Episode 5 of Runaways, titled “Kingdom” came as a bit of a shock, if for no other reason than it was hinted heavily that Karolina’s father isn't who she thinks it is, but rather the formerly scaly creature seen on life support. Is Jonah Karolina’s dad in the Runaways comics? It makes sense that for confirmation of this paternity mystery, fans would be looking to the source material for answers. Unfortunately, her biological origin on the show seems to be different from the comics.
Played by Julian McMahon (Fantastic Four), Jonah was originally only described by Hulu in a press release as a “pivotal character” in the series. That's putting it mildly. It was revealed that he was actually the grey being being kept alive by Karolina's mom through the breathing apparatus. Following the successful sacrifice, he was restored from being on the brink of death. In the comics, sacrifices like these were performed by Pride to appease ancient, elder-gods known as the Gibborim.
It would appear, although not six-fingered or giant, that Jonah is one of these Gibborim. But, that has not been explicitly confirmed as of yet. There is some confirmation, though, that Jonah is Karolina’s father. Although it was only hinted at that this was the case in Episode 5, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, executive producer Josh Schwartz seemed to take it as a given. “This is a story about family, and the introduction of Jonah is an extension of that story,” he said. “Karolina is coming into her own and figuring out her own identity — both superhero and personal … Obviously, this is a huge potential revelation for her and a better understanding of just who or what she is.”
In the comics though, Jonah doesn’t even exist. Karolina Dean, sometimes referred to as “Lucy in the Sky” got her powers from being, well, alien. Her parents: Frank and Leslie Dean are Majesdane aliens and every one of the Majesdane race have the same powers Karolina has displayed on the show. Apart from the rainbow-colored aura she puts off, she also has the powers of flight, laser beams, and the ability to create force fields of energy. Majesdane people get this power from their special biology and ability to absorb solar radiation. So, while it seems the original TV creation of Jonah isn’t that kind of alien, he certainly is not human. It also begs the question of whether Karolina’s mom, Leslie, is an alien in the TV series, like she is in the comics.
So, it would seem that the series isn’t afraid to alter aspects about the source material. Schwartz said in that same interview with Entertainment Weekly, “The idea was to honor the spirit of the book while finding different ways of expressing the mythology that feels inside the tone of the show.” Meaning, as the series progresses, fans can’t rely on the comics to inform them of what is to come. If the creators of the show were willing to alter Karolina’s parentage, there are plenty more surprises that could be in store before this season is completed.
In an interview with Comic Book Resources, McMahon couldn't share much about his new villainous character. He did share there will be moments where Jonah interacts with the entire team of Runaways. Another detail he mentioned about his character is how different his most recent reincarnation is from his previous self, due to the sacrifice that had affected him.
“The close call changes this character, who was sane and who we kind of flash back to see from earlier times, to a much more… let’s say conscious, maybe thoughtful, maybe inwardly-thinking kind of guy," the actor said. "However, there is still the guy who feels like he is meant to accomplish what he sent out to accomplish. You’re getting someone who’s also being challenged emotionally, and that’s kind of the current day character that we get to see in the show.”
In the episodes to come, clearly, one of the most interesting interactions will have to be Jonah’s meeting with Karolina. And even the comics won't be able to prepare fans for exactly how that will go down.