Review by Karl Verhoven
Bailey Hoskins is an utterly undistinguished High School student who pretty well blows at anything he attempts, so when there’s a possibility that he may be a mutant, he’s elated on the basis that it provides some validation. Of course, mutant powers come in many varieties, and Bailey’s opportunity runs along the same lines as the rest of his life. The X-Men feel sorry enough to let him attend the School for Gifted Youngsters, and even work up an armoured power suit for protective purposes. What could possibly go wrong? “I hear Wolverine’s super-bummed”, he overhears after his first outing, “we had to scale back his beer budget by like ten percent to cover Bailey’s screw-up”. And so it continues.
The closest comparison in tone to Worst X-Man Ever is one of the 1980s geeky but likeable teenager works it out in the end movies, pioneered by John Hughes. Those movies had charm and insight alongside good set-ups, with funny and smart moments. Writer Max Bemis realises ineptitude will only take his story so far, so he moves into other areas, the most successful being giving Bailey a companion who’s pretty much his total opposite in every respect. It’s very self-aware and self-referential, but Bemis supplies engaging light comedy, consistently paced to hit all the right beats.
Artist Michael Walsh provides the perfect visual companion, never overselling the jokes and ensuring our sympathy for Bailey is maintained. Walsh defines the cast well in a scratchy style, each of them interesting looking, and his sketchy backgrounds feature visual jokes, which is a nice bonus.
Bemis really surprises with the final chapter. It’s been apparent that he’s supplying answers to flawed logic regarding super powers that’s bugged him for years, but the final chapter elevates by taking this to its ultimate point, yet in doing so supplies another obvious lack of logic question. We just have to accept someone at their word when everything points to that not being the case, and if instead the character is lying, the result is cruel manipulation. In one respect the ending is good and inevitable, in another it’s flawed and questionable, while undermining much of what we’ve read. As disappointing as the ending is, before it there’s been considerable fun to be had.