Mutopia X #1

Issue Date: 
September 2005
Story Title: 
House of M: Mutopia X

David Hine (writer), Lan Madina (penciller), Alejandro Sicat (inker), Avalon’s Dave Kemp (colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt (letterers), Jacob Chabot (production), Sean Ryan (editor), Nick Lowe (assoc. editor), Mike Marts (supervising editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Ismael Ortega’s life is falling apart. His marriage is in ruins and he’s moved in with an illusion-casting prostitute. He seeks solace in the silent counsel of Gregor, the mutant tree. As he tries to deal with this crisis in his life, the world around him shifts and changes as a result of the mysterious reality-warping event which creates a world ruled by Magneto and his HOUSE OF M. In this reality, mutants dominate and Ortega is one of the few high-ranking human agents of the XSE. Mutant Town has become Mutopia X, a haven for mutants and the center of culture in America. On its fringes is Sapien Town, a ghetto for the remaining human citizens. After an assassination attempt on the popular performer, Jazz E Jazz, Ortega is assigned to protect movie mogul Shaky Kaufman from the terrorist cell called the Sapien League. He is partnered with the NYPD’s top officer in the area, Bishop. Ortega’s daring public efforts to protect the Kaufmans during a vicious terrorist attack make him an instant celebrity and a target for the Sapien League.

Full Summary: 

Ismael Ortega is a seriously conflicted man. He sits talking to Gregor Smerdyakov, a mutant whose unique mutation has transformed him into a sentient tree-like creature incapable of speech. Ismael tells Gregor how his life is a mess. He has moved in with Lara the Illusionist, a mutant prostitute. He only sees his kids one day a week and they seem to hate him. His wife, Armena, barely speaks to him and won’t even attempt to work on patching things up between them. He feels as if his life is on hold and he’s just waiting for something to happen. He asks Gregor what he’s going to do and then laughs at himself for seeking advice from a “tree”. He apologizes to Gregor as a mango-like piece of fruit falls from Gregor’s vine-like branches. Ismael picks it up and looks confused. He asks if he should open it. Gregor does not respond. Ismael takes out a pocket knife and slices the fruit in half. As he does so a golden glow emerges from the fruit.
Ismael is dressed in a stylish black suit in his penthouse in Mutopia X. He stares out over the city, lost in his own thoughts. His reverie is interrupted by his wife, Armena, who asks if he’s okay. He tells her that Vazhin wants to see him tomorrow regarding the rumored activities of the terrorist Sapien League. Armena asks if they’re for real and Izzy replies that they won’t know until the group actually does something. Armena suggests that since the kids are in bed and the night is young, that the two enjoy some intimate time.
In the area of New York called “Sapien Town”, a huge concert by popular recording artist Jazz E Jazz is the center of activity. Inside the concert hall, Officer Lucas Bishop of the NYPD complains about the meager security cautions being taken to protect the rising musical star. Zippermouth, an employee of Jazz’s with shriveled skin and a sinister-looking smile that stretches from one ear to the other, informs Officer Bishop that Jazz is loved by mutants and sapiens alike and as such, prefers to keep security at a lower profile to maintain his image as a “man of the people”. Bishop is not convinced and says that the district’s Psi-division anticipates trouble at the concert. Bishop’s partner, Jimi comments that it’d be no great loss if someone blew Jazz away. Zippermouth notes that he is sensing hostility and an individual with lethal intent but cannot pinpoint it in the crowd.
Jazz E Jazz is introduced to the roaring crowds and launches into his chart-topping single, “Sapien Too”. The lyrics center around the fact that despite being a mutant with blue skin, Jazz understands the abuse that sapiens face and empathizes with their pain at being a target for discrimination.
As he sings, a man makes his way to the stage and interrupts the song to deliver a message. Jazz stops singing and asks his bodyguard to back off and let the man have his say. Zippermouth identifies this guy as the hostile and Bishop orders security to grab the guy. The man on the stage challenges Jazz’s image and notes that the audience here in Sapien Town is largely comprised of mutants. He tells Jazz that if he’s really so supportive of sapiens, he’ll give up his posh lifestyle and come live in the Sapien Town ghetto and learn what life for humans is truly like.
Hearing this, Jazz orders his guards to get this guy off the stage. As they approach, the man opens his trenchcoat to reveal a complex bomb strapped to his chest. From the corwd, Bishop realizes that he can’t reach the guy in time and orders his partner, Jimi to erect a field around the suicide bomber. He does so just as the bomber says “long live the Sapien League” and sets off the explosives. The bomb detonates inside the field with great force, throwing Jazz and his crew to the ground.
Alexei Vazhin reviews the recording of the incident at the concert with Ismael Ortega. He emphasizes the repercussions had the assassination attempt by the Sapien League been successful, especially in the heart of Sapien Town. Vazhin explains that they believe the Sapien league to be an offshoot of the Human Resistance Movement that is more militant and fanatic in their approach and willing to die for their cause. Vazhin notes that the Sapien League is targeting celebrities as opposed to political targets and that they suspect the next hit will be on media mogul, Daniel “Shaky” Kaufman.
Ortega notes that Kaufman is a gangster despite his billion dollar empire. Vazhin says that it isn’t Ortega’s job to investigate Kaufman’s dealings but to handle volatile situations between humans and mutants. Ismael asks why he’s being assigned to this case and Vazhin says he’s the best non-mutant officer they have and Izzy wonders if he’s being used to garner some good publicity for humans. Vazhin doesn’t answer and moves on to a picture of Kaufman’s wife, Lara the Illusionist. Vazhin explains that Kaufman discovered her in a Vegas burlesque show and made her his muse and his wife. The picture shown is one of the only shots of her true appearance and Ismael is surprised she isn’t better-looking. Vazhin explains that the Actor’s Guild only allows Lara to perform as deceased actresses. Ismael recalls seeing her as Marlene Dietrich and notes that she looked great but her acting wasn’t so hot. Vazhin goes on to show a still of Bishop, who will be Kaufman’s primary protection. Izzy asks why a powerful and talented mutant officer like Lucas Bishop would be patrolling Sapien Town. Vazhin explains that Bishop likes pounding the beat here and chooses to stay.
Ismael finds Bishop in Sapien Town, reprimanding a young graffiti artist. The youth tries to talk Bishop out of bringing him up on charges. Bishop is not amused by the kid’s casual way with him and orders his partner, Jimi to catch the kid when he makes a run for it.
Later in Kaufman’s apartment, Bishop and Ortega meet the man they are to protect. Kaufman questions Ortega’s credentials, given his lack of powers. Kaufman introduces his bodyguard Erik, a large Scandinavian looking psi. Kaufman carries a “stress ball” to keep his anxiety under control. As they are talking, Lara comes in and Kaufman reprimands her for not being ready to go. She immediately casts an illusion making her look like Marilyn Monroe. Ortega is clearly wowed and “Marilyn” flirts a bit in character. Bishop asks “Aren’t you married?” and Ismael responds, “I forget.”
The movie premiere is a crowded and star-studded event. As the Kaufmans arrive on the red carpet, a Sapien League plant radios their leader, Popova who gives the order to move in. Sentinels fly overhead as do several mutant onlookers. The Kaufmans emerge from their limo flanked by Bishop, Erik and Ortega. A Daily Bugle reporter tries to get a comment from Lara who is stunned into silence as she sees several armed members of the Sapien League emerge from the crowd and open fire.
Bishop intercepts a blast as Izzy pushes Lara out of the line of fire. Popova drops a grenade that lands at Kaufman’s feet. He looks alarmed until a large Sentinel hand covers the blast. The Sentinel orders the citizenry to take cover. Kaufman refuses and joins the fray, angered that his premiere has been disrupted. Snarling madly, he attacks one of the terrorists. Popova is running away from the scene pursued by Bishop. A young mutant with spiky protusions tries to stop her and she stabs him. Bishop catches the boy and Popova manages to get away.
Later that night, the Ortega family is watching the news report on the attack at the premiere. Izzy is shown protecting Lara and Armena wonders why he couldn’t have jumped all over Kaufman instead of the stunning starlet. The footage shows Kaufman taking out a terrorist and foaming at the mouth. The report notes that attorneys for the “alleged terrorists” are considering a lawsuit against the movie mogul.
In her lair, Popova also watches the report, which focuses on the heroic actions of the handsome human XSE agent, Ismael Ortega. The report notes that Ortega is one of the few high-ranking sapien officers in the mysterious XSE. Popova aims her gun at the screen and declares that Ismael has just made the top of her hit list.

Characters Involved: 

Ismael “Izzy” Ortega (XSE Agent)
Lucas Bishop, Jimi (both NYPD)
Gregor Smerdyakov
Armena, Chamayra and Esteban Ortega
Jazz AKA “Jazz E Jazz”
Zippermouth and other members of Jazz’s entourage
Sapien League suicide bomber
Alexei Vazhin
Daniel ‘Shaky’ Kaufman
Lara “The Illusionist” Kaufman AKA Lara King
Erik, Kaufman’s psionic bodyguard
Popova and members of the terrorist group, the Sapien League
Unnamed Daily Bugle reporter
Mutant and sapien concert-goers and fans at the premiere of Kaufman’s movie
Various mutant and “sapien” citizens in Mutopia X and Sapien Town
Lara’s Illusory Guises:

Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Marilyn Monroe
On Billboards:

Spider-Man, It of the Fearsome Four, Wolverine, Iron Man

In Photos in Popova’s Apartment:

Magneto, Tony Stark, Shaky Kaufman, Jazz

Via TV Broadcast:

X-World News reporters

Story Notes: 

This limited series is part of the HOUSE OF M crossover event. HOUSE OF M is an altered reality in which Magneto won his war against humanity in the early days of his career and now rules a world where mutants are the dominant species. This series chronicles how the everyday lives of mutants have changed in this world and features the cast of the DISTRICT X series.
The golden glow that Ismael sees when he splits open the fruit is the same energy effect that the X-Men and Avengers encountered in Genosha while seeking out Wanda Maximoff AKA the Scarlet Witch (House of M #1). This energy signature signaled the start of the reality-warping effect that created the “House of M” reality. This imagery has been prominently used in various titles and HOUSE OF M promotional materials.
Shaky Kaufman’s mutation causes a build-up of adrenaline in his heightened metabolism that he must release through violent means. This is why he carries a “stress ball” and goes berserk during the attack at the premiere.
The porcupine-like mutant who is killed by Popova looks a bit like Quill, a student from the Xavier Institute. However, it is clearly not the same character since Quill appears as a SHIELD trainee in the NEW X-MEN issues of the HOUSE OF M event.
In the DISTRICT X series, Popova was an assassin in the employ of Alexei Vazhin.
Prior to the reality-warping caused at the onset of the HOUSE OF M event, Ismael and his wife were separated and he had started an affair with Lara the Illusionist. This is mirrored in this new reality and explains his wife’s jealousy.

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