From the House of Ideas: Taschen Delivers A Definitive X-Men Experience

Maybe I should change the name of this column to From the House of Xavier, since the last few weeks have been focused on the recent X-Men books coming out of Marvel. Well, I’m going to make it three in a row, since I recently received the gorgeously massive Marvel Comics Library: X-Men Volume 1 1963-1966, published by Taschen.

This is the fourth in the newly launched series, with previous books featuring the earliest adventues of Spider-Man, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four. All of these hardcover titles, including the X-Men, measure 28 x 39.5 cm and weigh in at 10 pounds, so you better have some strong arms and knees when you’re reading. Each issue included in these books are “meticulously reproduced from the most pristine copies of these rare comic books,” and it shows. Though the X-Men book is the most recent release (it officially arrives in stores and online in August), all of these Marvel Library titles are immaculate ways to read these classic comics. The paper feels retro but never cheap, and the glorious art and storytelling pops of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby absolutely pops off the page.

As per Taschen, “Close in size to the original artworks, this XXL-sized edition features the first 21 stories of our favorite oddball super heroes from 1963–1966. The most pristine pedigreed comics have been cracked open and photographed for reproduction in close collaboration with Marvel and the Certified Guaranty Company. Each page has been photographed as printed more than half a century ago, then digitally remastered using modern retouching techniques to correct problems with the era’s inexpensive, imperfect printing—as if hot off of a world-class 1960s printing press. A custom paper stock was exclusively developed for this series to simulate the feel of the original comics.”

The 21 issues contained here chart the course for Marvel’s merry mutants, including the introduction of the classic team of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, The Beast, and Angel. Villains like Magneto and Juggernaut are also unleashed. We also see just how smart the storytelling of Lee and Kirby was, as the plight of mutant acceptance was an issue from the very beginning of the X-Men. 60 years, that theme is no less timely or profound.

Marvel Comics Library: X-Men Volume 1 1963-1966 comes with an introduction from legendary X-Men scribe Chris Claremont, whose work continues to be the standard by which all X-tales are judged. For context, former X-writer Fabien Nicieza delivers a throughful essay on the genesis of the X-Men comics, which, as history has told us, wasn’t a hit when it first appeared on magazine racks.

There are two editions of Marvel Comics Library: X-Men Volume 1 1963-1966; a standard, numbered hardcover of 5000, and a more expensive slipcased edition that’s limited to 1000 copies. Which ever way you go, these books are lavish ways in that celebrate the history and artistry of comics.

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