I picked up all the trades for the Brian K. Vaughn/Adrian Alphona/Takeshi Miyazawa/Christian Strain run on Runaways. You likely do not need me to tell you this, but it's very good. There's a lot of great dialogue, the characters look like teenagers, and wear real clothes (I suppose*), there are a lot of touching emotional moments, plenty of comedy (I find the barrage of insults between Gert and Nico hilarious), and it's just an enjoyable read.
I haven't decided whether I should pick up the later creative teams' work. Leaning towards no, as there's a ton - or at least several dozen pounds worth of other things out there I know I want to read at some point**. I am curious if there's ever been any resolution to Cloak's sense that one of the teens has a great darkness within them. There will be spoilers, if you're as unfamiliar with the series' plotlines as I was before I bought the trades.
In Volume 2, he and Dagger are duped into believing the Runaways (and not their parents) murdered a young girl and kidnapped Molly. Misunderstanding battle ensues, and Cloak sucks Alex, Karolina, Chase, and Nico into his cloak, as he does. While they're inside, he says he can't sense any sign they've killed anyone (I guess the vampire doesn't count since he essentially killed himself), but there is a great darkness within them. Pursuit of this is disrupted by Gertrude, Old Lace, and Molly renewing the battle until people calm down enough to talk out their differences. Everyone gets out of the cloak, they part as friends, stuff goes downhill shortly. Three volumes later, Cloak shows up at their new hideout needing help to clear himself of a crime. He says he found them by homing in on that same darkness, but he still can't (or won't) pinpoint who it's from.
Figure we can eliminate Xavin (who wasn't on the team, or even on the planet) at that point, and Victor, who hadn't been there when they first met Cloak. Cloak never swallowed up Gert or Molly, so he couldn't have sensed anything from them. Which leaves Chase, Alex, Nico, Karolina. Alex is dead. This doesn't stop most of the team from figuring it must have been Alex, for good reason. And Cloak does allow that he may 'be recognizing the dark shadow left behind by your former teammate'. That'd be an interesting idea, if we take the tack that Alex formed them into a team, but did so for different reasons than he told them, and that's still proving divisive within them. Or that because their team was formed under false pretenses, it taints everything they've tried to do since. I don't think that second one holds, since they've moved beyond simply trying to stop their parents/clean up their messes, but it seemed worth mentioning as a possibility. Still, it seems odd that a deceased person would have that much malevolence that it would hang around a group of people like a toxic cloud for months, to the extent he can follow it right to them.
Karolina is in space with Xavin, probably in another galaxy entirely by this point. So it seems equally unlikely she's the source, at least directly. Her departure did seem to make the team a bit more divided, so it could be helping to stir things up within someone else. That would leave Chase or Nico. Before I remembered that Karolina wasn't with them when Cloak returned, I was confused because the Gribborim describe both Nico and Chase as innocent souls, which on first glance, didn't jibe with the idea one of them had a great darkness within. Which left Karolina, which seemed unlikely, though it would have been a twist, the girl who draws power from the sun to make beautiful light is the darkest. Then I remembered she wasn't there, then I remembered that he felt the darkness even though he knew none of them had killed anybody. So it's a sleeping darkness, malevolence in potentia.
If we're being honest, I lean towards Nico. Chase has some anger, true, but it mostly seems his form of grieving, or bluster. When he makes his play to resurrect someone, he opts to use himself, not someone else. He is a little sanctimonious about how he opts for that route because he's a good person, but if it were him, I feel like he wouldn't see any issue with sacrificing someone else if he really believed this was important enough.
As for Nico, well, I'm probably picking on her because she attacked Spider-Man unprovoked, and this is not a good way to earn benefit of the doubt with me. But she does seem so quick to hostility sometimes, and the way she often makes decisions that seem almost designed to create trouble (even as she recognizes this is a bad thing to be doing), that could be more than she suspects. She can be pretty scary sometimes, wither her 'I don't make threats, I give orders' line to Chase, casually discorporating the Wrecker***, promising Vic they'll rip Chase's heart out if he tries something again. She spooks me. Maybe it's just the pressure of having to herd this group of cats when she never asked for the responsibility, but darkness released under pressure is still darkness.
But hell, I'm discussing an ambiguous sense of "darkness" one character sensed within another character, so I probably shouldn't dismiss the dead character so quickly. It's only that the way it was thrown out there by Cloak, it was as if he wanted to reassure them, because he needs their help. "Sure, sure, it's probably just your dead friend. You're all good people, the kind who will totally help me out of the jam I'm in."
* I know people complain when artists put all their characters in the jeans/t-shirt look, and sure, I like it when artists get creative, especially if they give the characters a style I find appealing. But the t-shirt/jeans thing has really never bothered me much, since I tend to wear that as much as possible. And yes, some of my shirts are completely devoid of any pictures, designs, or words, so it doesn't strike me as that unusual, if even if I know I'm hardly the height of fashion.
** I swear, it seems like every time I make a decent dent in either my trade or back issue hunting list, I almost immediately think of or read about an nearly equal number of books I should also track down. It's maddening. To the extent "There's too much good stuff out there I want to read!" can be, anyway.
*** It reminds me of Sylvester chasing Tweety through some factory, with all the hatchets and the conveyor belt, and when Sylvester comes out the other side, his body falls into all these neatly sliced bits. That's basically what she did, with the handwave of "It'll wear off in a couple of hours." Are you sure he'll still be alive then? Or sane?