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District X

District X, also known as Mutant Town or the Middle East Side, is a fictional location in Marvel Comics. It is a neighborhood in New York City, first seen during Grant Morrison's run on the series New X-Men in New X-Men #127. The ghetto was established in Alphabet City, Manhattan, in the East Village. This would fall within New York's 12th and 14th congressional districts and the New York State Assembly's 74th district. According to the front cover of X-Factor #31, it had a population of 743, but was almost certainly more populated prior to the Decimation.

District X: The area

The rise in Manhattan's mutant population, coupled with racism among normal humans, led to mutants forming their own community in Manhattan's Middle East Side. Although humans lived in this neighbourhood as well, they were in a minority. NYX established that District X is an official title for the region.

The neighbourhood was poor, overcrowded and violent, with a high crime rate and warring mutant gangs. Most of the residents regarded it as a ghetto. It was described in District X as having the 'highest unemployment rate in the USA, the highest rate of illiteracy and the highest severe overcrowding outside of Los Angeles', even though New York City as a whole had seen a decrease in violent crime. It also had the highest crime rates in the country for narcotics, prostitution, and burglary. Many of its inhabitants had mutations more akin to curses than gifts, further exacerbating the neighbourhood's poverty and disadvantage.

There were also a range of mutant-owned businesses, clubs and restaurants, as well as a burgeoning mutant subculture. Bands such as 'Sentinel Bait' and 'Juggernauts' were mentioned as parts of this subculture, while mutant fashion designers like Jumbo Carnation and nightclubs such as Daniel's Inferno created a vibrant, mutant-oriented nightlife. In this respect, District X may be considered a Marvel Universe analogue to Harlem.

District X's highest point came during the House of M storyline, when it was transformed into a rich, exclusively mutant neighbourhood named Mutopia X (during the same storyline, Hell's Kitchen was transformed into a human ghetto called Sapien Town). After this story, however, the residents suffered the 'Decimation', and most of them were stripped of their mutant abilities. Many remaining mutants were moved to a relocation camp on the grounds of the Xavier Institute. The former mutants remained in District X, with many -- like Quicksilver and Rictor -- suffering from depression and alienation. After the Decimation, the district returned in many ways to being the Middle East Side, prior to its destruction.

The former ghetto was the base of operations for X-Factor Investigations, who frequently dealt with the aftermath of the Decimation and its effects on the local community. In the Civil War storyline, Jamie Madrox and his team declare that 'Mutant Town' will be a sanctuary for superheroes being pursued by the government. In X-Factor, 'Mutant Town' was besieged by X-Cell, a terrorist group composed of former mutants who blamed the United States government for the loss of their powers.

After the events of X-Men: Messiah Complex, the neighbourhood was briefly taken over by Arcade, who was working for an ex-Purifier, Taylor.

Mutant Town was destroyed in X-Factor #31, as a 'back-up' plan by Arcade following his defeat. A series of explosions incinerated much of the neighbourhood, with Arcade's force fields preventing fire fighters from entering the area until the entire district had been destroyed. In X-Factor #32, Valerie Cooper announced that the ruins would be demolished and replaced with suburban housing, and that 'in a few decades, no one will even know that this used to be called Mutant Town.' This marks the end of Mutant Town/District X in the Marvel Universe.

Despite the obvious practical and logistical problems created by having an entire neighborhood of people with superhuman powers in one of the largest cities in the United States, District X is hardly ever mentioned in Marvel Comics titles not affiliated with the X-Men in some way.

District X: The series

District X was a comic book series published by Marvel Comics which began in 2004 and concluded in 2006. A police procedural, it was set in Mutant Town.

The series stars the X-Man and FBI agent Lucas Bishop, who has been assigned to the ghetto to investigate rising crime rates among the population in New York's (fictional) '11th Precinct' in Alphabet City. Bishop works with NYPD patrolman Ismael Ortega, an ordinary human married to a mutant (Armena Ortega).

Publication history

The series was part of the Marvel Knights imprint and started in Uncanny X-Men #2 and then ran for fourteen issues July 2004 to August 2005. It briefly changed title to Mutopia X for five issues, between September 2005 and January 2006, before its cancellation.

The series was written by British writer, David Hine, who previously the Mambo series for 2000 AD.

It was originally drawn by Australian artist David Yardin and most recently by Lan Medina. Both artists work with Brian Haberlin's Avalon Studios.

During the House of M crossover, the series was replaced by the miniseries Mutopia X. Hine continued some of the series' plot points in X-Men: The 198 miniseries.

Plot

Mr. M (#1-6)

Officers Gus Kucharsky and Ismael Ortega are assigned to New York's 11th Precinct, commonly known as District X or 'Mutant Town'. While investigating allegations that Jake Costanza is holding his mutant wife against her will and abusing her, Kucharsky falls under Mrs. Costanza’s mutant mental powers and kills them both, before attempting to take his own life. Gus survives and Ortega covers for him. Gus is forced to retire early and Izzy is assigned to serve as the liaison to federal agent, Lucas Bishop.

Violence erupts between rival crime lords “Shaky” Kaufman and “Filthy Frankie” Zapruder over a mutant, Toad Boy, and the addictive narcotic he produces (known as “Toad Juice”). When Kaufman learns of the lucrative sales of “Toad Juice” in District X, he raids Zapruder’s facilities and kidnaps the Toad Boy for himself. However, it is unknown that Toad Juice can be fatal to normal humans.

After the death of a human patron at the nightclub Daniel’s Inferno caused by exposure to Toad Juice, the police begin a desperate investigation before other unsuspecting addicts face the same fate. This prompts a turf war between Zapruder and Kaufman. Both men are eventually arrested.

Underworld (#7-12)

When Absolom Mercator finally decides to use his powers to try and help others, his efforts backfire and he suffers an intense identity crisis. Believing that he must use his powers to destroy Mutant Town, Mercator warns his friend, Hanna Levy so that she can escape safely. The police intervene and use Lara the Illusionist to show Mr. M the devastation he could unleash. This snaps the mutant back to his senses and he willingly returns to his peaceful life of quiet isolation after a short period in jail.

A series of brutal murders followed by a mysterious blackout leads to an investigation of the growing underground mutant community, called the Tunnel Rats. Calling themselves “Those Who Live in Darkness”, the tunnelers claim responsibility for the blackout and state that they want the city to leave them alone. In recent months, police and social services have put pressure on the Tunnel Rats by destroying their homes and remanding their children into state custody.

Tensions with the Tunnel Rats come to a head just as Bishop and Officer Ortega manage to track down The Worm, a hideously mutated young man who is seeking revenge for being cast out by his parents. Bishop convinces many of the Tunnel Rats to rejoin surface society but a small band decides to dwell deeper in the tunnels under Mutant Town. Their journey is cut short by The Worm who massacres them all before being stopped by Bishop and Ortega, who kills him.

One of Us (#13-14)

William "Billy" Bates discovers that he is a mutant, calling himself "The Porcupine", and becomes a frequent patron at the Café Des Artistes. He falls in love with the Café’s waitress, Sylvie Lauziere. When a group of anti-mutant humans start harassing her, Billy steps in and inadvertently kills several humans with his emerging powers. He barricades himself in the Café with Sylvie, which the authorities perceive as a hostage situation. In order to hide the fact that a mutant slaughtered several members of Purity, an anti-mutant movement, Alexei Vazhin orders hitwoman Sashenka Popova to kill the boy, and pays hush money to the Lauzieres to cover up the truth of the incident.

Mutopia X (#1-5)

The Scarlet Witch transforms the entire world into a mutant paradise ruled by her father Magneto. This shift in reality turns District X into “Mutopia X”, the center of art and culture in the new mutant-dominated world. The denizens of District X find themselves in a newly elevated societal status. Lara the Illusionist is a movie star married to entertainment mogul, Daniel “Shaky” Kaufman. Absolon Mercator and Gregor Smerdyakov have founded the Center for Transformation and Illumination and are the center of a spiritual following as they help mutants achieve their genetic potential. Ishmael Ortega is tasked with protecting Mercator from assassination.

After the Decimation, Ishmael Ortega's daughter dies; he attempts suicide, before reuniting with his family.

Characters

District X's large ensemble cast includes:

  • A "mysterious stranger" called Mr. M (also the title of the first story-arc), who attempted to destroy District X out of sheer world-weariness but was stopped by Bishop and Ortega.
  • Two rival crimelords, "Filthy" Frankie Zapruder and "Shaky" Kaufman.
  • Gregor, a mutant who puts down roots whenever he falls asleep.
  • Winston Hobbes, a large worm-like mutant who inhabits the District X sewer system.
  • Armena Ortega, wife of Ismael Ortega who generates a protective bubble when she sleeps.

There is also a large population of mutants whose mutations and/or personalities make them unsuitable for the flashier or more dangerous "super" life. These include:

  • A woman who can burst into flames but is not immune to being burnt.
  • A man whose sole power is that his skin is bright green.
  • A woman who could control men with the sound of her voice (her husband kept her bound and gagged in their apartment because of this).
  • A boy who has large skin flaps under his arms.

Collections

The series, both written by David Hine, was collected into two trade paperbacks:

References

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