I couldn't just throw her away in the first year. And yes, she's sort of been replaced by ANOTHER kid, Noor, however, his powers are more varied in plot usefulness. Also... it's a themely thing. I like to think for people to be on the Runaways on a long-term basis, their parents have to be supervillains. Klara's parents were villains in the sense they married her off at a young age, but that wasn't all that uncommon at the time, and they were unlikely to have a continued influence. Her value as a 'plucked out of time' character isn't enough, for me, to the downsides, since that eventually wears off. But, I didn't kill her, and she may still contribute to the Runaways mythos in the future.
I also killed the Leapfrog! I didn't quite know I was going to do that at first. But I have an idea for a replacement vehicle (and there's hints of it in this year).
Comments always welcome.
Edit: My final set of outlines, carrying up to issue #43 and with some rougher ideas sketched out beyond that, is now posted here.