Below is a list of X-Men story arcs from the past 50 years. The X-Men have had a lot of ups and downs in their long history, sometimes being one of the top books in the comic industry and other times being on the verge of cancellation.
For years, the team has combined fan-favorite characters with pulse-pounding action and drama, presenting some truly unique comic stories created by some top talents in the industry. 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. Uncanny X-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.
Uncanny X-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.
My list of favorite X-Men stories, ranked in approximate order. He writes characters that are easy to care about and who always make the wittiest of quips, and his X-Men stories here are no exception.
Brilliantly told story that deals with themes of love, betrayal, and struggling with inner demons. Though Claremont can tend to be a bit wordy, I thought this was a great finale for his long run.
It provides a menacing yet sympathetic Magneto fighting for mutant peace, at the expense of Homo Sapiens life, with a little of revenge thrown in on the side. Though I initially had mixed feelings about them finally revealing Wolverine's origin, I thought this story was really well told and beautifully illustrated.
This storyline has one of the best Wolverine-Sabretooth fights I've ever seen, with a powerless Wolverine being hunted by Sabre tooth (who of course still has his powers) as Wolverine fights to save his friends and possibly learn the truth about his past. It has its plot holes (such as how can Born be Magneto even though he showed a different set of powers early on in the story), but overall Morrison's run is exciting, action-packed, and contains some great character development (especially with Beast).
I also really enjoyed Mark Miller's entire run on Ultimate X-Men It's like an extended stay in Claremont's Days of the Future Past timeline.
X-Men : The Animated Series was the gateway drug for millions of comic book fans around the world. X-Men : The Animated Series, or XMAS, opened up a whole new world for kids and brought to life epic storylines and fan-favorite characters for existing fans.
XMAS was at its best when they dove into long-form arcs, and until this series, it was nearly unheard of in a syndicated show for kids. They soon discovered that it was carrying a savage beast which was released from confinement by the Readers, and an old foe of Wolverine’s, Lady Death strike.
When it was freed, it immediately attacked the Readers and then began to prey on the Warlocks, the subterranean colony of mutants. In the distant future, Cable is at war against Apocalypse’s forces when time itself begins to unravel around him erasing everything and everyone.
Cable came to the unfortunate realization that he has to work against the X-Men and essentially assist his greatest enemy to save his world from destruction. In the first arc we got Bishop seemingly assisting the X-Men in stopping Apocalypse’s plans to unleash the Legacy Virus, but it ultimately ended in tragedy for everyone.
The second part had Cable traveling back and undoing what Bishop set into play and ultimately righting both of their timelines. It was an extremely intricate story for a Saturday morning cartoon and I loved the producers for trusting that we could handle it.
He started by impersonating the reverend at the wedding, sent Professor-X and Magneto on a goose chase, put Jubilee on a fake mission (for trying to “replace him”), tricked Gambit into kissing Rogue, and sicked an angry mob upon Storm putting her in the hospital. At the age of 10 or 11, the only source of shock I got from my media intake came from the death of Optimum Prime in Transformers: The Movie (1986).
Literally using every bit of his mighty mastery of magnetism, he threw it into orbit and named it Asteroid M. Laced with hyper-advanced technology, it’s a self-contained fortress manned by Magneto, his loyal Acolytes (but not Exodus! All seems to be on the up and up until it is revealed that Magneto was only able to achieve this feat by relying on the mutant Cortez to augment and maintain his strength.
The mutant Bishop is counted among those few until he successfully apprehends several fugitives, including an aged Wolverine. Bishop suddenly finds himself on the other side of the fence and joined forces with the same people that he helped imprison.
Free, he and Wolverine visited Forge who had a plan to journey into the past and stop their world from ever coming to be. Days of Future Past was action-packed and fairly intricate as far as your typical Saturday morning show went.
Under the orders of Master Mold, Trevor Fitzroy traveled back from the future into the distant past and assassinated a young Charles Francis Xavier. Bishop and his sister Shard discover what Fitzroy had done in the past and traveled back to thwart his plans, but not before making a pit stop in the new present day to recruit Wolverine and Storm.
I say this because it is the story that inspired the massive Age of Apocalypse 1990s crossover event which itself would go on to affect the X-Men comics for years to come. In this rare case, the comic book-based series made a huge impact on its own source material (this only happened two other times with Harley Quinn and X-23 making their ways into the books after first being introduced in TV shows).
Out of all the weird things we saw in that tiny glimpse we got of the new present-day timeline, I don’t think I’ll ever get over seeing Wolverine wearing eyeliner. With the intention of erasing all existence and starting over, he sets out to gather together every telepathic mind he can get a hold of from all across time and known space.
The X-Men, Cable, Bishop and several others like Archangel, and Shard are in a race against time itself as they put it all on the line to stop Apocalypse, rescue the taken psychics, and save all existence. Amazingly, Beyond Good and Evil was supposed to be series finale and it's evident by how the producers pulled out all the narrative stops.
They didn’t kill off half their cast as we thought should have happened in Game of Thrones, but they gave their biggest villain, Apocalypse, even more, godlike power as he had taken control of the Nexus of Time (a physical location that acts as the way station for all timelines). Other than a truly epic set-piece and the luxury of having both Cable and Bishop involved we finally got to see fan-favorite Locke make her animated debut.
She even spent a fair amount of time around her classic comic romantic interest, Archangel. After saving the galaxy from destruction at the hands of a mad intergalactic tyrant, Jean, still possessed by the Cosmic Entity known as the Phoenix Force returned to earth.
After weeks of intense psychotherapy, the Phoenix refused to leave Jean and even starts to speak independently of her altogether. In hopes of luring the powerful being into their fold, the Hellfire Club began to telepathically manipulate the Phoenix through Jean’s mind and ultimately her emotions.
It’s pretty funny to see a billion-dollar movie studio attempt to adapt this story not once, but twice and fail both times. It was emotional and strangely deep as it explored infidelity, capital punishment, mental health, betrayal, and sacrifice.
In an attempt to provide Jubilee with help for her “problem,” her foster-parents report her to the Mutant Registration Act authorities who immediately dispatched a Sentinel to her home. They defeat the mutant-hunting automaton and rescue the teen, but now have to contend with the true face of the Mutant Registration Act.
Mind you, Morph’s apparent death would be the only one throughout the series, save for Jean’s temporary sacrifice at the end of the Phoenix Saga (Child of Light). From the very beginning, it was evident that this was going to be a special show that rarely protected their audience from going through the motions along with the cast.
I mean, who to this day doesn’t get goosebumps when Wolverine mounts the back of a Sentinel and yells “This one’s for you Morph!”? After battling the Shi’Ar representative, the alien double-agent, Erik the Red, the X-Men escape the doomed station, with the help of Jean.
As she’s piloting the shuttle to safety, she’s overcome by the cosmic entity called the Phoenix Force. After the Phoenix and Jean merge, it is revealed that the mad emperor of the Shi’Ar Empire, D’Ken seeks to use the power of the M’Kraal crystal to dominate the entire universe.
The XMAS producers and writers crammed so many new characters and concepts into the mythos, the series would never be the same in terms of its scope. When joined together, the two arcs created the best animated comic book adaptation of anything ever to be produced.