Entry 057 – Bailey Hoskins

Art by Michael Walsh

  • Name: Bailey Hoskins
  • Code Names: X-Ceptional
  • First Appearance: X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever #1 (March ’16)
  • Powers: Can Explode
  • Teams Affiliation: X-Men

About

Everyone wants to be special. They want to wake up one day and discover their boring life has more to it than they ever imagined. They want an owl to come with their letter to Hogwarts. They want to be whisked away on some quest where they are the chosen savior of all mankind. It’s something that makes a franchise like the X-Men so appealing for adolescents. The idea that you could have a secret special skill that makes you unique is alluring enough, add in the special school where only the other people with a secret special skill go and you have a home run of an idea. But what if that idea was subverted? What if, out of all the special kids, you were the worst? Say Anything frontman and comic writer Max Bemis took a look at this concept in X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever and created one of the most unique and thoughtful X-Men characters in recent memory.

Bailey Hoskins was just your average teenage boy. He wasn’t popular, but he wasn’t an outcast. Bailey just existed. He tried to be unique, tried to get into indie music or skateboarding or poetry, but the only thing that stuck was playing Halo and crushing on girls who were way out of his league. His parents called him down one afternoon to tell him something that would change his life. Because they were hated and feared, Bailey’s parents hid the fact that they were mutants from him. Bailey was ecstatic to discover that he was special and not a half hour later he was at the gates of the Xavier Institute.

Art by Michael Walsh and Ruth Redmond

Beast quickly ran some tests on the wide-eyed boy and Bailey sat on the edge of his seat. The disappointment that followed crushed Bailey like being stomped on by a Sentinel. Bailey was able to explode. Once. Then he would die. Bailey was the least special of all the special kids and decided he didn’t belong at Xavier’s. He and his parents walked out dejected, but Bailey was glad that he still had his parents. The surprise Sentinel attack took that from him too. The X-Men took down the threat but Bailey was left alone and without anywhere else to go, took up residence at the Institute.

Art by Michael Walsh and Ruth Redmond

After a month of near isolation, fellow student Jubilee took pity on the boy and took him under her wing. She introduced him to Rags and Riches, mutant siblings with the power to decompose matter and turn things into gold respectively. When she brought him to Forge, Bailey got the first good news he had in a long time. The Maker had created a suit of power armor so Bailey could train to be an X-Men. He told Jubez and Forge that he wanted the code name X-Ceptional but they didn’t have much time to react to such a bad idea. The school’s alarm system went off, and Bailey decided now was the time to prove he was important.

He charged out to face the Purifiers who were attacking the school, but the rest of the X-Men already had it covered. He chased down a straggler, but the bigot dropped to the ground without a fight. The soldier went on to sue the school for “unabashed emotional assault” and the Institute settled out of court for a sizable sum. It didn’t look like Bailey really belonged with the X-Men proper but Beast had an idea, he could try other mutant teams. Baily wasn’t violent enough for X-Force, too annoying for X-Factor, too unaccomplished for the New Mutants, and too American for Beta Flight. He just didn’t fit in anywhere.

 

Art by Michael Walsh and Ruth Redmond

Disappointed, he walked out to the woods of the Institute where he found Rags. He opened up to her about his fears and his anxieties and she was very responsive. She proposed that they have a carnal relationship but Bailey was a little stunned by it. Rags tried to find something that would work for him, morphing into Jubliee, then his mother, and finally into her true form, Mystique. The Brotherhood member advanced towards the boy, pulling him in and gave him a kiss that brightened up the woods. Mystique pulled back revealing her phone with a picture of the kiss. Mystique threatened the kid with the picture. What would his classmates think? She told him she would be in touch and Bailey walked back to his dorm dejected.

Art by Michael Walsh and Ruth Redmond

Bailey was shell shocked by the events and Rags, the real Rags, took notice. She tried to comfort him, even inviting him on a date and Bailey thought that just maybe something good would come from all of this. Of course Mystique chose that moment to call in her demands to Bailey. He was to kill Professor Xavier.

While the task weighed heavily on him, Bailey tried to go about his day to day life. At an outreach program for mutant kids, Bailey met a girl his age named Miranda. She was an Omicron-Level mutant with the power to manipulate reality, to make things not exist and Bailey was able to convince her to join the Institute. Miranda only had one request, she wanted to be on the same team as Bailey. He couldn’t do much of anything and she could do way too much but the two became fast friends.

Art by Michael Walsh and Ruth Redmond

The Brotherhood was tired of waiting and kidnapped Bailey so he could talk to their leader face to face. Magneto preached the gospel of the marginalized to the kid. The master of magnetism gave him a choice, continue to live a boring life among the extraordinary or seize the moment and become the man to change the course of history, to usher in a new world of mutant superiority, to be special. They sent him back to the school, and Bailey had a huge decision to make.

Art by Michael Walsh and Ruth Redmond

After an altercation with Riches during a training session, Bailey and the bully were sent to Xavier’s office. The Professor gave them a speech he had given a hundred times. He talked about responsibility, control, the greater good. Riches rolled his eyes and but Bailey wasn’t content with a cookie cutter response. He asked the professor, after everything the X-Men had done, everything they lost, what was the point? Xavier sat silent for a moment and then spoke. “There is no point, Bailey” he said with the calm conviction of a man who had spent countless hours mulling the same question. Xavier spoke not of some lofty goal of tolerance, but of a collection of moments, the fleeting moments of joy and peace that the X-Men made possible. He spoke of the community he created, the little bit of good the school brought to a handful of lives. Bailey, nearly in tears, told Xavier everything about the Brotherhood and the plot to kill him. Xavier moved to comfort the boy but felt a weight in his lungs as Riches transmuted them into solid gold. The Brotherhood never trusted Bailey to change the world, they knew he could never be special. Bailey would forever stay in the background while Riches changed the world.

Art by Michael Walsh and Ruth Redmond

Years later, Bailey sat in his dingy New York apartment staring at an invitation. Riches had led the mutant revolution; some would call it a dystopia, others just existence. To celebrate the anniversary of his triumph, Riches was throwing a ball and wanted to invite Bailey. He didn’t want to lower himself to celebrate Riches glory, didn’t want his peers to see receding hairline or his disaster of a life. On the other hand, he had nothing better to do. In the elevator of the Empire State Building, en route to the gala, he saw Gambit with Rags hanging off his arm. He wanted to be mad, that could have been his life right? But Bailey tried not to focus on that anyway, he had moved past his past. At the party, Baily was seated with Joseph, Maggott, Skin, X-Man, and Cyclops, a table for the worst the Xavier Institute had to offer, but as the night wore on an old friend caught his eye.

Art by Michael Walsh and Ruth Redmond

Miranda didn’t look a day older than when they were teenagers. She told him she hadn’t been around much, you see she had been traversing pure idea-space and missed out on the last twenty years. Bailey told her of everything that happened after Xavier died, how the X-Men died, or quit, or were enslaved. Miranda felt responsible for all of this, she had spent the years changing the multiverse but ignored her home world. She was a walking retcon, making it so that the X-Men who lived in the 60’s were the same ones fighting in 2016, resurrecting heroes who she wanted to see again, changing the world. Bailey was furious that she let him go through all of this. He walked away knowing that someone had to save this world, and he might as well be the one to do it. He walked straight up to Riches, the most powerful man in the world, and for the first time, the only time in his life, used his mutant gift.

Art by Michael Walsh and Ruth Redmond

Miranda heard and felt the blast, it shook to building to its’ foundation. She spoke softly to herself and smiled. In the end, as Miranda reshaped their world, Bailey was special. The Earth ripped to shreds and reformed as a letter on the desk of Marvel editor Jordan D. White. Say Anything frontman and comics writer Max Bemis sent a pitch about the Worst X-Man Ever, about an outcast among outcasts. Jordan loved the idea but the X-Office was going through some shakeups. They had just lost the writer of their flagship book and line editor and maybe now wasn’t the right time for a story that was so out there. Maybe someday.

Art by Michael Walsh and Ruth Redmond

Must Read

As we close out 2016, I have been thinking back on the best of the X-Men over the year and nothing comes close to X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever. Here, Bemis proved that the self-deprecation and quick wit he perfected on albums like …Is A Real Boy (which, full disclosure, was very influential for 15 year old me) translates perfectly to comics. He created a thought provoking book that was still fun, a very meta story that didn’t get lost in itself. None of that would have been possible without Michael Walsh’s energetic and emotive art or the dynamic, popping colors provided by Ruth Redmond. This is the book for any X-Men fan. Grab the trade or check it out on Marvel Unlimited. It’s a quick read you will never regret.

Art by Michael Walsh

Ranking

Bailey Hoskins is one of the most relatable characters in X-Men history. He has a power set you will never forget and a great personality. He suffers from the same problem that Carrie Kelly from The Dark Knight Returns does where the body of work is so small that it is hard to compare to characters with 50 years of continuity. Still, Bailey is a concept that deserves to be revisited and making someone care about him in 5 issues is no easy feat. When I first started this whole thing I used Rachel Summers as my midpoint (though she is a handful of spots above that now) and when I face a tough decision, I often go back to her. It is hard to compare 5 stellar issues with a massive history and I don’t think it is doing Bailey a disservice to put him in right under Rachel as the new number 24 in the Xavier Files.

Bailey was requested by Abrohm from this site. Thanks for the request. If you have a request just submit it at the bottom of this article and I will add it to the list that currently stretches into June 2018! If you want to cut to the front of the line, we have a Patreon if you want to support it and get a line cutting reward for just a $1 pledge. We just hit our first goal and just need $7 for me to start reviewing every X-Book each week. Oh and we also have exclusive physical items so check those out!

Click here if you want to see the full ranked list, with links to every entry in the Xavier Files so far.

If you liked what you read be sure to follow Xavier Files on twitter, TumblrFacebook!

Next week we are doing a twitter poll! Vote below and I’ll see you then!

Character Request
Sending