District X #5

Issue Date: 
November 2004
Story Title: 
Mr. M - part 5

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

Brief Description: 

Bishop and Izzy Ortega arrive at a party, only to find they are too late to save nineteen partygoers from dying from the effects of toad tabs. Though Toad Boy is no longer producing the natural drug, the after-effects of Frankie and Shaky’s ongoing war are all too horrific. Bishop informs the chief that Mr. M is wanted for the murder of one of Frankie’s soldiers. Frankie, meanwhile, wants revenge on Shaky for stealing Toad Boy from him and has his goons blow up Shaky’s Wildkat club. Shaky arrives to see the destruction and appears concerned about an illusionist named Lara, who shows Izzy just why she’s worth fifty grand a show. Leaving the scene, Bishop and Izzy spot Mr. M and chase him into a closed alley. They try to arrest him, but Mr. M leaves them both unconscious and removes a postcard from Izzy’s Aunt Laline from his pocket. It has his name and address on it. Izzy invites Bishop for dinner at his place and, after an evening of both amiable chat and heated argument, they hit the sack, drunk. In the morning, Shaky’s men shoot two of Frankie’s goons outside his place and Bishop calls for Izzy to investigate the latest retaliation. He goes with Bishop, but forgets his gun. Later, Esteban finds the gun in the kitchen and plays with it, not knowing that it’s loaded. At Frankie’s, Izzy realizes his error and drives home, frantically trying to contact his family. After telling his friend, Hanna, that Izzy may be able to help him, Mr. M is out on the street when he spots Esteban playing with the gun, and he enters Izzy’s house to try and prevent an accident. He reaches the apartment but is too late, as he hears a shot ring out from the kitchen. He opens the door to find Esteban’s sister, Chamy, lying on the floor.

Full Summary: 

(Washington Heights, New York City)

With the party that Joey Chambers has taken the toad tabs to in full swing, Tony and Stella have decided to grab a little private time in the bathroom. A thump on the door is initially ignored, but continued knocking forces Tony to break off what he’s doing and put on his shirt. He opens the door and one of his friends stumbles into the bathroom with tendrils emanating from his body; just like they did Dana. “Oh man - I’m having a really, really bad trip,” he cries, as Tony staggers backwards, clearly shocked.

Outside the house, Bishop, Izzy and some uniformed cops rush towards the door. As they approach, Tony and Stella come running out, warning them not to go in there. Bishop enters warily and, to the sounds of Blondie’s ‘Denis,’ he witnesses the horrific site of an entire room full of people, all dead from the effects of taking toad tabs, all dying in the same manner as did Dana.

(Frankie Zapruder’s office)

The headline in the Daily Bugle the following morning is ‘Drug Party Hell,’ with the article commenting that nineteen people died at the party. ‘Filthy’ Frankie Zapruder reads the article and reckons Shaky screwed up big time and that gives him a warm feeling inside. Zelda says that if he’s happy, she’s happy, and one of his goons Colin agrees. Vincent asks if they’re cancelling the hit, but Frankie erupts. No way. Shaky Kaufman stole his property. He lost them the use of their covert operations facility at Shed Three and killed a local employee. Frankie stands and opens a box on the table. He’s happy right now but, when this little Semtex special has been delivered, he’s going to be walking on sunshine.

(Chief Esposito’s office)

The chief shows Izzy and Bishop the Bugle headline. Bishop apologizes for not seeing the toad juice situation coming, but the chief reminds him that he doesn’t answer to him, and the toad juice thing was going to happen anyway. He asks if they have any good news for him. Bishop informs the chief that Lonnie Shakespeare is no longer the manager of the Inferno club. Since Kaufman sacked him, he’s been singing like a stool pigeon. Izzy corrects him, but Bishop shows his disapproval and continues.

According to Lonnie Shakespeare, Kaufman destroyed all existing stocks of toad juice and Tarquin Berdeaux, formerly known as Toad Boy, is no longer ‘manufacturing’ the product. The chief replies that they can close the book on him, and asks about Mr. M. Bishop tells him that Lonnie I.D.’ed him but doesn’t know his full name, only that he’s a regular at the bar. He watches the floorshow and seems to be a loner.

The chief wonders if he’s working for Frankie Zapruder and Bishop replies that it’s possible. He’s applied for a warrant on him for murder. Izzy asks if they can pin murder on him. The victim was one of Zapruder’s soldiers, and he was packing. Bishop points out that he never drew the weapon, so it was murder all right; telekinetically-induced heart failure. The chief is surprised and hopes Bishop didn’t put that on the affidavit. Bishop doesn’t offer a response to that.

The chief then asks about Kaufman. Can they expect him to retaliate? Izzy thinks it’s hard to say. Zapruder and Kaufman do this every few months. They throw a few punches at each other to show how tough they are, but he thinks they’ll back off and let things cool down. Meanwhile, over at the Wildkat club, Frankie’s Semtex does its job, and the place is ripped apart by a massive explosion.

Soon, Bishop, Izzy, police and fire crews are at the club. Bishop’s sick of this, but Izzy tells him to get used to it. It’s what being a cop is all about. Someone calls 911 and they get to clean up the mess. Paramedics treat the injured, including the pink-haired dancer Lorelei, as Izzy spots Kaufman who’s checking out the damage to his club. He is using Mr. Punch to expel his built-up anger, and the club’s bouncer asks Izzy to leave them alone. It’s just a thing they do.

Shaky turns and sees Izzy, recognizing him. “You’ve been making enemies, Kaufman,” says Izzy. Shaky ignores him and asks where Lara is. He spots her and she appears to be fine. Lorelei doesn’t appear too impressed that Shaky seems more concerned on his prize asset than with her own injuries. He wants to take Lara out of there, but Bishop tells him they need to talk to her. Shaky orders his men to watch her closely, and to being her to him when ‘Kojak’ is finished with her.

Izzy moves in to speak with her, and she introduces herself as Lara. She asks if he wants to know why Shaky Kaufman is so worried about a frump like her. Izzy comes back by saying he never said anything, but Lara continues anyway. She informs Izzy that she has the most exclusive client list of any working girl in this town. Actors, politicians, princes, tycoons; she even has a former president of the United States drop by now and then. Anyone who can afford the fifty grand price tag.

“Fifty grand?” replies Izzy, “You must be pretty special.” Lara then uses her powers to show just how special she is. Changing from the slightly overweight person she really is, she transforms into a Marilyn Monroe look-alike, wearing stockings and a pink negligee. She tells Izzy she can be anyone, or anything she wants. She then transforms herself into a robotic humanoid. Izzy’s perceptions are toyed with as Lara then changes into a wispy, angelic-looking heavenly blonde, and then into a dominatrix standing in the pits of hell. She then ceases using her powers abruptly and tells Izzy that, if he ever comes up on the lottery, he should drop by and asks for Lara the Illusionist.

Bishop sees Izzy sweating and looking shaken. He asks if he’s okay, and what Lara did to him. Izzy holds the bridge of his nose and replies that she just showed him why she’s worth fifty grand.

Bishop and Izzy leave the scene and drive through town. Bishop reckons there’s no way that Kaufman is going to take this lying down. He’s putting round-the-clock surveillance on him and Zapruder. Izzy hopes they can find the manpower. Right now, he adds, the department is stretched as thin as a featherlite on King Kong.

Bishop suddenly tells Izzy to stop the car. He looks out the rear window and sees Mr. M, who recognizes them as being cops. He makes a run for it and Bishop takes up the pursuit on foot. Mr. M is chased into a short alley with a dead end. Bishop aims his weapon at him and orders Mr. M to stand still and raise his hands. He’s arresting him for the murder of Wesley Dyson. If he attempts to escape, Bishop will open fire.

Though he can walk through walls, Mr. M chooses to blast Bishop with a blue/silver burst of energy from his hand. Bishop is knocked to the ground as Izzy looks on in horror. He keeps his own gun trained on Mr. M and turns to see if Bishop’s okay. Bishop asks him not to shoot. Anything Mr. M can throw at him, he can give back double. His eyes glow and he fires back the energy towards Mr. M, but he reacts by matching this energy with another burst of his own, causing a stalemate.

He apologizes to them both, but tells them that he isn’t ready to go with them. He opens his mouth and seems to draw the air from around the X-man. Bishop chokes and Izzy orders Mr. M to stop whatever he’s doing or he will shoot. Mr. M suddenly recognizes Izzy, but Izzy doesn’t recall seeing him before. As Bishop lies on the ground, catching his breath, Izzy order Mr. M to put his hands behind his head so they can talk about it. However, Mr. M isn’t ready to go with them and puts Izzy out for the count with a blast of energy. He kneels over his unconscious body and removes a postcard from his jacket pocket. It’s the one from Aunt Laline in Brazil. It has Izzy’s name and address on it.

By the time Izzy comes around, Bishop is already on his feet. He asks Izzy if he’s okay, and Izzy rubs his neck. He feels like he’s been hit by a convoy of trucks but, apart from that, he’s fine. Bishop says he’s never felt power like that. It was so effortless. He knows how to fight just about any mutant on Earth, but that guy… He wonders where he came from.

(Eleventh Precinct station house)

Bishop and Izzy return to the precinct and Bishop prepares to head home, but Izzy asks him out of the blue if he likes fried chicken and beans, Cuban style. Bishop guesses he does.

(The Ortega family apartment, later)

Izzy introduces Bishop to his family; his wife Armena and their two children, Chamayra and Esteban. Izzy’s young son immediately points out the M on Bishop’s face and asks if it’s there because he’s a mutant. Chamy tells him that his comment was rude, but Bishop replies that he is right. Esteban finds that cool and asks if he has superpowers. He explains that his mom does, though she just messes up the bed and has to change the sheets every day. His mother covers her face in embarrassment and orders both the children to bed; no arguments.

The three adults sit down for dinner and Bishop complements Armena on her culinary skills, and her wonderful family. She asks about his own, and his head drops a little as he replies that he lost his family. Armena is sorry for bringing it up. Izzy’s cell phone rings and he answers it, finding Gus on the other end.

Izzy tells him that he heard that they’re in the clear. Gus asks if he heard about his retirement. He thinks he should come round and celebrate. Izzy places his hand over the receiver and asks Armena if it’s possible for Gus to come over, but her facial expression tells Izzy that this isn’t going happen. He apologizes to Gus, but informs him that they have guests. He could visit Gus tomorrow if he likes. As he chats, Armena tells Bishop that the last time Gus came round he was drunk. He woke the kids, broke two of her best wineglasses and made a pass at her. Bishop says he would never do that, and Armena can see that he isn’t the type that would.

Izzy, meanwhile, says he could bring round a bottle of tequila sometime, and pick up some Tex-Mex on the way. Gus replies by saying that’ll be good and bids him a good night. Gus puts the phone down and stares at the bottle of whiskey on the table. He is a picture of loneliness and despair.

Later, Bishop and the Ortega’s sit down and relax in the lounge. Bishop asks Armena if she still supports the revolution, even though El Commandante rounded up mutants and put them into labor camps. That was a long time ago, replies Armena, and adds that he has since said that he is absolutely opposed to any form of discrimination, contempt, scorn or discrimination with regard to mutants.

Izzy points out that Cuba still has the highest per capita prison population in the world. Armena responds by reminding Izzy that the United States has the second highest and, while they’re on the subject, there’s only one place in Cuba where people are still held without trial, and its initials are Camp Delta. Izzy says there is no comparison. The United States is a democracy; Cuba is a dictatorship - period!

Armena is extremely animated and points her finger at her husband. “Your father was at the Bay of Pigs, fighting to preserve our country’s revolution against America’s so-called democracy!” Bishop tries to step in, and asks them both to slow down. He asks Armena which country she feels is hers now. Armena replies that she’s an American in her mind, but her heart belongs to Cuba. She wipes a tear from her eye and apologizes that she’s had too much wine. As Bishop raises a glass of Yardin’s 1976 red, he guesses one more won’t hurt and proposes a toast to the freedom to think and say any damn fool thing you want.

(the next morning)

The bottle of wine is empty and the kids are ready for school. Bishop has left and Izzy thinks he himself passed out. He has a rough hangover. Armena tells him that there’s some fresh coffee; they’re going to the park.

(the offices of Kaufman Enterprises)

Shaky reminds his men, as they tool up, that this is a hostile takeover. They move fast, and show no mercy. Their intention is to leave Filthy Frankie with no option but to hand over control of his operations to Kaufman Enterprises. Mr. Punch strongly advises against this course of action and Shaky acknowledges his opinion, but asks if he is with him. “Always, Mr. Kaufman,” replies Mr. Punch.

(McCarthy Avenue)

Mr. M has returned home and is feeling dejected. Hanna Levy tries to comfort him. He sits, leaning against the wall next to stacks of books. He tells Hanna that the police are accusing him of murder. He explains that he never intended to harm anyone. He doesn’t want to run again, but he doesn’t want to fight either. Hanna feels that perhaps he should go to them first and try to explain. Mr. M removes the postcard from his pocket that he took from Izzy. It has his name and address on it, and Mr. M, having recognized him earlier, thinks he is trustworthy and might help him.


Two of Frankie’s men are standing guard outside his club, when three cars pull up in the street and around a half dozen of Shaky’s goons exit the vehicles, all armed. The two guards are shot down in a hail of gunfire, without mercy.

(the Ortega house)

Izzy tries to lessen his hangover by drinking coffee. Bishop calls him and gives him the news that Kaufman and Zapruder are shooting up the town. He’s outside his house. Izzy quickly grabs his jacket and joins him. On the way to the park, Esteban watches him leave with Bishop and tells his mom. “Terrific,” she says, “This was supposed to be his day off.” They return to the house and Esteban asks if he can make a sandwich. Armena storms off to the bathroom, replying that he can do what he wants; she’s going to take a shower.

Soon, Esteban has his sandwich but, as he bites into it, he notices his father’s pistol, still in its holster, hanging off the back of a kitchen chair. Chamayra watches a shoot out on television. Over at Frankie’s, Bishop notices news helicopters overhead. They stop their car at the police line and Izzy reaches inside his jacket for his pistol. He realizes it’s not there and shouts to Bishop that he’s left it behind. “We’ll get another,” Bishop replies, but Izzy is frantic. He informs Bishop that he left it out, loaded. The kids will be back. Bishop tosses him the car keys and tells Izzy to take his car.

Izzy tries calling his house as he drives home, but Esteban ignores the ringing phone and removes the pistol from its holster. Armena is in the shower, and cannot hear it, and Chamy is watching the shootout on television. No one hears the phone. One person, however, does see the problem. Mr. M, standing in the street outside the house, spots Esteban in the window, aiming the pistol at him playfully. “Pow! Pow!” cries Esteban, clearly enjoying himself, but Mr. M looks on in horror. He dashes inside the building and heads up the staircase.

Chamy finally hears the ringing phone during a quiet moment. She heads into the kitchen, as Mr. M phases through their front door and into their apartment. She picks up the phone and recognizes her dad’s voice, but immediately she sees her brother aiming the pistol at her. “Pow!” he goes again, “Pow!” Chamy can see the gun is real and doesn’t know just how to react. As Mr. M approaches the kitchen, he hears a gunshot ring out from inside.

On the other end of the line, Izzy is horrified, and Armena also turns as she hears the shot. Mr. M pushes the kitchen door open and finds Chamy lying on the floor, with the smoking gun lying beside her, and she’s not moving.

Characters Involved: 


Izzy Ortega

Armena, Chamayra and Esteban Ortega

Tony and Stella

Joey Chambers’ friends

Frankie Zapruder and Zelda

Zapruder’s goons, including Colin and Vincent

Chief Esposito

Daniel ‘Shaky’ Kaufman

Mr. Punch and several other goons

Wildkat staff including Lorelei, the bouncer and Lara the illusionist

Police officers and paramedics

Mr. M

Gus Kucharsky

Hanna Levy

Story Notes: 

Dana Hutton died in District X #3.

The property stolen by Shaky Kaufman that Frankie Zapruder refers to was Toad Boy. This also happened in District X #3.

Kojak was a 1970’s American cop show starring the late Telly Savalas. He was bald, as is Bishop in this series. King Kong is a classic 1933 movie about a giant ape that inadvertently terrorizes New York City. It was remade in 1976, and Peter Jackson is working on yet another remake as this issue came out.

Mr. M recognizes Izzy, as he witnessed Gus killing the Costanza’s in District X #1 through their window. Izzy was with him.

Toad Boy’s full name, Tarquin Berdeaux, is revealed in this issue, as are Frankie’s main goons, Vincent and Colin.

A bottle of wine being drunk at the Ortega’s is named in honor of artist David Yardin.

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