I have said before how much I like Max Bemis, both as a writer and a musician, so it was no surprise that I was jumping on board this book. The main surprise was the actual release schedule for this book- that it would be rather unceremoniously released digitally in a five part digital series (apparently one issue a week) and once that digital run was completed the physical copies would be released (looking like a monthly release schedule, starting in February). But beyond that, I don’t have much to complain about this book.
I love that Bailey Hoskins is LITERALLY the worst possible mutant ever, that his cool mentor friend is Jubilee, who up to this point was probably fighting hard not to keep that “Worst X-Man In History” trophy in her room. Bailey’s power is that he can make himself explode- but the catch is that he would explode just once- like a human firecracker. He would pop and then, that’s it. Bailey Hoskins would cease to be. So basically he can never, ever use his power unless he just wants to die. Which I would imagine would be a very, VERY last ditch effort scenario if I ever saw one.
The artwork on this book is really solid, Michael Walsh’s pencils and inks are a bit chunky but in a good way, I like Ruth Redmond’s colors, and how they are a bit flatter than “traditional” colors, but still can convey color, shade and contours well (the cover of this book is a great example of the “flat” colors, but still utilizing some shading and gradient color for contours and to make things appear to have more depth.
This book has some fantastic humor- the opening sequence with Bailey’s “crowning achievement” as an X-Men to subdue a scared and fleeing baddie was some spectacular failure, where the X-Men are even being litigated because of the emotional trauma that Bailey caused this noncombatant. The humorous montage that follows was something altogether unexpected, but a welcome bit of humor all the same. The sequence following the montage titled “X-Team Fail: Aftermath” was quite a spectacular failure as well. The visuals for this scene really jumped off the page as Bailey is talking with his friend (and the girl he has the hots for) Rags. This conversation takes a couple unexpected (and one really gross) turns, when it is revealed that Rags isn’t really Rags at all- but we don’t find that out until she shapeshifts into Bailey’s mom (while continuing the line of conversation that Rags started- which was about Rags and Bailey hooking up. So the conversation took a brief, and creepy, moment to suggest Bailey and his mom would… well, okay- that’s enough on that topic!).
Rags-Baily’s Mom is actually Mystique, who was looking for someone in the X-Men to coopt and blackmail to her own nefarious ends. I am not exactly sure what the whole blackmail conceit was accomplishing in this issue, because if I made out with Mystique, that would become how I would introduce myself- “Hi, my name is Ryan- and one time I tongue kissed Mystique. As in, Magneto’s right hand woman, Mystique…” But apparently for Bailey, this would spell social suicide, and would “lose quite a few friends”. The time-lapse page showing Bailey in a stunned silence throughout his day was a nice bit of subtle humor- punctuated with Bailey taking a robot roundhouse straight to the face. Then we get some typical teenage awkwardness between Bailey and Rags (who Bailey has now had innapropriate sexual feelings for- AND JUST WHEN Rags says Bailey is such a cool guy for NOT sexually objectifying her…) things go from bad to worse there- because Bailey receives a text message that instructs him as to what Mystique wants Bailey to do to call in her blackmail- and that is a pretty big order… Mystique wants Bailey to **SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS** kill Professor X.
Being that this book is set outside modern Marvel continuity, it works just fine to assume Xavier is alive and well (but not for long if Bailey and Mystique have anything to say about it) so it works for the story well. Beyond just some of the awkward dialogue in the woods, and the whole Oedipus Complex undertones, this was a really good, really funny and endearing book. It IS odd that it’s being released in full issues digitally prior to any physical copies being released- Marvel does so well just releasing physical copies WITH digital codes, so it is odd that THIS book is a digital first release that will ALSO be seeing a physical release. But that doesn’t do anything to impact this book- it is really fun and funny and a solid read.