Generally speaking, the X-Men comics aren’t very funny. Oh, there are exceptions, of course. Joss Whedon can’t help but bring humor to everything he does, so his run on Astonishing X-Men was filled with lots of hilarious moments. Similarly, Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men also was a particularly funny take on Marvel’s merry mutants. But for the most part, the X-Men are known for their socio-political metaphors and their endless soap opera angst, and not for tickling your funny bone.
Now, a new comic from writer Max Bemis and artist Michael Walsh is looking to change all that. Judging from their first issue, it looks like they’ve done a very decent job of it. In X-Men: The Worst X-Man Ever, we’re introduced to Bailey, an ordinary American teen. (Emphasis on the word “ordinary.”) He’s pretty much out of his league with every interesting and attractive girl at school… and possibly the not-so-interesting ones as well. See, Bailey doesn’t have a “thing”—he’s not a jock, or a musician, or an artist. He has no niche. He’s just an average dude who likes to play video games and eat pizza.
This all changes on the day his seemingly also average parents drop a bombshell on him, and inform him that they are secretly mutants. Why keep it a secret all these years? Because everyone hates mutants and are always trying to kill them, that’s why. When you think of it like that, it’s hard to blame them.
Granted, Bailey’s parents’ powers are pretty lame (his dad is “gifted” with the ability of frying eggs on his chest, for example), but they are mutants nonetheless, and as such prone to passing on the gene to their son. So they sit him down and have “the talk,” and explain how the world at large is going to fear and hate him for the rest of his life if he does indeed carry the X-gene. If you’ve been reading X-Men comics, then you know what usually happens next. This is generally when the new mutant runs outside, cries, and shouts to the audience about how he or she wishes to be normal.
But Bailey is over the moon to be a mutant. After all, it’s better to be feared and hated than ignored altogether. And to Bailey, the X-Men are especially awesome. His assessment on the superhero team: “They have superpowers and run around fighting monsters and brooding and making out with each other and dressing weirdly badass.” This does seem like a very accurate way to encapsulate why the X-Men are awesome, I must say.
So when Bailey’s parents take him to meet Headmaster Beast at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, he can’t wait to find out what his potential super power actually is. Sadly, his superpower is possibly the worst superpower ever, and Bailey is back at square one. I won’t say what his power is, as its reveal and description are among the funniest bits in the book. But here’s a hint: It’s a power he can only use once, and said use wouldn’t exactly work out well for Bailey. So, technically, yes, he’s a mutant, just the lamest mutant of all time. His dad’s egg-frying power looks pretty good in comparison.
As if things couldn’t get any worse for young Bailey, he endures a Sentinel attacks upon leaving the campus grounds. After all, this is an X-Men comic and that’s what happens.
The full X-Men team rushes out of the mansion and enters go into kick ass mode. This is where I should mention that this story doesn’t fit into any particular X-Men part of history or continuity, and seems to be exisiting in a universe of its own. Kitty Pryde and Jubilee are both teenage students at the same time; Wolverine and Cyclops are both alive; Rouge and Storm are adorned in ’80s costumes, etc. It’s like what the casual reader thinks of as the X-Men, but not any X-Men line-up that ever really existed in the comics.
Writer Max Bemis is a relative newcomer to comics, and is most famous as the frontman for the band Say Anything. A lot of musicians for some reason think they can leverage their fame into writing comics, and it doesn’t always work out for the best. (I won’t name names). I’ve never heard a single thing from Say Anything before, but Bemis has a clear knack for writing comics, and bringing a funny, human angle to it all. I know this isn’t in “real” Marvel continuity, but one issue in, and I kind of wish Bailey would show up in the main X-Men books, or that Bemis would be given a crack at one of the ongoing X-books one day. I doubt there is a single reader that won’t relate to Bailey on some level, so I’ve got to hand it to Bemis for making such an endearing character within the span of one issue.
Of course, Bemis was helped in this regard by the terrific art from Michael Walsh. Walsh has drawn a lot of comics for Marvel and Image over the past several years, including a few issues of Secret Avengers. Walsh’s pencils have a fun retro vibe to them that fit perfectly with this book. It’ll be hard to say if Worst X-Man Ever can sustain its sense of fun over the whole five-issue run, as its premise is based on a joke that might wear thin. So far, however, it’s off to a pretty good start. I’ll definitely be checking out the rest of this mini-series.
RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
IMAGES: Marvel Comics