Crime plagues all societies including the mutant paradise that the world has been transformed into in Marvel Comic's "House of M" story line. So, law enforcement officers Ismael Ortega and Lucas Bishop, the stars of "District X," are still chasing lawbreakers in the "House of M" reality. Izzy and Bishop must maintain the piece while trying to stop a human terrorist group hell-bent on causing chaos in "Mutopia X," a five-issue mini-series beginning this week that ties into House of M by the regular "District X" team of writer David Hine and artist Lan Medina. In September, Hine spins another mystery starring an X-Men character in the five-issue mini-series "X-Men: Colossus - Bloodline" featuring art by Jorge Lucas, which has the Russian X-Man returning to his home country to save his family from a brutal murderer. CBR News spoke to Hine about both mutant related mysteries.
"Mutopia X" features characters from the series "District X" and is a "House of M" tie-in series, but readers do not have to be familiar with either title to enjoy "Mutopia X." "This is a stand-alone series, which slots neatly into the 'House of M' story-line. It also continues the characters and themes of 'District X,' but if you have never read 'District X' the synopsis on the intro page will be enough to fill you in," Hine told CBR News. "I know that a lot of readers can be put off by these whole-universe stories that mean buying a zillion books to figure out what is going on. One of the welcome aspects of this cross-over is that each strand works perfectly well on its own, so readers are free to pick and choose."
The new mutant dominated reality has altered the lives of the cast of "District X" in profound ways. "In the case of 'Mutopia X,' the down-and-outs of 'District X' have woken up to find they are out of the ghetto and into the penthouses," Hine said. "Small-time gangster Shaky Kaufman is now a respected and filthy-rich entrepreneur, married to Lara the Illusionist. Formerly a prostitute, Lara is now a celebrated movie star, while drug-dealer Jazz has realized his dreams and is now the chart-topping rapper Jazz-E-Jazz. That kind of thing. But nothing is for the best in this best of all possible worlds. People are what they are and in spite of the privileges they now enjoy, the shabbier side of their personalities begins to show through the glitter and glitz. When the anti-mutant terrorist group, The Sapien League attempt to hit A-list celebrities things begin to fall apart."
The new reality has also effected the career of human cop Ismael Ortega, one of "District X's" main protagonists. "Ismael is a fairly high-ranking agent in the Sapien Relations Division of the XSE as opposed to a street cop," Hine explained. "He is certainly ambiguous about the ascendancy of mutants and is resentful of the fact that humans are seen as an inferior species."
Ismael's job may have changed, but he's still the same person. "Izzy's personality, along with his many flaws, is unaltered and we'll soon see the trouble that gets him into," Hine stated.
Izzy's position as a high-ranking human law enforcement official in a mutant dominated agency is viewed in many ways. "Whether Ismael is respected by the human community depends on which humans you ask," Hine said. "There are certainly those who see him as a traitor. "
Izzy and Bishop are still partnered together in the new reality, but they have reversed roles. "Ironically the mutant Bishop is now the lower-ranking police-officer the fulfillment of Bishop's dreams. All he ever wanted was to uphold the law. Politics were always an annoying side-issue for him. He is a very happy bunny in the new world until he gets roped in to babysit Ismael. Those damned politics again."
In "Mutopia X" Izzy and Bishop are put together to protect prominent mutants from The Sapien League, a ruthless human terrorist group on a murder spree. "They are mean Mother F****s! Total death-wish psychos with nothing to lose but their dignity," Hine explained. "I see them as a nihilistic group who know that the human species is on the way out and want to go with a bang rather than a whimper."
The "District X" characters of Daniel "Shaky" Kaufman and Absolon Mercator play key roles in "Mutopia X." "Kaufman appears to be a respectable businessman, but you just can't keep a bad man down and even I'm surprised at just how nasty Kaufman can get," Hine said. "Mercator has found his purpose in life as the leader off a quasi-religious community whose role is to help those with Arrested Genetic Development realize their true potential."
The supporting cast of "Mutopia X" is comprised of many familiar and new faces. Hine said it includes, "The Ortega family, Lorelei of the living hair, Patricia (Merwoman) Hamilton, Vazhin, the Bugman, Machine, professional-hitwoman-turned-terrorist Sashenka Popova, Filthy Frankie and a whole new bunch of geeks, goons, sleaze-balls and ne'er-do-wells."
"Mutopia X" will explore both the glitzy penthouse and gritty street level world of the "House of M" reality. "We're dealing with crime and terrorism and the point at which the two worlds meet. The story also looks at the effect of not having mutant abilities," Hine said. "Mutation as disease has been looked at, but here it's sapienism as disability what it's like to be one rung lower down the ladder of evolution."
The tone of "Mutopia X" is comprised of a variety of elements. "There is a lot of humor but as the story progresses that turns into laughter in the dark," Hine said. "I can't help it, I just think bleak thoughts. I have also written some neat action scenes for Lan, because I know he's been itching to show off his knock-em-down, beat-em-up skills. It's a faster-paced book than some of my past work but it also continues to explore Ismael's character and relationship with his family and his work, tying up a lot of loose ends from the 'District X' series."
"District X" may be over, but "Mutopia X" won't be the last time that readers see these characters. Hine couldn't talk specifically, but he did say we'll be seeing more of many of the characters in "District X." "Hey, this is the Marvel Universe! Nobody retires!" Hine exclaimed.
With "District X" finished, Hine weaves a new mutant based mystery in "X-Men: Colossus- Bloodline," a mini-series that examines Colossus by sending him back home. "Mike Marts asked me to pitch an idea for a Colossus mini-series. With Piotr back in action, he is obviously long overdue for some serious attention. We went back-and-forth a few times, with Joe Quesada and Dan Buckley also involved in the fine-tuning. We all wanted to focus on Piotr's Russian background in some way and we have taken him right back to his roots with this story."
Hine sees Piotr Rasputin as a sensitive soul trapped in an impenetrable metal body. "He's a tragic hero who was uprooted from his peasant life in Siberia and thrown into the maelstrom that constantly surrounds the X-Men. Although he's very much a team player, there is an aura of solitude around him. He wasn't really cut out for all that death and violence. Look at 'House of M' issue 2 to see what he'd rather be doing."
The plot of "Bloodline" has Colossus ensnared in a web of death and violence on his own and in his home country. "That sense of isolation I was talking about has increased since Piotr's long months of imprisonment. In 'Astonishing X-Men,' Joss Whedon has subtly hinted at the consequences of being forced to confront the darker recesses of his soul. In 'Bloodline' we dig a lot deeper," Hine explained. "Piotr's cousin is an investigative journalist in post-communist Russia. When she starts to dig into a series of mysterious deaths, she uncovers some startling and terrifying secrets. It looks like she is also on the hit list, so she contacts Piotr who takes the first plane back to Mother Russia. He has lost enough relatives already and he doesn't intend to see any more die."
Hine noted that many of the X-Men will make an appearance in "Bloodline," including Wolverine, Cyclops, Emma Frost and Kitty Pryde, but then Colossus pretty much flies solo. When Colossus returns home to Russia, readers will meet a number of bizarre and interesting characters. "Some of them are under wraps, but the key character is Larisa Mishchenko, Piotr's cousin," Hine explained. "We also meet their mad Uncle Vlad who follows in the great Russian tradition of the Holy Fool hermits who get away with totally outrageous and anti-social behavior by claiming to emulate the life of Saint Simeon. Anywhere else but Russia they'd lock you up for it. Then there are the twins, Elena and Ivan, whose relationship to Colossus is the key to the mysterious murders."
Hine will take readers on a tour of the unique setting of "Bloodline" "Piotr's cousin works for a Saint Petersburg-based newspaper and we'll get some idea of how the press is still restricted in the new democratic Russia," he stated. "The secret police is still seen to be operating but we also see the young radical Russia, represented by the punk squatter, Kirill who is a big fan of Colossus. Colossus also travels to Siberia where farming communities are suffering now that state subsidies no longer support large-scale farming. I want to show a balanced view of the new Russia - the good and bad."
Colossus will face off against a number of threats while trying to protect his family and solve the rash of mysterious murders. "Everybody does Russian mobsters. My Russian heavies are represented by the FSB (Federal Security Bureau) who are the streamlined, updated version of the KGB," Hine explained. "Same people, sharper suits. I'm not saying which adversaries Colossus will be facing but I'm betting no-one guesses all of them!"
"Bloodline" is a story with a dark tone. Hine described it as noir tinged mystery with super powers, but readers do not need to know any of intricate continuity details of the current "X-Men" titles to appreciate "Colossus-Bloodline" "I'm a great believer in making every series 100% accessible to new or casual readers," Hine said.
"Mutopia X" and " X-Men: Colossus-Bloodline" are two of Hine's biggest assignments to date. "These are the most mainstream projects I have yet written and I'm finding the experience remarkably enjoyable," Hine stated. "The guys at Marvel have been taking quite a few risks recently with choice of writers and I hope I can show their trust is not misplaced."