"Wolverine is a jerk! And he smells like beer! I want to go with the tall shiny metal guy! Or the cat monkey guy!"
Molly Hayes is with friends the rest of the members of the Runaways when they observe their parents calling themselves The Pride and preparing the ritual sacrifice of a young girl. Molly is preemptively escorted away by Karolina while the older children watch the sacrifice commence. They inform Karolina and decide to run away from their homes that very night. After discovering their powers and gifts, the older five kids rescue Molly from her home. Molly awakes from a psychically-induced slumber during the runaways' rescue and sees her mother being threatened by Nico. Molly's mutant powers manifest at that moment in a display of glowing pink hair and eyes. However, Molly first uses her strength to knock Leslie Dean out of the sky, saving Gert. Molly promptly falls asleep from exhaustion and the Runaways take her to their new hideout, a dilapidated mansion called "the Hostel". Throughout the first volume of the series, Molly is skeptical that her parents were accomplices to murder and is unsure why the group ran away in the first place. However, she is excited at the prospect of becoming a superhero and enthusiastically takes the codename "Princess Powerful," while her teammates dub her "Bruiser". Shortly after their "superhero" careers begin, the Runaways take in fellow runaway Topher, who turns out to be a vampire. He dies by ingesting Karolina's solar-irradiated blood and when Molly witnesses Topher's death, she realizes that the superhero life is not a game, and cries for her mother. Alex later deciphers a text kept by his parents called the Abstract, and informs the Runaways about their parents' activities as The Pride, their ties to the Gibborim (the Pride's Biblical benefactors), and their ultimate goal of exterminating all human life save for the six most loyal Pride members. Molly expresses disinterest in the Pride's motivations, but is excited when Alex plots to disrupt the Pride's ritual sacrifice to the Gibborim. When the Runaways encounter the Pride, Molly witnesses first-hand why she and her friends have been in hiding for months and destroys the sacrifice prepared for the Gibborim. She escapes with the Runaways when the Gibborim attack the Pride for losing the sacrifice. After the Pride's demise, Molly is sent to X-Corp for foster care, but breaks out with Gert's help and runs away with the rest of the team.
In the second volume, Molly fights under Nico's command and witnesses the future Gert die in Chase's arms as she warns the Runaways about the future supervillain named Victor Mancha. Molly participates in the search, and during the second fight with Excelsior, Molly discerns Chamber's fake accent; he is later revealed to be Geoffrey Wilder in disguise. After Victor joins the team, Molly accompanies him on group shopping trips under Nico's orders because she believes that Molly is the only individual member of the Runaways capable of bringing Victor down should he betray the team. During the runaways' trip to New York City to exonerate Cloak, Molly meets her idol and childish crush Wolverine, but he scares her and she hurls him out of a church, thereafter maintaining a severe dislike of him. After the Runaways solve the case, they return to Los Angeles, but Wolverine and the X-Men follow them, looking to enroll Molly in Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters. After a short altercation, the X-Men leave Molly alone, realizing that it would be unfair to force her to enroll. During one mission, Molly gets separated from the team and the Provost abducts her. He coerces Molly and other children into robbing banks for him. Molly rallies the children to stage a coup, and she finds her way back to the Runaways. Molly is abducted in a battle with a second incarnation of the Pride, made up of Alex's MMORPG friends and led by a younger version of Alex's father, Geoffrey. Nico rescues Molly with Xavin's aid, but Gert dies covering their escape. After Gert's death, Molly asks the Leapfrog, the group's transport, if Gert went to Heaven, but it cannot reply since Heaven is not on any of the maps in its database. Soon afterwards, Molly begins hearing a disembodied voice she believes is Gert's, and follows its instructions to help revive Victor. She helps Victor rescue Nico from the Gibborim and subsequently joins the team on their cross-country trek to evade Iron Man and S.H.I.E.L.D. The voice Molly heard is later revealed to have been Alex's. Molly is also referenced in New X-Men #42: when Mercury researches for the youngest mutant in the world, Hellion asks about Molly, who he believes to be five years-old. The Stepford Cuckoos inform him, he is incorrect.
In Runaways #10, the Runaways travel to San Francisco after Molly receives Emma Frost's psychic message inviting all mutants to a new safe Haven. Molly's non-stop chatter quickly annoys several of the X-Men and Wolverine gives her a tour of the X-Men's new base of operations. Molly begins to annoy Wolverine and the two argue until he insults Molly's parents and calls her a brat, causing her to throw him through the roof. Wolverine is urged by Cyclops and Emma Frost to take Molly outside, and complies. The two tour San Francisco before they are kidnapped by a villain that was an enemy of the Pride. The villain and his soldiers had attempted to claim a portion of Los Angeles, although the Hayes stopped him, massacring his men and putting him in a traumatizing seven-year coma where he could not close his eyes, all for their own sadistic enjoyment. He recovered and seeks revenge against them by telling Molly her parents were evil and sadistic, having killed innocent people and children. He calls them far worse than any super villain, and ultimately plans on killing her as his final act of revenge. Wolverine and Molly manage to defeat him, though Molly realizes she'll never think of her parents the same way again. She is, however, comforted by Wolverine, who says that despite their villainous ways, her parents must have genuinely loved her in order to "raise a kid as good as her".
Powers and Abilities
- Superhuman Strength: Molly is capable of lifting upwards of 100 tons. The upper limits of her powers have never been tested. Molly is seen toppling monsters as large as skyscrapers, tunneling through miles of rock and lift a car with ease.
- Invulnerability: Molly appears to have some-degree of invulnerability when her powers are active.
Molly's strength rapidly drains her endurance, often causing her to fall asleep after using her strength. She is now capable of using her powers at moderate levels for extended periods of time without falling asleep, but she still needs to rest afterwards and the greater the strength she uses, the more tired she becomes. Her youth may contribute to this.
- Molly's name is taken from creator Brian K. Vaughan's sister, Molly Hayes Vaughan.
- Molly sleeps with a Doop plush doll.
- Molly is the only character who appeared in every issue of Runaways during Brian K. Vaughan's tenure on the title.
- Molly is a fan of the mutant singer Dazzler's music.
- Considering that Molly's parents were both telepaths, it is possible that Molly will manifest telepathic powers in the future, but clear demonstrations of telepathic powers have yet to be shown. There is also speculation that Molly's strength is psionic in nature due to her purple "aura" that activates with her powers, rather than an increase in muscle mass. It is a possibility, yet unproven, remembering that other characters like Rogue, Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel all demonstrate superhuman strength without having notable increases in muscle mass.