Karolina Dean, sometimes known as "Lucy in the Sky," is a fictional character in Runaways. Karolina was created by author, Brian K. Vaughan and artist Adrian Alphona. She debuted in Runaways vol. 1 #1 with the other five original Runaways.
Karolina used to be the only extraterrestrial in the cadre of friends, but since her return to Earth with her Skrull fiancee Xavin, Karolina now takes comfort in having another alien to relate and speak with. However, Karolina still holds the distinction of being the sole homosexual within the group, and is among the ranks of openly LGBT comic book characters that have a leading role in a comic series.
During their parents' annual "fundraiser," Karolina, along with Nico Minoru, Alex Wilder, Chase Stein, Gertrude Yorkes, and Molly Hayes discover that their parents are members of an archetypal supervillain cabal called The Pride; Karolina's A-List Hollywood actor parents, Frank and Leslie Dean, are actually alien invaders. She joins the children in a mass escape from their parents to take shelter in a run-down mansion hideout that comes to be called The Hostel. During the escape, Karolina discovers her parents' last will and testament; they leave Karolina a piece of paper with the circular "no symbol" covering the Rod of Asclepius, a symbol used in medical practice. Alex convinces her to remove her medic alert bracelet because it is emblazoned with the symbol. Karolina angrily concedes, thinking that she only wears the bracelet because she's allergic to penicillin, and her skin immediately glows with a fluid, rainbow-like light. The group assumes that she is an alien and the bracelet is an "anchor" to hide her powers; Leslie Dean later confirms these theories for Karolina. Karolina constantly struggles with her alien heritage in the runaways' early times together, feeling that it she is a "freak" amongst the group, the only one who needs to actively hide her true form. Her insecurities even prompt Karolina to offer her life to the vampire, Topher, as Karolina expresses little desire to live. Upon her first near-death experience at the hands of Alex Wilder, the Pride's mole within the runaways, Karolina overcomes her death wish and helps the runaways escape the rampaging Gibborim as the Pride fight their former benefactors. After the Pride's defeat, Karolina is sent to live with foster parents, but she organizes a secret reunion for the runaways, after which they run away again, this time to the Pride's old lair beneath the La Brea Tar Pits.
In the early issues of Runaways vol. 2, Karolina fights under the command of Nico Minoru, Alex's ex-girlfriend and de facto leader of the motley crew since Alex's demise. Karolina expresses more comfort with being an extraterrestrial and makes strong hints at being a homosexual, especially as she stops to compliment Julie Power on her beauty during a battle with Excelsior over the custody of Victor Mancha. Soon after Victor joins the team, Karolina "comes out" to Nico with an attempted kiss, which Nico rejects outright. Karolina's "outcast" insecurities resurface for a short while before her Skrull fiancee Xavin comes to Earth in search of Karolina. Unbeknownst to her, Karolina's parents arranged Xavin's and Karolina's marriage as part of a peace-weaving effort between the Skrull and Majesdanian homeworlds. Karolina leaves with Xavin, much to Nico's distress. While on her home planet Majesdane, Karolina learns to control the shift between her Majesdanian and humanoid forms and how to further control her solar powers. However, the wedding does not go as planned and the couple flees towards Earth as their homeworlds reignite the old war. They crash land near the Hostel and return in time assist in the rescue of Molly Hayes. Karolina remains with the team and Xavin becomes accepted as a member after Gertrude Yorkes' death, and they both join the runaways in defeating the Gibborim for good and then fleeing Iron Man and the pro-registration forces of Marvel's Civil War.
The Runaways travel to New York City and make a deal with the Kingpin; protection in return for stealing an artifact for him. Later, Karolina and Nico get into an argument about Xavin and Karolina's relationship; Karolina defends Xavin, stating that Xavin was the only one who didn't care about her being gay, and that Xavin was learning to be a human, not pretending to be a female. She later angrily flies off, leaving behind a visibly distraught Nico. Later the team breaks into a high-security vault to steal a power source which Chase correctly assumes was made by The Pride. The group is attacked by The Punisher and an older Tristan. When the group confronts Kingpin about the device they stole, he ambushes them with ninjas. Trying to escape, the Runaways accidentally time-travel to the year 1907.
Temporarily stranded in 1907, Nico uses the Staff of One to give the group period-appropriate dress. They run into The Swell, who introduces them to the Street Arabs. Karolina, who is pleased about them being "living history," goes sightseeing, during which she is accosted by a man who assumes her to be a prostitute (since she was out alone at night). Karolina then stumbles upon roses similar to the ones she found earlier; she discovers they come from Klara, a little girl from an abusive household. Taking pity on her, Karolina and Molly actively seek her out the next day, in an attempt to get her to join their team; they are horrified to discover the man abusing Klara is actually her husband, not her father. Karolina then gets into a fight with Xavin who thinks they should be "concentrating on getting back home and not picking up strays." When Xavin loses control and takes on a human female form, Karolina is overjoyed and kisses her, much to Klara's disgust, and she runs off. Karolina and the others (sans Nico and Chase) are involved in a street brawl with the various Wonder gangs; she and Xavin combine their powers to make a shield which protects the Runaways from a bomb explosion. Klara then returns to, beaten and bruised, begging for help. Karolina, furious, wants to go fight Klara's husband; she relents when Nico tells her they have no time to. Once they return to the present, the group (now with Klara as a new member) decide to go back to Los Angeles.
It was subtly hinted throughout Runaways vol. 1 that Karolina had a crush on Nico, but Karolina did not make her feelings explicitly known until vol. 2 #7 when she attempted to kiss Nico. When Nico refused, Karolina was distressed, having just gotten over the isolation of being the team's sole alien and now was outed as the team's only lesbian. Soon after, Karolina was taken away by Xavin to be wed, and left her medic alert bracelet with Nico as a token of remembrance. When Karolina returned to Earth, she accidentally confessed to Xavin (who she thought to be Nico at the time) that she was still in love with Nico, saying that she cared for her "more than she will ever know." Karolina remains staunch in her devotion to Xavin (who Nico strongly dislikes), and thus her feelings for and attraction to Nico occasionally put a strain on their friendship.
Karolina met Xavin after suffering rejection from Nico, her crush for many months. She initially rejected Xavin when he told her that Karolina was promised to be his bride, but after hearing that the marriage would be part of a peace treaty between her world and Xavin's, Karolina felt more inclined to accept the proposal. She accepted fully when Xavin expressed no concern of changing physical appearance from male to female to please her. The couple take solace in being the only two aliens and characters of different sexual orientation on the team and turn to each other for help in their common struggle to maintain a personal identity while disguising themselves from the public. Xavin once took the form of Nico in order to please Karolina, but Karolina rejected her as Nico and reassured Xavin that she loves her as she is. Later on, during an argument, Xavin subconsciously reverted back to female human form, which both surprised and pleased Karolina, who had earlier expressed some lingering doubts about Xavin's true gender.
Powers and Abilities
Like all Majesdanians, Karolina's natural form is luminous, iridescent, and visually fluid, often depicted with waves of rainbow-like light floating off her body, though body structure is essentially humanoid. Originally, Karolina required a custom made medic alert bracelet constructed of an unspecified alien metal to revert to humanoid form. However, after spending some months on Majesdane, Karolina learned to control the change and can make it at will.
In her Majesdanian form, Karolina is able to manipulate solar energy absorbed by her body to generate force fields capable of stopping cave-ins & gunfire, large concussive blasts, and fine laser-like beams. Karolina can also increase the heat of her concussive blasts to around 2500°F/1370°C, the melting point of steel. Though her parents were able to bind people and objects with the energy, Karolina has yet to demonstrate that ability. Karolina's Majesdanian form also grants her the ability to fly. During an encounter with the vampire Topher, it is revealed that Karolina's blood also harbors solar energy-based properties, since drinking her blood caused Topher to combust.
Karolina's weakness is that her powers have a finite charge. If she is in her Majesdanian form too long or exerts her powers too much, her glow will start to fade and revert her to human form until she uses the sun's rays to recharge. This has only happened during the story arc spanning vol. 2 #22-24.
Leslie Dean stated early in the Runaways series that Majesdanians' abilities do not affect one another.
In Brian K. Vaughan's original pitch for the series, Karolina was originally called Leslie. This name would eventually be given to the character's mother. Her parents were originally real estate magnates, as opposed to famous actors.
Karolina's Majesdanian form has been colored in two distinct styles. Brian Reber, the first colorist of Runaways, colored Karolina with many different colors of the visible spectrum from panel to panel. Christina Strain, the second colorist for Runaways, colors Karolina in lighter tones, using primarily blue, yellow, and pink with a glitter-like effect.
House of M
Karolina is mentioned as being a "go-to" girl for the Wolfpack. However, this is a ploy to capture the Wolfpack. It is mentioned, however, that the Pride rule Southern California.