I wasn't entirely sure what to expect with a "X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back!" mini-series. Pixie has never been a character that seemed to scream, "I need a solo spotlight!" (although her storyline in "Uncanny X-Men" about a year and a half ago was fun), and my first thought was that Marvel had gone back to the old phase of, "shove anything out with an X-Men logo that you can," resulting in all sorts of odd choices for mini-series and ongoing series getting the green light.
Fortunately, "X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back!" justifies its existence by having a strong authorial voice in the form of Kathryn Immonen. I'd forgotten how much I loved her "Patsy Walker: Hellcat" mini-series, in no small part due to the snappy dialogue and narration of the comic. That's present here, as well; sometimes it's in the background (like X-23 and Armor bickering about variation versus repetition), sometimes the foreground (a fun scene where it's a small wonder the White Queen hasn't pulled all her hair out by the time it's over). It's all slightly off-kilter but in a good way, giving the comic its own unique voice that straddles the line between over-the-top and realistic.
What's also impressive about Immonen's writing is that, after having revealed in the first issue that Pixie and several of her fellow students are trapped in a dream world, that she's managed to keep both the real and the fake worlds exciting and interesting. More often than not, a story with some sort of fake world that characters are trapped in has the not-real turn dull as soon as its true nature is revealed. Instead I found myself still curious and intrigued by that narrative, and that's no small feat.
I never did get a chance to read Immonen and Sara Pichelli's brief stint on "Runaways," so it was a new experience for me to see her art here. It's good, a blocky sort of style that reminds me of small elements of Chris Bachalo's and Rick Leonardi's art. Some characters look better than others under her pen; this is certainly the most unglamorous White Queen we've ever seen, but Pixie in particular looks great. In particular I found myself enthralled by how Pichelli draws hair, almost as if it hangs in strands and clumps. It's an interesting look, and I'm looking forward to seeing more Pichelli art down the line.
"X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back!" may look like another disposable mutant mini-series, but Immonen's snappy script is strong enough that it's quietly beating the odds. If all mini-series and one-offs were this strong, I think we'd have a lot more happy customers in the store buying them.