This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Karolina Dean, a member of the Marvel comics group the Runaways. Karolina first appeared in “Runaways” (vol. 1) #1 (July 2003). Writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Adrian Alphona created Karolina.
Karolina is the offspring of Frank and Leslie Dean. The elder Deans are a pair of actors who star in the Marvel Universe’s version of “General Hospital,” the long-running ABC soap opera. (In real life, ABC, “General Hospital,” and Marvel are corporate cousins, all owned by Disney.) Despite growing up in Hollywood, Karolina leads a relatively ordinary life.
Once a year, Karolina and her friends’ parents would get together for what seemed like a charity function. However, upon spying on their folks, the kids learn that their parents are all secretly evil super-powered villains. Their parents are members of “The Pride,” an evil criminal organization.
The kids also discover they possess various powers. In Karolina’s case, she learns she’s really the daughter of Majesdanian alien criminals; her powers include energy blasts, flight, and enhanced strength. Similar to Superman, Karolina gets her powers from absorbing the sun’s rays. Until this point, Karolina’s parents had kept her powers suppressed.
After learning of their parents’ true natures, the kids all decide to, well, run away, leading to various adventures while trying to stop their parents’ plans. Karolina occasionally goes by the code name “Lucy in the Sky,” as she’s a Beatles fan.
Along the way, the Runaways pick up a few other members, including shape-shifting alien Skrull Xavin. Xavin is supposed to be Karolina’s fiance via an arranged marriage set up by their parents. Despite that, the two became romantically involved. Karolina’s also dated Julie Power of “Power Pack” fame.
Finally, as for why aliens would pick the surname “Dean” as an Earth alias? Karolina’s father is a fan of 50s actor James Dean.