Well, this was a pleasant surprise.

Typically, for “READ GOOD $#!+”, I try to zero in on content I’ve already read, but some things are so cool conceptually that they demand a blind buy. Marvel’s upcoming X-MEN GRAND DESIGN mini-series is definitely that thing.

Read on: STL065800Marvel Comics and Eisner Award-winning indie cartoonist indie Ed Piskor are teaming up for an unexpected, unprecedented, and uncanny undertaking. Best known for documenting the history of hip-hop with the award-winning HIP HOP FAMILY TREE graphic novels, Ed Piskor will sample and distill more than 8,000 pages of superheroic storytelling to create a definitive remix of the first 280 original issues of X-Men comic books and 30 years of complicated continuity into one seamless masterpiece of superheroic storytelling. Piskor will write, draw, ink, color and letter all six 40 page issues of X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN, which Marvel will publish over three years as three separate but interconnected mini-series — X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN, X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN-SECOND GENESIS and X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN-X-TINCTION.

“X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN is a tribute to everything comic book fans love about the X-Men from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s original run and Chris Claremont’s, epic 16-year stint as the series’ writer,” said Piskor. “It’s a compelling and complete story with a beginning, middle and an end, featuring everything from Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, Cerebro and the Danger Room to the Mutant Massacre, the Reavers, Gambit, and Genosha.”

“Ed Piskor is a singular talent,” said Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso. “And he is unleashing the same passion, craft and attention to detail that fuels his award-winning HIP-HOP FAMILY TREE on five decades worth of X-Men stories.”

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On December 9th, 2017, Marvel will publish the debut issue of X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN. On April 17, 2018, Marvel will collect both issues of X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN, as an oversized paperback collection in the same size and format as HIP HOP FAMILY TREE, and will also include the first issue of X-MEN by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby masterfully recolored by Piskor, and a host of recolored classic pinups. Each X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN trade paperback will feature a classic X-MEN comic book, recolored by Piskor.

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Long-running, serialized comics are known for having muddled continuity, and X-Men is kind of the comics franchise that perfectly exemplifies that. Like the press release above points out, Chris Claremont wrote the series from 1975 up until 1991. He loved his dangling plot threads almost as much as he loved to fold continuity in on itself with story strands involving alternate realities, psychic battles, inter-dimensional family reunions, betrayals, and (yup) time-travel. From the outside looking in, Claremont’s run may come off like a complete and total mess (which is why I think the X-Men movies have such a difficult time adapting classic tales), but, truth be told, that was part of the fun of reading X-Men during those 16 years.  After Claremont, several writers attempted to untangle some of Claremont’s more frustrating plot points. To the credit of writers like Peter David, Scott Lobdell, and Fabian Nicieza, they did a commendable job of making the ongoing drama of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters a bit more linear. Then, along came Grant Morrison who somehow managed to re-tangle the series in so many knots that writers are STILL trying to explain their way out of it almost 20 years later.

After Claremont, several writers attempted to untangle some of Claremont’s more frustrating plot points. To the credit of writers like Peter David, Scott Lobdell, and Fabian Nicieza, they did a commendable job of making the ongoing drama of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters a bit more linear. Then, along came Grant Morrison, who somehow managed to re-tangle the series in so many knots that writers are STILL trying to explain their way out of it almost 20 years later (which, personally, I find very amusing and very Claremont-ian of Morrison).

I say all that to say that anyone attempting to make sense out of the notably “uncanny” X-Men, deserves an immediate pat on the back. X-Men GRAND DESIGN’s Ed Piskor has his work cut out for him, and I looked forward to witnessing how he make sense out of Marvel’s mutants to tell us a sweeping epic from start to finish. Go, Piskor! Go!

X-MEN GRAND DESIGN is available to pre-order now at comic shops. If you’re a longtime fan or just looking for the cliff notes version of all those expensive back issues, this is the book you need to get in on.