When I first read my way through Runaways, I enjoyed all the characters from whip-smart Alex and doofy but sweet Chase to the troubled, angsty Nico and the even more troubled, even more angsty Karolina. I loved the feisty little girl that was Molly Hayes, too.
But Gert got me where I live.
You don’t see fat girls in comics very often. You don’t even see average-sized girls, most of the time. The occasional not-stick-thin figure and She-Hulk’s wider than average shoulders are usually the best you can hope for.
But Gert is chubby. She’s round. And she’s pissed off. Her hair is dyed purple, she wears glasses, she’s both Jewish and agnostic, she’s a socialist, she’s snarky as hell and she has HER OWN DINOSAUR. When they are choosing names for themselves so as to distance themselves from their parents, she chooses Arsenic, purely so she can call her dinosaur Old Lace.
[many many spoilers follow]
When she and the other kids witness their parents murdering a girl, Gert is the only one not surprised, as she has suspected her own parents of being evil since her pet pig disappeared. She’s also the last one to discard the fake name, finally taking back her own name for herself and recognising that not everything they got from their parents is bad. The telepathic dinosaur, for example.
I really wish I’d had Gert to read when I was a teenager. She’s great. She has exactly the right attitude for saving the world – that is, she doesn’t want to. She’s grumpy most of the time. She has a strong sense of friendship and honour.
But mostly she’s a cranky fat girl with a kicking indie wardrobe, her own dinosaur and by the way? She gets the guy. The cute guy.
GERT: Chase, are… are you okay?
CHASE: Uh, uh… think I got… brain damage.
CHASE: Yeah… cause suddenly… you’re the hottest chick… I’ve ever seen.
[He kisses her]
[It’s still going on a few panels later. No complaints from her]
[Chase looks smug]
GERT [to the others]: I was reventilating him. Anyone who says otherwise gets fed to my %$#@ dinosaur.
Ahh, teen romance.
I miss Gert.
Comics people suck.
Gert made me happy from beginning to end in Volume 1 of Runaways. And she’s the reason that I’ll probably never read Volumes 2 and 3, no matter how good they apparently are. Because they went and killed her off, didn’t they?
It’s not like it would have been any better if they had killed off the teen lesbian, the Japanese American sorceress or the pre-teen girl in the team – but Gert was the character I liked best, and once I had been spoiled for the fact of her death, I knew that I never wanted to read it. Which probably means I have missed plenty of Gert smartarsey awesomeness. The X-Men/Runaways crossover event, for instance:
KITTY PRYDE: Hi, I’m Kitty. Are you the token pacifist of your group?
GERT: Not exactly. Pacifists are like vegans, I’m more of a vegetarian. I enjoy fish and occasional maulings.
But yeah, on the whole I am content with my choice to treat Volume 1 as a self-contained story, without going on with it. However, I did discover in my fact-checking for this post that right at the point that Runaways was cancelled or just mysteriously stopped being published halfway through a story arc, it had been teasing readers with the prediction that ‘one would die and one would return to life,’ and the final issue featured Chase being hit by a car after pursuing a girl in the street who looked suspiciously like… guess who?
Ahh, I don’t care. I’m just going to re-read Volume 1 again. Have I mentioned it’s a practically perfect YA novel in graphic art form? Also, there’s this awesomely cynical fat purple-haired girl in it who gets all the funniest lines.
She’s my favourite.
Where the Wonder Women Are:
1: Black Canary
4: Black Widow
5: Wonder Girl
6: Captain Marvel
8: Abigail Brand
15. Jean Grey
17. Emma Frost
19. Lady Sif
21. The Wasp
23. Misty Knight (and Colleen Wing)
25. Kitty Pryde
26. Crimson Fox
27. The Invisible Woman
28. Dr Light
31. Nico Minoru
32. Karolina Dean