Mutopia X #4

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

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

Brief Description: 

Daniel Kaufman plots his revenge against his wife and Ismael Ortega the man she had an affair with. He pays a surgeon to disguise the mutant-hating assassin, Sashenka Popova and arm her with an undetectable weapon. He then sends her to kill Ortega at his daughter’s Rite of Transformation and reveals his plans to his imprisoned wife. Using her illusory powers, Lara Kaufman defeats her husband’s goons and escapes. Along the way, she frees his rival Frankie Zapruder who exacts his own revenge on Kaufman. Lara arrives at the transformation ceremony in time to warn the police but in the ensuing struggle to arrest Popova, Ortega’s newly transformed daughter Chamayra is shot and killed. This triggers Ortega’s memory of the core reality and he begs Absolon Mercator to save his daughter now as he did then. Mercator tries but realizes he cannot raise the dead. As he makes this proclamation, reality shifts once more and Ismael Ortega receives a frantic call about the fate of his daughter.

Full Summary: 

Inside a hidden surgical suite, a medical team works feverishly to transform Sashenka Popova into something new and inhuman. They equip her with a prosthetic arm with a hidden weapon inside and transform her face to make her look like a mutant.
Popova is disgusted by the radical changes but Daniel Kaufman assures her that it is the perfect disguise for a mutant-hunting assassin. He assures her that once she has killed Ismael Ortega, Dr. Pike will reverse the procedure. She asks if she will get her arm back as well and complains of the pain in her new arm. Kaufman chides her for whining and asks for a demonstration of the weapon within.
She aims her arm and fires at a mirror, which shatters from the force. Kaufman looks into a camera, which is being broadcast to his wife’s cell. He explains to his wife that this is all her doing. He tells her that Ortega will die a swift and painless death before his family’s eyes due to her romantic dalliance with him. Lara is horrified by what her husband plans.

At the Ortega home, the family prepares for Chamayra’s big event. She is dressed in a flowing white gown and her mother gushes over how lovely she looks. Chamayra assures her father that no matter how she transforms, she’ll still be the same person. She then asks if they’re all going to be okay, as a family, after this is done. Izzy hugs her and assures her that they will.

Outside the Center for Transformation and Illumination, Kaufman’s bodyguard Erik drops Popova off. Inside, Bishop greets the Ortega family as they make their way through security. They exchanges pleasantries and he wishes them luck. The security team has an image of Sashenka Popova on their monitors but don’t even take a second glance as she makes her way inside thanks to her radical reconstructive surgery.

Back at Shed Three, Kaufman is in constant communication with Erik to monitor Popova’s progress. His guards, Crowley and Machine, take some food to Mrs. Kaufman who is still imprisoned there. As they enter, they see her lifeless body dangling from the ceiling by a chain. Machine warns that it’s probably an illusion and the image disappears. As it does, Lara stands revealed with a gun pointing at them. Machine again realizes that they’re dealing with a skilled illusionist and guesses that the gun is an illusion, too.
What he fails to realize is that the whole thing is an illusion and that the real Lara Kaufman is hidden in the shadows behind them. She leaps at Machine from behind, clawing his face and grabbing his gun. She takes it as she punches him in the nose.
Crowley is confused and easily frightened when she casts an illusion of a huge monster. He falls back and she tells him to drop his gun as she aims Machine’s pistol at him. Crowley thinks it’s still an illusion and refuses to drop his gun. Lara unloads her clip into him and flees down the hallway. She finds the room in which Filthy Frankie Zapruder is trussed up and he feebly begs her to help him.

Back in Mutopia, Chamayra takes part in the Rite of Transformation along with eleven other children. After a brief speech by Absolon Mercator, she is presented with a slice of fruit from Gregor Smerdyakov’s branches. She eats it and then Mercator places his hands on her head and unleashes her genetic potential. She smiles radiantly and feels the change and declares that she can fly. She leaves the ground and joins the dozens of butterflies that fill the room in a joyous first flight.

Outside, Lara arrives in a taxi and rushes in but not before being spotted by Erik. She tells Bishop that Popova is inside the Center, disguised and armed. He asks how she knows and Lara explains that her husband sent her. They rush inside and Armena sees Lara and is enraged. She demands that they get her out of there. Lara ignores Armena and points out Popova. As Popova fires on Izzy, Bishop orders his partner, Jimi to erect a force field around the Ortegas. He does but Esteban is left outside the bubble. Esteban uses his telekinesis to attack Popova as she is about to fire again. The force of his power causes her shot to go wild and it hits Chamayra, who was hovering above, square in the chest. She immediately falls to the steps at the feet of Absolon Mercator.

As her parents react to the sight of their daughter being shot, the police seize Popova. Erik sees this and activates the failsafe device that Kaufman had implanted in Popova, killing her instantly. He then reports in to Kaufman that there’s a problem. He reports that Popova missed Ortega but killed his daughter. Kaufman is shocked and upset that he didn’t think of that avenue himself.
Erik goes on to tell Kaufman that Lara is there and about to tell the police everything. He orders Erik to kill her and Erik refuses before cutting off his transmission. Kaufman is enraged but comes to his sense when he hears a noise behind him and catches a whiff of a familiar smell. Kaufman is horrified as Filthy Frankie enters the control room and attacks him.

As Armena cradles Chamayra’s lifeless body, Izzy has an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. He goes to Mercator and tells him that he can save her. He is not sure but tries. After laying hands on Chamayra, he looks back at the Ortegas, a look of sadness on his face as he tells them that he’s sorry but that he cannot raise the dead. As he says this, the blinding transformative light that signaled the warping of reality returns. Ismael Ortega finds himself right where he was when the effect first manifested, in the tunnels under Mutant Town staring into the bug-infested fruit from Gregor’s tree-like form. He drops it and his cell phone rings. He answers the call and it’s a panicked Armena. He asks what’s wrong and she tells him it’s Chamayra. As the realization of what’s happened hits Ortega, the maggots and flies devour the fruit at his feet.

Characters Involved: 

Ismael “Izzy” Ortega, Lucas Bishop, Jimi and other unnamed officers (all NYPD)

Armena, Chamayra and Esteban Ortega

Patricia “Amazing Merwoman” Hamilton, Hanna Levy, Lorelei, Absolon Mercator, Gregor Smerdyakov (all Center for Transformation and Illumination)

Daniel ‘Shaky’ Kaufman

Lara “The Illusionist” Kaufman AKA Lara King

Erik, Machine and Crowley (all Kaufman’s bodyguards)

Filthy Frank Zapgruder

Sashenka Popova

Doctor Pike and his medical team

Unnamed patrons and staff at the Center for Transformation and Illumination

Citizens of Mutopia X

On Billboards:

Spider-Man, Captain Marvel

Story Notes: 

Machine, one of Kaufman’s goons, has appeared previously in issues of MUTOPIA X and DISTRICT X. He was named for the first time in this issue.

Chamayra was accidentally shot by her brother, Esteban in DISTRICT X #5. In the following issue, Absolon Mercator removed the bullet and restored Chamayra to life. Why he is unable to do so in the HOUSE OF M reality or what effect the reality shift had on the ‘real’ Chamayra will likely be revealed in the final issue of the MUTOPIA X limited series.

The cover to this issue mirrors that of DISTRICT X #6.

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