Another Packed, Pacey, Punchy Issue Of X-Men Grand Design: Second Genesis From Ed Piskor

by Oliver MacNamee

If X-Men Grand Design: Second Genesis #1 focused on the Phoenix Saga, then this concluding issue is the tale of what came next. Featuring heavily on the X-Women Kitty Pride, Rogue and, surprisingly, Carol Danvers/Ms Marvel, these characters are the glue that binds this packed book and holds together the varying sensational stories, crazy characters and mutant mayhem that came in the wake of Jean Grey’s first dalliance with death, giving it a narrative thread.

Condensing this period of X-Men history also means we get to witness the disco era of X-Men costumes that would not be out of place on any edition of Soul Train from the same era. Kitty Pride’s dance floor inspired ensemble does not go unnoticed by Professor Xavier, while Forge rocks a mean ponytail and power suit combo alongside other such 70’s inspired fashions that colour this book. It also means we get Storm’s punk-rock mohawk too, signalling a change in fashion and culture as the 70’s made way to the 80’s, which is where this issue winds up ahead of a return next year and the promise of a more 80’s and 90’s-focussed rundown of their greatest hits all mixed together, like some turntable wizard, by Ed Piskor. A man who is fast becoming an X-Men expert with the amount of research and reading he must have had to do to put this series together.

In this issue, Piksor covers a great deal of ground, once again, and all the while doing it with flair, humour and pace that will keep you turning the page and lapping up this potted historical recount that draws in all the different takes told of the X-Men not only from their core book, The Uncanny X-Men, but from other sources too, such as the 1980’s series, Classic X-Men. It’s one hell of a masterpiece in the making, and I can’t wait for the oversized collected edition that will sit well next to the previous collection.

With the help of hindsight and the many, many retcons and retellings we are given, this is a history of the X-Men that doesn’t miss anything out but does a sterling job of binding it all together and offering the readers a coherent history, all narrated by The Watcher, who pops up form time to time to remind us of his role. It’s a book that also reminds readers of how important a role the various strong females on the roster were to the unfolding dramas of the time. Storm, Mystique, and the aforementioned Kitty, Rogue, and Carol all stand out as characters who are not defined by the men around them, and it would seem it’s more the story that behind every great woman is a great man, rather than the other way around.

Piskor’s storytelling is effortlessly adept at taking such a huge set of stories, sagas and space operas, and condensing them and shaping them into a coherent whole, which can be tough at times with the X-Men of that era. They seemed to forever be in space, separated, or saving the world with story threads spreading in all directions. But, as well as being a faithful adaption of the X-Men stories, it’s also a great all-ages read that you could pass onto anyone interested in the X-Men.

A great introduction to comics as a whole, possibly? Offering up to any new reader a treasure trove of what comics are capable of. A decade or so’s worth of issues in just one comic book. Now that’s impressive, and I’m already awaiting the 2019 follow up, X-Men Grand Design: The X-Tinction and the era I first started reading the X-Men seriously. Excelsior!

X-Men: Grand Design: Second Genesis #2 is currently available from Marvel Comics.

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