X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever #5 Writer: Max Bemis Artist: Michael Walsh Colors: Ruth Redmond Letters: Clayton Cowles Publisher: Marvel
Note: This comic book was first released digitally on February 3, 2016 and was just released in physical print this past Wednesday, June 29, 2016.
Within the media of storytelling, there are some stories that are difficult to make of. Ones that on the surface may appear to be one thing but when truly analyzed reveal to be something ultimately different. That’s of course what dawned the phrase, “never judge a book by its cover”, and the X-Men:Worst X-Man Ever mini-series embraces that.
Bailey Hoskins is as typical and bland as they come. He isn’t an athlete, an intellectual, the creative type, or musically talented, he doesn’t posses any quality that can help him stand out amongst the masses. That is until one day when his parents break the news to him, that they are in fact mutants and it’s quite possible that Bailey is as well. He becomes overwhelmed with excitement for the possibilities, and when his parents take him to the X-Mansion to see Dr. Hank McCoy, it turns out that Bailey is indeed a mutant.
Unfortunately for Bailey though, his mutant powers are utterly useless. He has the unremarkable ability to explode, just once, and then die. Needless to say it’s as much of a downer as superpowers come and Bailey becomes even more depressed when the X-Mansion gets attacked by sentinels and his parents are KIA. Things become all the more bleak for Bailey as he becomes the outcast of the outcast, being bullied by a student called Riches, who has the ability to create gold. He is able to find comfort with a few friends such as Rags, Riches sister, and Miranda who may be the most powerful mutant of all time. Unfortunately Bailey is sought after the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and they recruit him with the task of killing Professor Xavier. However Riches beats him to the punch and the closing issue of this mini-series is placed in the aftermath.
The way this comic has turned and flipped from uplifting and lighthearted to sour and gruesome is mighty impressive. This works thanks to the overarching theme of the series, life isn’t fair. Which performs even stronger when you understand that Bailey is a representation of the average comic book reader.
If you grew up in the 90’s and read comics, chances are you were a fan of the 1992 X-Men animated series. It was for many comic book nerds their gateway into the community, including yours truly. Numerous people grew up watching the show wanting to join the X-Men, with the hopes of finding somewhere to belong. However we’re all hit with the reality that is life at some point and need to learn that in order to live life to the fullest, you have to take advantage of your gifts at the right moments. That’s what Bailey realizes in this issue’s closing pages.
It’s not all theme analysis in this comic however, there are plentiful moments of humor throughout. The highlight being a montage that shows what all the other mutants have been up to since Riches took over the world. We see Beast hanging out in Sub-Saharan Africa, Toad assuming a position of power, as well as Magneto and Kid Omega turned into jokes. There’s also a great bit when Miranda’s powers are used to create an explanation for the Marvel Universe’s constant timeline shifts. This is of course out of continuity and it’s played off as self-referential laughs.
Michael Walsh finishes this series on art duties and once again displays his understanding of tone. His line work in this issue has been the strongest of the series yet as it exemplifies balance. Walsh is able to capture the lighthearted innocent vibe and blend it with a grim and bleak mood. The pencils may look simplistic but it sets an uncomfortable sense of uncertainty. Colors by Ruth Redmond mustn’t be overlooked as it only adds to the troublesome visuals of this issue. The art team nicely transition the comics visual mood in this issue with style.
The conclusion to X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever is grim, somber, and closes out in bitter-sweet fashion, which is why I enjoyed it. As said before, life can be a drag and this mini-series illustrates that brilliantly but not in a complete downer way. There are some uplifting moments and valuable life lessons to take from this comic. You just have to really think about them and not judge it by its cover.
Score: 4 out of 5
Review by Eric Bradach
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