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Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Runaways Vol. 1
Thanks to debuting multiple episodes for its series premiere, Marvel’s Runaways is almost halfway done with its first season. There’s no word yet on whether the show will be renewed, but there’s certainly no shortage of stories to tell from the first volume of the comics alone.
Written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Adrian Alphono, Runaways premiered in 2003 under Marvel’s Tsunami imprint. Running for 18 issues before being cancelled (and later revived), the initial volume of Runaways tells the story of the six teens discovering their own abilities and that their parents are supervillains. Along the way, they also learn that there’s been a mole in the group the whole time.
For those who have read at least the first volume of Runaways , the Hulu series bearing its name is both a faithful recreation of the comic and its own beast entirely. Runaways features some big changes from the comics, both in terms of characters and storylines. Still, the core plot looks to be in place from the four episodes that have aired so far. As such, it’s safe to assume to the kids will slowly discover their abilities and strike out on their own in an attempt to thwart the villainous cabal called The Pride (a.k.a. their parents). But it’s less certain whether Alex Wilder will be revealed as plotting against his fellow Runaways, which serves as one of the biggest twists in the comics.
Unlike the show, the Runaways comic quickly features the six teens striking out on their own after they discover their parents committing a bloody human sacrifice. Part of this is due to the circumstances being less ambiguous, with the sacrifice being killed before the Runaways’ eyes rather than being put in a sci-fi sarcophagus and showing up dead later on. Chase grabs his father’s Fistigons, Gert takes Old Lace, and Alex grabs a mysterious book called The Abstract from the Yorkeses.
While the other five Runaways bond and pick superhero names, embracing life on the run and their new mission against their parents, Alex feverishly tries to decipher The Abstract. He also remains distant from his supposed friends, despite being the one to bring them together, insist they spy on their parents, and plan their escape. Eventually, though, Alex is able to discover the secret history of The Pride.
For almost two decades, The Pride has been sacrificing one person a year to a trio of ancient beings known as The Gibborim. In exchange for wealth and power, The Pride help facilitate The Gibborim’s plan to institute a new paradise on Earth. The catch is that only six spaces are reserved for this paradise. While some plan for the kids to take these spots, the Deans and Hayeses plan on betraying the others and taking the spaces for their families. In the end, Alex orchestrates events so all the Runaways are knocked out and plans to claim the six slots for himself, his parents, and Nico and her family. Naturally, Nico wants no part of this plan and The Gibborim end up incinerating Alex for his troubles.
Right off the bat, it’s easy to see why much of this likely won’t occur in the show. The Deans aren’t aliens and the Hayeses (a.k.a. the Hernandezes) aren’t mutants. In fact, the latter family is dead and the former only has one member in The Pride. The Gibborim have also been severely altered, transformed into a Scientology-like church controlled by Leslie Dean. Despite these alterations, the concept of Alex being a mole of sorts and working against the Runaways is such a pivotal part of the comics that it’s hard to imagine it being excised.
Working against this theory is what we’ve seen of Alex so far. He’s helped Nico go to the police and decrypt Leslie’s files about the annual sacrifices. He also ended the most recent episode being kidnapped, likely by the corrupt detective he and Nico saw (and were seen by) earlier. We’ve also seen Alex regularly try and uncover his parents activities, even when his friends aren’t around. But all of this could likely be hiding the reveal at season’s end that Alex has an ulterior motive.
In the comics, Alex knew about The Pride before the other Runaways discovered what was going on. His plan was to use his friends to defeat the other members so that he could claim the spots for his and Nico’s family. Because of that, it makes sense that Alex would still be a target of The Pride and want to uncover what they’re doing. All of his work both with and without his friends could easily play into him enacting his plan. Just as likely, Alex may not yet be a mole but could formulate his scheme in a future episode upon learning more about The Pride.
For now, speculating on how Alex’s plan will unfold is difficult considering the changes to things like The Gibborim. There’s also every chance that Runaways could completely change things from the source material. But the idea of Alex working against the Runaways for his own motives, both twisted and pragmatic, would help Marvel’s newest series achieve some of the greatness of the comic its adapting. Some of the more fantastical elements may have been removed, but the stage is perfectly set for Runaways to pull off Alex’s great betrayal.