In the previous issue our protagonists had just managed to make their escape from the Doom Institute. This time around our heroes realise that being on the run is harder than they thought it would be.
After escaping from school, the runaways have landed in the Valley of Doom. The scene resembles a scene from an old western movie: it’s a dusty desert landscape, everyone’s wearing cowboy hats, and there’s old-timey talk aplenty. Molly, Lee and Skaar have been sent out to look for supplies and with no money they only thing they can do is take things and hope that nobody notices. It’s things like this that remind us that they’re still really young and this bit of realism helps us sympathise more with the characters. The plan goes smoothly, until they are discovered by one of the shop owners and are forced to escape amid a shower of lasers.
They return to the ship almost empty handed (bringing only two cans of tomatoes.) There’s a lot of joking around going on before Lee swiftly brings everyone back to reality—they could all die at any moment. The death of Pixie hit her particularly hard and she doesn’t want to lose anyone else. These emotional moments bring everyone closer together and it’s really sweet to see them all bonding, even if it’s over something so sad. (Yes, you can be a kick butt character and still have emotions!) The spaceship’s running low on fuel so they have to decide on a destination and stick to it. Amadeus suggests his house and off they go.
Back at the school Sanna’s turned herself into the headteacher. Based on the ending of the previous issue I thought they were going to launch some kind of rescue mission to get her back to the group. The plot seems a bit disjointed in this bit, going from ‘oh snap we left her behind’ to deciding to leave her behind and continue with their journey. It would have been nice if that was addressed more explicitly, just to kind of figure out how they came to the decision to leave without her. Valeria Doom has Sanna join a team with Bucky as leader to find the runaways and bring them back to school.
At the spaceship meanwhile Amadeus has fixed the robot head he brought along with him and the group begin to quiz it about the purpose of the killing exam. It’s meant to make sure that only the strongest and most obedient make it through to senior year; if you’re seen as rebellious or a trouble maker then the exam is skewed against you. I was wondering about this; I thought they were just gonna leave the killing exam alone, but the creators give an interesting reason for it. Taking that loose plot thread and making it into something actually adds a whole lot to the school’s motto of ‘only the strong will survive’.
Tammy, Ty’s sister appears and teleports them out of a dangerous situation (a robot…frog…thing attacking them) right to a place called Warzone. It’s a wreck. Buildings are destroyed and there’s no sign of anyone anywhere. Everyone else is surprised and confused, but this must be the usual for Amadeus because he doesn’t react until he sees the crater where his house used to be. Cue more feels that I can’t handle ;_;
The emotional moment is interrupted by Bucky and his team, who are determined to take the runaways back to the school. Delphyne stops to help a trapped Amadeus and ends up having her arm chopped off by Bucky. With the group cornered, Bucky announces that everyone’s going to be taken back to school.
Out of all the things that surprised me this issue, the phrase ‘To Be Concluded’ takes the top spot. Concluded in the next issue? How? Will the runaways think of a way to take down Doom, or is this really the end of the line for all of them? Only time will tell!