Runaways (2nd series) #3

Issue Date: 
June 2005
Story Title: 
True Believers - chapter three

Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Adrian Alphona (penciler), Craig Yeung (inker), 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 comes face to face with the Runaways, a group of youngsters of varying ages who have come to get a boy named Victor Mancha. Excelsior wants him released, but before they can get down to business, Chase Stein arrives in the Leapfrog and blasts Turbo with some handy lasers aboard the craft. The Leapfrog takes down Excelsior, and everyone climbs aboard before Chase takes to the skies. Excelsior isn’t entirely happy about that, and heads off in pursuit. Victor informs them that, if they’re after money, they should know his mom is a single parent who barely manages to scrape by. Gert tells him they all know his father is a super-villain, but Victor has no idea what they’re talking about. His father is dead. Victor’s mother is informed by Jorge that, when he was taken, he somehow exhibited super powers. It was a miracle, he adds, as Victor’s mother holds a cross around her neck between her fingers. Excelsior catches up to the Runaways and Darkhawk inexplicably blasts the Leapfrog, forcing them to crash land in a film studio. They follow the Leapfrog through the hole in the roof, and the confrontation begins. Turbo is taken out quickly by Nico’s spell, but Gert is knocked unconscious by Ricochet. Molly sorts out Chamber, as Karolina and Julie make nice. Ultimately, Darkhawk takes things too far, and when he and Turbo begin to fight amongst themselves, the Runaways take the opportunity to take Victor with them in the Leapfrog and head for safety. Meanwhile, Victor’s mother contacts his father, who tells her he’s on his way to Los Angeles to sort this out himself.

Full Summary: 

With the newly formed Excelsior face to face with the Runaways, Mickey Musashi knows that a confrontation should be avoided at all costs. She informs them that their organization was founded to help kids like them. Gert checks out their costumes, and asks if they’re a Christian glam band. “Like Stryper?” adds Nico. Victor Mancha recognizes them, and introduces them to the Runaways; all except for Ricochet, who he fails to pin down. “Aw, that is cold, dude,” replies Ricochet.

Mickey asks why Nico doesn’t let the charmingly boyish civilian go, so they can work this out for themselves. Nico replies that he’s not a civilian. The kid has powers, and he’s a murderer. Victor says that’s a lie, but Karolina reminds him that he hasn’t killed anyone yet - but he will. Mickey tells the Runaways that they have no interest in fighting them, and instead asks for lines of communication to be opened. She wants to find out what they need to do to make them feel more comfortable. Without warning, she is struck down with a green laser blast from above.

Suddenly, the Leapfrog arrives, piloted as always by Chase Stein. Excelsior is wiped out in one foul swoop. Chase gets on the P.A., like an excited schoolboy “Check it! Did you guys know the Leapfrog had lasers? It’s got lasers! Nico ushers Victor inside the ‘Frog, figuring they have no choice but to take him with them. Karolina reminds her that last time they brought a boy back to the hostel, he tried to eat them. Victor perks up at the thought, but Nico warns him not to get any ideas.

Gert tells Chase that they’re ready to go, but Chase is still amazed that the machine has lasers. Off they go, jumping high into the air, leaving behind five dejected superheroes that just got schooled by a bunch of freshmen. Turbo wants to follow them, but Chamber informs them that, unless they’re taking the bus, they can count him out. Mickey says she needs him, but Jono points out that their group has only got three fliers. That means one of them will have to carry him around by his stinking pits. It happens in super-teams all the time, he explains, and guys like him always end up looking like complete gits. He wants to refuse, but soon gives in and acknowledges that it’s something he must do, but he adds that if Darkhawk touches him, he’s breaking his arm.

The Leapfrog travels over a residential district, causing a minor car crash below. It isn’t cloaked, and Chase thinks the invisibility doojammer is all crunked out. He guesses he accidentally transferred the last of their juice to the weapons systems. Nico points out that it’s the middle of the afternoon. How are they supposed to get back to their hideout without everyone seeing them? “Lasers…?” replies Chase, meekly.

Victor informs them that, if they are looking for ransom money, they nabbed the wrong guy. His mom is a single parent working three jobs. She barely scrapes by. Gert tells him that it was a nice try, but they know his father is a super-villain. Victor asks what that’s supposed to mean. His father is dead! “Whoops,” says Molly. Karolina tells her that their parents are dead, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t super-villains.

Victor becomes a little agitated. Small emissions of energy spark from his mouth as he tells the Runaways that his dad was a hero who died defending their country. Gert asks him to take it easy, or they’ll be picking him out of tomorrow’s raptor droppings. Victor replies that Old Lace is not a Velociraptor. Gert takes a sideways glance at her companion. “She’s not?” Victor reckons she’s way too big. She looks more like a Deinonychus with a pedicure. Hasn’t she ever been to a science museum before? Gert whispers to Old Lace that at least she’s gonna get killed by her equal.

Victor’s mom is rightly concerned for his safety and whereabouts. She asks a detective at East Angeles High School where he is, and the hapless detective tells her that being hysterical isn’t going to help Victor right now. They’ve notified the police and Homeland Security, who are doing all they can. Victor’s friend, Jorge, appears, and Mrs. Mancha asks him what happened. He informs her that it was crazy. These freaks showed up and started throwing down on Vic, but he gave as good as he got in return. She asks him what he’s talking about. Jorge explains that Victor was super fast and super strong, and he just waved his hand to make the bleachers curl up like a giant fist. “It was a miracle.” Mrs. Mancha holds a gold cross hanging around her neck between her fingers.

Excelsior is airborne, and in pursuit of the clearly visible Leapfrog. Chamber isn’t a happy bunny. Phil Urich contacts Turbo through a speaker in her helmet, and tells her that wire services report an unidentified craft headed over Studio City. She can see ‘em already, and she asks Phil to tell their anonymous benefactor that they plan to follow the kids back to their home base, and complete their assignment. Before she finishes her sentence, Darkhawk unexpectedly attacks the Leapfrog, zapping its roof. Mickey asks him what on Earth he’s doing - “They’re children!” Chris replies that so was every little psycho who ever brought a gun to school. He’s done pulling punches.

Chase struggles to maintain control of the ‘Frog. He tells the Runaways to hang on. They’re going down hard. In a studio below them, a director is going through a scene with his actors. They’re filming a sci-fi adventure and, as they stand before a green screen, he asks them to look at tennis balls held by people wearing green, and try to look scared. They’ll add the spaceships later. Before he can say action, the Leapfrog comes crashing through the roof forcing the crew to run for their lives. They look scared all right.

The craft lands with a thump, but everyone is safe. A little guy in a droid costume narrowly avoids being crushed to death beneath the ‘Frog’s legs. Unfortunately, Chase points out that the crash appears to have knocked the ‘Frog offline. Nico tells him she’ll try and deal with the ‘truancy cops’ and asks him to keep an eye on their prisoner. Chase stands and tells her that their psycho killer ain’t going anywhere. Victor asks what his power is. Chase produces a flick-knife and sniks it open. “A poor upbringing,” he replies.

Excelsior has followed the ‘Frog through the gaping hole in the studio roof. Nico doesn’t plan on allowing them any time to formulate a plan, and holds her Staff of One out in front of her. The staff glows as she says, “You suck.” Turbo’s wrist turbines turn in on themselves, and begin to suck in everything around them. She has no time to turn them off before they explode, shocking her almost into unconsciousness. Darkhawk puts his arm around her shoulder and takes command, ordering Chamber to secure Molly, Ricochet to handle dino girl and Lightspeed to tackle Karolina. “The goth chick is mine!”

Ricochet is quick, and is on Gert in no time. As he approaches, he asks if she hasn’t seen The Lost World? Raptors officially stopped being scary after that stupid kid used gymnastics to take one down. Gert replies that she isn’t a Raptor, but before she finishes her sentence, she is caught by one of Ricochet’s discs square in the jaw. Sitting on top of Old Lace, it doesn’t take him too long to take care of her too.

Chamber approaches the much smaller Molly, and asks her not to be scared. He’s got a pretty strict policy against harming helpless little birds like her. Molly points at him, and asks who he thinks he’s fooling with his fakey accent. Jono isn’t impressed with her attitude and prepares to let her have it. Lightspeed and Karolina come face to face, but before Julie can finish her initial warning, Karolina throws her completely by telling her she looks really really pretty. Julie stops and thanks her for the compliment, saying Karolina is pretty too. “I like the way her hair glows and…”

Before they can even think back to what they’re supposed to be doing, Chamber comes crashing between them, knocking them both off balance. Karolina admonishes Molly for interrupting their chat and Molly apologizes, but adds that the flaming trenchcoat guy was trying to burn her with his face.

Not far away, the more aggressive Darkhawk approaches Nico, and calls her ‘the Wicked Witch with her black clothes and her dark arts.’ Nico warns the ‘tin man’ not to take another stop or she’ll unleash a lot worse than flying monkeys. Darkhawk asks if she thinks this is all harmless fun before grabbing her firmly around the throat and lifting her off the ground. Johnny asks him to ease up. They’ve got things under control. He sits on the helpless Old Lace, whose mouth he’s tied up with his bolas.

Chris replies that she has to learn that everything has a cost. The things you do when you’re young always catch up with you. He adds that what she’s playing with now will eat away at her soul until there’s nothing. Turbo’s had enough, and informs Chris that he’s way out of line. She orders him to stand down, and Chris duly releases his grip. He replies that Nico could have killed her, and asks what else they’re going to let her get away with.

Michiko responds to that by delivering a right cross which surprises Chris. She tells him to snap out of it. They’re here to protect the next generation, not obliterate it. Chris straightens his helmet. “Don’t you ever… lay a finger… on me! He delivers a blast of energy from his chest plate which catches Mickey full on, sending her flying backwards. Molly looks on at the infighting, and wonders, “These guys are heroes?” Karolina replies no; they’re adults. She asks her to grab Gert and Old Lace while she helps Nico.

Inside the Leapfrog, Chase tells Victor Mancha that much as he wants to slice him open, if they want to get out of there alive, he’s gonna need his mutant mojo. Victor replies that he’s only had his powers for, like, fifteen minutes, and besides, why should he help him? Chase replies that if he doesn’t, they’ll leave him behind with them. Victor looks outside to see Turbo and Darkhawk going at it hammer and tongs as Ricochet tries in vain to stop them. Chase has a point.

The Runaways board their craft, as Ricochet calls for a time out. One more punch from either of his comrades and he drops a blackout disc on both of them. Turbo and Darkhawk cease hostilities, and Chris apologizes. He doesn’t know what happened. He saw so much of Nico in himself that he just lost it. Mickey says it’s her fault. He had said he wasn’t ready for this, and she should never have asked him to suit up again.

Elsewhere, Chamber helps Julie recover, whilst pleased to see that ‘mom and dad’ have finally stopped knocking the tar out of each other. But, he adds, did someone forget to keep an eye on the rugrats? Amongst the ruins of the studio, with the diminutive actor still lying there inside the droid costume, there is a gaping space where the Leapfrog used to be.

As the evening draws in, the now cloaked Leapfrog bounds across Los Angeles. Nico congratulates Chase on his good work, and Chase readily acknowledges that he’s a genius. He forced ‘static cling lad’ to zap the console and he shocked the motherboard thingee back to life. Victor sits besides Gert who has an ice pack pushed against her forehead where Ricochet’s disc hit. He asks if they’re even, and if they can let him go. “Not quite yet, Man of La Mancha,” replies Gert, “Let’s talk about your future.”

At the home of Marianella Mancha, she sits in her room, chatting on the phone. She asks the person on the other end for help. “I told you never to contact me,” he replies. Marianella tells him it’s Victor. He’s gone. The stranger is surprised, and asks how. Marianella tells him that something terrible has happened; something that triggered his… She is told not to say another word. He’s on his way to her now. She asks if he’s coming to Los Angeles, and if that’s the best thing for Victor. Of course he’s sure, he answers; Father knows best.

Characters Involved: 

Karolina Dean, Molly Hayes, Nico Minoru, Chase Stein, Gertrude Yorkes (all Runaways)

Old Lace

Chamber, Darkhawk, Green Goblin, Lightspeed, Ricochet, Turbo (all Excelsior)

Victor Mancha

Marianella Mancha

EAHS pupils

Police Officers and a detective


Film crew and actors

Story Notes: 

Stryper are a popular Californian Christian rock band, which has been going for over twenty years. The name actually stands for Salvation Through Redemption Yielding Peace, Encouragement and Righteousness.

The guy who was invited to the hostel before was Topher, who turned out to be a vampire [Runaways (1st series) #7 - 10].

The Lost World was Steven Spielberg’s 1997 sequel to Jurassic Park, starring Jeff Goldblum and Julianne Moore.

The Wicked Witch/Flying Monkeys exchange refers to the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz (1939).

The Man of La Mancha is Don Quixote, the most famous literary creation of Spanish author, Miguel de Cervantes.

Victor Mancha’s father is only shown hidden behind a chair to conceal his identity. All we can see is the back of the chair, an old-fashioned telephone and a carriage clock showing 6 ‘o clock.

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