So, I have to start off this review with a bit of capitulation, because for some reason (the reasons actually being that I am recovering from being sick, and had suffered a minor injury to my back taking down all the Christmas decorations in my house, so my focus was not as laser-sharp as it usually is…) I completely forgot to discuss this book on the podcast this week, and even though I meant to do it for my Other Side segment for the Weird Science DC Comics Podcast, I went with Spider-Man/Deadpool #1 instead. I think this book got lost in the shuffle, and with some books from Marvel being realeased on Saturday instead of Wednesday, coupled with my injury and distractedness lead to this book slipping through the cracks. And I am very, VERY sorry that I let that happen, because this is a book that I very much wanted to talk about.
If you have been reading my reviews for a while, you’ll have seen that I always enjoyed Max Bemis’ writing- I loved his first work for Marvel with his Magneto & Spider-Man team-up in the pages of A+X, and his miniseries books Polarity and Evil Empire were both stellar books, while both being very different stories. I had heard about this book when it was first announced, and got really excited for it’s release, but as with most things, being a dad and a husband got in the way of what little extra short-term memory I have, and I completely blanked on it’s release date. That is, until my wife, who is also a big Max Bemis fan, asked me about the book because of him mentioning it via Twitter. My wife hasn’t actually read any of his comics before, but is a big fan of his band Say Anything, and has even seen them in concert (I want to say twice, but I could be wrong there) which is something that I feel quite remiss about, bcause even though I have been listening to Max’s band since the release of “…Is A Real Boy” I have always WANTED to see them in concert. So getting a little more intimate peek inside the mind of a creative person by seeing how a musician writes a true narrative story is something that I like and appreciate greatly.
This story, feeling a bit more on the autobiographical side (closer to Polarity, further from Evil Empire) is about a young boy, Bailey Hoskins who is a painfully average teenager, wishing for anything to set him apart from the crowd, and luckily for him- he finds out that his parents are secretly mutants, with pretty straightforward and stereotypically “cool” superpowers- his mother has x-ray vision and his father is able to “fry an egg on his bare chest if he wanted to”. It was nice to see Bailey’s first mutant he meets be Beast (aka Dr. Hank McCoy) who confirms that Bailey is, in fact, a mutant. After running a battery of mutant tests, Beast tells Bailey his mutant ability…
Which is where this book gets it’s title from, Worst X-Man Ever- Bailey has the ability to make himself explode, like a human bomb. Which seems amazing, the ability to make yourself explode at will would be a great benefit in battle, not to mention to get out of awkward conversations. But, this is the Worst X-Man Ever, so Bailey doesn’t have any regenerative abilities, and once he explodes, he is just exploded. Beast describes it as “kind of a human firework” where once he exploded, he would be dead “because you just exploded.” Which was a beautifully funny-yet-serious moment, that totally caught me off guard. The twist of this book is the one that literally made me stop, go back, and read that section all over again, because it literally stopped me in my tracks when reading. **SPOILERS** Bailey is offered to attend the Xavier School, even though he will never actually be able to use his mutant ability, and will essentially be a normal human boy in a school of super-powered X-Men, so he declines- and as the Hoskinses are leaving, Mr. and Mrs. Hoskins are crushed by the footfall of an attacking Sentinel. Like, WHAT?!?!?! It was such a great, crazy, emotional turn for Bailey- and to showcase just how helpless Bailey is in a fight.
The humor of this book is rampant, but there is still a truly raw heart to what is happening here outside of just the jokey moments. Because when Wolverine bursts out the front door of the school and sees the Sentinel and shouts “Holy @#$%! Let’s GO, people!” and he and Colossus enact a silent Fastball Special almost effortlessly, Bailey is crying and watching this happen, still not yet processing the fact that his parents were just brutally crushed to death by a giant metal foot. The X-Men fight was really gorgeously laid out, and that was something that I wasn’t expecting from this book- real fighting. Since it’s called “Worst X-Man Ever” I assumed he would get audited, or stuck behind a lady with 3,000 coupons at the grocery store checkout, or that we would spend six pages of him singing Natalie Imbruglia songs in his late model sedan.
This book was something totally different than what I expected, the ending sets up a pretty interesting story going forward, and I really hope that a lot of people are checking out this book, because it is a weird, wild ride, and it has an extremely low accessibility hurdle- anyone can pick this book up and enjoy it, it doesn’t require any real foreknowledge of the current Marvel Universe, doesn’t tie into any events or anything like that. It is just a fun, strange book, and I think it can appeal to a lot of different people.
This was a title that I was really looking forward to, and after the first issue, I am already ready for more- this is a story, that if you come into it with an open mind, you will find plenty to enjoy. So please, go enjoy this book!