X: Mr. M
is one character in comic books that has been utterly changed
and revamped since his inception, it would have to be Bishop.
The character was the product of the early 90s Jim Lee X-Men/Uncanny
X-Men era. Originally a mutant paratrooper from the future,
Bishop has gone through a glut of character shifts, due largely
to Marvel’s inability to figure out his place in the
MU; he’s been an X-Man, he’s been an alternate
reality savior, he’s been a warrior in a post-apocalyptic
future. Bishop gets around.
he is a detective working with the federal government to
help police Mutant Town, the section of New York City that
has become the home and haven for mutants around the country.
Writer David Hine (Strange Embrace) has finally
found a place for Bishop: the background.
instead elects to construct an incredible microcosm within
New York City. Mutant Town, or the titular District X, is
a rich and well defined community with a cast of characters
that, while some are ancillary to the main plot, help foster
this atmosphere of truly urban, mutant life. At the heart
of the story is Officer Ismael Ortega, a beat cop in District
X who is trying to raise a family, while dealing with the
pressures of working the most crime-ridden area in the country.
After an incident involving the shooting of two civilians
and injury of his partner, Ortega is assigned special duty
with a Federal government operative with expertise with
mutants; he has to show Bishop around, in order to prevent
a gang war between the rival crews in Mutant Town.
the most admirable quality of Hine’s script is the
fact that he doesn’t so much focus on Ortega and Bishop
as use them to introduce the reader to the rest of the characters
and the district itself; Hine has such a flair for creating
an emotional connection to even his bit characters that
the reader is endeared to them immediately. One distraught
and over-worked mother hits her kids, but briefly and honestly
opens up about her once great marriage to her mutant husband,
and it isn’t forced. In a moment of desperation to
be understood, she uses a whopping two panels to show perfect
strangers her life, and Hine makes it an entirely genuine
and believable scene.
there are others: tender and sometimes heart wrenching moments
between Ortega and his wife, compassion-laden scenes between
the strange Mr. M and a neighbor, horrifyingly violent outburst
from the gangster Mr. Kaufman, etc. Hine runs the range
of emotive expression in his story, but at no time is it
a cheap stab or artificial insinuation of emotional content.
He makes you care about the smallest character’s story,
and there’s many stories to be told. His script, while
about the starkly inhuman, is more about humanity than most
of the X-Books being published.
slightly reminded of the New York City stories written by
Eisner, but I’m most reminded of one of the best book
series about superheroes ever written: Wildcards,
edited by George R.R. Martin. The parallels between Mutant
Town and the book’s “Jokertown,” are readily
visible, and both feature a myriad cast of well defined
and fleshed out characters.
artwork is by three different pencilers, but I honestly
cannot tell when one picks up and the other puts down the
pencil. David Yardin, Lan Medina, and Mike Perkins work
so seamlessly together that I had to check twice to make
sure they weren’t just one artist. Their work here
is quite good. The way they design characters is what sets
this apart from the other X-Books; like we began to see
when Morrison and Quitely took over X-Men, Yardin,
Medina and Perkins realize that not all mutations are welcome
ones; these characters are not the ones with wings or retractable
claws, but with mutations that could be considered deformities.
Unwanted root growth, spontaneous fits of rage, unusually
awful smell, all these make appearances within the District
and these pencilers have no trouble balancing the unique
appearance of their characters with the very textured and
NYC colored atmosphere.
Marvel, we never know. The series might already be cancelled
or on its way, but with quality writing and detailed complimentary
artwork, this is a collection well worth the $14.99 ticket
price. And it’s nice to see Bishop has a place to
call home, at least until he gets sucked into an alternate
dimension and becomes the first president of the United
States of Genosha or whatever might come next for the character.
X Vol. 1: Mr. M