Runaways (2nd series) #2

Issue Date: 
May 2005
Story Title: 
True Believers - chapter two

Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Adrian Alphona (penciler), Craig Yeung (inker), Udon’s Christina Strain (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Randy Gentile (letterer), Jo Chen (cover artist), Mackenzie Cadenhead (associate editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Runaways created by Vaughan & Alphona

Brief Description: 

Excelsior is informed about the runaways, and that their mystery benefactor promises to donate $1,000,000 if they get the kids off the streets. Some of the group, including Chamber, aren’t happy about the arrangement, but Mickey and Phil manage to persuade them to agree to their proposal. The runaways, meanwhile, are still with the older Gertrude; now deceased. Nico tries to find out her story, and uses the Staff of One to generate a flashback. She discovers that Gertrude was telling the truth. She and her Avengers, as well as the X-Men, were defeated by a villain named Victorious. Nico comes back to reality with a start, and tells them Victorious was horrible. They ponder on the right course of action in tackling Victor, and decide to go talk to him. Victor is with his friend, Jorge, when the runaways arrive in the Leapfrog. Karolina tries to speak with him, but he somehow uses the benches as a large hand, and swats her away. He submits to the others, as he doesn’t want to fight with anyone. However, when Molly approaches, he instinctively hurls her away using his newfound powers. Nico counters, but her attack hits Old Lace instead. However, she manages to use her physical prowess instead to knock Victor unconscious. Phil Urich is informed of the runaways’ whereabouts by their mystery benefactor, and he sends the rest of Excelsior to confront them.

Full Summary: 

Mickey Musashi shows the recently formed Excelsior a slide show, which she uses to introduce them to the runaways. Nico Minoru is the daughter of two alleged ‘dark wizards.’ Gertrude Yorkes is pictured with her pet velociraptor, which is believed to have been stolen from another era by her time-traveling mom and dad. The tabloids always said that Karolina Dean’s movie star parents were aliens. The girls’ powers suggest that they may have been right. Finally, Molly Hayes, pictured carrying a defeated foe above her head, is the preternaturally strong child of evil mutants; not that all mutants are evil, she adds, but… you know.

She adds that she couldn’t find any footage of Chase Stein, the girl’s getaway man, but seeing how he’s the son of two mad scientists, they’re guessing that he’s the brains behind the operation. Phil Urich continues to inform the group that, according to the records he dug up through work, the kids are the children of The Pride. They were an underworld syndicate that most of them learned about on the news last summer. He explains that details are sketchy, but after running away from these villains, the kids apparently destroyed their parents. Since then, they’ve disappeared from their foster homes, eventually resurfacing with Los Angeles’ most recent crime wave.

Julie Power remarks that she can’t imagine how Power Pack would’ve turned out if her folks had been evil. Johnny Gallo suggests maybe the kids are fighting crime now, to make up for the bad stuff their moms and dads did. Chris Powell suggests the alternative theory that they could just be eliminating their competition, so they can pick up where The Pride left off.

Mickey then informs the group that, either way, an anonymous donor promised to give them one million dollars if they get the kids safely off the streets. Phil didn’t believe it, but they’ve already received a $10,000 cashier’s check in advance. Chamber is annoyed by this. He thought they were pro bono. He doesn’t miss Gen X, but at least they never heroed for dollars. Johnny agrees, and he asks Phil how they know their mystery benefactor isn’t some old friend of The Pride, looking to get payback on their kids?

Mickey assures them that he didn’t ask them to murder the kids. By all accounts, this is just a Good Samaritan who wants to help kids like them get into healthy, stable environments. Phil adds that all the money will go into opening new branches of Excelsior. This would make it a national network helping recovering teens all across the country; not a third-rate support group that has to meet in his cousin’s garage.

Johnny wonders what they’ll do if and when they finally track down the runaways. They ran once, and probably won’t surrender without a fight. Phil says his old Green Goblin armor is toast, but Johnny still has his Ricochet gear, Chris has his Darkhawk amulet and Mickey can use her… Chris cuts in and asks him to back up there. He thought the whole point of this outfit was to help them adjust to not being vigilantes anymore. Mickey replies absolutely - but she thinks the end justifies the means here.

Phil tells them that, if they don their costumes one last time, they can help ensure that no minor will ever wear one again. The team reluctantly agrees to their proposal. Phil will coordinate their movements from his office while they spread out and start canvassing. Their runaways are probably operating underground but, sooner or later, they’ll have to come up for air.

(The La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles)

Underneath the exhibit, the kids are standing around the deceased body of Gertrude Yorkes’ older self. Gert thinks they should bury her. Whoever she was, she’s gone now. Chase looks up at her, and reminds her that they saw her step out of her parents’ Back to the Future machine. “This is you! Look at her!” Gert still doesn’t believe the whole story, wondering if it might be a trap their parents left for them before they died. It could be a clone, or a magic trick, or a… She’s clutching at straws.

Chase turns to Nico and asks her to use a spell and bring her back to life. Nico replies that she can’t. She already tried a resurrection enchantment. Karolina asks when? Who? Nico’s posture becomes all defensive, as she replies that it was right after they defeated The Pride. She tried to save Alex. Chase can’t believe it. She wasted something like that on the kid who betrayed them? Nico creates a glowing red image of Alex in the palm of her hand. She says he was terrible to them, but he didn’t deserve death. She doesn’t really want to go into her reasoning, and the image fades as she tells them it doesn’t matter now. The spell didn’t work. Even the Staff of One has its limits.

Molly asks if she can at least tell them where the older Gert came from. Nico doesn’t really know, but she’ll give it a try. She kneels beside the deceased Gert, and covers her eyes with her fingers. She holds the Staff of One above her, and says “flashback.”


Amongst the ruins of a building, with fallen masonry lying all around her, Gert cries, “Avengers Assemble.” She looks over at her colleagues, but no one responds to her call. There are four Avengers visible amongst the ruins. A blonde wearing white lies face down, whilst another with two large horns extending from the forehead remains trapped under a block of concrete. The Scorpion and Captain America, still holding a sword, remain motionless. She calls for them again, but Hisako appears behind her and tells her, “I’m sorry Heroine. For what it’s worth, you led them well. Your team lasted longer than my X-Men did.”

Gert can’t believe it. She trusted Victor; she loved him. Hisako replies that they all did. Now, they get to die for their mistake. He’s on his way back now, and her armor won’t withstand another… Gert sits up, and tells her, no; there’s still a chance. Hisako says she’s dreaming. They can’t stop Victorious. Their traitorous opponent appears above them, blue energy crackling from each hand. No, he agrees; but won’t it be fun to try?


Nico comes back to reality with a start. Gert asks what she saw, and Nico replies that she’s seen the truth. She wasn’t lying. This really is Gert - in a couple of decades, anyway. She was attacked by someone called Victorious. He… He was horrible.

Chase looks at the photograph of Victor Mancha. It looks like they have to waste him before he offs Gert. Gert replies by asking when. Twenty years from now? Even if this kid is going to be evil, that doesn’t mean he’s evil today. Karolina reminds them that Gert’s older self did say that Victor’s father was a villain; the greatest evil in the universe. Nico says their parents weren’t exactly saints, and they turned out all right – most of them anyway.

Molly wonders if his dad could be Voldemort. Chase points out that he isn’t real. This psycho’s probably the son of the devil, or Dracula. Whatever, he adds; he thinks they should find the kid and play a few rounds of ‘who’s your daddy’ with his face. Nico brings some reason back to the conversation. She tells them that violence just causes more violence. If they’re not careful, they could end up creating the monster they’re trying to destroy.

(East Angeles High School)

It’s a sunny day, and football practice is in full swing. Victor and his friend, Jorge, are relaxing on the benches, with Jorge reeling from Victor’s latest news. Victor’s mom thinks the place is too dangerous and wants to move. Jorge asks if it’s just because the school is going to install metal detectors. Victor replies that she’s been that way ever since what happened to his old man when he was little. She just doesn’t want to lose another one of her guys.

Jorge asks who’s gonna try out for the archery team with him if he leaves. Victor asks since when was he into bows and arrows? Since forever, he replies. Hawkeye was always his favorite Avenger. Victor thinks he’s jumping on the bandwagon. He didn’t like start liking the guy ‘til he died. He did the same thing with Tupac. Jorge asks what? Can’t he give respect to the big H? Sure, replies Victor, but he was no Captain America. Hawkeye was a bad guy before he joined the Avengers. He thinks he probably did some good in his time, but doubts he ever stepped down from being a hood. It’s like his mom says. People never really change that much. “When you grow up, you usually stay…”

Jorge interjects, and calls for him to look. They both arch their necks skywards, and see the Leapfrog descending at speed. As it lands, Gert gets on the P.A system and calls for the jock’s attention. They’re looking for one of their classmates named Victor Mancha. If they tell them where he is, they can return to their meaningless ball game.

Jorge says they’re talking about him. The mothership’s come to take him home. Victor says for the last time, he isn’t an… alien? He is surprised by the appearance of Karolina, standing before him with her body running through the whole spectrum of colors. She asks him not to freak out, but they tracked him using an old yearbook photo. “We just want to talk to you about…” Without warning, Victor screams, “Get away from me!” Blue energy crackles from his mouth as he speaks and, subconsciously, he bends the benches they were sitting on and creates a hand, around twenty feet across. With this, he swats Karolina like a bug. Jorge is astonished, and asks how he did that. Victor honestly doesn’t have a clue, and looks at his hands.

(The Los Angeles Times)

Meanwhile, Phil Urich is sat at his desk, and speaking with Excelsior’s mystery benefactor. Gert’s face is on his computer monitor. He informs Phil that his group’s name is just another word for woodchip shavings. Phil thinks his voice is kinda familiar, and asks if they’ve talked before. The stranger doesn’t remember that happening, but says he’s run into a few of his kind in his day. He calls for Phil to get his crew on the horn and tell ‘em he has a lead on their young charges’ whereabouts. Phil is about to ask why he doesn’t deal with it himself, but the stranger says that this is the problem with his generation. They’re all talk and no action.

(East Angeles High School)

As Karolina flies through the air, the other runaways emerge from the ‘Frog. Victor doesn’t know what’s going on, but tells Jorge to get to safety. If anything happens to him, he should tell his mom… he’s sorry. Jorge is about to argue, but Victor just tells him to go.

Chase is up for some action, but Nico tells him that if he wants to help, he should go check on Karolina. Molly reckons they have enough girl power to handle this loser. Victor puts his hands in the air, and says he gives up. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone. He wonders who they are, and asks if they’re the Young Avengers he’s been reading about. Gert doesn’t appreciate the accusation. “Ick. I should make Old Lace rip out your liver for that!” She informs him they’re not superheroes. Victor is just trying to get over the fact she has a dinosaur with her named Old Lace. Gert tells him it used to make sense… sort of.

Nico asks him to stay calm, and everything will be fine. Victor hasn’t a clue what this is all about, and asks them if he’s a mutant. “You wish,” replies Molly. Victor asks her to step back; he can’t control himself. Without thinking, he summons power into his right hand and hurls Molly towards the goalposts. Nico counters with the Staff of One, and shouts, “Rockstars!”

Unfortunately, her attack doesn’t affect Victor as he leaps clear of danger. Instead, it strikes Old Lace, who roars. Gert, who feels the pain her dinosaur feels, screams and covers her ears. Victor lands, and asks if they saw how high he jumped. Nico says yeah, and asks if he saw how high her stilettos are. Before he can answer, she uses her staff to swing towards him, connecting with his jaw and knocking him unconscious.

The kids are fine, despite Molly’s hair standing on end due the static shock she received from Victor. Nico asks Chase to fire up the Leapfrog, while she figures out what to do with the boy. A voice suddenly comes from nowhere. “What you’re going to do is keep your hands to yourself, sister…” She turns to see Excelsior waiting to confront them. “And start acting your age,” adds Turbo.

Characters Involved: 

Arsenic/Gertrude Yorkes, Bruiser/Molly Hayes, Lucy in the Sky/Karolina Dean, Sister Grimm/Nico Minoru, Talkback/Chase Stein (all Runaways)

Old Lace

Victor Mancha


Chamber/Jonothan Starsmore, Darkhawk/Chris Powell, Green Goblin/Phil Urich, Lightspeed/Julie Power, Ricochet/Johnny Gallo, Turbo/Michiko ‘Mickey’ Musashi (all Excelsior)

Gertrude Yorkes (alternate future version)

EAHS football team, cheerleaders and onlookers

(in future flashback)

Captain America, Gertrude Yorkes, Scorpion, two unnamed heroes (all Avengers)

Hisako (X-Man)

Victorious/Victor Mancha

(on screen)

Unknown villain being carried by Molly

Arsenic, Bruiser, Lucy in the Sky, Sister Grimm (all Runaways)

(as image created by Nico)

Alex Wilder

Story Notes: 

The cover depicts Victor Mancha, and several possible suspects for the honor of being his father. They are Magneto, Doc Ock, Kingpin, Red Skull and Dr. Doom.

It appears Gertrude’s name in the future may be Heroine, as opposed to Arsenic. When calling for her Avengers to assemble, she mentions Captain Americas - plural.

Voldemort is a character in the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling.

Hawkeye died in Avengers (1st series) #502, sacrificing himself in battle against the Kree.

Tupac Amaru Shakur was a rapper and actor, who was shot several times in 1996, and died six days later from his wounds.

At the time of writing, the Young Avengers were Hulkling, Patriot, Asgardian and Iron Lad, who was actually a young Kang the Conqueror from the thirtieth century. They have their own series.

Issue Information: 
Written By: