Let's get right to it.
Runaways #23 Solicitation:
(Cover: A Nico cover, in the style of a 'FaceSpace' page)
A Little Help from My Friends, Part Four
Has Karolina's eye been drawn to another? Will Nico enter the scary world of Internet Dating? Will Victor's oldest friendship come to an end? Will Girlpower Pack stop the crime spree? The answer to at least one of these questions is yes.
Runaways #20 Outline:
We start off in the city, with the Runners coming back from breakfast. There's a doggy-bag for Old Lace, too.
Klara's got her image inducer on. From the dialog, it's clear that Nico invited everybody out, just "for a change", although Xavin and Victor started bickering during, even though Nico settled it. What starts as a mostly pleasant togetherness/fun morning (aside from the bickering), soon turns a little sour. Since Nico's in charge of the budget and she just splurged on a nice breakfast, they got the impression that there's more money for all of them. Molly wants a new hat, she's tired of all her old ones. When she says no, Molly asks if she can at least sew her a new one. Speaking of running out of clothes, Nico's on laundry duty, etc, etc. Victor and Xavin start arguing again. By the time they get to the Leapfrog (parked on top of a building), Nico's annoyed, and snaps. She takes them out to a nice breakfast, and all they fight during so she has to get involved and settle it, and then assault her with requests and such. "You know what I want sometimes? A day to myself." The last phrase is spoken in Nico's 'spell-voice'. A bubble forms, separating Nico and the leapfrog, and the entrance home, and everybody else. They can't get through. They can't even speak through it. Nico just shakes her head and goes inside.
The others make for one of their other 'doors' in the city (for the record, I see there being four doors. The 'main door', the old maintenance shack inside the leapfrog (though it's exactly the same as the other kinds of doors). A side door, normal door-sized, placed in some out of the way spot in LA, near enough to action to make it useful. A big door, big enough for the leapfrog to go through, at the old ghost town they put "Off The Map", and another big door dumped somewhere underwater off the coast of California). It's got a field around it too. They don't see much point in going to the big doors, because even if they did reach them (one underwater and one out of the way), they might have wards around them too. After waiting for a while, they decide to just take it the magic at its word and assume they'll be locked out for the rest of the day, and decide what to do. Someone points out it'll be hard to do anything since they don't have much money, so Chase says that he didn't want to have to do this, but he can dip into his rainy-day fund. He explains his dad told him how to access one of his old bank accounts, one not confiscated by the authorities because it was under another name. They're all shocked and a little annoyed he didn't mention it when things always seem to be tight. "Tight's good. You guys spend too much as it is. Molly, you're always buying new hats. The girls are always buying new clothes or stuff to make clothes, and Victor buys new games or gadgets every chance he gets. There's not much in it, but I can take some out." He does so, and divvies it up among the near-adults. Molly tries "Hey, if your dad gave you that, it should be half mine." This only gets a "nice try", but he does give her a little bit of money (alone among the younger members). He's splitting up the money instead of just taking them all somewhere fun, because he wants a little 'me time' too.
When he's gone, they begin discussing what he's going to be doing. Molly suggests, 'maybe he's got a date', which they dismiss. Which gets Karolina thinking, that she and Xavin haven't really had a real date date, except for a little bit while they were off-planet, and she gets excited about doing it now. Xavin is open to the idea, though Victor complains that it would leave him with all the kids. They take him aside and Karolina pleads with him because she and Xavin hardly ever get any "us time".
Meanwhile, Molly grabs Klara, telling her that she bets they can find something more fun to do than whatever victor comes up with, and they start sneaking off (Noor's following the conversation between V/X/K). So Victor reluctantly agrees, and when Karolina and Xavin fly off, he discovers Klara and Molly are already gone. He puts his hand to his head and starts thinking numbers. We see Molly answering her cell phone, which Victor is dialing with a power he must have discovered off-panel. He asks where she is and she says not to worry, they'll be okay, but she and Klara just wanted a little "girl time". Not knowing where they are, he reluctantly agrees, but tells them to call if anything happens. He then turns to Noor and asks what he wants to do. Noor shrugs... he doesn't want to go to the places he used to go to have fun, because he's afraid of "old friends tracking him down." Victor gets an idea.
In the air, Karolina asks Xavin where they're going for the date. Xavin wonders why they must be the one to choose, and Karolina starts with, "Well, because you're the..." and then catches herself. "You're right. It's my planet, I should take _you_ out somewhere."
We go to Nico, alone in the hostel, except for Old Lace (now man-sized, still a little shorter than normal). After apologizing, she starts talking to Lace as companionship, mentioning this was a lot less depressing-sounding when she cast the spell. Finally, she decides, rather than deal with her own problems, she'll look to somebody else's, and she logs on to her Sister Grimm account and reads the mail directed towards her. We might get a little bit of time of her trying her best to dispense advice.
We see a short montage of Chase, at a music store listening to music, eating. He clearly keeps checking his watch.
We see the first bit of Xavin/Karolina's date, at some kind of art gallery. Xavin doesn't get it because it doesn't "do" anything, it's just a static picture. They prefer art with motion and change to it.
We go back to Victor/Noor. Noor has just finished asking for information on somebody. After they're on their way to the location in question (I'm seeing a mall), Noor asks why he couldn't ask for the information himself. Victor says that his parents probably wouldn't want him seeing him. "But who is he." "An old friend. Actually, my oldest friend." He sees somebody up ahead, and picks up his pace, calling out, "Jorge!" Jorge gets a scowl on his face and just says, "You're using my name, but I don't know you, man."
Finally, we end up with Molly/Klara. They're right outside a store. Molly has just bought a new hat, and is looking despondently at the amount of money she has left. "Chase is right, I blow way too much money on new hats."
As they try to figure out what to do next, they hear sirens and police cars speeding down the street. "Told you we'd find something fun to do!" Klara is less than convinced this counts as fun, but follows anyway. They run to a gas station, where some of the CastOuts are. Not all of them are there (Horror Girl and Electrocutie are both absent, as are the potential minor other members from the previous arc), and there's a new girl on the team. Pwner has a big G from the gas station slung around one shoulder. Blastwave is knocking over police cars with his powers, and who're calling for backup. Molly tells Klara that they need to step in, the cops can't handle these people. As they're about to rush in, Molly feels a tap on her back. It's Katie Power, in her costume. She says something like, "I was flying up above and saw a girl in a silly hat chasing sirens. Thought it might be you." Molly calls out her name which annoys Katie. "Don't you know anything about superheroing? Code names only. Junior Mist." (tentative name). "We going to team up and take down these losers or what?" "Let's do this."
We get a brief fight scene. Klara uses her plant powers to entangle Pwner. SpiderKid uses his sticky powers to keep Molly in place, but she uses her strength to rip the ground under her feet (so her feet are still stuck to the pavement but the pavement's stuck to her feet). Katie uses the JackHammer ability (keeping full mass but shrinking to a tiny point and hitting somebody) to knock out BlastMaster. SpiderKid frees Pwner by making the vines/tree limbs slippery enough to wiggle through. Then things start to go bad. Katie tries the Jackhammer on Pwner, despite Molly's warning, and hurts herself. And the new girl on the team reveals her abilities. Not 100% certain, but right now I'm thinking she creates these flying bird-like beings of darkness (technically I see them looking more like manta-rays) which can attack people (maybe with a chilling effect, drawing the heat into themselves), carry her or others, etc. She can also project darkness. Let's call her Darkrising for now. The things grab tiny-Katie, scare Klara into surrounding herself with a vine-dome, and start beating on Molly, though she's barely able to fight them off.
Electrocutie shows up then, and it looks like things are going from bad to worse, but she says to Molly, "Get down," and zaps the new girl. "Take that, you little skank!"
To be continued!
Runaways #24 Solicitation:
(Cover: Nico cover again, this time a close-up on her face, with flames at the very bottom.)
A Little Help from My Friends, Part Five
Electrocutie's been on the side of the angels... sort of. But will her conversion stick? And when Katie's sister catches up with her, she's going to be in so much trouble! Is this the end of Girlpower Pack? And what secret lay behind Nico's outburst earlier in the day?
Runaways #21 Outline:
When Electrocutie shocks Darkrising, most of her dark-birds swarm to her to try and protect her. They drag her away through the air, Pwner starts telling off Electrocutie, asking what she thinks she's doing. Electrocutie insists she's not an idiot. Spider-Kid is told to take her down, and she slips on the ground and is then stuck, screaming. Darkrising's "birds" pull the rest of the team away after Pwner calls for them, saying they got what they wanted.
Katie's recovered from her injury, and after checking Molly and Klara are okay, they notice they're surrounded by cops. Katie points out a rooftop not far away, and says she'll provide cover, and they'll meet there. She turns into a large, rolling cloud, which obscures everything.
Now we go to Karolina and Xavin, who are at some vegan juice/bar sandwich shop. Karolina thinks Xavin didn't like it, but they insists that Karolina's company made it worthwhile. Somebody calls out Xavin's name at the bar - the order 'he' placed is ready. They go up to collect it, but even when they're right there, the barista or whatever keeps calling out the name. "I'm Xavin", they finally say. "Oh, sorry. I figured that was a boy's name." Xavin frowns, and collects their drink, maybe with the barista commenting on the weirdness of the special order (strawberry and pickles in a juice blend... it's a Skrull thing), asking if 'she' is pregnant. Xavin returns, and Karolina thinks about what they're going to do next.
Victor and Jorge are next. Jorge's "I don't know you" is followed by a "I used to know a Victor. Cool dude. I don't know what happened to him." Victor apologizes for not being able to stay in touch, but he was worried people were looking for him. Maybe Victor mentions that he saw him at his mom's funeral, but they stayed cloaked in the leapfrog because the police were there so he couldn't say hi. Some other kids pass, and make a weird sort of dance-like move while laughing and calling Jorge's name. He hangs his head, but lets him pass. Victor asks what that's about, but Jorge deflects, seemingly friendly again. He says he heard Vic was hanging with those hotties that kidnapped him. He seeing any of them, and can he hook them up. Vic says the only one that's really datable is Nico, and she's sort of his ex. "Ouch. Permanent ex, or 'we can work it out' ex? I mean you're still hanging out together." Vic says sort of, but she doesn't exactly talk to him like she used to. "She's kind of in her own world."
Cut of course to Nico. She's dealing with more 'problems', and is getting a lot of instant messages, many asking if it's "really" her. Finally she shouts for them to shut up, and marks herself as 'invisible' online. Another chat bubble pops up, saying something neutral like, "Hey, what's up?" She replies that she's not really interested in helping anybody else with their problems right now. The response is, "I was just saying hello, I don't have any problems. Sounds like you do, though. Want somebody to vent to? Or just to chat and take your mind off things?" She smiles a little.
Molly and Klara reach the rooftop where Katie pointed out. She solidifies, and they have a little chat - she's in town visiting her sister, but Julie went to an audition and instead of waiting around, Katie went exploring until she heard the sirens. Maybe a little bit of very underplayed snarkiness with each of them pointing out the others mistakes in the fight. Molly then (excitedly) asks if her brother's with her, she wanted to tell him she's been watching that show Firefly. She's interrupted as Electrocutie shows up and asks, "Ooh, you have a brother? Is he cute?" Katie says no, Molly says yes. She asks if the cute latino boy is there, and Molly scowls as she realizes who it is and asks what she's doing there.
Some kind of conversation like this: "She said to meet up on the roof." "Not you! You're one of them." "Nuh-uh, not anymore. Did you miss how I totally saved you there?" "Shut up. I could have beaten them." Katie interrupts and points out that she did help. Molly insists that that it's all part of a plan... they want to sneak a spy on the team, just like Klara was to them. Electrocutie says she doesn't care about their stupid team, then softens a little and says she did want to ask if Noor's okay. Klara asks why she cares, since they were going to kill both of them, but Electrocutie says they were only going to scare them away, and that Noor was a good kid, like a little brother.
Katie asks, if she was part of that gang, why she turned against them, and Electrocutire launches into a whole story about how Pwner is supposed to be her boyfriend but he's been flirting with that new girl, so they're totally over and she's quit the gang and is going to try the superhero thing for a while. Then she excitedly suggests they all team up and be an all girl superhero team. The others don't really think that's a good idea, so Electrocutie says she's going to have to stop the crime spree herself.
"You think they went out here to steal a big G? It's a game, the super-powered gangs made up. It's a scavenger hunt. A crime scavenger hunt. Whenever you collect something, you have to commit a crime, and stay until either the police or the super-heroes show up, or you don't get the points."
Klara: "That sounds..."
Katie: "Incredibly stupid and dangerous. Someone's going to get hurt."
Electrocutie: "So let's stop them. *I* know what's on the list."
Molly: Fine, one team-up. Just to stop this crime spree.
We get two brief bits, one of Karolina and Xavin on another part of their date. I'm thinking something active, but 'fun' (for people other than me), that can be done on the cheap, like a roller rink. Maybe Karolina provides her own light show.
The second one is Chase, at a coffeeshop. The door opens, and he looks over, interest perked. "Hey, Chase. Been waiting long?" "Yes." "Sorry. I couldn't just drop everything when you texted me. Some of us have jobs." At the end of his segment we see that it is Lotus, from the Parental Guidance arc (Alex's former gaming friend who tried to help resurrect him and then joined with Geoffrey Wilder to take out the Runaways). "What did you want to talk about?"
Back to the girls, as they approach a bank. Electrocutie's insisting they need a team name, and suggests several lame ones (Femmtastic Four, Crimekillers). Katie mentions that they're all terrible ideas, so Molly says, "Oh, and I suppose Power Pack is so much better." Electrocutie seemingly hasn't heard of it but suggests it's a good start, but it needs something. She hits on "Girlpower Pack" Katie's clearly unimpressed, but Molly, seeing a chance to annoy Katie, says, "I love it. We should totally call that out when we're fighting." Electocutie thinks that's a great idea.
They're headed towards a bank, Electrocutie insists that it has to be this particular brand of bank, because the scavenger hunt item is one of their Cashman statues, and the Castouts wanted to hit this one, so all they have to do is wait. An explosion knocks out a wall revealing a crime is already in progress. Someone comes out and Electocutie's disappointed... it's one of the other supergangs, one called Trash. Klara points out, "We still must stop them, musn't we?" and although Electrocutie is less enthused now that Pwner's not there, she still jumps in and (as Katie facepalms behind her) shouts, "Okay, crooks. Give up now, or Girlpower Pack is going to kick your ass." One of Trash asks another, "Do these guys count as super heroes showing up?" The reply is, "I don't know, but we can knock them around until one shows up."
To be continued!
Runaways #25 Solicitation:
(Cover: Noor-centric cover. Maybe him standing, head bowed, with the rest of the Runaways lying on the ground around him)
They've been operating behind the scenes for a while. They've snuck a spy onto the Runaways team. Now, their plan comes to fruition!
Runaways #22 Outline:
So we start off with Girlpower Pack vs Trash. Trash, at least the visible part of it, consists of Hose, who has water control and production powers, Bazooka, who fires big energy/concussive blasts from his mouth, Commando, who can telekinetically extend his own limbs (so throw a punch and a telekinetic fist launches out at you even though he's far away), and Rat, who looks a little like a human rat but has super speed.
Hose shoots a burst of water at all there of the girls and, since Electrocutie's charged up, it zaps all four of them. She says sorry, sorry, and powers down. (The main point of this is to short out both Molly's cell phone and Katie's communicator). Katie turns to gas and puts up a density field blocking them. Klara produces plants. Molly kicks a mailbox at somebody. Other actiony stuff happens. The goodguys have the slim upper hand and cause the badguys to drop some of the moneybags they were carrying.
Finally, one of Trash, carrying the statue, says, "Let's say this counts," and dials a number on his phone. He just says "Bailout." And all of Trash disappears. Electrocutie explains that they're very hard to catch, because they have at teleporter on their team. when the other gangs want to pull something big, they often pay them a share of their take to commit another crime first, draw the cops away and then disappear. Electrocutie is sure she knows where the Castouts will go next, but it's a little far away. "Are you sure you guys can't fly?" Then she gets an idea... they'll just take a cab. She causes an ATM to spit out money (which gets a lecture from Katie... Electocutie seems not to understand, considering they saved that bank lots of money and heroes always get rewarded otherwise nobody would do it). In the interests of expedience, though, they all get into the cab (who is one of those comedic side-characters who is unflappable, maybe even oblivious to the fact that there was a bank robbery there).
At the Hostel, Nico's still having her (IM) conversation with a mystery guy. She's talking about how sometimes it feels like the whole world's on her shoulders whatever she does will ever be enough. He says he knows how that feels, but asks about friends, can't she count on them? She says, "My friends are great but... they always look to me. And today it was too much. I took them all out to eat and they start fighting. They should be taking me out to eat. Today, of all days, I've been feeling depressed, and really wanted somebody to be thinking of me, instead of themselves."
The reply says, "Really hate to do this but I have to deal with something real quick. Can't multitask as well as I'd like. But I do want to keep talking to you. Just hang on one minute."
Cut to Victor, who's got Jorge trying to get his attention. They're looking at a TV display in the mall. "Check it out." It's a news report talking about the crime spree, and in particular, how a team of superpowered tween girls seems to have appeared to drive off at least two of the super-gangs. There's video from the bank scene, which is reported as having occured only moments ago. Noor and Victor both realize that's Molly and Klara. Victor tries first to get through to Molly's phone, but it doesn't work, so he'll call somebody else.
Cut to Chase's phone ringing. He picks it up, and shuts it off. We see that he's shirtless, and in bed with Lotus. He's sure that whatever it is, it can't be very important. They get a little talking in... he's been keeping her apprised of what's going on - she's pleased that he finally told Molly she was his sister, for example.
It establishes this isn't a one-time thing but has been going on in secret for some time (and in fact, it's why way back in the Victor/Victorius arc, Chase wanted to leave Victor behind when he went into town... it was intended as a booty call.)
Cut to Karolina and Xavin's date. Karolina answers the phone. Victor explains to her quickly what's going on. She complains that she's on a date, and he apologizes, but he and Noor can't exactly move fast and he's busy with something too, and Chase's line was busy, and Molly and Klara could be in real danger. Xavin asks if Victor's in trouble (since K mentioned his name when answering the phone), seemingly more ready to abandon the date than Karolina was, even when they thought it was Victor in trouble. When Molly and Klara's in danger, the two immediately take off into the air and head for the bank.
Back to Victor, who's just finished hanging up. Another group of kids their age pass by and make some remarks about Jorge. He says "Come on man, tell me what it's what's going on." Jorge says it's nothing again, and Victor presses again, and finally (while we see Noor develop a sudden, unnoticed nosebleed), Jorge spits out the truth: Everybody at school makes fun of him. Somebody got a video of him dancing around in his underwear on a webcam, he thought it was to impress a girl, and since then he's been a laughing stock and bullies him even more than they did before and he can't handle it. He then says he doesn't know why he told him that, he should have just let it lie.
Molly, Klara, Katie, and Electocutie have a conversation in the cab. Highlights... Possibly some comment over Electrocutie's name being a little provocative. She says all the good names involving Electricity are already taken. Katie sympathizes, having been trying for a long time to come up with a good Cloud name (and maybe saying Cloud 9 was taken from her. "And I'm a lot closer to 9 than she is."), then suggests maybe something in another language, like Electrique, french for Electrical. She seems to like it. Molly tries to move it a little more practical, asking for information on the other gangs, in case they run into them, so they know what they can do. What about the other members of Trash, or the girl gang (Misfits?). Katie trying to bring up her Power Pack experience again (mentioning that they fought a group named Trash when she was young, but it was a completely different Trash), and Electrocutie says "Yeah, we get it, you were some big time superhero when you were in diapers. You don't need to keep bringing it up." And Molly admits to Klara she's starting to like EC, then asks her about how they'll handle Pwner, since he seems the hardest to deal with. Electrocutie says "Leave him to me."
Karolina and Xavin arrive near the bank, though there are police there. They try and see if they can spot them on any nearby streets. "Hey, I know you," says a voice from off-panel, revealed immediately to be Julie Power. "You're that girl that complimented my hair when we were fighting that time." Karolina's shocked and a little embarrassed, says that it still does look pretty, then worries that she might be here to try and arrest her. "Oh, don't worry. Your friends helped save my dad from being replaced by a Skrull. That gets you a free pass for life from me. Besides, I think we're here after the same thing. Katie's probably with Molly and... was it Klara?"
Karolina suggests they work together to find them. Xavin takes the opportunity, having not been introduced, to introduce themself. First they start by expressing her admiration, having read about the Power family's roles in the Snark Wars and how impressive they were. They then introduces themself as Xavin. "Oh... YOU'RE Xavin? I heard the name, I guess I just thought you were a boy."
Xavin admits they've heard that before, and that she's actually thinking of changing it. This surprises Karolina, since it's the first she's heard of it. "It IS a male name, on my world. But since I am a female, perhaps it's time to change that as well." To Xava, or something else. Anyway, they all go flying off.
The taxi pulls up to a movie set. Katie asks if they're sure her old gang is going to be there, and she is - he had her google the filming location. The scavenger prize is to steal the costume off a celebrity on a movie set, in public, and british pop star Sugar Kane (who briefly dated Chamber) is filming a new movie here, and he hates her music so much. and they see the shadow-birds of Darkrising in the distance. They realize they're never going to get there in time to stop them from publicly exposing her. Katie says she can get there, but she needs help.
She shrinks down to the size of a doll, and tells Molly to throw her as far as she can in that direction. Molly's more than eager (and a bit surprised at the weight, since Katie's mass didn't change), and manages it easily.
The Castouts arrive, and two of Darkrising's "birds" start ripping at Sugar Kane's clothes, but Katie arrives just in time and becomes a cloud, protecting her modesty (maybe making some crack about "I know you probably don't care about it considering those shots on the internet"). We end there.
Runaways #26 Solicitation:
(Cover: Karolina and Nico, of course. Maybe a happy together picture, that's now been torn apart)
Scattered, Part One
The Runaways are scattered and on the run like never before! Karolina and Nico are together, alone, in unfamiliar surroundings. To get the others back, they might have to make the ultimate sacrifice... their friendship!
Runaways #23 Outline:
Molly, Klara, and Electrocutie show up at the movie set, while everybody's running around, and participate in a fight. Electrocutie focuses on Pwner, charging up nearby cars and other movie-type machinery to attack him.... apparently it's an indirect enough method of attack that it doesn't trigger her powers. Molly beats up lots of Darkrising's birds. Katie joins in once she escorts Sugar Kane to her trailer. Once again, they drive the gang away, with Electrocutie coming very close to crushing Pwner a few times.
Karolina, Julie, and Xavin fly through the air. It's clear that while Julie isn't obviously flirting, Karolina is somewhat interested, at least visually, or at least that there's enough in the way of subtle signals that Xavin suspects this and is getting a little angry. Julie gets a phone call and picks it up (pretending to be on in an open-topped car). It's one of her friends telling her that supervillains just showed up at a movie set, a movie Julie auditioned for (small part) but didn't get. They speed off in that direction.
Chase gets some time in with Lotus. It's not an actual 'relationship'. They talk, and have sex, but they're not affectionate... in fact, when Lotus tries, he pulls away. Basically Chase feels guilty about anything approaching romantic feelings with a person he blames for Gert's death. He feels guilty for talking and sex too, but not enough to stop himself from doing it. This isn't spelled out, of course, but it's the underlying vibe of their interactions. There's a moment where she mentions Gert, accidentally or off-handedly (maybe Chase is talking about how now he knows who to pass Old Lace to, if something happened to him (Molly), and she says that she thinks Gert would have liked that), and he closes down completely, becomign cold, and is suddenly ready to leave, and after he's gone she seems angry/frustrated/sad all at once at the situation. She realizes how messed up it is too.
Nico gets some time with her mystery internet guy, who, if it's not already clear, is Victor using wireless technopathy to communicate via internet. Maybe we'll make it extra obvious at this point by having their conversations and storylines intertwine, Victor's responses coming while he's talking to Jorge. On the IM-conversation-side, he's asking her if she's seeing anybody, she says she seems to be a magnet for screwed up relationships, only attracting psychos, stalkers, and cheats. Meanwhile, he's talking to Jorge, trying to comfort him, suggesting obviously impossible things like getting the video off the internet (since it's everywhere). Another group of kids start to insult him, and Jorge mentions they were the ones who did it. Vic excuses himself again from the IM conversation, and goes to confront him, while Jorge begs him not to go do anything. But Victor does, trying all macho, and using his powers, threatening them to lay off Jorge or they'll have to answer to him. They seem appropriately scared, and head off.
Jorge is all "What did you do?". "Just trying to help... you're my friend." "Did they take out your brain when they abducted you? You just made it a million times worse. It woulda blown over. Now I've gotta be the guy who gets a cape to fight for him. I should never have told you." "It's okay, Jorge. Nobody's going to hassle you if they think..."
"What? You'll come to my rescue? Even I don't believe that. Next time you feel like looking up an old friend... do me a favor and choose another one, okay?" He leaves.
K/X/Julie arrive at the movie set.. but it's not the same one Katie was at. This one's got Trash again, but since they are supervillains, the group intervenes. At one point they pull out their cell phones, but Xavin recognizes that they're probably calling for help and uses an invisible force field to knock it out of their hands. While fighting, Julie asks if Karolina knows any producers or a good agent, or anybody else in Hollywood thanks to her parents, who she might be willing to put a good word in for her. Karolina's open to the idea, although has doubts anybody will listen. Julie just asks her to try, and if she can just get her foot into the door, or a good agent, she'll totally take Karolina out for dinner to say thanks. Xavin is not thrilled with this suggestion, but manages to hold it in.
Girlpower Pack, after having escaped the movie set with no trouble, talk about where to go next, but Electrocutie says there's no point. The scavenger hunt had a time limit, but it's over now. If they wanted, she could lead them to the Castout's new base and they could beat up Darkrising. "Okay, 'cutie. Since you're determined to keep chasing us down, I don't feel bad about coming after you. It's time to end it."
Runaways #27 Solicitation:
(Cover: Xavin in a 'Savage-Land' type tattered costume, using a force field to keep the jaws of a dinosaur from crushing Klara, while Old Lace bites on the dinosaur's neck)
Scattered, Part Two:
Klara, Xavin, and Old Lace. An untamed wilderness the likes of which none have ever seen. But with their own instincts and abilities, will they survive this Savage Land enough to get help?
Runaways #24 Outline:
SpiderKid/Charlie, it turns out, isn't there to fight. He wants to talk to Electrocutie. Alone. She insists anything he wants to say to her, he can say in front of her team. He tries to find out why she's gone all crazy. He insists Pwner wasn't flirting with Darkrising, he was just trying to win her over to their team from the girl-gang, because since Noor's gone they need a little more help on getaways. "He's not really interested in her." "Did he SAY that?" "Well, no, but..." "Then who needs him. I'm totally a hero now, and I've got a new team, and... who needs him. I've always been a little bit bi anyway, so I'm happy right here." (Which of course gets surprised-wtf-do-I-say-to-that eyes from the rest of the team.) He tries to get her to come back some more, with "Come on, we all miss you. And even if Pwner is interested in the new girl, well that just means I don't gotta feel bad." "What?"
"For wanting to get with his girl. Couldn't do it while you were together, but if he's backing off..." Her eyes widen, and she turns to Girlpower Pack and says. "It's been really fun, girls, but my old gang really needs me more than you do." She gives her FaceSpace address and tells them all to 'friend' her so they can keep in touch, and then runs off with Charlie. Katie decides that she might as well "Costume off", and is suddenly back in normal street clothes. She calls her sister on a cell phone in her real pocket (it wouldn't work while she was in costume because it was temporarily in another dimension, for those wondering).
We see the tail end of the fight with Trash. Working together, Karolina, Xavin, and Julie Power manage to subdue the teens and tie them up (Bazooka with his mouth closed). Julie receives the phone call from her sister, and they all leave to go find her.
While Noor and Victor walk home, we get more of his conversation with Nico. He's apologizing, saying that he thinks he just screwed up and hurt a friendship. She offers to to listen if he wants to talk about it, but he says that he promised he wouldn't add to her problem, and the way things are going, he'd best close the chat before he screws up something else. Nico's a bit disappointed, but says goodbye, and that she enjoyed talking to him. It was nice to have somebody to just talk to, without wanting anything (which gives real-Victor guilt-face), and that she wouldn't be surprised if it's the only gift she gets today. Wanting to back out, and feeling bad, he says his goodbyes and signs off. Then real-Victor stops in mid-stride, and we see in his mind's eye, Nico's online profile.
We see an extreme closeup of a part that says "day: Today!", and Victor says, "Oh, man..."
Molly, Klara, Xavin, Karolina, and their guest stars meet up. Julie starts scolding Katie for running off, Katie scolds back for just leaving her while she went to do an audition. The phone rings. It's Victor. Karolina says not to worry, it's all handled, Molly and Klara are okay. "Good, but we've got one more big emergency before we go home." After hearing what it is, Karolina asks Julie and Katie if they'd mind helping them with one more thing.
Cut to outside of the leapfrog. Everybody's gathered. The force field's still up. Karolina asks Victor if he's sure he managed to get an e-mail through, and he is, but that doesn't mean she heard it. Finally, Nico comes out, looking unimpressed. Since they can't hear each other, she gives a sort of "What?" expression. Xavin makes a big banner reading "Happy Birthday Nico!" uninvisible, along with a cake. Nico smiles, and the force field drops. We get a short quiet montage of party scenes. Julie and Katie were invited, for helping out, but have to leave partway through.
After the party, Xavin approaches Nico alone. They say something about how they know it is customary to give gifts on a Birthday rather than ask them but.. Xavin wants a favour. They present Nico with a knife. Xavin wants her to cast a spell to grant their shapeshifting powers back, and volunteers to endure any amount of pain Nico deems is necessary in order to fuel the spell. Nico says she doesn't think that'll do it... physical pain doesn't work as well as you might think (shed blood to make the Staff appear is basically 'level 0' of pain). Emotional pain works better. Sacrifice of the things that make you happy, or enduring negative
emotions like grief, loss, or even humiliation, work better. "Perhaps if you toldme why this is so important."
Xavin talks about how when they were working with Julie Power, they could sense Karolina's attraction. (Nico tries to comfort them and say it was probably only a passing attraction). But Xavin says they always fears they has so little to offer his love. Their mind is still partly that of a man's, the one gift they had is to make sure their form can always please her. But now it's gone, and they fear that she may grow tired of this form. Nico doubts Karolina is so superficial, and says that's not enough for the spell. Xavin didn't want to admit that to her, but it's a very common kind of pain. She, and the staff, sense that there's something else, buried, that Xavin doesn't want to admit out loud, even to themself, that will bring fear, humiliation, and the right quality of pain. Xavin at first doubts it, but when Nico says she can't do anything for them, Xavin admits that there is one thing. It's a painful admission, but Xavin finally gets it out. It goes something like this. "I love Karolina, with every fibre of my being. I want to be with no one else but her. I crafted this body to please her. And yet, the body is not under my control. And on a purely physical, chemical level, I've been finding my... body attracted to somebody else, as well." "Who?" "Don't make me say it."
"You said you would endure anything."
"It is stupid. But... whatever I may be, the body is female, and it is not exclusively homosexual. It's the android. Victor. I hate myself for it, but the feelings don't change." Nico smiles a bit, as Xavin insists they would never do anything with him, their mind is in control over their body, but the feelings are uncomfortable nonetheless, and it is another reason they would like to be able to change themself again. "Is that enough?"
"We'll see." She casts a spell, "Mutable Flesh!".
Xavin is at first happy as their body starts to change, but then realizes something's wrong. "It is all only surface. You fool... you said mutable flesh. My bones, my organs, they won't shift."
Nico says it's not her fault... the word shapes the spell, but the spell also shapes the words, and it was all her magic could do. It's not _just_ flesh either, because Xavin's hair changed. Xavin demands she cast another. "It won't work. It would count as a duplicate. That means a lot more pain. And I can only think of one thing that might do it." Xavin asks what, insisting they will do anything. "Break up with Karolina."
"It would cause you pain. It would cause her pain. And it has to be real, the staff would know if you're lying. Even if you wanted to try to undo it later, you and I would both know that you sacrificed her for yourself. But it would probably do the job." Xavin considers, but only for a moment. "No. It is not worth that. This will have to be enough." Xavin walks off, and Nico says to herself, "Good."
We also see Xavin looking down at a vial of liquid.
And we close off there.
Notes on this section:
Well, there we go. I think this was a little weaker than the first part, and I think I fell down a bit and packed too much into each issue, particularly in the last arc. Anyone whos' read my journal for a long time and my other WIDWs will recognize some of the plot outlines for these two plots as being ideas I had for a long time. However, when I came up with those plans, Klara didn't exist, and also I had planned on "A little help from my friends" taking place before "Kids Today", so Noor wouldn't be involved. Trying to cram more plot into it made it a bit bloated, and in particular is why Noor mostly just stands around that arc, which I regret. Jorge also might have had a longer plotline.
It's also a little more self-indulgent than the first 12 issues, with a lot more of my own creations, and guest stars from the wider Marvel universe. My own creations are part of a desire to give thematic antagonists for the team, but the reason there were so many guest stars is because for the next batch of issues, it'll be almost entirely Runaways focused, and this was my last chance to get it done. I suppose I could have rejiggered it a bit, perhaps giving an extra issue to "Friends" (maybe making the X-Men crossover a single double-sized issue).
I also feel a little guilty about giving the short end of the development stick to Nico and Karolina. There's a couple reasons for this, but I wish I could do more. It is HARD to make sure everybody gets development with a big cast, though. I had some sort of an arc in mind for everybody when I started this, but it looked a lot more balanced before I started writing.
On Xavin. I found I kept typing "him" or "his" instead of "her". I tried to correct most of it, but some probably slipped through. This was not so much because I thought of Xavin as a male character rather than a female one, I feel, but instead because Xavin just feels to me like a male's name. Which is why I threw in the idea of Xavin considering changing her name. The "Xavin's crush on Victor" also just developed spontanteously int he last week or so while i was typing out this batch of outlines, since I joked to myself while writing about their arguments over Victor being android would probably end in a kiss. Then I realized that Xavin feeling attraction for someone she doesn't want to would both be humiliating enough to count as enough pain for Nico's spell in #23, be intersting to explore, and just be funny as hell, even if it never goes anywhere.
Edit: And a reminder, years after writing this I went back and adjusted all the pronouns to 'they/them' style, which had its own grammatical difficulties but at least felt more honest as I feel Xavin suddenly deciding "I'm a girl" in the comics was too... 'pat', and they're on a longer journey of discovery that might come to the same place or might come to abandoning traditional gender concepts at all. Though, I should point out that many times throughout the series the characters will often refer to them as one gender or the other, either based on their own desires/prejudices (like Karolina might prefer 'she' at least until it's firmly addressed and Xavin expresses a preference) or front some 'based on what form they are at the time', and maybe someone like Nico or Chase might accidentally use "he" more often.
Anyway, as stated, the next batch (which I probably will write up, but they're a lot less formed) of about 11 issues is practically one plotline, dealing with the group Noor's father's involved in and their move and plans, though of course the Runaways will be front and center (we won't be following their moves without Runaways being present, for the most part). There'll be another cast roster change, too.
Hope at least some of you enjoyed this.
Edit: Now continued here.