X-Men Grand Design #1
Cartoonist: Ed Piskor
Publisher: Marvel Comics
A Review by Greg Brothers
Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I am a huge X-Men fan. You throw an X on a title or add a X-man-related character to a book, and I am more than likely going to give it a chance. The problem comes when someone says, “tell me about the X-men.” They have an extremely long and winding history. One that is not easy to describe. Nor is it easy to tell people where to start without just saying “from the beginning.”
Obviously, I am not the only person who has a love for the X-Men and feels it is hard to tell their history. Ed Piskor started with a tweet asking people if he should create a series that told the history of the X-men in chronological order. The tweet gained steam and with that Piskor went to Marvel with his idea, and X-Men Grand Design was born.
So, how does Piskor start to try to tell 60 years of history? Well, we start with the Watcher, he is calling to Recorder, so he can start to tell the story of mutants. When the Recorder points out that they were beginning to worry about what was taking the Watcher so long, he points out that sometimes you must wait till things settle down a bit to tell someone’s story. This is an especially poignant point for today’s society who wants all the answers now. We get a brief look at the history of mutants in general. No event, no attacks, no time travel, just everyday stories including witches, jesters, and saving cats from trees. It is not until Namor puts New York underwater that mutants become known to all. From here Piskor covers both Charles Xavier and Magnus Leshner from their childhood to the beginnings of the X-men and the Brotherhood. This is done in a way that even the smallest event seems monumental.
With many of those events that took several issues to cover, Piskor can cover in a panel or two. Many times, those two panels do just as good if not a better job of showing how important the event was. While the book is mainly composed of traditional panel layouts, it is the use of those layouts that shows Piskor’s ability at unique story telling. One particularly interesting layout involves Charles and Magnus playing chess with the chessboard separating the panels with the two of them. The style of art is intended to mimic the classic Kirby and 70’s style that was used during the era that he is covering in X-Men Grand Design. This adds to the familiarity of the reading, while also giving the book an educational feel. Even small things such as the cardstock of the pages seemed to be taken into account. The coloring, thickness, and even the smell of the book reminds you that you are not reading a “modern” comic book.
Buy it. X-men Grand Design is an amazing work of art. Piskor obviously took the time to meticulously go back into the history of the X-Men and mutants in order to highlight all the important parts. The book serves two purposes and does both well. It tells the story of Marvels’ mutants in a unique way that helps to lay out themes that have run throughout their history. It is also a great reference for those that might not be as familiar with the X-Men. While there are no epic fight scenes or bold splash pages, you will find yourself in awe of what is sure to be a modern-day masterpiece.