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X-Men: Grand Design #1 [Review]

xmen_grand_design_0001X-Men: Grand Design

Cartoonist: Ed Piskor
Editor: Chris Robinson
X-Men Group Editor: Mark Paniccia
Editor in Chief: Axel Alonso
Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
President: Dan Buckley
Executive Producer: Alan Fine
X-Men Created by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: February 2018
Cover Price: $5.99

I crab about Marvel comics all costing $3.99+ and virtually always put back even curiosities once I “confirm” that they’re $3.99+ for the issue held in-hand. I’m down on much of what Marvel has published for the last few years at least, and have had extremely mixed feelings on what stuff I have picked up.

This issue is $5.99.

And I barely thought anything of it. The issue FEELS thick, and heavy, and quite possibly THE single best value in a single issue that I have come across from Marvel in a long, long time.

It took me three sittings to get through this issue. Granted, I had other stuff going on, but I also hadn’t mentally “budgeted” a long time to stay put and read, used to even the extra-sized issues being pretty quick reads.

I’m not actually sure what I expected from this issue. I think initially I thought it was going to be a book that was text-only; when I realized it was actually a comic after all, I decided to give it a shot. What I got out of it is that whatever the length of the finished product, it’s like this detailed “history” of the X-Men, in comic format–using new art and narrative but covering existing material.

The page design includes coloring to make these glossy, higher-quality-paper pages look like old newsprint; the coloring to the story/art itself lends to that effect, giving this the appearance of a classic 1960s comic book or such. While there’s a little bit of “panel creativity” and “white space,” by and large the page layouts are tight and dense, modular classic panels–squares and rectangles with actual borders and gutters in a way that seems to have been largely jettisoned in “modern” comics. The dense visuals share space with dense text–plenty of caption boxes, speech balloons, and thought bubbles; the art is there, the art shows plenty, but there are no full or double-page splashes. The art serves the narrative, rather than some limited text serving up an excuse for big, flashy art.

Story-wise, I didn’t really feel like there was anything “new” or “fancy” or such here. Nothing particularly stood out, nothing was singularly memorable. But then, I was not expecting such. What the story is, what the writing is, is basically a straight-forward narrative, in chronological order, from the beginning of Marvel Comics into the 1960s and the beginning of the original X-Men issues. Things that were revealed in flashbacks a few issues in or 30-something YEARS’ worth of issues in, it’s here in order, unfolding as events unfolded–NOT in the order that details were doled out to readers as the actual issues were published. And this is presented as a tale from Uatu, the Watcher…giving a good context to things now being told in order.

In many ways, I’m sure a lot of people would consider this a boring read, and a re-tread, and probably a few other negative connotations to stuff. Me? I thoroughly enjoyed this. Part review, part history lesson, part summary, and part condensed revisitation of classic stories. I totally appreciate comics in general and the nature of them; the occasional “new reveal” or such, new flashbacks revealing previously-unknown information, the introduction of a character from someone’s past who just happened to not have been mentioned or relevant til “now” in the story that sheds new and different light on past events. But there’s something cool and refreshing about just following a single, one-directioned narrative pulling in everything–from information we got in X-Men #1, to stuff brought up/shown into 2009, 45-some years after X-Men #1.

X-Men: Grand Design (sample 2 pages' layout)

Pages seem to have 5-9 panels each, some more…making for plenty of room to cram a LOT of story into small space. No half, full, or double-page splashes to “cheat” or anything!

For my $5.99, three “sittings” to read, and sheer amount of time spent to read this whole thing, this is the best value in time-to-money I’ve found in years. As I got to the end of the issue, I wondered if this was monthly, or if I’d have to wait up to TWO months for the next issue…but then saw the next issue is supposedly in a mere two weeks.

At $5.99 an issue, and biweekly, and I’m very much looking forward to the next issue? Anyone reading much of my writing of late ought to realize that alone should speak to the quality I see in this. Again–this will not be for everyone. That said…I highly recommend it, especially to anyone who is or was a fan of the X-Men, particularly the 1960s “early days” OF the X-Men.

Deadpool #31 [Review]

I Rule, You Suck (Conclusion)

Writer: Daniel Way
Pencils: Bong Dazo
Inks: Jose Pimentel
Colorist: Andres Mossa
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: Dave Johnson
Assistant Editor: Jody Leheup
Editor: Axel Alonso
Published by: Marvel Comics

Story-wise, there’s not a whole lot to this issue. Deadpool’s trapped in a hospital, trying to keep a young doctor alive while killing vampires of the Claw Sect (who have infiltrated the hospital). Amidst the fighting, we get an extremely amusing moment in one of Deadpool’s hallucinations, riffing on Twilight. We also get to see Deadpool spring a couple of traps that are really quite smart–and the flashback to seeing him setting the first struck me as funny in its own way, even while thinking what an awesome moment of planning ahead it was…I’m surprised I’ve never seen that solution used in anything else with vampires before. The issue ends on a bit of a sad note…one can’t help but feel for Deadpool here.

The art by Dazo continues to impress me. There’s something to the visual style Dazo brings to the book that works really well for me, and there was nothing that jumped out at me as complaint-worthy. This looks and feels like the Deadpool I’ve come to enjoy the last couple years, and remains a great-looking comic.

I’d not been following Deadpool for a few months–waiting instead to pick up collected volumes–but the cover of the previous issue drew me in; and especially for discovering this would be only a 2-part story, there was no way I wasn’t going to get this issue. This series continues to surprise me at how much I enjoy it. The enjoyment this time is as much in the story as it is in that the cover price seems to be holding–for present–at “only” $2.99. as well as the fact that this was a highly-enjoyable Deadpool arc of only 2 issues rather than being drawn out across six issues.

The cover shows this as a tie-in to the recently-concluded Curse of the Mutants arc from X-Men…this is a thematic tie-in, but can be read and enjoyed entirely without that story, and vice-versa. This–along with the previous issue–make a great little set for Deadpool fans unwilling to commit to six issues but who want to read a well-done Deadpool story set inside current continuity, interacting with the goings-on of the Marvel Universe.

All in all…this is my favorite issue of the week for sheer enjoyment. Definitely recommended.

Story: 8/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 8.5/10

X-Men #2 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth #13 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Uncanny X-Men: The Heroic Age #1 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

X-Men: Second Coming #2 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

X-Men #1 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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