District X #10

Issue Date: 
April 2005
Story Title: 
Underground - part 4

David Hine (writer), Lan Medina (penciler), Alejandro ‘Boy’ Sicat (inks), Digital Rainbow (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt (letters), Tom Raney (cover), Sean Ryan & Stephanie Moore (assistant editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Bishop and Izzy visit the parents of Winston Hobbes, and they feel they have little choice to leave. Meeting their son in person could be disastrous. Alexei Vazhin calls Bishop and asks him how the investigation is going. Bishop assures him that he’s going to find whoever is organizing the tunnel people. Vazhin says if there’s another blackout, the amnesty will be over and the tunnels will be cleared by force. Izzy returns home to shower and discovers that the babysitter, Carrie, is beautiful when her mutant skin is removed. He pops some pills and rejoins Bishop. In the tunnels, they are ambushed by several tunnel rats, but before the battle becomes too nasty, Melek orders them to stop. He meets with Bishop and Izzy, and is told in no uncertain terms, that, if they don’t come out of the tunnels voluntarily, they will be forced out. Melek replies that he’ll give Bishop his decision by tomorrow. On the way out, Bishop meets Dzemal, who has been using drugs. He is a sorry figure these days. Bishop and Izzy then stake out the Hobbes’ apartment, waiting for Winston to arrive. Izzy waits in the car and assures Bishop that he’ll warn him should Winston arrive. Soon, the lights go out again, but only in the building. Izzy has missed Winston’s arrival after popping more pills and by calling Lara the Illusionist on his cell phone. Winston has cut the power to give him the advantage. Bishop, alone in the apartment, is attacked by Winston Hobbes, who knocks him to the floor and bites him on the neck. As Bishop feels the poison begin to paralyze him, he wonders where Izzy is when he needs him.

Full Summary: 

Bishop and his partner, Izzy, visit the home of Andrea and Walker Hobbes. They are the parents of Winston Hobbes, also known as the Worm. Walker is particularly hirsute and his wife has an overly large forehead, which clearly identify them as mutants. Bishop has taken a picture of Winston with them so that his parents can verify it is really him.

The Hobbes’ sit on the couch, and are surprised at the picture. It’s been so long, his mother had almost forgotten how he looked. His father asks if he really killed people. Izzy is afraid he did. Andrea feels that maybe they can still talk to their son, but Izzy says they could try that. “Sit him down with a plate of cookies and explain why you didn’t want him in their cozy new home here.” Walker thinks they should pack.

Outside in the snow, Bishop tells Izzy that he was a little harsh back there. Izzy points out that Winston was in St. Jerome’s for twelve years and they didn’t visit him once. How’s that for harsh? Bishop’s cell phone rings, and he finds his boss, Alexei Vazhin on the other end. He informs Vazhin that they’re sending the Hobbes to a safehouse. Vazhin asks about the terrorists, and if there’s been any progress. Bishop informs him that the transit cops are taking him down to the last underground settlement they trashed. If he can find the tunnel people, he’s hoping they’ll lead him to whoever is organizing them. Vazhin orders him not to mess this up. If there’s another blackout tonight, the amnesty is over. The tunnels will be cleared out by force. Bishop asks Izzy if he can handle the tunnels in a couple of hours. Izzy needs a shave and a shower, but he’ll be there.

(The Ortega family apartment)

Izzy returns home to find Chamy there. He asks why she isn’t in school, and she reminds him that it’s Saturday. He appears to have lost track of time. She explains that her mom’s mad at him, as he didn’t call. He asks where she is, and Chamy informs him that Abuelita Elisa is acting weird again. She’s gone over to calm her down. Carrie is looking after them. Izzy gets cleaned up, but only after taking some pills from a small medicine bottle hidden in the bathroom.

He enters the living room to find their mutant babysitter, Carrie, removing strips of skin from her own body; like a snake shedding its old skin. Izzy is annoyed, and asks her not to do that in front of the children. She apologizes profusely, and dashes to the bathroom to do it in private. Esteban thinks his dad is just mean. As Carrie continues removing the skin; Izzy knocks on the bathroom door. He has to leave for work, and he asks if she’s all right. She opens the door to reveal a new person beneath the skin. Standing before Izzy is a beautiful young woman. The transformation makes Izzy take a step back.

“Oh, you look…” mutters Izzy. Carrie says she looks human. She has done for a week now. She guesses it’s better than nothing. Izzy apologizes for what he said earlier. He’s been stressed out and has been up all night. Carrie tells him it’s all right - she’s used to it.


Izzy has hooked up with Bishop again, and they join the transit cops in one of the old settlements. Their flashlights reveal a scene of dereliction. They haven’t returned. The cops aren’t exactly big fans of the tunnel dwellers, and feel they deserve to live in filth. “They scavenge food from the dumpsters!” One officer explains that up in the world, there are official shelters where they can get food, clothes and a bed. If they ask them; they’ll take them there. “You’re a real angel,” replies Izzy, sarcastically. His partner, Eddie, asks Bishop and Ismael to be careful. The ‘chuds’ are pretty harmless, but he hears stories.

Bishop and Izzy stroll through the tunnels alone. Bishop lights up a painting on one of the walls. It’s of a group of people looking either dead, or dying. Nemesio’s been there. Izzy remarks that his outlook on life doesn’t seem to have brightened up much. Staring at an image of an emaciated person, kneeling in torment, Izzy wonders what Nemesio thinks is going to happen.

Suddenly, from out of the darkness comes a real scary face, baring two rows of fearsome jagged teeth. The creature charges Izzy, who falls backwards with shock. Several more of these creatures emerge from the shadows, and they look like they mean business. Bishop uses his X.S.E training to throw one off him and then unleashes a blast of energy from his hands that zaps another. Bishop then grabs one of the creatures by the neck, but freezes when he hears a voice inside his mind. “Stop.” Everyone else hears it too, and Bishop realizes it’s a telepath.

One of the creatures, who are actually tunnel rats, asks him who they’re looking for. Izzy replies that, according to their handwriting expert, they’re after a well-educated, middle-aged male who tends towards depression and megalomania. Bishop feels his tact will be more productive than Izzy’s barbed comments. He asks to meet the person who wrote the messages from ‘Those who live in darkness.’ The guy replies that Melek says he can visit him, as long as they hand over their weapons. Is that all right?

Soon, Melek is disturbed from his slumber by Sarah, who informs him that Bishop and Izzy have arrived. Joining his fellow tunnel rats in a larger room, Melek greets them both and introductions are got out of the way. Melek, it turns out, isn’t a mind reader. He can communicate with people telepathically over a limited distance; that’s all. Down in the tunnels, it can be useful, but with the advent of cellular phones, his abilities are fairly limited on the surface.

Bishop asks if Melek is the leader of these people. He replies that they don’t need a leader. He is just a spokesperson; someone to put their point of view across. Bishop adds that the bombs must just underline their point. The statute books list that under terrorism. “Bombs?” replies Melek. “No one here knows anything about bombs.” Bishop makes him a deal. It’s a one-time offer and won’t be repeated. He offers to give all the people there a chance to come up to the surface peacefully within twenty-four hours. They will all be safely accommodated and provided with emergency health care. Melek doesn’t find the offer particularly appealing. Bishop adds that, if they aren’t out by then, SWAT teams will move in and clear the tunnels by force.

Melek asks what will happen to the children. Bishop can only promise that every effort will be made to keep families together. Melek asks if he knows how many times they’ve heard that. Words, promises, assurances. Izzy points out that the media will be there this time. With the world watching, they should find that things will be different. Melek thanks him for the offer, and tells him he’ll talk to his people. Perhaps he can persuade them.

Melek puts his arm around Sarah, and informs Bishop that he’ll have his reply by tomorrow. He asks whether when, and if, they come to the surface, does Bishop plan on arresting him? Bishop truthfully replies that there were serious acts of terrorism. What happens to those responsible is out of his hands. He does, however, suggest that a further blackout won’t make things any better for him. Izzy adds one more thing. He mentions the two recent murders by someone from the tunnels. Melek knows of this, but says the culprit isn’t a member of their community. There are places deeper underground, and he can’t answer for whatever lives down there. Melek departs and has his friends escort the two cops to the surface.

As they depart, with Bishop lighting their way with a flashlight, he notices someone following them out of the corner of his eye. He asks Izzy not to turn around, and then suddenly lets out a burst of energy that lights up the tunnel. Their stalker turns out to be Dzemal, who covers his eyes immediately. Bishop recognizes him. Dzemal says he just wanted to ensure they got out safely. Some of those guys sometimes do bad things. Bishop asks what he’s doing there, and Izzy asks what he’s on. Dzemal admits that he’s been on quite a few things, but right now he’s on nothing. That’s why he looks so bad, he figures.

Bishop is surprised that he’s admitted to using drugs. Dzemal tells Bishop that he thought he could make something of himself. He informs Izzy that Bishop helped him. He was working for Filthy Frankie Zapruder; a stupid thing to do. He got him free of Frankie, and gave him some set up money. “So what happened?” asks Bishop. Dzemal asks if he means… why did he let him down? He bows his head, and replies that the money he was given was taken to his father, so he could use it to give up driving taxis, study English and get a real job, like he should be doing. But, he knew where the money came from. He could smell Frankie on it.


Dzemal is at his father’s apartment. He stands helplessly as his father rolls the money into balls and throws them at him, one by one after spitting on them. It takes a long time.


Dzemal continues to say that when his father had finished, he picked them all up and took them with him. The money his father spat on was no good, so he spent it all on drugs; Toad Juice, speed, coke - whatever was there. He apologizes to Bishop. It’s not his fault, but his father’s right. You can’t buy a life with dirty money. Dzemal disappears back into the darkness of the tunnel, leaving Bishop and Izzy to continue their investigations.

(later, the Hobbes apartment)

Bishop looks out the window. It’s snowing outside, and Izzy wonders whether the Worm will turn up if there’s no blackout. Bishop reminds Izzy that all Winston has cared about for years is getting back with his parents. Now, he thinks he knows where they are; he doesn’t think a few streetlights will deter him.

Izzy checks out the photographs on a nearby table. Andrea and Walker Hobbes are smiling, and with them is their second child; a normal healthy-looking boy. Izzy can see why Winston was replaced in their affections by him. They must have got lucky second time around. Human genes beat out mutant.

They leave the apartment, and head to their car. Izzy asks what happens if he doesn’t show. How long before they let his parents back home? Bishop is certain that Winston will show. Izzy tells Bishop that they can’t make a career out of this. If he doesn’t see Armena soon, she’ll forget what he looks like. Bishop reiterates that he’ll come. Izzy climbs into the driver’s seat, and Bishop asks him if he’s okay. He seems kind of tense. Izzy replies that he’s fine. He promises that, if he sees anything, he’ll give Bishop a heads-up, and then call backup. Bishop shouldn’t worry; he’s on it. “You won’t fall asleep?” asks Bishop, wanting a little assurance. Izzy says he’s got a flask of coffee. He’s good.

As Bishop returns to the Hobbes’ apartment, Izzy produces the bottle of pills he had earlier. He drops a few into his gloved hand. "I’m good," he adds, with a grin that borders on the nefarious.


Nemesio Pietri is reading by candlelight when he hears something in the sewer. He extinguishes the candle, looks into the sewer, and watches the strange figure of Winston Hobbes making his way to the surface. Once there, he travels quickly through the snow towards his parents apartment; crying all the way. In the car, Izzy is too busy phoning someone on his cell phone to notice Winston passing right by. As Winston enters the cellar of the building, Izzy asks, “Hi, did I wake you?”

Winston flicks the switches on the electric boxes, cutting the power. In the Hobbes’ apartment, Bishop thinks it must be Melek up to his old tricks. He looks out the window and notices that all the other buildings seem to have power, so it can’t be that. He calls Izzy’s cell phone, but it’s engaged. He wonders who the hell he’s calling.

“Okay Hobbes,” says Bishop to himself, “Let’s do this.” As he turns the door handle to the apartment and opens the door, Winston’s hulking figure comes leaping at Bishop, toppling him and sending him crashing to the floor. Immediately, he bites Bishop’s shoulder, and he lets out a scream of agony. Instinctively, Bishop unleashes a burst of energy at Winston, who is thrown backwards. As Izzy continues his conversation, Bishop begins to stumble, and realizes that he’s been poisoned. “Izzy… where are you?” he mutters as he begins to black out. In the car, Izzy is wholly unaware of Bishop’s predicament. “I’ve been thinking about you all day, Lara.”

Characters Involved: 


Izzy Ortega

Chamayra and Esteban Ortega

Andrea and Walker Hobbes

Alexei Vazhin


NYPD officers including Eddie

Tunnel Rats

Melek the Telepath



Nemesio Pietri

Winston Hobbes

(in flashback)

Dzemal and his father

(in photographs)

Andrea, Walker and Winston Hobbes

The Hobbes’ other son

Story Notes: 

Winston’s parents are named in this issue.

This is the first appearance of Sarah, and Dzemal’s father.

Izzy speaks on the phone to Lara. She is an illusionist who made quite an impression upon Izzy in District X #5.

Carrie is wearing a Punisher belt buckle - go rent it!

Melek has a staff that resembles a shepherd’s crook, probably to put forward the fact that he is the shepherd and the tunnel rats are his flock, despite him saying he is simply their spokesperson. Either that or he’s simply unsteady on his feet due to his age.

Dzemal was freed of Frankie Zapruder’s employ in X-Men Unlimited (2nd series) #2. That issue established that his father was a professor of philosophy and was making a living as a cab driver because he spoke little English. Frankie Zapruder’s smell would be on the notes as his mutant ‘power’ is to secrete often fairly noxious scents from his body.

Toad Juice was a natural drug, secreted from the body of a young mutant named Tarquin Berdeaux, or Toad Boy, whose powers were cured in District X #4 by Absolon Mercator.

It was established that Winston’s bite is potentially lethal in District X #9.

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