Hopeless tells two different stories that converge at the end. The first story is a happy and hopeful tale (so, given that it's the X-Men, you know that it can't last). The original X-Men have hit the road to enjoy their lives in the present, and Hopeless does a great job of imagining how a group of self-sufficient teenagers would go about doing exactly that. Angel and Wolverine are skiing in Colorado, Bobby is putting on ice displays in Austin (similar to the "Winter Carnival" issue that Marvel included at the end of "Uncanny X-Men" #600), and Hank has taken Evan and Idie to Florida. They all seem legitimately happy. (Even Laura!)
But, not surprisingly, Scott has gone on his own. Hank is worried about him, but Warren reminds him that he has to give Scott space, since Scott needs time to process (i.e., fret over things) before he can get past them. Moreover, it's not like his problem isn't a doozy: he's trying to find his way in a world with the face of a guy that raced for the title, as Warren says, of "world's most hated mutant."
Given that it's Scott, it's not like he's in a bunker somewhere. He's in Chicago tracking a group that calls themselves the Ghosts of Cyclops. They present themselves as pro-Cyclops revolutionaries, but they really just use their powers to scare people into fleeing a scene and then rob that place blind. Scott has predicted their next strike, and he impresses a girl that he just met by taking down a few of the Ghosts without using his optic blasts. But, Hopeless reminds us why Scott struggles to be happy: the girl reveals that she's a mutantphobe and then wonders why the Ghosts would want to look like someone as hated as Cyclops. (They wear Xs on their faces, like Scott's most recent mask.) As Scott says in his narration, the future sucks.
One of the Ghosts drops his wallet, and Scott tracks him to a local college, where two of the Ghosts recognize him. A battle ensues, and Scott uses his optic blasts for the first time in months. It activates the Cerebro that Hank built to track him and sets up the best reveal of the issue: Hank's van isn't only bigger inside than outside (as we previously saw), but it's also powered by a Pringles-loving Bamf named Pickles. I'm here for at least five issues just for that alone! Anyway, the kids converge on Scott's position, and the Ghosts have a fight on their hands.
This issue evokes the best memories that I have of the "New Mutants." Hopeless makes the Ghosts feel like a legitimate threat and already gives them clear personalities and power sets by the end of this issue. But, they're also inexperienced teenagers, so they're an appropriate foil for the gang. They already seem to be the group's version of the Hellions.
Moreover, Scott's narration really sets the context of this issue well. He believed in Xavier's message to them as kids, that society would come to respect them if they held themselves to a high standard of behavior. But, society is filled with hate and noise in the present, and the Internet helps spread that hate and noise all the more quickly. It's clear that Scott finds himself overwhelmed by it. Beyond some throw-away lines, we've never really spent too much time contemplating how hard it must be for the kids to fit into present-day society. Hopeless obviously aims to change that, making it clear that Scott is struggling to do so. After all, he comes face-to-face with the reality that the Dream that he was able to believe existed in the past might really be dead in the present.
In other words, it's a really great start.
***** (five of five stars)