Stay on target MCU News: First Photos of Captain Marvel, a Drax Solo Film & MoreMCU News: The Smartest Hero Confirmed, Runaways’ Return & More The teen drama never really left, but it appears to be undergoing something of a renaissance right now. Maybe it’s because they’ve figured out how to write them to appeal to more than just teenagers. Maybe it’s because the current generation of adults in their 20s and 30s don’t feel like they’ve yet reached what adulthood is “supposed” to be. Or maybe we all just love trashy teenage soap operas and feel the need to justify our perceived immaturity.The CW’s Riverdale was the first teen drama in a while to appeal to a wide variety of people outside its target audience. It combines Lynchian storytelling, bonkers plots, and mesmerizing lighting and set design with Archie Comics nostalgia to create something really special. Even my 60+-year-old stepdad loves the show because he used to read Archie back in the day. Now Marvel is attempting to get in on the teen drama renaissance, and they have just the comic for it. No, it’s not Trouble. Although, what a weird, crazy thing that would be.Runaways was a short-lived, but fantastic comic written in the early 2000s by Brian K. Vaughan. The show follows the same basic story, though it’s already been fleshed out a lot. A group of teenagers who’ve all grown apart over the years are forced back together when they find our their parents are part of a supervillain cabal called, “The Pride.” In the comics, they live together in an abandoned house (hence the name, “Runaways”), and try to figure out how to defeat their evil parents. We’re not quite at that part yet. As far as the comics timeline went, at three episodes in, we’re currently in the middle of issue #2. They’re really adding a ton of detail to this one.Rhenzy Feliz (Photo by Paul Sarkis – © 2017 Hulu)That’s probably my favorite thing about the show so far. In a comic book, you only have 22 pages to tell a story and get readers hooked for the next one. That’s not a ton of time. With a full 45-55 minutes per episode, a TV show is capable of so much more, and Runaways makes fantastic use of its extra time. In the original comic, each character is given a page and a half at most before they all come together. The first episode spends a lot more time with them apart. You really get the sense that something’s been lost. They’ve all naturally drifted apart as they got older and their interests diverged.That process was only accelerated by the death of their friend and Nico’s sister, Amy. Of the three episodes released just before Thanksgiving weekend, the first is the strongest. I saw it ahead of time at New York Comic Con, and I was still glued to the TV watching it a second time. It’s just a really well-put-together hour of television. Every scene matters. Every line of dialogue tells you something. There isn’t a wasted moment in the whole thing. You see how everyone’s dealing with the loss of the friendship they used to have, and it’s an emotional, triumphant moment when they all show up at Alex’s door near the end.The second episode is an interesting retelling of the first, from the perspective of the parents. It’s a perspective we never got in the original comics, and it’s one that Vaughan, who consulted on the show, always wanted to put into the story. He just didn’t have time as low sales meant the comic always felt like it was one issue away from cancellation.The parents are much more human and three-dimensional in the series than they ever were in the comics. They’re still doing evil things, and it’s still not entirely clear why, but they have their own problems and dilemmas to deal with. The fact that they now have children the same age as the people they’re killing weighs on them, and they all have different ways of coping with that. It’s a level of humanity you don’t often get from comic book villains. I’m just as interested to see where they’re stories go as I am the Runaways.Ryan Sands, Angel Parker (Photo by Paul Sarkis – © 2017 Hulu)It also differentiates Runaways from Riverdale in a subtle, but important way. Riverdale, is solely from the perspective of the kids. Their parents are almost catoonishly evil, which is perfect for instilling a sense of teen angst and desire for rebellion in the audience. Runaways as a comic did that from the beginning, with the parents being literal supervillains.Here, they’re still that, but we get to see things from their perspective. The parents are evil, but they have reasons for doing what they do. We may disagree with their actions, but we can’t write them off as entirely bad people. Well, except for Chase’s dad. He’s legit awful. The show manages to strike a very hard balance with the parents. We still get all the teen angst from having the parents be actually evil, but they are also fully realized enough to create an interesting, complex story. For Marvel’s first attempt at teen drama, it’s cool to see them nail this aspect so well.As much as I enjoy how much more Runaways is fleshing out its world, it means the story moves along at almost too slow a pace. We’re three episodes into a show called Runaways and nobody’s run away from anything yet. They’re still in the investigation phase, which takes place over the course of the next day, rather than all night immediately after they watch their parents murder a girl. It’s a more realistic pace to be sure, but three episodes in, I want the show to get to the point already. I know TV storytelling has different needs than a comic book does, but I want a comics-based show to at least approximate the speed of its source material.Ariela Barer (Photo by Patrick Wymore – © 2017 Hulu)That said, I really have enjoyed getting to know these kids. The actors are all phenomenal in their own ways, which is rare for a teen drama like this. Especially Molly Hernandez, played by Allegra Acosta. She has the most obvious power so far, and it’s been fun watching her discover her super-strength. She plays the child-like curiosity really well, and watching the youngest, most upbeat member of the crew tear apart a wall with her bare hands is just cool.The characters all start to discover their abilities in the back half of the third episode, which is fun. Karolina is only starting to discover the origin of the strange lights that appear when she takes off her bracelet, and Nico finally gets her hands on the Staff of One. It’s not inside her body yet, but she does make it snow in a fun, gorgeous and eventually awkward scene.The relationships between the kids are also fantastic and I’m glad the show is taking its time with them. Alex and Nico are incredibly cute together. She keeps a stoic front when he talks to her, only allowing herself to show emotion when nobody’s looking. This happens in the first episode when she pretends to be listening to music only to turn it on for real after Alex mentions he misses her. Then again in the third episode when he kisses her and she put on a standoffish front, only to smile when he drives away.The love triangle between Chase, Karolina, and Gert is also developing naturally, making sure we’re invested in whatever drama comes our way. While the slow pace is holding up the overall story a little bit, it makes sure all the relationships feel earned. And they’re the backbone of any teen drama anyway. Whether it’s Riverdale, The Hunger Games, or even Battle Royale, you come for the teen violence, but you stay for the crushes.Gregg Sulkin, Ariela Barer, Lyrica Okano, Virginia Gardner, Allegra Acosta (Photo by Paul Sarkis – © 2017 HuluMarvel’s first series on Hulu is completely different from anything we’ve seen from them before. The Los Angeles setting, much like the platform it’s on, separates it from the rest of the Marvel Studios canon. It avoids the awkwardness of Avengers tower never being visible in the Netflix series, despite them taking place in the same continuity as the movies. There are no forced mentions of “The Incident.” Much like the comic it’s based on, the action is completely separate from the main Marvel heroes. That gives the series the freedom to be it’s own thing.Runaways is a fun teen drama first and a Marvel superhero show second. That combination is working really well for it. It’s a new flavor for Marvel, and it’s always exciting to see that company branch out beyond its comfort zone. At a point where Marvel’s Netflix series all have one tone and the MCU movies all have another, a new direction like Runaways is exactly what Marvel needs.