Spotlight: Ultron #1AU

(w) Kathryn Immonen     (a) Amilcar Pinna

I love that the Runaways are making a comeback. First, Dennis Hopeless threw Nico and Chase into the mix over in Avengers Arena, and now, Victor Mancha gets his own one-shot that ties into Age of Ultron. Fans of Brian K. Vaughan’s Runaways already know that Victor is the son of Ultron and a human mother, making him quite the anomaly in this narrative about robots vs. humanity. Kathryn Immonen gets a lot of freedom in Ultron #1AU because Victor hasn’t been seen or heard from in a few years. Unfortunately, Immonen drops the ball simply due to this issue’s overly-simplistic nature. This is an Age of Ultron tie-in that has one big connection to the event that never gets much real attention.

Victor’s situation is rooted in his physiology as half human, half robot. Ultron drones are having trouble understanding exactly what Victor is, causing at least one gold-dome to explode from inexplicable data. Immonen reminds the reader of this fact on multiple occasions, but she does so without delving any deeper into the reason. Why can’t the Ultron robots distinguish Victor’s composition? Why hasn’t Victor attempted to contact his father? What is Victor’s greater significance?

Unfortunately, Immonen doesn’t touch on any of these questions. Being a One-Shot issue means everything happening here has to be self-contained, more or less. Instead, we’re dropped into the action without much set-up before Immonen uses the issue to introduce some new characters under Victor’s care during the decimation of Los Angeles. It’s a noble attempt to make Victor a foil for his father; protecting some while Ultron destroys so many. This is where Immonen falters because instead of pursuing this rich subtext, she continues to make the entire story about the robotics of it all. Yes, we get it Kathryn; Victor is half robot. Now, we need to know what that means.

Ultron #1AU is still a fun read. Victor himself is generally characterized well — self-doubt mixed with a self-imposed predisposition to help people. And while Kathryn Immonen does a great job fleshing out Victor’s inner journey, she stumbles in conveying a sympathetic plot. It’s fair to assume Victor will play a part in Age of Ultron going forward and possibly into the future. That being said, the main reason I’m thinking this is the case is simply because the kid got his own One-Shot, not because of Immonen’s story. Without any deeper connection to the main series or further exploration of Victor’s significance, Ultron #1AU misses a lot of potential and doesn’t feel as integral to the event as it should.

GRADE
6.5/10
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