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  Runaways (2nd series) #24
Author : Last Modified : 8/24/2010 7:32:01 AM

Issue Date: March 2007

Story Title: Live Fast - The End

Staff: Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Adrian Alphona (penciler), Craig Yeung (inker), Christina Strain (colorist), Kate Levin (production), Virtual Calligraphy’s Randy Gentile (letterer), Jo Chen (cover artist), Daniel Ketchum (assistant editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Joe Quesada (chief), Dan Buckley (publisher) with special thanks to C.B Cebulski & MacKenzie Cadenhead

Runaways created by Vaughan & Alphona

Brief Description:
The runaways are looking for Chase Stein, but his trail comes to an abrupt end at Randy's Donut Shop. They find this strange until Molly discovers a glowing red portal nearby. Nico asks her to remain behind with Victor. Molly isn't happy about it, but Nico is persuasive. She enters the portal along with Xavin and Karolina. Inside, Chase is standing before the Gibborim with Old Lace by his side. He informs them that he has their human sacrifice. Nico shouts over to him that they don't want Gert back - not if it means losing him. Chase asks them to leave, but they aren't about to do that. He asks Old Lace to keep them away from him, but she is handled well by Karolina who brings the creature around to their way of thinking. Chase uses the Staff of One to put Nico to sleep, whilst outside, Vic emerges from his unconsciousness after the voice in Molly's head gives her the answer to Chase's riddle. Back inside the limbo, Xavin tries to create a distraction but is blasted by the Gibborim. Karolina fails to create enough energy to stop him from crash-landing. Chase tells the Gibborim that he is their sacrifice, but they aren't agreeable with that. He will no longer be an innocent if he forfeits his life voluntarily. They want Nico. They grab her and almost raise a smile when contemplating devouring her. At that moment, Molly and Vic enter the portal, and Vic asks Molly to throw him at Nico, fastball special-style. He grabs Nico as he flies past, and the Gibborim realize that they are doomed. They vanish from sight. Nico comes round in Vic's arms and kisses him, whilst Xavin recovers to some hero worship from Molly. Chase is upset that Gert won't be coming back from the dead, and Karolina tries to comfort him with some kind words. Vic asks Nico if Chase will remain on the team now that he's eighteen and technically an adult. She wants to keep him close, like she did with Vic in the beginning. The runaways return to the Tar Pits, only to find Iron Man waiting for them with some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. The Gibborim, meanwhile, find themselves in another kind of limbo. The only other inhabitant they can see is Alex Wilder!

Full Synopsis:
The runaways have followed Old Lace's scent to Randy's Donut Shop where the trail seemingly ends. Nico finds it strange that Chase would come to a donut shop. He was meeting mythical creatures bigger than houses, not stoners. Xavin asks, with a little sarcasm, if they ever fight anything other than giants. Nico replies that the Gibborim are a lot more than the wannabe Galactus she helped them topple. They incinerated their friend, or rather ex-friend Alex, and he was a strategic genius. As she speaks, Molly tells them that she's found something. She'd been looking for a place to set down Captain Deadweight (Vic) and saw a swirling red portal. It looks like some kind of magical drive-thru, she remarks.

Nico asks Molly to stay behind and watch over Victor until he stops acting all 404 and regains consciousness. The three of them will go into the portal and try to drag Chase back. Molly isn't happy with this idea. She reminds them that Karolina's glow power is fresh out of Sunny-D and Chase stole her Stick of Creepiness. She needs muscles. She should make Xavin stay with Vic. She's way weaker than her. Xavin asks if she'd care to put that to the test, but Nico asks them to save it. She tells Molly that it's real important that she keep Victor safe. He could be their last line of defense. But, if he doesn't come to, and they're not back soon, she should know that they loved her very much. With that sentiment, they enter the portal, leaving Molly and Vic behind.

Inside the portal, Chase stands beside Old Lace, confronting the three gigantic Gibborim. He wants to get this over with. The Gibborim aren't impressed with Chase's sluggishness. Without an innocent soul, they can only remain in this limbo for a few more minutes. Chase informs them that if they're still willing to bring his girlfriend back, then he has their damn human sacrifice. As he bows his head, Nico's voice shouts over to him that they don't want Gert back - not if it means losing him. Chase turns and tells the kids to get out of there. Nico asks Xavin to keep the Nostril Squad (Gibborim) occupied whilst she and Karolina work on bringing home the prodigal son. Chase asks Old Lace to keep them away from him. He doesn't want to hurt anyone. Old Lace heads down the staircase leading to where the portal allowed the kids entry.

As Old Lace approaches Karolina, she tries to reason with the dinosaur. She tells her that she knows what's she's going through. Her heart is telling her one thing but her 'master' is telling her another. Well, she adds, she's nobody's slave. It doesn't matter if it's their parents' wishes or telepathic orders. Old Lace listens to her words and seemingly understands them. "We all have the power to do what the hell we want." Old Lace pauses and allows herself to be petted by Karolina. Nico tells Chase that he can't beat Team Estrogen. It's over.

Chase raises the Staff of One and tells Nico that pretty soon it'll just be a bad dream. From the Staff of One emerges a glowing trail of reddish pink energy which goes straight through Nico, causing her to pass out.

Outside the donut shop, Molly tries her best to rouse Vic from his slumber. As she shakes him, he mutters something in binary code, but Molly tells him she doesn't speak Mexican. She looks upwards and says, "Please. If you're up there Gert, I need your help... Yeah? Um, I'm listening." The voice tells her how to bring Vic back. Chase had asked him a question to make him short-circuit. The voice in her head says that the answer is 'Yes, God can make a sandwich so big even he can't finish it... and then He would finish it anyway.' More binary comes from Vic's mouth and he opens his eyes with a start. "Chase!"

Back inside the portal, Chase tells the others to forget about him. He begs Karolina to go back to their hostel before she loses her girlfriend, too. Xavin, meanwhile, is flying around the Gibborim's heads, causing a distraction. The main Gibborim asks what gives an outsider like her the right to sully their holy father's planet. Xavin replies that their threats mean nothing to her, as where she comes from, they find religion obscenely boring. The Gibborim raises a huge hand from which fire swirls in the palm. "Then you shall know how it feels to truly burn" it replies. A burst of fire catches Xavin in mid-air, and she careens to the ground, unable to be saved by Karolina who fails to conjure up enough power in time.

Chase warns the Gibborim to stop it or their deal is off. The main Gibborim replies that they need his offering NOW! Chase informs them that he's giving them his soul. The Gibborim find this unacceptable. Chase asks why. He's an innocent soul. He knows he is. The Gibborim agree that he might be, but if he deliberately chose to forfeit his life, he would no longer be. They need an unwilling sacrifice in order for their blood to nourish them... a sacrifice like Nico Minoru. "Over my dead #*%*ing body," replies Chase. The Gibborim knock Chase over with ease and then grabs Nico in its huge fingers. A smile almost crosses its face. "At last, we sup on more than the ethereal spirits once given us by the Pride." It sniffs Nico, getting pleasure from the contact. "Tonight we feast on flesh and blood."

At that moment, Molly and Vic appear through the portal. Molly warns the Gibborim to put Nico down, and she doesn't mean its throat. Vic is shocked by the sheer size of the giants. Molly asks him to keep it together, and to give them some of the blue and crackly. Vic responds by hitting the Gibborim with waves of electrical energy, but the Gibborim are unaffected by this. They tell Vic that no machine can best them. Their time in this realm is short. They should leave them to complete the Rite of Vortex in peace, lest they consume them all. Vic says to Molly that they need to get up there and rescue Molly. She asks how. Not all mutants can fly. Vic mentions that she loves the X-Men like Colossus and Wolverine, right? Molly replies that Wolverine is stupid and smells. Vic adds that he's also a hero, and she's gonna be a hero, too. She asks what that means. "Two words, bub. A moment later, and Vic is flying through the air courtesy of a Molly-assisted fastball special. The aim is precise, and Vic grabs Molly from the Gibborim's fingers, causing them to crash land on a rooftop nearby.

"No!" screams the main Gibborim as it realizes what has happened. "You've killed us! You've..." The three giants promptly disappear from limbo, leaving behind several injured runaways and a large empty space. Nico is semi-conscious and wakes up slowly in Vic's arms. He asks if she's okay, and she responds by wrapping her arm around his neck and kissing him. Xavin is sprawled on the floor and is asking for his beloved. Molly squats beside him and tells him that Karolina's fine and looking after Chase and Old Lace. Xavin has a leg like the Thing and an arm like the Human Torch's. Half her face is Skrull-like - involuntary changes caused by her delirium. She apologizes to Molly for her appearance, but Molly is fine with it. She smiles and replies that she's kinda annoying but she's probably the only person on Earth who thinks about other people first. She doesn't care what shape Xavin's in. "You're totally my sister now."

Chase is coming to terms with the fact that Gert isn't coming back, and a tear trickles down his cheek. Karolina says she's sorry, and Chase replies that he is, too. He asks Karolina if she remembers the first year they all got together. They hid in Alex's basement and watched R-rated movies on cable, and Gert told them what all the dirty jokes meant, even though she was wrong half the time. "Why can't it still be like that?" he wonders. How come they didn't get to have crazy-long childhood's like every other spoiled brat in the country? Karolina says that Gert used to say that kids spend their lives wanting to be adults, and adults spend their lives wanting to be kids. Chase asks what she thinks Gert wanted. "I don't know," Karolina replies, "She just spent her life living."

Vic and Nico watch Chase from their vantage point and Vic asks Nico if Chase is staying on the team, even though he's a grown up. Nico replies that he's growing up. There's a difference. Vic reminds Nico that Chase almost got them all killed. How do they know he's learned his lesson? Nico admits that they don't, which is why they have to keep him close. And if he tries something like this again? asks Vic. "We rip his damn heart out," replies Nico.

(later)
Back at La Brea Tar Pits, Molly fancies sleeping for a month after all her exertions. Vic fancies watching the sunrise. He pauses when he notices one of the security daemons lying on the ground, destroyed. Nico asks Xavin whether when they burned out of the tar pits, did she remember to make them all invisible, or just the bubble they were zooming around in. "Er..." she replies. A voice from behind them causes them to turn. It's Iron Man, and he has S.H.I.E.L.D. agents backing him up. He compliments them on their cool hangout. Karolina knows that they're in no condition to fight. What do they do? Chase votes against walking away.

Elsewhere, in a strange kind of limbo, the Gibborim appear. Everywhere is white and bright. They wonder where they are. A voice asks them if they know who Pat Benatar is. Lame singer but his mom always liked her. The voice tells them not to bother looking or an escape. He thought he could earn his way out by helping Molly, but he guesses this is just where he belongs. The Gibborim asks who he is. He replies that he's a lot like them. They didn't want to destroy the world because they are monsters. They just wanted to prove to their old man that he should be proud of them, right? The Gibborim asks how he knows all this. Was he part of the Pride? He replies that the 'rents must be somewhere else. "It's like the song goes," Alex Wilder adds, "Hell is for children."

Characters:
Karolina Dean, Molly Hayes, Victor Mancha, Nico Minoru, Chase Stein, Xavin (all Runaways)
Old Lace

The Gibborim
Alex Wilder
Iron Man
S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents

Notes:
This is the final issue from the original creative team, with Joss Whedon taking over writing duties with the next issue. Lots of thanks go to Vaughan and Alphona for their wonderful creations.

Nico also used the 'rip his damn heart out' line back in Runaways (2nd series) #6, only then she was talking about Victor with Chase.

Pat Benatar is a successful American singer with a run of hits during the 1980's, including Heartbreaker and Hit Me With Your Best Shot.

The main Gibborim is next shown (as far as I know) in X-Infernus #4 as Witchfire tries to access the point shown here.

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