District X #4

Issue Date: 
October 2004
Story Title: 
Mr. M - part 4

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

Brief Description: 

Izzy Ortega joins Bishop at Daniel’s Inferno, where a doctor is checking Dana’s body. Shaky Kaufman isn’t impressed that this has happened at his club, and later discusses with Mr. Punch ways to rectify the situation. Mr. M overhears them and heads to Kaufman Enterprises to sort things out himself. Izzy returns to the precinct, where the chief tells him that, from now on, he will be a plainclothes officer, on Bishop’s request. Bishop and Izzy then watch a video recording of the night’s events and see that Joey is on the loose with an entire bag of toad tabs, and a mystery man is also involved. Analysis of the drug shows it to be pleasant for mutants but, at this dosage, the effects on humans are catastrophic. They plan to take everyone involved in. Mr. M finds Toad Boy and his mother, and to prove he isn’t interested in the wealth the boy brings, he removes his mutant factor, making him into a normal child. His mother is furious and disowns the boy, as he can no longer provide her with her ‘honey.’ Mr. M gets them out of the building but they are caught by two of Shaky’s goons. One of them refuses to leave Mr. M alone, so he reaches inside his body and squeezes his heart until the man dies. The mother takes Tarquin to the police station as Mr. M suggests. Later, he explains to Hannah Levy that he can do almost anything with his control of molecules. She is shocked and annoyed, mainly because he doesn’t seem to actually do anything with his great power. Joey, meanwhile, attends a party and distributes the toad tabs amongst friends. As Bishop and Izzy rush to the address, the crowd counts down to zero and prepares for “lift off.”

Full Summary: 

A phone call from Bishop wakes Izzy Ortega. Bishop is at Shaky Kaufman’s club and Izzy gets ready to join him. His daughter, Chamayra, wakes up but Izzy puts her back to bed and heads to Daniel’s Inferno. There, Bishop awaits him. A doctor checks on the grotesque body of a victim of one of Jazz’s toad tabs. Her body is twisted and stretched so much that she is barely recognisable. Bishop informs Izzy that her driver’s licence shows her to be Dana Louise Hutton. Her family in Bay Ridge has been contacted. Guess she was slumming, presumes Izzy, and asks what happened to her. Bishop tells him they have a witness who says she was trying to buy drugs before this happened.

As clubbers hang around, shocked by the manner of Dana’s death, Bishop introduces Izzy to the club’s manager, Lonnie Shakespeare. He explains that he is running a legitimate business there and Bishop’s response is to ask if he said anything different. Izzy asks Lonnie if he is aware of any narcotics use among his clientele, but Lonnie replies that there are drugs in every club in the city. How can you stop it? “Toad Juice?” Izzy enquires. Lonnie informs him that it’s a local thing, but juicers are a mellow bunch. Basically, they see pretty pictures, they dance and they go home. It’s never been a problem. “It is now,” adds Bishop.

Lonnie isn’t so sure. He looks at Dana’s body and reckons it’s a mutant thing. He’s seen it before. There was a guy used to work at the Inferno who was a pyro. He could light a cigarette with his finger; party tricks like that. One day he spontaneously combusted. Nothing left but a pile of ashes. Same thing with Dana. She just drew one of life’s short straws.

Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Daniel Kaufman and his bodyguard, Mr. Punch. He asks what’s going on here and mentions a piece of junk in his parking space. Bishop informs him that the ‘junk’ is a classic 1970 El Dorado, and what’s going on is a suspicious death; possibly drug-related. Kaufman replies that there is no drug-taking in his clubs, but Bishop holds up a CCTV tape and says they’ll see. Kaufman isn’t impressed that Lonnie has been cooperating with the investigation so willingly.

Izzy hopes Shaky will be equally as helpful as his manager, and reminds him that incidents like this can look bad when it comes to renewing his liquor licence. “What’s your name, detective?” asks Shaky. Izzy replies that it’s Ortega but, before he can explain that he isn’t a detective, Shaky departs with Mr. Punch, telling Izzy he’ll remember it. Bishop turns to Izzy. “Detective?” Izzy fiddles with his jacket sleeves and grins, guessing that clothes make the man. If he was in uniform, he’d be out in the street handling crowd control.

Bishop turns his attention back to the doctor, who says they’ve done all they can here. The body can be moved to the morgue. Izzy, meanwhile, recognizes Patricia Hamilton and asks how Bethany Danziger is doing. She turns away, and replies that she’s catching the Greyhound this afternoon and going home. Later, Patricia sees her off, and they both appear saddened as they leave each others company.

(Eleventh Precinct Station House)

Chief Esposito is speaking with Izzy, now back in uniform. He informs him that Bishop seems pleased with him and has requested Izzy’s continued presence for the duration of his stay. He also says Izzy will be in plain clothes from today on. Bishop doesn’t want him wasted on crowd control - whatever that means. He advises Izzy that he shouldn’t let it go to his head. He hasn’t made detective yet, and he’ll continue to draw his regular patrolman’s pay.

“What about Gus?” Izzy asks. Chief Esposito turns to the framed photographs on his wall; a group shot taken in 1985. He replies that he’s recommended that Gus takes early retirement. His injuries are enough to warrant a line-of-duty disability pension. When Izzy asks if that’s what Gus wants, the chief turns and says that they have two citizens dead. His story that Costanza shot himself would be more convincing if there had been contact burns on his clothing. The firearms discharge review board will not be pursuing disciplinary action against either he or Gus, but his partner is outta there.

Another photograph shows the chief looking younger, still a sergeant and with Gus’s arm around his shoulder. They appear to be best buddies. The chief explains that there are over sixty civilian complaints on Kucharsky’s record. None of them stuck, but it’s way too many. Looking at a photo of Gus shaking someone’s hand at a reception, he adds that the NYPD can’t use people like Gus anymore.


Bishop and a fellow officer are looking at the preliminary DNA results from the tests carried out on Dana Hutton. The officer wonders whose strings Bishop pulled. He never got his results this quickly. Bishop informs Izzy that the polymerase chain reaction test shows that Dana was indeed, not a mutant. Izzy says that if that wasn’t a mutation, then what the hell was it? Bishop replies that she suffered a massive genetic trauma; a reaction to the mutant DNA she ingested. “The toad juice?” Izzy asks. Bishop isn’t sure. They have to match her DNA to the flasks they recovered from the warehouse. Toad juice isn’t a synthetic drug. It’s a secretion obtained from a single mutant source. On a mutant, it has pleasant hallucinatory effects but, in a human at this dosage, the effects are catastrophic.

(Kaufman Enterprises)

Shaky Kaufman is upset. This kind of publicity isn’t good for his business. He dribbles with anger, as he pins Jazz to the wall. Jazz has to repeat what he just said about Frankie Zapruder telling him not to deal to non-mutants because of the side effects. “Suh-side effects? It blew her apart, you moron,” replies Shaky. Jazz thinks he must have made the dosage too strong. He collapses to the floor. Shaky says he hopes Jazz isn’t trying to blame him for his screw up. Unseen, hidden behind a small partition, Mr. M phases through the wall and listens in on their conversation.

Mr. Punch tells Shaky that he believes they can contain this. He explains that toad juice isn’t a prescribed drug, so he doubts he can be prosecuted; even if the juice is traced back to him. However, if the Toad Boy is found there, they could be facing kidnap charges. He suggests they cut their losses and get rid of the boy and his mother. Shaky replies that the first thing they do is to get toad juice off the street, before any more gets into the hands of non-mutants. Jazz gingerly points out one more minor detail he appears to have missed out of his explanation.

(Eleventh Precinct Station House)

Bishop, Izzy and the third officer are checking the CCTV footage from the Inferno. It shows Dana Hutton and her male companion, Joey, going into the men’s room with a third party, Jazz. There’s no video camera in there, but Bishop says they can assume this is where the deal was done. On screen, the boyfriend leaves in a hurry, without Dana. Bishop freezes the video and zooms in to reveal the bag he is carrying is full of toad tabs; at least a hundred doses.

Following him out of the men’s room is Jazz, who gives chase. Izzy recognizes Jazz as being a small-time dealer. He asks Bishop if he caught the kid, but Bishop tells him he didn’t. On screen, another man appears: Mr. M. One second he is there, the next he isn’t. Bishop zooms in again to show Izzy that the man in fact phased through the wall. The camera picks him up again in the alley outside the Inferno. The boyfriend is seen sprinting away, while Jazz lies on the floor having been taken down by Mr. M.

Izzy says they have to find that guy. Bishop adds that, if they’re lucky, he’ll sample the product and all they’ll find is an ugly corpse. If they’re unlucky, he’ll sell them on the streets. Bishop orders the boyfriend the priority, but also wants an all-points on the dealer. While they’re at it, they can pick up their mystery man.

(Kaufman Enterprises)

Mr. M slides through the wall and into the corridor. He then casually descends through the floor and into the lab where Toad Boy is being used as a living drug factory. Tarquin wants a rest. Mr. Kaufman promised him he could play on his game console when he finished, but the lab technician isn’t quite done yet. Mr. M suddenly appears, and projects a kind of vortex from his palms which sucks the air from around the two technicians. They collapse, and Toad Boy asks Mr. M if he killed them. Mr. M responds by asking if that would bother him. Sure, says Toad Boy, it’s wrong to kill people. Mr. M assures him they’ll be okay and hands him a gown. He should get dressed and they’ll find his mother.

Soon, Tarquin’s mother is found, but she doesn’t want to go anywhere. She believes Mr. M wants Tarquin for his ‘honey.’ Mr. M proves this is not his desire by placing his hands on the hapless boy’s head. Tarquin gradually transforms from the strange Toad Boy, back into the boy he really was before his mutation took hold. His mother rushes to him. “Tarquin? Oh, my baby boy!” He smiles at her, but when she licks his neck for a hit, he pushes her away. His mother turns to Mr. M, angry, and demands to know what he’s done to her son. His honey’s gone. Mr. M simply asks her to get her things together as they must leave, now!

They head outside and Tarquin checks his new reflection in a shop window. Mr. M must leave now, and tells Tarquin’s mother that he’ll give her some cash for a taxi. She remains furious, dropping her bag and shouting at Mr. M. They don’t have anywhere to go and she owes Frankie Zapruder thousands. Shaky Kaufman was looking out for them! Mr. M informs her that Kaufman’s finished with her. She’s a liability now. If she disappears, he’ll forget about her but, if she stays, he’ll kill her. The mother asks about her juice. She needs her honey.

Two of Shaky’s goons appear from the building, so Mr. M pushes money into her hand and tells her to take her son and go to the police. He’ll deal with the goons. The mother isn’t interested. “This isn’t my son,” she yells, rabid with frustration. The goons grab hold of Mr. M, who steps out of the jacket Tarquin’s mother has in her grasp. A large blond man asks him where the frog prince is, and shows him his concealed pistol. He explains that he doesn’t want to make a scene, so why don’t they go back inside and discuss this with Mr. Kaufman?

He places his hand on Mr. M’s shoulder, who asks him politely to remove it. His colleague asks Tarquin’s mother where the Toad Boy is, and she laughs at him. “Toad Boy’s gone.” The blond man refuses to remove his hand, so Mr. M reaches his own fingers inside the man's chest and, to his horror, Mr. M kills him.


Mr. M sits opposite Hannah Levy in his apartment. He tells her how he put his hand into the man’s chest and squeezed until his heart burst. Hannah doesn’t know what to say. It’s hard to believe. From what Absolon tells her, he has the power of…. Mr. M tells her she can say it. He has the power of a god. He raises his palm and a golden swirl of energy forms an image of an exploding atom bomb. He explains that he can alter the molecular structure of anything he touches. If he chose, he could set off a nuclear reaction in the air around them that would blow the world to sweet oblivion.

Hannah holds her head. She replies that the problem is that he doesn’t do anything with his power. He uses his amazing power to fix her kitchen appliances. She laughs nervously, but adds that it seems like such a waste. Absolon stands and tells her that he was raised in a small village near Ghent, in Belgium. They would bring their sick to him. He laid his hands upon them and they were no longer sick, though they often suffered from terrible nightmares for months after. Some said he was a saint. Others said he had the devil in him. He was a child. What did he know?


One day, he was out in the woods and came across his cousin, Rubin. An older boy was kneeling over him, forcing dirt into his mouth. He told the boy to stop, but he replied, “Or what? What will you do? Put a curse on me?”


Mr. M turns towards the window and says the boy laughed at him, so he reached out, put his hands on him and he cursed the boy. He turned him inside out. Hannah can’t believe it. Absolon adds that he tried to undo everything, but he didn’t know how. He lived like that for three days. He moves his hands over a withered plant on the window sill and the plant regains its posture, and blossoms within seconds.

His parents, he continues, hid him, then sent him to the United States to live with relatives. For thirty years, he has watched the world pass by, but he is tired of doing nothing. So, he tells Hannah, in the past three days, he has told a man that he has murder in his heart, he’s made a young boy normal and taken away that which makes him unique, and he has killed a man. He saved the life of another, yes, he’s sure of that. He was right to save that boy’s life.

(Greenwich Village, New York)

Joey Chambers relaxes on his bed as he chats with a friend called Sammy. He assures him he’s coming to tonight’s party and tells him that he and Dana kinda had a bust-up. He adds that he has the goodies for tonight. It’s totally new; picked up in Mutant Town. It’s called Toad Juice, and it’s da bomb. “Telling you, dude - tonight, we’re gonna par-taay!”

(Eleventh Precinct Station House)

Bishop is in Chief Esposito’s office. He tells the chief that they have to go public with this now. The chief isn’t so sure. It’s going to draw a lot of attention. He asks again if he’s sure Bishop has the source of the toad juice. Bishop replies that they’re waiting on DNA tests. The mother’s confused. One minute her son’s the Toad Boy, the next he’s not even her son, and the kid’s not talking. He adds that whether he’s the source or not, there’s still a lot of juice out there. They’re gonna need to broadcast a warning to all major television and radio networks. A guy puts his head around the doorway and holds out a piece of paper to Bishop. They have an address for the boyfriend.

(Greenwich Village, Joey Chambers’ apartment)

Later, Bishop, Izzy and several fellow officers are taking his place apart, but there’s no sign of the juice. They do have his address book, though, and Bishop orders them to rip the pages out, share them and start dialling. Izzy calls Joey’s cousin who knows about the party. He can’t make it, but he does have an address.

(Washington Heights)

The party is in full swing and Joey holds center stage, informing his friends that the tabs are ten bucks apiece. A girl tells everyone not to drop their tabs yet. They can all do it together. Her boyfriend fancies a group trip. As warnings about the toad tabs are given out on television, the partygoers are oblivious to the fact it’s even on. One guy knocks on the bathroom door and finds Tony and Stella making out inside. He explains that they’re gonna miss the candy if they don’t come out, but Tony says he’ll live with it. The guy returns to the party and says, “Okay guys, let’s do this.”

Joey hands out the tabs to the gathered crowd. “This is ground control. Starting countdown.” He counts down slowly from ten and the expectant crowd look forward to what they expect will be a blast. The cops are on their way at high speed to the apartment, and reach it by the count of five. They exit their vehicles and dash towards the apartment. The countdown reaches one and then zero. Joey extends his tongue, and licks his tab. “Lift off!”

Characters Involved: 


Izzy and Chamayra Ortega

Dana Hutton

Joey Chambers, his cousin and several friends including Tony and Stella


Crime Scene Investigators

Lonnie Shakespeare

Patricia Hamilton, the Amazing Merwoman

Daniel ‘Shaky’ Kaufman

Mr. Punch and two other bodyguards

Residents of District X

Daniel’s Inferno punters

Two juicers

Bethany Danziger

Chief Randolph Esposito

Precinct staff


Mr. M

Toad Boy and his mother

Two doctors working for Kaufman

Hannah Levy

(in flashback)

Mr. M

Cousin Rubin


Officer Gus Kucharsky

Toad Boy

Joey Chambers

(in photographs)

NYPD cops including Randolph Esposito and Gus Kucharsky

Reception attendees

Dana Hutton

(on video)

Daniel’s Inferno punters

Joey Chambers

Mr. M


Story Notes: 

In the club scene, there appears to be a guy resembling Wolverine smoking a cigar standing behind Izzy as he speaks to Shaky Kaufman.

Gus Kucharsky was forced to kill Jake Costanza and his wife in District X #1. Not only has Izzy covered the true facts up regarding this case, but the chief is now covering it up to avoid adverse publicity, and out of respect for his friend.

Mr. M refers to Gus when he says he told a man he had murder in his heart. This happened in the last issue. The boy he thinks he saved was Joey Chambers, also last issue.

Mr. M appears to have similar powers to the Molecule Man, which would place him among the most powerful people on the planet.

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