*** Contains Spoilers ***
The five-issue story arc "Parental Guidance" came to a conclusion this week in Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona's Runaways. One of the best superhero books out there right now, boasting a great premise and a strong cast of characters, this book has gotten a lot of attention recently for this particular storyline. Before "Parental Guidance" even made its debut, it was hyped as "The Return of the Pride," the evil supergroup consisting of each runaways' parents. Then by the end of the story, it was that one of the runaways would die. Both happened (well, the first one sort of happened), but Vaughan certainly played up those aspects of the story by providing fans with a few cyke-outs, most notably the parting shot of issue 17, where Nico was shot through the stomach. Of course, it was all part of the runaways' plan to rescue Molly (and Nico was really replaced by a shape shifter at the time) and pretty soon Chase had a knife to his throat. Gertrude, I think, was the one character who was ripe for the killing. At least that's what I thought after the story arc had concluded. She was the only one I wasn't really sad to see go (well, I think I would have been alright if the brat Molly had flown the coop too...). Plus, the way the death scene played out leaves hope for her to return (note her not quite getting out the words "I love you" like her future self said she'd never been able to tell Chase). Anyways, I didn't really get too emotional by the death for some reason, even though I thought the issue played out pretty damn near perfectly. I absolutely loved the splash page where Gert did die, with the colors all washed out, and I really like where her death left Chase at the end. Chase has been one of my favorites since the "second season" began. He was kind of the joke of the team in a way, so it's nice to see him come into his own at the end of this arc, having inherited Old Lace from Gertrude and the Pride's decryptor ring. He's been the one powerless kid of the team for too long and it's about time his character takes a turn (beginning with that great last page). It was also nice to see Karolina come back to the team after a short absence. She's a cool character and a nice visual, and she brought a friend along to join the ranks of runaways: Xavin the super skrull, who could make for a really interesting group dynamic. Funny how we keep losing one runaway and gaining another, ala The Exiles. It was nice to see at least one of the original Pride return with this arc, recruiting some nerds to fill out the team (very clever, Mr. Vaughan), but I have to admit my disappointment at the entire Pride's absence. I can only hope that sometime in the future, we'll get the real deal. But in the end, all was paid off and executed nicely by the final issue. Another great arc for the Runaways.