Last month I blogged about my latest attempt to get back into American comics, starting with my beloved X-Men. My first step was with Essential X-Men, volume 1. I read the collection released in 2008, which is black and white, and contains Giant Size X-Men #1 and X-Men #94-119. (ISBN 978-0-7851-3255-4) In this review I’ll cover the story content as well as the actual physical quality of this collection.
First off, let’s look at the positives. This collection is the start of the legendary run by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, John Byrne & others. The praise it has received over the years is well deserved. The writing and art are great, with many legendary characters. Professor Charles Xavier assembles a new team of X-Men to rescue the original team, and the story goes from there. This collected span includes not only the first appearances of Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus, but also sees Wolverine and Banshee joining up as well. As I mentioned in my earlier entry, this was really special to me, as I’d missed out on these stories, having started into comics later. Getting to finally actually read all these important issues was a blast, and I really enjoyed them. I can’t recommend them enough!
Now, for the not-so-good, and it should be noted that this section has nothing to do with the quality of the stories and art themselves, but in their black and white presentation in the particular collection. Don’t get me wrong – I love black and white comics. Not only am I a big fan of manga but many of my favorite indie comics that I read are in black and white as well. Unlike those, however, this collection seems to be comprised of black and white copies of the originals, and often doesn’t carry over so well. A lot of times it’s a bit hard to tell what’s going on. Despite the amazing original content, this black and white content seemed to hurt the experience at times, for me personally at least.
The text in this panel in particular was tough to make out.
I definitely don’t regret reading it. In fact, the value is great: 528 pages at a cover price of just $18. If you can pick up this now out of print edition for even cheaper, like I did, it’s still well worth the read, just not always so easy on the eyes.
If I had it to do over, I’d probably try to find a collection that keeps everything in its original colors, but the comics themselves were great, definitely living up to their reputation. I’m super excited to continue with this legendary era of stories in their full color collections.