When it comes to the X-Men, there is a pantheon of creators, writers and artists who have made an invaluable contribution to the series and its lore. For those of us born in the ’80s, Chris Claremont, Art Adams and Jim Lee were the first individuals working in the comic industry that I knew by name. They were people that instilled in my young mind the reality that the stories and characters I loved were their creations; their foresight and abilities are what gave my youthful dreams their structure and design.
As I got older, my X-Men comic collection grew, and I became more acquainted with the works of the greats that had preceded my entry into the series. It was then that my love of Dave Cockrum was established. Some of the greatest X-Men stories and narrative threads of all time were touched by his hand and continue to leave reverberations within the continuity of X-books today. Once I was able to identify his work and the contributions he had made to my favorite superhero series, my life-long love for his work began.
Thus, it was with great anticipation that I grabbed the Dave Cockrum’s X-Men Artifact Edition. This hardcover, like previous entries in this series, is for those interested in the original artwork from some of the paramount runs in comic history. This book is not cheap ($125), but it is well within the realm of prestige hardcovers currently published. While Cockrum’s run has been well represented in the trade market for many years, this specific volume offers great insight into his original pages. Obviously, the pages reprinted here were crafted long before the digital age, and seeing the worn, yellowed pages and tape included in the scans of each selection is worthwhile treat for those fascinated by the steps required to produce these classic issues. Cockrum’s work is left to speak for itself, only accompanied by ink and Claremont’s word.
Chances are, if you are in the market for a book of this type, you have already studied Cockrum’s work extensively, and are looking for additional insight into his work. Additionally, it is the supplementary material that really justify this purchase. We are gifted with a nice introduction from Claremont, as well dozens of pages of design work for the classic mid-’70s X-Men, with artist notes in tow. For somebody interested in the X-Men, being exposed to early designs for some of its most iconic characters is a wonderful experience that should be included in every one of these prestige trades. The Marvel Girl revamps alone are something to behold, and exhibit just how different Jean Grey’s character may have been!
This is an excellent piece of comic history, truly honoring one of its greatest titans. I hope we see more trades of this nature to celebrate the cultural contributions of this medium’s giants.