District X #13

Issue Date: 
July 2005
Story Title: 
One of us - part 1

David Hine (writer), Lan Medina (penciler), Alejandro ‘Boy’ Sicat (inks), Digital Rainbow (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt & Albert Deschesne (letters), Trevor Hairsine (cover), Sean Ryan (assistant editor), Nick Lowe (associate editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Bishop is having a phone conversation with a young mutant named Billy Bates, who is hiding away in Mutant Town’s Café des Artistes. Billy’s in a whole world of trouble. He explains to Bishop how he came to be there. He’s recently learned that he is a mutant, and his ‘power’ is having small needle-like protrusions that come out of his skin, and an elongated arm with long claws at the end of its fingers. This weekend, he had an argument with his family about seeing a mutant girl named Sylvette. He decided to go and see her at the Café des Artistes in Mutant Town, where she worked as a waitress. Once there, he became disturbed by a group of guys treating her badly and making deprecatory remarks about muties. Things became heated, and Billy inadvertently took down one of them with his needle projections, which sliced straight through him. He didn’t know he could do that, and panicked. Somehow, he’s ended up in a storeroom with Sylvette, with Bishop and countless police officers waiting for him outside.

Full Summary: 

(Mutant Town)

Bishop is on the phone to a young mutant named William Bates, a handsome blond teenager with a poor complexion. Their chat is amiable, and Bishop’s okay to call him Billy. He asks if his parents are with Bishop, but he hasn’t been able to locate them yet. Billy kinda wishes he’d gone shopping with them. He could be checking out this week’s comic books instead of being where he is now. He asks who he’s speaking to, and Bishop offers his name. Billy’s heard of him, and figures this must be pretty serious. He asks what happens now.

Bishop replies that it’s up to him. Does he want to come out? Billy thinks not. Bishop then asks what’s happening here, and wants to know how it came to this. Billy asks if he wants his life story, but Bishop says he’ll make do with the edited highlights. Billy reckons there’s not much to tell. None of this would have happened if he’d stayed in bed this morning.

(flashback - Billy’s home)

Billy lies in bed. He works a summer job in the garment district unloading trucks and stuff. He knows this awaits him should he drop out of school. He doesn’t work weekends, but sets the alarm out of habit. When it beeps, he usually has to get out of bed to turn it off, as it’s too far away. However, this morning, thanks to some changes he’s been going through, this isn’t an issue. His left arm begins to transmogrify, becoming longer and altering its appearance, mutating into a gnarled form with long claws on the end of its fingers.

His mother opens his bedroom door, and is startled by his appearance. He quickly covers himself in his bed sheet and reminds her to knock next time. She almost saw him naked. She appears not to have noticed his mutated arm. His mother ushers herself out of the room, and informs him that, when he’s dressed, they’re having breakfast and going for a family day out to the mall.

Billy joins his family for breakfast. He lives with his mom and dad, and two sisters, Jordan and Natalie. His dad asks if he’ll be joining them today, but Billy replies that he was kinda planning some stuff. His dad fancies doing some shopping, and then maybe they can take in a movie and eat somewhere; maybe the Japanese place Billy likes. Billy picks up a slice of toast, as Jordan remarks that he’s going to see his girlfriend. Billy is speechless. His mom is surprised, and Natalie says no way; asking if she’s blind, or like… challenged. Jordan adds that she’s a mutie.

Billy’s dad erupts at hearing the word, slamming his newspaper down on the kitchen table. “A what?” Jordan produces a photograph of Billy and a blonde girl. His dad takes a look, and asks who she is. Billy replies that her name is Sylvette. She’s a friend. His dad asks where they met, but Billy doesn’t appreciate the questions. His dad reminds him how he feels about these people, but Billy clearly doesn’t see eye-to-eye with him on the issue.

His dad explains that mutants refer to themselves as ‘Homo superior,’ as in superior to Homo sapiens. They hate and fear humans, and think that they’re the next stage of evolution. Well, they’re not, he adds. They’re nature’s failed experiments, but that isn’t going to stop them trying to take the whole planet away from them. When they fight back, they’ll use their mutant powers to destroy them - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day.

He asks Billy to think about the future, and the kind of world he wants for his children. Billy asks what if his kids are mutants. His dad doesn’t have a response for that. Natalie points to the photograph, and says that if Billy hooks up with that furball, they probably will be. He tries to get the photo off his dad, but he rips it in two, and tells Billy he is not seeing this person. Billy begins to sweat, and holds his forehead. Jordan looks at him, and immediately regrets bringing this out in the open. Billy leaves the room, and his mom puts her arms around his father’s shoulders. She says it’s his hormones. He’s seen how bad his complexion is these days. Natalie guesses these mutant girls aren’t that particular about zits.

As Billy makes his way to the bathroom, inch long needle-like protrusions extend from his ‘zits.’ He’s got to learn to control this thing, he thinks, as he looks at his reflection in the mirror. He touches one of the needles with his finger. “Ow! Man, that’s lethal!” His arm grows once again, and he rehearses a little monologue. “Homo superior. Yeah, right. Why not? This has to rate as a super power. Nobody messes with… The Porcupine!” He picks up a bar of soap with his extended claw, and thinks, “Yeesh! Gotta come up with a better name.”

He manages to retract the needles using will power, and then puts on some make-up to cover the holes. As he heads out, telling everyone he’s going to Mutant Town to see his mutant girlfriend, Natalie remarks that wearing her make-up is so gay. Her mom asks her not to use gay as a pejorative term. Some of her father’s best friends are gay. Natalie replies that he has one gay friend, and he only acts gay so he can hit on women without looking like some predatory sex-fiend. She asks Natalie how she knows that.

Jordan follows Billy outside, and apologizes for her behavior earlier. She’s sorry for the picture too, but Billy holds up his phone. He has the original. He touches Jordan’s chin, and tells her she’s still his favorite sister. “Like I have a lot of competition,” she replies with a grin. She tells Billy that Sylvie looks nice, and she should say hi for her.

(later, Mutant Town)

A bunch of guys are being refused entry into the Wildkat Club by the doormen. One of the group, PJ, asks a doorman why he’s wearing shades. Does he have some kind of heat vision or something? The doorman dryly replies that he’s got the power to beat him to a pulp without breaking a sweat. Billy passes by, and continues to the Café des Artistes. Sylvie is a waitress there, a young blonde mutant with an over abundance of hair covering her skin, and a long tail.

They’re not actually going out. Billy just got her to pose for a photo when he was there once. He says the place is quiet, and she informs him that the breakfast crowd is gone. It always gets like this. Billy likes her accent. She sounds like the chick in Amçlie. As two mutants leave the café, the guys who were rejected from the Wildkat Club enter and sit down. Sylvie goes over to take their orders, but they treat her disrespectfully, and make fun of the mutant photographs that adorn the café walls.

Billy makes his feeling known to them, but Sylvie asks him to cool it. She can handle things. It goes with the job. When one of them asks Sylvie if she ever works the Wildkat Club, and asks if she’d dance in his lap if he slips her a ten, Billy stands up and tells them not to talk to her like that. The guys turn to face him, and Sylvie tries her best to prevent a scene. Billy calls the guys morons, and says they’re going to apologize and then leave. PJ asks who he’s calling morons. He says Billy is no more substantial than the stains on his underwear.

His friend explains that they were just fooling around, and there’s no call for Billy to be getting an attitude. Billy replies that they don’t know who they’re messing with, and grabs one of them by the shirt. His friends laugh at the proposition of the slightly built Billy taking one of them on. Suddenly, Billy doubles over, and looks like he’s having some kind of fit. PJ is warned by one of his friends that he should let it go now. The kid could be a mutant.

Sure enough, Billy’s needles extend from his skin, and he grimaces at the as he stands upright. As he does so, the needles shoot from his body at speed, and the razor sharp weapons slice straight through PJ. He drops to the floor as Sylvie looks on in horror. Billy is also aghast. He didn’t mean to kill him! He didn’t even know he could do that.


Billy is sitting in a storeroom, chatting with Bishop. He adds that after that, things went crazy, but he guesses Bishop knows that by now. Bishop asks if he can speak with Sylvette, just to make sure she’s okay. Billy hands her the phone, but she’s terrified of him, and shies away. Billy assures her he’s not going to hurt her. She just needs to talk to Bishop. Billy gets back on the phone, and tells Bishop she doesn’t want to talk right now, but assures him she’s okay.

Bishop asks him to listen. He’s going to need Billy to send her out. Billy knows what fate awaits him should he do that. On the other side of the door are guys with flak jackets, CS gas and stun grenades. Billy knows that as soon as he comes out, they won’t be chatting like this. It’s gonna be yelling and shoving and he’s gonna be lying flat on the floor with a gun in his face with some cop slapping cuffs on him. Then, Bishop will come over and read him his rights and lock me in a cell. His life is over. So, if it’s okay with Bishop, he adds, he’ll stay in there a while. Above the café, a helicopter delivers a SWAT team. This isn’t looking good for Billy.

Characters Involved: 


William Nathaniel Bates

Sylvette (Sylvie)

NYPD officers

SWAT officers

(in flashback)

William Nathaniel Bates

Jack Bates his wife

Jordan and Natalie Bates

Wildkat Club doormen

Residents of Mutant Town


Café des Artistes customers including Leon Joseph Barfield and his pop, PJ and Ross

(in photograph)

William Nathaniel Bates


Story Notes: 

The Porcupine name is available. The original Porcupine was Alex Gentry, a former lackey of Count Nefaria. He first appeared in Tales to Astonish (1st series) #48 and died in Captain America (1st series) #315.

The Wildkat Club is owned by Daniel ‘Shaky’ Kaufman and was first seen in District X #5 when it was destroyed by Frankie Zapruder. It was refurbished and reopened, as seen in District X #8.

The Café des Artistes was first seen when Izzy and Gus ate there in District X #1. It is run by a man named Jean Claude.

Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amçlie Poulain (2001) is a quirky French movie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou and Matthieu Kassovitz.

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