This pairing of the two youth-oriented teams of the Marvel Universe is primarily, to me at any rate, for providing additional Runaways stories. I don't actively dislike the Young Avengers, but the Marvel Universe is so enormous that one will inevitably find some parts more or less interesting than others. The Young Avengers have always struck me as one of the least original corners of the Marvel Empire. The Runaways, on the other hand, are among the most original creations. For one thing, they are young and most decidedly not sure about this whole hero thing. They do some policing of L.A. to keep down some of the baddies their defeat of their parents (who were the crime lords of L.A. and ran the city with a tight fist), but it isn't an obsession to them. And until this series they were pretty content to ignore the whole Civil War mess that was afflicting the East Coast super empowered. They bring a decidedly West Coast feel to the whole undertaking, not even bothering, much to the chagrin of their youngest member Molly Hayes, to have uniforms (though Molly sometimes manages to cook up a makeshift one that looks like a really bad Halloween costume). In other words, I got this almost exclusively because there just isn't enough Runaways stuff out there to my satisfaction.
While this is the weakest installment in the Runaways saga, it still isn't bad. The story takes place after the end of creator Brian Vaughan's run with the series and immediately before Joss Whedon took place. This is far less compelling stuff than the Vaughan stories and based on the first two issues by Whedon not nearly up to the level of that either (for one thing, given Whedon's gift with dialogue, the "talk" has gotten really, really good--e.g., when Kingpin tells our guys that he wasn't talking to them for a lesson in semantics, Chase replies that Mel Gibson didn't like semantics either, only one of many really clever jokes).
The story, which takes place over four issues, is pretty short and simple: the Runaways are spotted in L.A. taking down an out of control caped guy and the Cyborg Victor is hurt badly repelling the attack of those who would like to arrest them under the new act requiring all super heroes to register with the government. The Young Avengers sympathize with their situation and fly to the West Coast to help Victor and the others. After initial misunderstandings they realize they are not enemies, but are attacked by an super empowered soldier under the control of the warden of the secret prison where the unregistered super-empowered are jailed. After the warden takes the alien members of each team for his own sadistic experimentations (aliens having no rights in the eyes of the law,) both groups teams up to free their cohorts.
All in all it is a fairly successful pairing. As usual there are some friendly rivalry, especially between Xavin and Hulkling, as well as some natural pairing. The two who should spend some time with each other are Nico and Vision, for while she can cast any spell there is, she can only do so once, though different variants in language multiples the spells. And Vision being something of a supercomputer, can give her almost endless versions of spells.
So, while this isn't a classic, it is fun. And given the rather limited amount of Runaways material, it is worth the purchase price just for that. But while Brian Vaughan's efforts in the series are among the best comic work of recent years and Whedon's work has all the earmarks of at least matching that, this can only be considered as "minor" Runaways. But if like me you just don't think you've gotten enough, then get this. I will add in closing that it does provide a bit of a narrative bridge from the end of Vaughan's final contributions to the series to the start of Whedon's. It explains why they are in New York at the start of the latest run and Xavin's exceedingly difficult integration into the group is furthered in this book.