Have you ever tried to explain the X-Men comics to a friend who doesn’t really read comic books? I mean, like all of their various adventures and plotlines and alternate timelines and deaths and resurrections? Of course not, that would be virtually impossible—and that’s exactly what Hip-Hop Family Tree creator Ed Piskor and Marvel are going to try to do in X-Men: Grand Design.
On paper, Grand Design’s core concept is pretty straightforward: Take the first 280 X-Men comics—that’s all the issues from September 1983 to September 1991—and distill them down into a single 300 or so-page comic book that weaves together the series’ most major events into one, cohesive story. That’s how Piskor first inadvertently pitched the idea to Marvel back in 2015 and not long after, the publisher got in contact to take him up on his offer. Since then, Piskor’s been carefully illustrating and scripting in secret, waiting until now to unveil his and Marvel’s plan to the world.
The various X-Men comics series’ convoluted backstory has always been sharpest of double-edged swords. Ludicrous, cannon-altering decisions like turning the Phoenix into a cosmic entity instead of a natural manifestation of Jean’s powers are part of what makes reading and rereading X-Books fun for hardcore fans. But by that same token, the sheer density and complexity of the X-Men lore is often what keeps new readers from being able to just get into the comics for the first time.
Obviously, condensing down 280 issues of X-Men books is a daunting task whose end result could easily be an unsatisfying mess. But if executed properly, X-Men: Grand Design could streamline decades-worth of mutant history into a single, definitive volume that would change the way that we make sense of Marvel’s mutants, which could be a very, very good thing.