X-Men : Schism, by writer Jason Aaron and artists Carlos Pacheco, Frank CHO, Daniel Lacuna, Alan Davis, and Adam Hubert, takes place during the Utopia era of team when the mutant race was at their lowest ebb. A new Hellfire Club rears its ugly head and forces Cyclops to make some hard choices, one's Wolverine doesn't agree with.
Uncanny X-Force: The Apocalypse Solution, by writer Rick Reminder and artist Jerome Open, sees Wolverine form a secret new X-Force team, consisting of Locke, Archangel, Fandom, and Deadpool, after disbanding the old one. One of the best X-Force tales of all time, it highlights the black ops team of the X-Men and the hard choices they have to face, with the one made in this story having wide-ranging repercussions.
UncannyX-Men : The Brood Saga, by writer Chris Claremont and artists Dave Cock rum, sees a celebration turn sour as the X-Men, celebrating with the Shi'Ar empress Linda, are attacked by her sister Death bird and turned over to the Brood, terrible parasitic aliens. Melding horror and superhero action, it showcased a fan-favorite team of X-Men going up against a terrible new threat and introduced the Brood to the Marvel Universe.
Astonishing X-Men : Epigenetic, by writer Warren Ellis and artist Phil Jimenez, sees the X-Men attacked by an entirely new type of Sentinel, one that uses the dead bodies of mutants as their basis. X-Men #30, by writer Fabian Nicaea and artist Andy Hubert, subverts the trope of comic book weddings.
The Age Of Apocalypse, by more writers and artists than one can shake a stick at, takes place in an alternate timeline that was created when Xavier's son Legion went back in time to kill Magneto but felled his father instead. Claremont went out with a bang on this one, serving up a fan favorite team in a struggle against Magneto in what is probably the best story featuring the Mutant Master of Magnetism.
Morrison brought his trademark style to the X-Men, presenting big ideas and boiling the X-Men down to their essence. Morrison layered so many little things through the book, linking it all together and giving readers twists and turns they'll never see coming, along with deft characterization and action.
While Marvel erased much of what he did immediately after he went back to DC, seemingly out of spite, his work ended up informing the vestrymen stories of the 21st century. UncannyX-Men : The Dark Phoenix Saga, by writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne, is one of the most well-known X-Men stories of all time.
The Dark Phoenix Saga introduces so many things to X-Men lore, like the Hellfire Club and Kitty Pride, concepts that would pay dividends over the years. With the recent Dawn Of X initiative, mutants are riding high again... although they may also be sowing the seeds of their destruction in their new books.
Writer Fabian Nicaea and artist Andy Hubert gave readers the wedding these two characters deserved, and it's still a great read all these years later. This issue reveals that he led the Marauders into the tunnels and while he didn't kill anyone, what he did was bad enough in the eyes of his fellows.
Writer Steve Eagle and artists Joe Madeira and Andy Smith did a great job of paying off years of build-up, and it ends with the return of a fan favorite villain. Written by Fabian Nicaea and Scott Lob dell and art by Bryan Hitch, Jeff Matsuda, Gary Frank, Terry Dodson, Mike McKone, Paul Pelletizer, and Ben Herrera, this set up story lines for all the '90s X-books.
While it might seem like a waste to read it as it's just a teaser book, there's a lot of quality storytelling and art in this comic along with a central arc about a young mutant trying to get to the X-Mansion as bigots chase them down. Writer/artist Alan Davis spent most of his run building up to this story, and it was a pretty satisfying tie-up to the whole plot line of the Twelve.
Playing out through UncannyX-Men, X-Men, X-Man, Cable, and Wolverine, this is one of those stories that gets overlooked but is filled with great art, writing, and action. This book is one of the preludes to “The Twelve” and sees Cyclops, Jean Grey, Cable, X-Man, Wolverine, and Archangel investigating an attack on S.H.I.E.L.D.
Written By Howard Mackie with art by Brandon Peterson, this ends on a huge surprise that plays into what Alan Davis was doing over in the main X-Men books. Written by Alan Davis with art by Adam Hubert, this is an action packed issue that pits two sides of X-Men against each other in a no holds barred battle and ends on a surprise twist that will leave readers begging for more.
Iceman, away from the Mansion at the time of the attack, is forced to bring together a team of disparate mutants to fight back. They get more than they bargained for as their leads land them in battle against the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and a mysterious robot with deeper ties to the team than anyone can imagine.
Eagle and Kelly were at the top of their game here and the art by Chris Bachelor, Adam Hubert, and Lei nil You in this six partner from UncannyX-Men #362-364 and X-Men #82-84. (Image credit: Marvel Comics)While it often seems like the X-Men during legendary writer Chris Claremont's run are big enough to sustain a universe of their own, the writer's dalliances with other corners of the Marvel Universe always provide fun distractions from the sometimes suffocating soap operatic of his main story.
'Agrarian Wars' is one of those fun little breaks that sees Claremont dip his toes into Walt Simon son's world of might and magic. Arthur Adams' art is some of the best of his career, creating a clear inspiration for artists like Marc Silver and Jim Lee to gain popularity in the decades to come.
With three simple words, Scarlet Witch put mutants close to extinction, but it made their struggle for survival even more desperate and compelling. The crossover as a whole is a little uneven as it's told over the course of 13 issues by five different writers who were all writing books that were fairly different in tone at the time, but they still get the job done.
In a weird way, the X-Men prevailing in this storyline is one of the most significant events in X-Men history because the baby turns out to be Hope Summers, and she is crucial to the resurrection process in place in the current 'Dawn of X' X-Men line. (Image credit: Marvel Comics)Depending on how you feel about crossover events, 'Mutant Massacre' will either draw your ire or your praise.
(To the point that continuity from 'Age of Apocalypse' would actually loop back around to make Dark Beast some impetus for Sinister's attack on the Warlocks in the first place. (Image credit: Marvel Comics)While 'Fall of the Mutants' is probably most remembered for leading into the Outback era of the X-Men, it's the smaller moments in this crossover that really deserve to be highlighted.
Though the main conflict with the Adversary and Freedom Force doesn't have the same impact as the team's face offs with other villains, writer Chris Claremont took the time to show us the world around the X-Men and how it was affected by them even if they didn't notice. For instance, Colossus tours the site of a battle with Juggernaut and recognizes that their adventures do have repercussions for the people who live in these places.
'Fall of the Mutants' is an odd crossover as the three titles never involved actually cross over, but the story allowed Claremont to toy with some ideas to help freshen up the X-Men's perpetual second act. Of course, the charges against him are dismissed, but since he's turned over a new leaf, this leads directly to him taking over as headmaster of the Xavier school and training the New Mutants.
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)Following up Grant Morrison is no easy feat, but famed writer/director Joss When was up to the task. 'Gifted,' the opening salvo of When's Astonishing X-Men run, brought Colossus back, helped redefine Cyclops, and introduced a mutant cure (providing part of the plot for X3: The Last Stand).
After years of no-frills leather, Cassady's reimagined costumes for the team still exude an understanding of each character's history. 'Wounded Wolf' features a face-off between Logan, Lady Death strike, and her Readers that humanizes the of' Knucklehead in ways that speak to the heart of the character.
Claremont's penchant for occasional solo adventures with his characters showed us how he was able to juggle them all without letting them feel flat or underserved. Wolverine's concern for young Katie Power and his decision to leave Death strike alive are crucial to understanding who Logan is.
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)In a move that can't exactly be replicated these days considering the way that everything is so entwined with the Internet now, X-Men fans in the '90s had everything they were reading replaced by all-new titles in an all-new dimension. The '90s get a bad reputation for indulging the worst parts of the comic book art form, but this remains one of the best stories of the decade for its sheer boldness.
The characters we had come to know and love were forced into fairly different roles in the 'AOA' timeline, and seeing how they changed (or stayed the same) is interesting to say the least, and probably couldn't work as well with any other superhero team. And with artists like Joe Madeira, Chris Bachelor, Steve Eating, Andy Hubert, and more onboard, 'Age of Apocalypse' still exists solidly in the golden age of X-Men art.
A spiritual sequel, 'Age of X-Man,' copied the concept of transporting the characters to an alternate world, but it didn't quite have the same level of surprise and novelty the first time pulling the trick carried. Though Chris Claremont's storied X-Men run ended somewhat unceremoniously with this short arc as Marvel shifted the power balance from writers and editors to artists, all it takes is one look at the characters as imagined by Jim Lee, and anyone on the planet can tell you who they are.
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)Strong women have been a mainstay since the beginning of Chris Claremont's run and Storm is without a doubt one of the greatest. From her humble origins as a street thief to her evolution into a leader and a goddess, Promo Monroe has never proven an easy hero to break.
Claremont's scripts deal with loss, forgiveness, coping, and surviving in the face of trauma, and Storm learns that there is more than one way to have power. It would be seven issues of buildup before the Brood became a real threat to the X-Men, capturing and infecting them in UncannyX-Men #162 leading the team to have to face their mortality.
Wolverine takes center stage as the only one who can seemingly survive the infection, but that allows Claremont to use him to ground the story a little as we see the rest of the X-Men struggle with their situation. Plus, we see character work that would be expanded upon later: Peter and Kitty's blossoming romance, Cyclops's anger that bubbles under the surface, and even Nightcrawler and Wolverine's frank discussion about religion.
By injecting some truly Claremont-ian melodrama, Hopeless gives a fuller picture of the X-Men’s Silver Age adventures and the people who would become the X-Men we know and love. (Image credit: Marvel Comics)Anyone who claims the X-Men aren't a metaphor for marginalized people in modern times probably hasn't read X-Men : God Loves, Man Kills.
Chris Claremont introduces William Stryker, a reverend with a big, bigoted bone to pick with mutant kind. There's an unnerving darkness to the proceedings that fits the more mature tone, and Xavier's nightmarish visions are rendered with staggering intensity.
Over time, the cast grew and the soap-operatic adventures filtered through Morrison's brand of new psychedelia, allowing him to comment on the legacy of superhero comic books' greatest team with his work. Hickman's knack for heady sci-fi gave the characters a direction for the first time in years, ending an era of stops and starts that failed to capitalize on the fact that at one point the X-Men ruled Marvel's publishing line.
In a way, Hickman throws the gauntlet down to the rest of the Marvel Universe, creators, fans and characters alike, with a single line from Magneto: “You have new gods now.” So while the artist admits that the plot is slightly borrowed from an episode of Doctor Who, 'Days of Future Past' still stands as two men at the height of the creative prowess finding opportunity and potential in these now timeless characters.