Runaways (2nd series) #5

Issue Date: 
August 2005
Story Title: 
True Believers - chapter five

Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Adrian Alphona (penciler), Craig Yeung (inker), Udon’s Christina Strain (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Randy Gentile (letterer), Jacob Chabot (production), 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: 

Dr. Doom tells Victor Mancha to meet him at the McArthur Warehouse. He has Victor’s mom captive, and so the runaways head off in the Leapfrog to the rescue. Knowing Doom is incredibly powerful, Victor comes up with an idea how they might be able to fool him. When they arrive, the runaways are made invisible by Nico. Victor speaks with Doom, and pretends to admire and respect him enormously. Doom is pleased with this, until he notices from the corner of his eye that Marianella’s ropes are being untied by an invisible force. He blasts at Nico who is revealed, along with the rest of the runaways. A fight breaks out, but Doom seems to get the better of his young foes. He takes out Old Lace, Molly and Karolina, before Victor manages to blast a hole through him with the Leapfrog’s laser. It is revealed that Doom is really a Doombot, and its owner then appears. It’s Ultron! It murders Marianella without a thought, and explains to Victor that it hadn’t intended for all this to happen. However, as it has, the children needed to be dealt with, permanently. It takes control over Victor and orders him to execute them. Scarily, he agrees without missing a beat. Meanwhile, Excelsior is provided with their own means of transport by their mystery benefactor, called Excel. The stranger is on his way to meet with them in L.A.

Full Summary: 

(La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles)

Victor is aghast at finding out his father looks like being Dr. Doom. Doom, holding Victor’s mother captive, wishes to meet him at McArthur Warehouse in one hour, lest he risk elevating him to the status of being his sole guardian. Marianella cries out for Victor to stay away, but Doom silences her by smashing his gauntlet into her face.

Doom hangs up the phone, and Gert asks if that was really Dr. Doom, as in dictator of dictators, beast of the Balkans. Karolina thought he died fighting the Fantastic Four, but Nico reminds her that their ‘rents haven’t been updating their files from beyond the grave. Victor insists he has to leave or his mom will be killed, but Chase asks why they should let him go when he was just threatening to blow Gert’s head off. Victor assures Chase that he was bluffing. He’d never hurt anyone. He just wants to get back to the people he loves. All he cares about is helping his family. Molly tells him it sounds like this Mr. Doom guy is his family. All the while, Old Lace appears to be sensing something different about Victor.


Excelsior touches down at the coordinates their mystery benefactor provided them with. Phil Urich speaks with him on his cell phone. The benefactor informs him that the entrance to the warehouse should be keyed to his palm-print, so they can go on in. He knows Excelsior is down a man with Darkhawk being on the disabled list, so he wants to strengthen their line-up. He also wants to thank Phil for putting his trust into him, and for risking so much to help their little runaways.

Phil opens the warehouse door, and sitting there is a large, peculiarly shaped craft. The benefactor explains that it’s a ship, which will enable them to move around Los Angeles at speeds of up to mach eight. He calls her Excel. Phil tells him that he appreciates this, but he doesn’t think any of them know how to fly whatever this is. He is told that Excel has flight controls that have been retrofitted to mimic his old Green Goblin glider, so it should be like riding a bicycle for him. Phil is about to query how their benefactor knows about the glider controls, before being told that he’ll explain when they finally meet him. He’s taking the red-eye to L.A. now, but Phil shouldn’t wait for him to continue his search.

Ricochet checks out the craft, and says it’s about time someone pimped their ride. Julie Power is less certain. Excel seems a lot creepier than her old ship, Friday. Chamber, meanwhile, thinks this is mad. Why are they continuing to accept handouts from a complete stranger? Turbo reminds him that they’re not a super-team. They’re a charitable organization. They can’t check on everyone who wishes to hand them money. Besides, adds Phil, he and Turbo have been in the journalism game long enough to know whether or not one of their sources is reliable. “Believe me. We’re working for the good guys.”


The Leapfrog is making its way through the skies over Los Angeles, cloaked as usual so as not to attract any unwanted attention. Victor wants the runaways to turn their ship around. Doom said he wanted to meet him alone. Gert reminds him that he actually told him not to involve the authorities. Seeing how they’re all delinquent fugitives, she’s pretty sure they don’t qualify. Victor tells her that his name is not Doctor Semantics! Whether or not he’s really related to the freak, if he walks in there with them, his mom is as good as dead.

Karolina tries to assure him that they’ve been rescuing civilian hostages like this since bad guys started showing up in L.A. again. They can help him. Victor replies that, no offense, but seeing how a novice like himself almost took out half her team, he’s not sure why he should entrust his mom’s life to the freakin’ Teen Girl Squad! Chase reminds him that he’s part of the team too and, as soon as they’re in range, he’s gonna bring the ‘Frog down on Victor’s old man’s ugly gourd.

Nico points out that Turbo and her psycho grownup sidekicks are probably still patrolling the area for any sign of them, so it’s strictly cloaked from here on out. Molly asks Nico why she can’t just use her magics to teleport and rescue Mrs. Mancha; like Nightcrawler? Nico replies that she’s already used a ‘porting spell once, and the Staff of One hates repeats. She might be able to thinks of an alternative, however.

Victor is a little more realistic. He informs them that Doom took over an entire country. He’s not just the greatest scientist on the planet, he’s also one of the most powerful sorcerers. Sleight of hand from some glorified magician’s assistant ain’t gonna cut it. Gert asks if he has a better idea. Actually, he does.


Arriving at the rendezvous point, Victor finds his mom gagged and bound, with Dr. Doom standing beside her. Doom tells Victor that his mom told him he had been kidnapped. He suspects this to be merely a yarn she weaved to bring her one true love running home. Victor replies that she was telling the truth. Doom asks where, in that case, are his abductors now. Vic smiles and tells him they’re unconscious a few blocks from there. He downed the do-gooders’ craft and knocked them out after they threatened to derail their family reunion. “Like father like son,” he adds, genuflecting before Doom.

Doom asks him to stand. He is impressed. Despite being a half-breed, his heart is clearly beating his blood. How tragic, he continues, that this woman led him to believe his father was nothing more than some lowly American combatant. Vic agrees. His mom led him to believe he was a Marine who died in battle, but deep down, he’s always known that was a lie. Since the day he was born he felt like he came from greatness. He’d always hoped his real dad was someone important, but he honestly never thought it could be someone as huge as him. Doom says that he honors him with him words. “Perhaps it was not a mere moment of weakness that led me to bed this commoner back in…”

Doom suddenly stops talking as he looks over to Marianella. Strangely, her ropes are being untied by some invisible force. He pulls out a weapon and blasts the area behind her, and Nico is revealed, now almost unconscious from the impact. With her concentration gone, her spell weakens and the other runaways materialize. “What happened?” cries Molly. “We’re not indivisible anymore?” Doom demands, “What is the meaning of this treachery,” as Victor calls for Karolina to get Nico and his mom to the ship. Everyone else must carry out Plan B.

As Karolina takes to the air, she says that they always go to plan B. Maybe they should make that their Plan A in future. Doom takes pot shots at her as she takes to the air, and also at Molly who sprints out of the way. Gert tells Old Lace that it’s feeding time, and her pet attacks Doom, grabbing his right arm in its jaws. He retaliates by unleashing a burst of energy from his gauntlet that chokes Old Lace. Having an empathic relationship with Old Lace, Gert also suffers the effects.

Victor’s hands glow and crackle with blue energy, and he dishes it out at Doom who simply laughs at his attempt. He then grabs Victor in his fist and asks if he really thought he would fail to fortify his armor against his electromagnetic attacks? He completely mapped every nucleotide in his mutant DNA before he ever set foot in the states. From behind him, Molly clenches her fist and asks why, if he’s so smart, has he never heard of a distraction? She punches him with all her might in the stomach, but Doom simply stands there and takes it. “Ouch,” whimpers Molly, embarrassed. Doom grabs her by the throat too, and lifts them both off the ground, asking Molly to enjoy her final breath.

As Karolina is untying Mrs. Mancha, she orders Doom to put them down, and she takes to the air once again, firing a rainbow-colored blast of alien energy at Doom. Unfortunately, she catches Molly instead, and Doom informs her she needs to improve her marksmanship. “Observe a master at work.” He hurls Molly at her, and she collides with Karolina, bringing her down.

Doom once again focuses on Victor Mancha. Chase appears, carrying his prized laser from the Leapfrog. Gert calls him a blockhead. Where’s it supposed to gets its power from? Chase hadn’t thought of that. Doom tells Chase that he reminds him of another hotheaded arrogant young imbecile. He will enjoy dismembering him. Thinking quickly, Chase tosses the laser to Victor. “Energizer Bunny, heat this bizzach up!” Victor takes the weapon and gives it a charge. He thinks the laser has two settings - stun and kill. “Guess which one this is?” as asks Doom rhetorically, as he punches a gaping hole through Doom’s chest.

Gert takes a look at the downed Doom, and she notices that his insides are just wires and circuits. There’s no blood and guts! Marianella orders Gert to get away from him. He’s still dangerous. They have to get the girls out of there, now. Victor kneels beside Doom and agrees with Gert. This can’t be the real Doom. It’s just… a robot.

A metallic voice from behind Victor congratulates them. It says it was 99% certain that they would defeat his Doombot, but that they wouldn’t be able to damage it badly enough to realize it was merely one of his androids. “Truly my greatest creation.” Victor turns to see the menacing figure of Ultron standing there.

Gert knows just how much trouble they’re in. She actually listened through the briefing. Ultron is the worst killing machine ever invented. They’re dead. Marianella approaches Ultron and tells it that she did everything it asked of her. She hid Victor’s true lineage and kept him off its scent. Ultron replies that, ultimately, she failed in her duties and, for that, she must be executed. Ultron unleashes a ball of intense flame that turns Victor’s mom into ash in an instant.

Victor cries out, and fires at Ultron with the laser. Ultron is unfazed, and asks Victor, who he calls a simulacrum, not to shed a tear. Marianella was a degenerate criminal, nothing more than raw genetic stock for his glorious technological future. It only regrets that Victor discovered his true nature the way he did. He hadn’t intended him to encounter super-powered beings until the other pieces of his puzzle had come to play. It says it will explain things after his cleansing.

Ultron continues to explain that, with his Doombot, he had hoped to convince Victor that his conquered father was human, so that its current plans could continue unabated. However, Victor’s memory must now be erased. The other children will have to be dealt with, permanently.

Victor says he won’t let Ultron hurt them, but Ultron replies that it isn’t going to hurt anyone. “You are…” Suddenly, Victor’s eyes begin to glow red, the same color as Ultron’s. The energy in his palms also glows the same color and he turns to Gert and Chase. “As you wish, father.” Gert holds Chase’s hand. “Chase…” she begins. Chase replies, “I know, baby. I loved you, too.”

Characters Involved: 

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

Old Lace

Victor Mancha

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

Excelsior’s mystery benefactor

Marianella Mancha



Airport passengers

Story Notes: 

Pimp My Ride is a show on MTV, hosted by the rapper Xzhibit. They take vehicles and soup them up. A UK version is hosted by Tim Westwood.

The Teen Girl Squad is a simply drawn cartoon series featuring four female characters: Cheerleader, So and So, Whats Her Face and The Ugly One.

As Old Lace is attacked by the Doombot, a flatline appears in the panel. There is a small blip, but Gert’s okay at the end, so Old Lace is presumably just unconscious.

One would think that, unless the Doombot had something anchoring him to the ground, that Molly’s punch would have sent him flying. Either that or his armor is able to somehow absorb the impact.

The hotheaded arrogant young imbecile the Doombot refers to is probably Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, one of the real Dr. Doom’s oldest foes.

The Doombot calls Victor Mancha a mutant, but it seems that, as he is a creation of Ultron’s, he’s quite likely to be a cyborg. This might explain why his mom moved him from his previous school when they were about to install metal detectors, as mentioned in Runaways (2nd series) #2.

Issue Information: 
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