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District X #2

Posted: Monday, July 5, 2004
By: Adam Volk



“Mr.M” Part Two of Six

Writer: David Hine
Artist: David Yardin

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
In the crime-ridden slums of downtown Manhattan, an urban ghetto has emerged populated by the mutant outcasts of society. Known simply as District X, it has become overrun with corruption, poverty and violence. Now, NYPD officer Ismael Ortega and former X-men, Bishop, must stop a gang war between two rival mutant criminal factions that threatens to explode into the streets of District X.

Comment:
Let’s face it, Marvel produces a lot of crap these days. There are more god-awful Spiderman spin-off series than you can shake a stick at, and vomit-inducing X-titles keep popping up with the resilience of a fungal infection that just won’t go away. So it’s pleasantly surprising to see Marvel generate a new comic that is both entertaining and thought provoking. Readers expecting to indulge in the exploits of spandex clad mutants however, are going to be sadly disappointed. District X is more of a gritty urban crime drama than superhero title—a comic book equivalent of NYPD Blue, where the suspects have mutant powers and the steady decay of urban America goes hand in hand with the familiar prejudices towards mutant kind.

This particular issue picks up from the opening chapter, in which NYPD officer Ismael Ortega and his partner were involved in a mutant homicide during a domestic dispute gone bad. Placed on suspension by Internal Affairs, Ortega is given a new assignment, escorting former X-men turned federal officer, Bishop, through the crime ridden streets. Issue #2 further explores the unique environment of District X, and sets the stage for the inevitable gang war between two powerful mutant criminal factions.

But like the best crime drama, District X is really about the characters that inhabit this incredibly detailed world. It is here that writer David Hine proves he is a master story-teller. In a comic where it would be far too easy to allow the setting to dominate the readers focus, Hines never loses sight of the fact that this is entirely a character driven story. You are drawn in to the lives of Ortega, and the host of minor characters that inhabit the district. You care about what happens to these individuals, and Hines proves you can write an entertaining and action oriented story, while maintaining characters with depth and substance.

One can’t help but draw a comparison to Brian Michael Bendis’ own brilliant super-hero cop series Powers. But in many ways, District X is far superior. Hine essentially takes the familiar concept of the mutant and uses it as a lens to examine the social issues of the modern American slum. The inhabitants of District X are the poor, desperate and defeated masses, but they are also mutants, rejected and shit on by a world that both fears and hates them. Hine is clearly in his element here, moving the story along with a brilliant narrative pace and strong sense of dialogue. What’s more Hine’s incredible writing is complimented by the rich and detailed artwork of David Yardin, a style that avoids the clichéd images reveled in by other artists working within the Marvel universe.

Really, there aren’t enough good things to say about District X. This is a brilliant comic book, one of the few new series that has incredible characters, wonderful dialogue, and above all a story that has something to say. In a mere two issues, this comic has displayed more substance and originality than 40 issues of Ultimate X-Men. District X is a must read for comic fans looking for more than just mindless superhero slug fests, proving in the end, that there’s more to the X-universe than simply blowing up Sentinels.



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