Gertrude Yorkes (Arsenic)

Next main character in Runaways is Gertrude “Gert” Yorkes, the purple-haired girl on the left side of the picture. Portrayed by Ariela Barer, Gert is described as a social justice warrior, a feminist and a punk, quite a committed teenager. As all the others, she discovers that her parents are supervillains, and goes on the run to escape their legacy and collect evidence against them. The main question spreading among the comicbook readers is: will the show’s budget be enough to allow Gert’s unforgettable companion to make an appearance as well? This wouldn’t normally represent a problem, but said companion is a genetically engineered dinosaur, so things may be a little harder than usual. Anyway, hoping to see both Gert and her Deinonychus in good shape, let’s meet the original(s).

Gertrude Stein was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of wealthy antique dealers Dale and Stacey Yorkes. Since she was little more than a baby, Gert showed an unusual intellect, that brought along quite a sharp character; distrustful by nature, she became convinced that parents always lie to their children, and grew with the deep certainty that all adults were evil (something that would have come in handy years later). Every year, the Yorkes met with five other families for a big charity event, something that Gert didn’t like the least; despite this, however, she managed to become friends with the other families’ kids, and when she was fifteen years old one of the other girls, Nico Minoru, made her a gift, a purple skarf. Gert liked the color so much that she dyed her hair the same way, something that became another reason of conflict with her parents. The main reason of enmity between her and her parents, however, remained the mysterious disappearance of Orwell, her pet potbelly pig, that Gert was sure her parents had killed. Growing up, she kept a distance from everyone but Nico, as not everybody could understand her sharp and sarcastic humour. Finally, the time came for another annual meeting, and Gert put up quite a fight not to follow Dale and Stacey, until she finally was forced to. This reluctant decision proved to be one of the most important in her life, as while the “grown-ups” were busy with their business, one of the other kids, Alex Wilder, convinced Gert and most of the others to follow him in a secret passage he had just discovered. What they saw on the other side changed their lives forever: all their parents were gathered together, celebrating some strange ritual during which they murdered a young girl in cold blood. Of all the witnesses, Gert was the less shocked: after all, she had always known that her parents were villains to begin with. What happened next was just the obvious consequence, according to Gert: after trying to convince Karolina Dean and Molly Hayes of what they had seen, the kids decided to collect evidence against their parents and to run away from home, looking for a way to bring them down. First, however, they decided to raid each one’s houses to look for something incriminating…and when they arrived to the Yorkes’ place, the surprise was even greater than expected.

While exploring her parents’ basement, Gert inadvertently activated a holographic last will with a registered message: Dale and Stacey revealed that they were actually time travellers from the 87th Century, and that they wanted to leave their daughter a special weapon to protect herself. The weapon turned out to be a dinosaur from the future, a genetically engineered velociraptor (actually a deinonychus) that instinctively formed a psychic bond with Gert. The girl tried to leave the (female) dinosaur behind, but she followed her, and eventually saved both her and Molly during a first battle against the kids’ parents, who had come to take them back. The group took shelter in a place owned by Chase Stein, one of them, and there Gert had the idea to change their names and to adopt monikers, a first step to distance themselves from their parents’ legacy. Gert named herself Arsenic, chosing for her new pet, the dinosaur, the name Old Lace, a homage to the old play Arsenic and Old Lace. Her bond with the deinonychus became stronger with time, and eventually the two of them were inseparable, with Gert finding an unexpectedly tender friend, a reliable protector and a lethal ally in the dinosaur. Unfortunately, the same thing couldn’t be said for the human members of the team, as Gert’s distrustful and suspicious nature put her at odds with most of them, especially Chase, who became her favourite verbal punching ball. This actually hid a secret attraction between the two, and after Chase risked to drown, Gert reanimated him, sharing a passionate kiss with him immediately after. From that moment, the two became a couple…even if this didn’t quell Gert’s attitude at all. When Karolina tried to have a new friend of her, Topher, join the group, Gert plainly opposed the idea, not trusting the stranger…and she proved to be right, as the boy was actually a vampire, who brought along his friends to have an easy banquet on the runaways. Luckily, the meal wasn’t easy at all, and the vampires were destroyed. Gert, however, was distrustful pretty much with everybody outside the group, and she even spoke against Cloak and Dagger, two superheroes and former runaways themselves who offered their help to the group. She didn’t trust even her own teammates, and when Alex convinced the others to follow their parents to the site of the next ritual, the Marine Vivarium, Gert said it loud and clear that she believed it was a bad idea…and facts proved her right even this time, as Alex turned out to be a mole who had betrayed them all from the first time. The battle ended in the runaways’ favour as Alex and the entire Pride were consumed by the Gibborim, the ancient deities they were serving. The Avengers, however, disbanded the juvenile group, and while Old Lace was taken to a secret facility, Gert was entrusted to a foster family. Once she had learnt to live without adults, however, Gert wasn’t willing to come back to her old ways ever again, and not much time later, she joined forces with Chase to free Old Lace and become a trio of vigilantes…

Gertrude Yorkes is an intelligent and cultured young woman, with a sarcastic spirit and a caustic humour; always distrustful and suspicious, she doesn’t let anybody come close to her, with only a few exceptions, one of them being a dinosaur. As Arsenic, she shares a psychic and empathic bond with the deinonychus Old Lace, being able to command her with a simple thought and sharing with her emotions and feelings, physical pain included. Quite a tough cookie to deal with, Gert is a rebellious punk always in conflict with the entire world, a girl who deeply and truly hates any adult, who protects herself from the world with a badass attitude and who trusts nobody as a principle…with the few ones she actually likes, however, she’s the most loyal of friends and a fierce defender, always on the first line to protect the people she loves.