The idea is so good, so simple, that it seems inevitable.
After all, superhero comics love teams of angsty teens. They love juicy villains. So when, in 2003, writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Adrian Alphona created the comic Runaways, starring a group of angsty teens who discover, to their horror, that their parents are secretly super-villains, you could practically hear the sound of thousands of comics readers slapping their heads. ("Why didn't I think of that?")
The fact that the comic was deliberately set in sunny Los Angeles, a continent away from the Marvel Universe's Manhattan, with its overbred population of costumed types, meant Runaways was given room to breathe, and develop its own identity. Oh, crossovers happened, because that's the law, but they tended to happen at angles more oblique than the default beat-em-ups readers have come to expect — Spider-Man would show up to take the kids out for sushi, say, and offer some advice.
The L.A. setting also meant that the tone could get notably brighter than most of what was on the stands at the time — violent anti-heroes given to brooding on rooftops. Vaughan and Alphona never forgot that the kids at the book's center were, more than anything else, kids -- they could sulk and seethe, sure, but they could also goof around and crush on one another, often in the span of a panel or two. What's more, these kids didn't wear costumes, they didn't come up with superhero codenames, or secret identities, or a rallying cry. Runaways was too cool for that kind of stuff — even if it did feature a character who enjoyed a telepathic bond with a genetically engineered dinosaur.
Earlier this year, when the first casting photos from Hulu's live-action Runaways adaptation were released, fans of the series reacted with guarded optimism — they just looked right. Granted, that's only step one — but one need only consider Marvel's Inhumans — or better yet, don't -- to see how vitally important that is.