Ultron #1AU (2013)
Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Artist: Amilcar Pinna
Android teen Runaway Victor Mancha gets his own one-shot in this Age of Ultron crossover, perhaps even outdoing the main series.
Created by Brian K. Vaughan for the second volume of Runaways, some clever folks at Marvel have remembered that this Victor Mancha kid was actually the son of Ultron, created as an android sleeper agent to take down the Avengers. Taken in by the Runaways, a group made up entirely of super powered kids of villains, he continued to fight the good fight for the side of the light, which is kind of where this book picks up. Except this issue actually takes place inside the Age of Ultron reality, and it is Victor who is the hero of his own tale. So as the Age of Ultron maxi-series continues to lumber along toward the Age of A.I., we take yet another detour on the road to the next event.
Kathryn Immonen gets to continue her run, albeit briefly, from the series that went on hiatus back in 2009. While it isn’t the Runaways reunion special that some might be hoping for, she cleverly manages to weave the original team into the narrative. It also continues the principal themes of exploring teenage runaways out of costume and in deeper than anybody their age should have to be. It’s a spirit that has continued in Marvel comics since the original X-Men, and it is especially poignant as Victor – who was himself taken in by the Runaways – looks to reconnect not only with a new kind of family, but with his own humanity as well. After rescuing the latest of a handful of children he has found in the rubble, Victor hides his technological body from the gang of youngsters, desperate to keep them together. It’s actually an issue tinged with regret and a mournful need for belonging, making this more about humanity’s struggle than anything in the main Age of Ultron title.
Amilcar Pinna, who may be familiar from all-ages titles like Marvel Adventures Super Heroes and X-Men First Class Finals, delivers a style that is appropriate to that sub-genre. Pinna is an excellent pin-up artist, and has delivered some impressive work in the past. However, while the excellent colours bring that world to life, the more melancholy nature of this book doesn’t always gel well with this style. Pinna’s pencils are somewhat inconsistent, and this occasionally detracts from the otherwise solid human interest story.
This may not fully satisfy Runaways fans, and nor should it be considered essential reading for the Age of Ultron crossover event. However, taken in the context of that series, this provides the human (or in this case, android) backbone to what has so far been the arguments of gods. It’s a capable standalone issue, but its real heart lies as a companion to the bigger event, and it might be worth waiting to see this as part of a bigger Age of Ultron collection which will no doubt drop later this year. For now, keep your fingers crossed that this marks a hint at a new Runaways book (or at least a Victor Mancha book) in the Age of A.I.
If you are an iTunes user, subscribe to our weekly podcast free here and please leave us feedback.