There aren’t just one, but two iconic elements to enjoy in The Uncanny X-Men Trading Cards: The Complete Series. The first is of course a recounting of the creation of the X-Men trading card set, but the other is Jim Lee’s incredible work that defined how we see the X-Men for generations. The new book is out this week, not only reprinting every card but giving keen insight into the creation of the deck as well as fun facts on specific cards.
This book is 272 pages long in a hardcover format with the bonus of a few smaller-in-size trading cards exclusive to the production. Ed Piskor supplies a foreword that gives the book a casual opening with a fan point of view. From there, Bob Budiansky supplies a thorough recounting of how the card set came to be. He starts off with what the special projects Marvel department was up to, explains how Jim Lee became the artist that had to create this trading card set, and then the various steps it took to get the card set released.
There are interesting tidbits and colorful commentary on the entire process. It’s enlightening, and makes the creation of this deck all the more interesting. This section also features some interesting promotional items like posters and brochures sent to comic shops prior to the release of the trading card set.
From there, every card is reprinted with an entire double-sided page devoted to the front and then back of the card. Seemingly at random, there are tidbits and fun facts supplied by the designer of the cards, Marvel editor Tom Brevoort, and the colorist of the entire deck, Paul Mounts. These tidbits range from details on specific difficulties in crafting text for cards in some cases for characters that were only months old, to Mounts explaining how he crafted backgrounds. The reprinting of cards is also organized by color pages helping distinguish the heroes, villains, and miscellaneous cards in the set.
Many of the cards featured only the character which meant Mounts either drew in clouds behind Storm, or in some cases crafted some retro ’80s vibes. The commentary adds another layer to the creative process, further making this feel like a thorough making-of book. Jim Lee offers some insights in the introduction, but alas he does not offer commentary on specific cards. Likely he’s too busy, but it would have added another layer that feels a touch missing. That said, Mounts supplies plenty of artistic insights.
It’s made very clear in multiple parts of this book that Jim Lee crafted the visual style of the X-Men that still lingers to this day. His incredible art will stand the test of time, while the card set blew our imaginations with power levels and interesting biographies. Make no mistake, if these trading cards didn’t exist the X-Men as we know it may not be as popular and entrenched in pop culture history. For all those reasons, pick up this book to ensure your X-Men collection is complete.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from a making-of like The Uncanny X-Men Trading Cards: The Complete Series. In some cases, books like this are simply reprintings of the subject with minimal introduction and research. Abrams Books goes above and beyond here, though, crafting a must-read experience for anyone who collected the X-Men trading cards, or even new and casual fans who know nothing about it.
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