Dave Cockrum, in case you’re unaware, was the man responsible for designing the new X-Men team that re-launched the property in 1975’s “Giant Size X-Men”. While his contributions to the property often get a little overlooked by the industry at large, he’s still a big enough name in his own right that Marvel is releasing this one-shot, titled “X-Men: Odd Men Out.”
After only a cursory glance, it’s clear that these are inventory stories which have been hanging around the office for so long that the people who commissioned them in the first place are almost certainly nowhere near the company anymore. Cockrum’s involvement, however, elevates them just enough to make X-Men aficionados take notice.
While it’s good to see Cockrum’s work in any form, it’s unfortunate that, by their nature, the stories are fairly inconsequential. Indeed, the lead feature, “Odd Men Out,” barely features the X-Men at all, instead focussing on FBI Agent Fred Duncan, a character you probably don’t remember from the early years of “Uncanny X-Men”. He and Xavier discuss their history working together and the direction the X-Men have taken. It’s written by Roger Stern, so it’s perfectly readable. As well as a recap of X-Men events (up until just before 1991’s Claremont/Lee “X-Men” launch, giving a good indication of when it was actually written and drawn), it contains the kind of tete-a-tete philosophizing that X-Men stories do so well.
The second story in the issue doesn’t actually feature the X-Men at all, instead showing the classic “New Mutants” line-up fighting a robot version of Apocalypse unleashed by the Mad Thinker. It’s a charming, quirky story from what was certainly a simpler time for comics, but again, ultimately it’s only of great interest to New Mutants fans looking for a bit of nostalgia.
The book is being sold on the strength of Cockrum’s name, lest we forget, and it does deliver some great visuals from him. Nothing spectacular, but Cockrum’s artwork is easy to appreciate even by today’s standards. It’s an unfortunate shame that the stories don’t really contain any of the X-Men characters Cockrum is closely associated with. Fred Duncan and Boom Boom are good in their own right, but Wolverine, Colossus, and Nightcrawler’s brief appearances make it easy to see what we’re missing out on. As good as seeing Cockrum’s art is whatever the circumstance, this is one for completists and nostalgia-seekers only.