We here at AIPT have been excited for some time for the Giant-Size tribute to Len Wein and Dave Cockrum. We even devoted an X-Men Monday to it. Now that it is available in comic shops and digitally, what can fans expect, and is it a worthy tribute to one of the most important comics in X-Men history? Considering the talent involved with this issue, the answer is a big fat yes!
Listing off the creators for this issue would be a test of patience since there are so many, but know that comic greats like Alex Ross, Mark Brooks, Javier Rodriguez, Phil Noto, and Marguerite Sauvage are just a handful of creators who contribute to this work. If you don’t know, this issue is a page-for-page remake of the original Giant-Size X-Men. Along with an intro and words from three people near and dear to the characters and the X-Men in general, this work serves as a great celebration of the very first issue.
This work is so close to the original I highly recommend fans read this with a copy Wein and Cockrum’s issue to see how close it comes to mimicking it completely. There are small changes, like bits of dialogue and a few artistic changes, but for the most part, this book works to recapture the greatness of the original in the style of each creator involved. It opens with Alex Ross’s work rendered beautifully in a great full-page spread that’s basically a painting.
The most notable changes might be in Marguerite Sauvage’s introduction of Storm, which maintains the two panels at the top of the page but utilizes a collage of images rather than six panels to tell the same section of the story. It’s a beautifully done page and Sauvage’s style works well with the introduction of Storm. In another page, Valerio Schiti and Mattia Lacono change the layout a bit but maintain the same number of panels. There are smaller changes throughout–Mark Brooks draws Colossus in armor mode rather than in the flesh–but you could practically lay some of these pages over the original on a light table and see a one-to-one correspondence.
Aside from changes, it’s quite cool to see some of the best artists in the business applying their style to the story. If you’re someone who reads a lot of comics, it’ll be fun to guess who draws what as you flip the pages.
On the flip side, it is somewhat jarring to flip the page and get a completely different style that doesn’t match the previous page or the page after. Styles vary across this book, from cartoony, to hyperrealistic, to conventional superhero style, to computer rendering. Making this read in a cohesive way is likely not the intention — and you could argue this makes each page a work of art in itself — but it can take you out of the reading experience.
Following the main story, there is an interview with Len Wein’s wife, Christine Valada, that houses some interesting details about Wein’s thoughts on X-Men and Wolverine specifically. Another page is devoted to Paty Cockrum, who discusses her late husband Dave. Again, the interview is intimate and a nice contribution to the book. Wrapping up the book is a short essay from Chris Claremont, who speaks about the X-Men in general and their importance. He also speaks to Wein and Cockrum the creators as they were his friends and colleagues.
All in all, Giant-Size X-Men: Tribute To Wein & Cockrum is a great tribute to one of the most important single-issue comics ever. It’s also a clever idea: Take something that fans and the creators themselves hold dear, and make something new via their artistic styles. The back matter is also helpful in drawing your attention to the creators behind the work.
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