District X #3

Issue Date: 
September 2004
Story Title: 
Mr. M - part 3

David Hine (writer), David Yardin (penciler), Alejandro ‘Boy’ Sicat (inks), Avalon’s Andy Troy (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (letters), Steve McNiven (cover), Cory Sedlmeier & Stephanie Moore (assistant editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Shaky Kaufman decides to take Toad Boy away from Frankie Zapruder, and he employs a certain amount of violence to achieve this task. Armena and Izzy Ortega are woken by their kids. They head off to school, whilst Izzy gets dressed. Izzy’s former partner, Gus Kucharsky, is visited by Bethany Danziger, who informs him that her thoughts over her sister’s murder were clouded by her previous relationship with Jake. She decides not to proceed with a private prosecution. After she leaves, Gus celebrates, but his joy is short-lived. The mysterious Mr. M pays him a visit and tells Gus that he witnessed the whole thing from his apartment. He appears to know more than just what went on that day. Gus calls Izzy for reassurance that he will back him up if anything comes out about the shooting, and Izzy provides it. Izzy heads to work and visits the scene of Toad Boy’s abduction with Bishop. Bishop tells Izzy that the mutant war is starting, but Izzy still isn’t won over. Frankie Zapruder, meanwhile, is furious over the kidnapping and swears revenge on Shaky Kaufman. At Shaky’s, Toad Boy is now producing his juice for his new benefactor. Shaky is angry at Jazz for not informing him that the boy gives off toxic fumes. His Mercedes was damaged as a result of the driver hallucinating. He makes Jazz pay off his debt by selling toad juice at his club, Daniel’s Inferno. That night, a couple of humans enter the restroom with him to do business. The girl buys a tab, but her boyfriend makes a run for it with his entire stash. Jazz gives chase, but is stopped by Mr. M, who phases through the wall and grabs him. The girl, meanwhile, takes a hit and, to her horror, discovers that TJ has unforeseen side effects.

Full Summary: 

(Manhattan meat-packing district, early morning)

Toad Boy is awake and being attended to by two of Frankie Zapruder’s medical staff. They wear protective facemasks, as they absorb his sweat using swabs and catch his saliva in a bowl. A kettle-shaped object is possibly there to be used for ‘other’ bodily excretions. Toad Boy’s bodily output acts as a highly effective drug, which can be turned into Toad Tabs and sold on the street for huge profits.

Outside the warehouse, named Shed 3, is Daniel ‘Shaky’ Kaufman, Mr. Punch, Jazz, the bouncer from the strip club and two more of Kaufman’s goons. Jazz isn’t keen on joining them in their morning raid and Kaufman allows him to wait in the car. His goons are armed, and the eye patch-sporting bouncer carries a buzz saw. He goes to work on the door and kicks it through, followed by his heavily armed companions. Kaufman, squeezing a smiley face stress ball to help control his emotions, wants at least one of the warehouses’ defenders taken alive. His goons enter and open fire, easily taking out the surprised gunmen inside; employees of Shaky’s main rival - Frankie Zapruder.

The bouncer keeps his foot pressed down on the last survivor as he looks up at Shaky. The buzz saw provides the incentive to answer any questions put to him. Shaky wants the Toad Boy’s whereabouts, and he promptly gets his answer. They make their way to the makeshift medical lab where the staff have installed a bar heater to make Toad Boy sweat more. He sits on a dentist’s chair; his excess sweat dribbling down to a collecting hole in the floor.

Shaky and Mr. Punch lead Toad Boy away, and Mr. Punch informs Toad Boy that Mr. Kaufman will be taking care of his interests from now on. He asks for his mom, and Shaky orders someone to find her. She is found in a small room with only the bare necessities and a television set, and she is soon reunited with her mutant offspring. She calls him Tarquin as she runs to him, giving him a big hug. With her arms around his shoulders, she can’t help but stick her tongue out and take a lick at her son’s neck.

(The Ortega family residence)

Chamayra, wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt, enters her parent’s bedroom and prods at her mom’s protective bubble to wake her. Armena stretches and the bubble dissipates, leaving a residue on her bed sheets. Izzy sleeps in the next bed. Chamayra tells her that she and her brother, Esteban, have been up for ages, and have made breakfast. Armena heads to the bathroom whilst Chamayra, or Chamy, as her mom likes to call her, gathers the bed sheets to put in the wash. Armena thanks her, but asks her not to wake Izzy as he’s on the late shift today. The mischievous Esteban doesn’t care, and leaps onto his father’s back, telling him they’ve made pancakes.

Moments later, Izzy is awake and he joins his wife for breakfast. Armena is a grade school teacher, and she chats about the latest assignment she set. She then asks about the new fed guy. Izzy informs her that it turns out that Bishop is a mutant. He’s kind of macho, but he’s okay and she’d like him. She asks about the enquiry, and wonders if he could be in trouble. The barely awake Izzy snaps at her and defends himself, asking why he should be in trouble. He’s a cop. They used to be the good guys. Armena tells him not to bite her head off. She can see he is worried, that’s all. Izzy rubs his forehead and apologizes. He tells Armena that the sister could make things awkward. She’s going to see Gus today.

(Bellevue Hospital)

Officer Sam Klein and his partner show Bethany Danziger into Gus’s room and introduce them to each other. Gus is now in a wheelchair and his head is still bandaged following the shooting incident involving Bethany’s sister and husband Jake. They both died at Gus’s hands, but Izzy and Gus agreed on an entirely different story and are sticking to it.

She takes a seat and tells Gus that she’s truly sorry for what happened. Gus says he is too. He feels bad about her husband getting hold of his gun. He must be getting careless in his old age. Bethany guessed that something like that would happen one day, but says that Jake was always such a gentle person. “Yeah,” replies Gus, “But he had your sister chained up like a dog.” Bethany reveals that there’s something she didn’t mention earlier. She actually introduced Jake to her sister, bringing him home to meet her family. She and Jake were engaged, so she guesses she kinda had mixed-up feelings for the both of them.

Bethany mentions that she’s been approached by a lawyer, who says she should take out a private prosecution against the NYPD. She doesn’t know for sure how her sister died, but she’s at peace now, lord willing, so she doesn’t see the need to cause more trouble to anyone. She stands and heads for the door, letting Gus know that she won’t be needing him. Once she is through the door, Gus clenches his fists and grins from ear to ear. “Yes!” he cries in relief.

Gus’s overwhelming joy is brought to an abrupt end by a voice coming from the corner of his room. “It looks like you got away with it.” Gus looks over and sees a strange man, the man we already know as Mr. M. He asks the stranger how the hell he got in there. Mr. M replies that he is a witness. He lives opposite the Costanzas and the blinds were up the day Gus shot them. This allowed him a perfect view. So, he continues, he has a decision to make. Does he come forward and tell the truth, or does he stay out of it. Gus asks if it’s money he wants. Mr. M replies that he doesn’t want money. He wants to know if Gus is worth keeping quiet for.

Mr. M tells Gus that he knows she made him do it. He’s watched her, and she can make people do lots of things. He’s sure she wanted to die, but she could never have made her husband kill anyone. She needed a man with murder in his heart. That’s why she chose him.

(The Ortega residence)

Armena asks Chamy to get a move on, but she appears with a postcard from Aunty Laline. Izzy reads it, with Armena peering over his shoulder. “Brazil, huh? She gets around that sister of yours,” she says. Izzy replies that she doesn’t have to get by on a cop’s salary; or a teacher’s. Armena adds that she doesn’t have any kids. She pecks him on the cheek and asks him not to wake her when he returns home tonight.

Izzy dresses and, by eight o’clock, he finds the phone ringing. On the other end is a weary Gus. He has something to ask Izzy. He is worried about the shooting, and wonders if Izzy would rat on him if something came up. Izzy replies that of course he wouldn’t. Izzy asks about Ms. Danziger, and Gus lets him know that she was okay. He just needs to know if Izzy will stick by him, ‘Fidelis Ad Mortem.’ Izzy assures him that he’s sticking to the story before their conversation ends and he heads to the precinct.

(11th precinct station house)

By the time Izzy arrives for his 9 o’clock shift, Bishop is already there and he tells Izzy to turn around, as they have to visit a crime scene. They head to Shed 3, where the crime scene has been cordoned off by other officers. Bishop remarks about the door that was cut open. “Looks like someone forgot his keys.” Detective Sam Klein asks if he is Bishop and they shake hands. Bishop asks what happened here. Klein informs him that an anonymous called reported the sound of gunfire. They’ve got four bodies. The vics are known associates of Frankie Zapruder.

Bishop turns to Izzy and tells him that this is it. It’s starting. The disbelieving Izzy replies that this is hardly a mutant war. These guys are just thugs who happen to be mutants. They don’t exactly have Earth-shaking abilities. Maybe they have an extra digit or two, like the guy lying next to them, or maybe they just smell bad. “Like Frankie,” says Bishop. Izzy adds that he’s not exactly a super-villain. What’s he gonna do? “Break wind in our general direction and asphyxiate us?” Bishop isn’t impressed with Izzy’s levity. He tells him that there is a question of public perception. Being a mutant is like being black. You can be a black check out clerk, or the black heavyweight champion of the world… but the first thing you are is black. Same thing with mutants.

He turns back to Detective Klein and asks what this place is exactly. Standing under a row of meat hooks, he informs Bishop that it used to be a meatpacking warehouse. Most of these places closed down when the area went upmarket. Bishop runs his gloved hand across the wall where a hail of bullets had ended their deadly journey. “Looks like they did their slaughtering with machine guns,” he points out. “I think you should run some tests on these stains. On these meat hooks too.” “Executions?” asks Izzy. Bishop reckons they’ve found Frankie’s personal killing floor.

Klein tells them that there is some paraphernalia upstairs that they might wish to see. They head upstairs and into the makeshift medical lab which is now empty. They see flasks and vials alongside scientific equipment sitting on the tables. Klein says it looks like they were synthesizing drugs of some kind. “Toad Juice?” enquires Izzy. Bishop takes a closer inspection of a flask half-filled with green liquid. He thinks it could be. He’d like the residue from the flasks analyzed. Izzy says that, if this was Frankie Zapruder’s operation, he’s going to be pretty mad right about now. “Like I said,” adds Bishop, “It’s starting.”


Sure enough, Frankie is livid. “I’ll kill him!” he swears; his odour becoming more unpleasant by the second. One of his bodyguards and Zelda hold their noses, as he rants and raves. One of them asks if they’re really gonna hit Kaufman. Frankie tells him they’re gonna hit him and shut him down. Then, he’s personally going to tear him apart. Then, he’s gonna eat him. Zelda can’t stand the smell, and Frankie confronts her. “What? What is it?” he asks, no longer caring about who she is. She tells him that it’s just that he knows how he gets when he’s upset. Frankie orders her from his sight. If she doesn’t like the way he smells, then she can take a hike. Zelda departs. Frankie informs his bodyguards that they’ll hit Kaufman, but not yet. They’ll give him a couple of days to let his guard down and, besides, Kaufman may find the Toad Boy more trouble than he’s bargained for.


Kaufman has Toad Boy installed in his own medical lab, peddling away on an exercise bike to produce more sweat. His medics do the same job as Frankie’s did, only this time he’s gonna rake in the profits.

Watching through a window, Shaky asks Jazz why he didn’t inform him that Toad Boy gives off toxic fumes. “Toxic, oh yeah,” Jazz mumbles, “You don’t wanna inhale when you’re around that boy. Tha’s why you godda wear a mask if you’re sharing his space, y’know.” Shaky knows - now. He knows because the car which brought Toad Boy here had a little mishap. His driver, a reliable man who has never put so much as a dent in one of his cars, drove into a fire hydrant at seventy miles per hour. Apparently, he tells Jazz, he thought he was flying a space cruiser through a meteor storm. Jazz’s face drops.

Shaky continues to inform him that the car in question was a Mercedes S-600 sedan. Jazz replies that’s gotta be an expensive repair job. Shaky grimaces at the thought of five grand’s worth of dented German workmanship, all because Jazz neglected to inform him about the fumes. He grabs blue boy by the collar, and Jazz swears he’ll make it up to him. Shaky throws him across the room towards Mr. Punch, telling him that he will.

Mr. Punch puts his arm around Jazz’s shoulder and tells him that he will be handling the sales of toad juice at the Inferno Club. Mr. Kaufman expects him to pay back the five thousand within one week. He warns Jazz not to annoy Mr. Kaufman further. As he knows, his boss can be quite demonstrative. Jazz checks out the scars on his huge forearms. Punch points to his face and says he has no pain receptors so he doesn’t feel it when Mr. Kaufman hits him. He holds Jazz’s earring in his fingers. “You, on the other hand, are clearly a sensitive man.” He pulls at the jewellery, causing Jazz to shriek in pain.

(Daniel’s Inferno)

That evening, Patricia Hamilton, the Amazing Merwoman, performs in a large green liquid-filled tank in the center of the club. A fellow dancer hovers in mid air above the revellers, who happily dance to the music. Jazz is in position and carrying out a transaction, as, unseen by him, Mr. M watches from his seated position close by. A punter hands Jazz a stack of bills, and he hands over four stamps, which, when licked, transfer the toad juice onto the tongue to create an incredible buzz. Outside, Dana persuades her boyfriend, Joey, to enter the club. Joey is reluctant, as the Inferno is well known to be a mutant hangout. Dana says they can’t stop them because they’re Homo sapiens; that’s genetic discrimination. Besides, she adds, how can they tell? They’re hardly going to give them a DNA test at the door.

They make their way past the doorman and enter the club. Dana is impressed, and soon sees a couple of juicers relaxing by the water tank. She asks what they’re on, and the girl replies that they’re on ‘Planet Tee-Jay.’ Dana wants whatever they’re having. The girl points to Jazz; he’ll fix them up. Joey says he isn’t sure about this, but Dana is headstrong and tells him not to be such a wuss. She approaches Jazz and asks if they can score off him. Jazz replies that if she’s got bank, then he’s dealing. He asks them to step into his office; actually the restroom. Joey asks how much. The price is thirty dollars a tab, but he can do them a matching pair for fifty. Joey is hesitant as he thinks it’s a rip-off. Jazz focuses on Dana, and says that twenty-five will do just for her.

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Joey making a run for it, and he’s carrying his stash. He makes after him, while Dana checks herself in the mirror. “Joey, you are one ex-boyfriend.” She licks the stamp, as Joey rushes out through the fire exit, pursued by the blade-carrying Jazz, who wants his stash back. As he chases Joey, a hand phases through one of the club’s brick walls and grabs his forearm. A shock of energy sparks through him as he is taken to the floor by Mr. M. “Drop it,” he warns, as Joey rounds the corner to freedom. Jazz grabs his arm, which smoulders with the energy. Shaky’s gonna kill him now. He’s got to find the chick.

Inside the club, Dana feels a sudden high and prepares to enjoy herself, but suddenly she doubles over. Her body begins to spasm and metamorphose. She develops what appear to be roots. They sprout from every pore; through her face, her arms; her chest. All she can do is scream, as the clubbers retreat in horror.

Characters Involved: 


Izzy and Armena Ortega

Chamayra and Esteban Ortega

Toad Boy

Toad Boy’s mother

Daniel ‘Shaky’ Kaufman

Shaky’s bodyguards including Mr. Punch, his driver and medical staff


Strip Club bouncer

Bethany Danziger

Officer Gustave ‘Gus’ Kucharsky

Police Officers including Sam Klein

Mr. M

Precinct officers and bystanders

Frankie Zapruder, his goons and medical staff


Inferno doormen, performers and punters

Patricia Hamilton, the Amazing Merwoman

Dana Hutton and Joey Chambers

Two Juicers

Story Notes: 

Two firms in the meat-packing district; Coppola Exports and Scorsese Meats are named after Italian-American movie directors Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese.

Bethany Danziger is incorrectly named Danzig in this issue.

Mr. M’s conversation with Gus appears to hint that this wasn’t the first time he’s committed murder.

Fidelis Ad Mortem is the motto of the New York City Police Department and translates as Faithful Unto Death.

At the precinct are various posters. The NYPD switchboard number and sex crimes report line numbers on the wall are actually correct.

The two juicers at Daniel’s Inferno first appeared in District X #1. Planet Tee-Jay is, of course, Toad Juice.

Issue Information: 

This Issue has been reprinted in:

Written By: