X-Men: Grand Design #1-2

by Harlan Ivester on January 04, 2018

X-Men: Grand Design #1
Writer: Ed Piskor
Artist: Ed Piskor, too.
Colorist: Ed Piskor, yet again.
Publisher: Marvel Comics

            I somehow had not heard a single thing about X-Men: Grand Design before its second issue was released. I suppose with so many X-Men books already hitting the shelves, it slipped under my mutant radar. I picked up both one and two on a whim, thinking that they were some sort of flashback story, retcon of origins, or something of that nature. As it turns out, Grand Design is actually a history lesson covering all of homo superior’s most important moments in the super hero era presented as a spectacular nostalgia bomb, celebrating and simultaneously streamlining the group’s astonishingly complex background. Ed Piskor is a one-man army here (check the credits. He’s writer, penciler, inker, colorist, and letterer!), and he deserves every bit of praise coming his way. For what it’s trying to do, X-Men: Grand Design is a masterpiece.

            While some might say that the adventures of the X-Men could have been presented in a more engaging way, I found Uatu the Watcher reporting what he has witnessed to the Recorder to be a perfect frame for Piskor to rearrange and make sense of the convoluted timeline of these books throughout the years. Uatu, as a small comment by the writer himself, notes that he has learned that in order to make sense of what he sees, it is necessary to wait for it to finish unfolding. I can think of no other way to replay the history of the X-Men without turning Grand Design into a simple and literal history book. To do so would take away everything that makes this and Hip Hop Family Tree, which gave Piskor an Eisner award-winning credit, so special. Additionally, all dialogue is presented in manner very reminiscent of the time that the group was originally created. Keeping in mind comic book norms of today, this gives the book its own dry sense of humor that slips through the cracks on occasion, and greatly helps to lighten the mood of such a heavy exposition dump.

            I should probably mention that while the digital copy of issue one of Grand Design is currently on sale for $0.99, it is absolutely worth the extra $5.00 to grab yourself a physical copy, as long as your local comic shop decided to order it and nobody bought them out. There are no ads to be found in the 46 pages of either issue, and a huge factor in the flow of nostalgia you will feel comes from the book’s aesthetic. It’s on newsprint paper, given that dark yellowish tint from cover to cover. Combine this with Piskor’s decidedly old school art style, and I dare you to tell me that this book doesn’t feel like a time machine in your hands. There’s no code for a digital copy included with the physical one like normal Marvel books, so on second thought, you should definitely be getting that digital copy too while it’s on sale. It’s abundantly clear that so much heart and soul went into making this title, and that kind of effort deserves your time and money.

            After being a little disappointed with some lower quality X-Men books this week, I couldn’t be happier that I gave X-Men: Grand Design a shot. No, it wasn’t what I thought it would be, but to say that it stuck the landing in its mission to bring decades of stories together in such an entertaining way would be an understatement. Whether you’ve been following the X-Men all your life or you’ve been waiting for the right chance to break the ice with the team, this title is sure to give you what you need. Go buy it. Twice. 

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A Look Inside