District X #11

Issue Date: 
May 2005
Story Title: 
Underground - part 5

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

Brief Description: 

Bishop comes crashing through a window, courtesy of the Worm. He ‘s picked up by Izzy, who calls for back up, and soon, Nancy pulls up with a fellow officer. The Worm manages to escape, and Izzy later questions himself for not shooting him when he had the opportunity. Armena informs him that he needs to spend some time with Esteban, so the next morning he tries to help his son do his math homework. His efforts fail big time, and all he does is reinforce Esteban’s recent impressions of him being a bad father. Armena chastises her husband, and produces the pills Izzy has been taking. He tells her he and the guys use them to stay awake on night tours. They argue, and Armena tells him to leave; and come back when he’s sorted himself out. At the precinct, Mitya Smerdyakov enquires how the search for her brother is going. Izzy had forgotten all about him. The chief then tells him not to join Bishop at the tunnels, but he goes anyway. They head underground with Wilma from Child Welfare. They find that Melek has retreated further underground with some of his followers, but the majority wish to come out. Nemesio Pietri then arrives and tells Bishop he knows where the Worm is. Wilma leads the tunnel dwellers out, whilst Bishop and Izzy follow the artist. Further along the tunnels, they discover several dead bodies in the tunnels - victims of Winston Hobbes.

Full Summary: 

(District X)

It’s evening and the snow is gently falling. Ismael ‘Izzy’ Ortega is sitting in his car, chatting to Lara the Illusionist on the phone. He explains that he’s on stakeout but nothing much is happening. Suddenly, Bishop comes crashing through a window and into the street below. Izzy looks across the street in shock and hangs up. As Bishop’s body hits the street, Izzy immediately gets on the blower to central. “Ten-thirteen central! Ambulance and back-up to Two-Twenty Rankin Avenue!” He then dashes over to Bishop, who staggers to his feet. He asks where the hell he was. He tried to get through on his cell, and he asks who he was talking to. Izzy lies, and says it was Armena, his wife, before asking what happened up there.

Bishop explains that the Worm showed up. His bite’s definitely worse than his bark. He’s been bitten by some kind of soporific. Izzy helps him to his feet, and Bishop warns him to be ready when Winston comes down. He’s not in a good mood. Upstairs in his parent’s apartment, Winston leaves a trail of destruction, spurred on by him seeing the photographs of his parents and their ‘normal’ second child. Winston smashes the frames in anger and hurt.

Outside, Nancy pulls up in a squad car and asks Izzy what the problem is. The answer to her question appears in the doorway of the building Bishop just came out of. A fellow officer orders Winston to stop, but Nancy panics and just wants to shoot it. Winston sprints across the street, knocking them both out of the way with his bulk. Shots ring out, but fail to slow him down.

Izzy begins to give chase, but Bishop knows it’s futile. As Winston reaches the sewer, Izzy is still on his tail. He aims his pistol at Winston, who turns and looks right at him. Izzy realizes he cannot go through with it, and allows Winston to escape into the darkness beneath New York.


Izzy has returned home, and Armena provides a relaxing neck rub. She’s pleased he didn’t shoot, as he’s never had to resort to that before. Izzy isn’t so sure. Hobbes has killed two people, and he could have ended it. But, he didn’t, and he wonders what if he kills again. Armena assures him that he made the right choice. Izzy asks if it’s the right choice if he kills ten people… or a hundred? How many does he have to kill to make it the wrong choice?

Armena changes the subject, and informs her husband that the kids told her about Carrie. He really upset her. Izzy asks if he’s missing something here. How did the conversation change from not shooting a homicidal maniac to upsetting a babysitter? Armena climbs under the covers, and replies that he upset the kids too; especially Esteban. She thinks he needs to spend some time with him.

(the next morning)

Esteban is doing his homework when Izzy enters his room. He tries to engage his son in conversation, but Esteban doesn’t respond. Izzy asks if he’s getting the silent treatment because he yelled at Carrie. Again, no response. “Turn around and look at me,” he screams. Esteban reels in shock, as his father grabs the math book from him. He looks at the equations and tells Esteban they’re wrong. Esteban knows, so Izzy asks him why he does it like this if he knows. It’s easy stuff. “What’s nine multiplied by seven?” he asks. Esteban says he doesn’t know, and answers seventy-three. Izzy leans down next to him, and puts his face close to his son’s. He asks Esteban to answer him this one. “Are… you… stupid?”

A tear tracks it’s way down Esteban’s cheek and he tries to leave, but Izzy’s not finished yet. He explains that Armena wants him to help with his homework, so they’re going to stay there until he gets it right. Esteban folds his arms, defensively, and says he’s mean. Izzy is angry, and replies, “Yeah. I’m mean. Daddy’s a bad, mean, horrible man. Daddy made Carrie cry.” Esteban replies by telling him he made mommy cry. Izzy is surprised, and takes a step back. Esteban adds that she cries all the time when he’s not there.

Izzy asks if he wants him to go, and Esteban says yes. Izzy tells him he’ll pack his bags and walk out the door - then everyone will be happy. Esteban didn’t mean that, and Izzy asks him to make up his mind. “You want me to stay or go?”

Armena appears in the doorway and asks Izzy to stop it. She ushers Esteban from the room and asks how could he? She says that what he just did to Esteban was worse than hitting him. Izzy replies that he’s tired and stressed. He can’t do this right now. Armena holds up a bottle of pills, and asks if these help. Izzy tells her they do. A lot of guys use them as it helps keep them awake on night tours. Armena asks if a lot of guys leave a loaded gun lying around their house where their kids can find it.

Izzy isn’t in the mood for this. Armena reminds him that, if it wasn’t for Mercator, Chamayra would be dead! Izzy points at her, and says she couldn’t leave it alone. Armena then bows her head, and tells him she wants him to leave. He can’t be around the kids like this. Again, Izzy realizes he’s in the wrong, and puts his arms on his wife’s shoulder. He assures her he’ll stop taking the pills and spend more time with them. Good, she replies. He can stop the pills, sort himself out and then come back.

Izzy says that if everyone wants him to leave, he’ll leave. As he starts to walk, Armena asks, “Who is she?” He looks at her, but Armena doesn’t really want to know. She hands him the pills and, and Izzy departs.

(Eleventh Precinct station house)

Izzy arrives at the precinct, only to find Mitya Smerdyakov with her young son, Mikhail, waiting for him. She informs him that her brother, Gregor, hasn’t come home yet. Izzy had forgotten all about Gregor. He tells Mitya that he has to be somewhere, but he’ll make sure someone is looking into this.

Izzy enters Chief Esposito’s office, and his boss asks him what he’s doing there. He replies that he’s meeting Bishop. They’re bringing the tunnel people up. The Chief informs him that Bishop’s already there. He said for Izzy to go home. He isn’t needed.


A SWAT team commander informs Bishop that he has four full teams on standby. He has until 1500 hours to bring the tunnel people out before they go in. He tells Bishop that he should understand they will use lethal force if he feels his men’s lives are under any threat. Bishop understands perfectly. He notices Izzy’s arrival, and asks if he got the message. Izzy says he’s not needed; he got it. He asks if this is to do with Nemesio’s painting. “You think I’m going to get you killed?” Bishop replies that it’s to do with him. He can’t afford any mistakes here. The SWAT teams are itching to go in and shoot anything that moves. Izzy apologizes for screwing up last night, and promises it won’t happen again.


Melek is informed by Sarah that some people are there to see him. He heads into the main room, and finds Dzemal standing next to a man and his daughter. Many other tunnel dwellers stand by to listen. Melek asks if they’re ready to leave. They need to be as far away as possible when they come. The man replies that some of them have decided to go up. “Up?” enquires Melek. The man says they can’t take their children any further down, and Dzemal adds that the children need light. Melek says they will take their children away if they go up, but the man feels they must take that chance. Melek accepts his position. Whether they go into the light or down into the darkness - who can say which is the greater folly? The two groups wish each other well, and Melek leads his followers into the darkness by torchlight.

(above ground)

Bishop introduces Izzy to Wilma Parks from Child Welfare. Wilma will be taking care of family groups with children, he explains. They shake hands before heading underground. As they venture deeper, using flashlights to find their way, Bishop tells Wilma that he’s not anticipating any problems, but there is one thing. If it comes up, the kids won’t be separated from their families. Wilma replies that she can’t say that. Some of the parents are likely to be addicts, or psychologically disturbed. The children may not be safe with them. Bishop tells her that what she says later, when they’re above ground is up to her, but while they’re down there, he suggests she tell them exactly what they want to hear. Wilma says she isn’t going to be intimidated. “I’ll tell them…”

Her voice tails off as the tunnel rats are revealed to be standing all around them in silence. “Exactly what they want to hear,” she adds, quietly. Bishop says hi to Dzemal who tells him everyone is ready to go with him. Bishop asks about Melek, and Dzemal informs him that he won’t be coming out. A few people followed him, but not many. He shouldn’t follow them. They just want to be left alone.

(elsewhere in the tunnels)

The artist, Nemesio Pietri, dashes through one of the tunnels, splashing through the water. He stumbles and drops his torch. He turns and sees the shadow of Winston Hobbes approaching. He quickly grabs his torch and continues at pace, frightened of being caught.

He emerges into the opening where Bishop is departing with all the tunnel dwellers. “Wait!” he cries. He tells Bishop he knows where the Worm is, and will take him there. Bishop asks Dzemal to go with Ms. Parks. She’ll take him up. He advises her to take it easy on her way out. The SWAT guys are on a hair trigger. He asks Izzy if he’s coming. Izzy recalls the painting he saw earlier of him with blood on his hands, but says he will.

As they follow Nemesio, Bishop lights up paintings on the ceiling. They are depictions of people fleeing; terrified. Nemesio says they’re only rough sketches. He has to work fast. He shows them into another opening and informs them that Winston’s been here. “You see, I’m never wrong,” he adds. “It’s just how I saw it.” Lit up by their torches, they see around a dozen tunnel dwellers lying dead; one of them with a dismembered head lying beside its body.

Characters Involved: 


Izzy Ortega

Winston Hobbes


Armena and Esteban Ortega

Eleventh Precinct officers and detainees

Mitya and Mikhail Smerdyakov

Chief Esposito

SWAT team

Tunnel Rats

Melek the Telepath



Wilma Parks

Nemesio Pietri

(in photographs)

Andrea and Walker Hobbes

The Hobbes’ other son

Story Notes: 

The code 10-13 is Assist Police Officer.

Mr. M (Absolon Mercator) saved Chamayra’s life in District X #6.

The painting of Izzy with blood on his hands was shown in District X #9.

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