Best X-men Comic Book Series

Earl Hamilton
• Monday, 04 January, 2021
• 7 min read

A band of outcasts, thrown into a situation beyond their control, forced to fight and defend their race, Homo-superior. What follows has been a 55-year run of epic heights, featuring some of the most significant artists and storytellers of our time.

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Brian Michael Bends and Stuart Immune produced this series, where the original X-Men from issue #1 are brought to the future by a melancholy Beast. In 2009, Fred Van Lent wrote X-Men Noir for a unique series the Marvel was running.

In this 1937 version of the X-Men, the students are juvenile delinquents recruited by psychologist Xavier who trains them to hone their criminal instincts. When Jean Grey, a known conwoman, and manipulator, is found dead and covered in distinctive cuts on a nearby beach it’s the catalyst for a twisted and layered story that leaves readers on the edge of their seats.

Cybernetic psychopath Cameron Hodge and his crazed followers plus an amnesiac Havoc, lead an attack on Xavier’s mansion that imprisons Storm and a few members of the New Mutants. The bulk of mutant’s rally to sneak into the prison camps on Kenosha to rescue their friends and family.

Deep in the Latin American jungle Cassandra Nova reopens and begins to operate a Sentinel factory. By the time she is discovered by Cyclops and Wolverine, the mechanical hunters have devastated the island state of Kenosha, which is now home to Earth’s mutant population.

Messiah is the first major storyline after House of M, in which mutant kind was wiped from existence, and features the first mutant birth in several years. Bishop believes the baby to be a catalyst for an earth-shattering event in his timeline and will stop at nothing to kill the child.

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After the original X-Men decide that going back to their time isn’t an option, they continue with updated looks and stories. Blue is significant because it started a run of color titled offspring that dominated the direction of the X-universe today.

Plus, Hank McCoy is a wizard in training, Jean and Cyclops are psychical linked, Angel has cool flaming wings, and Iceman can form a giant snow beast that rivals the Hulk in size. The scale of the fighting was so epic that the sister series, ASX, featured sparse parts of the story and concentrated on the battles.

The story ends with the death of Charles Xavier at the hands of his first student, Cyclops, who is possessed by the Dark Phoenix entity. That’s what Scott Summers intended to do when he wound up with Jean Grey’s clone, a woman named Madeline Pryor.

Sinister beliefs that the offspring of Cyclops and Marvel Girl would be able to bring down the world’s oldest mutant. The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix show the origins of cable, how he came to be infected with the technogenic virus, and his trip to the future with Assani.

The Astonishing X-Men was released as a limited series back in 1999 but didn’t take off until 2004, when Joss When took over. His run revitalized the series, which cherry-picked the favorite fan mutants and teamed them up for perilous and thrilling adventures.

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In the ‘Ghost Box’ storyline, Ellis plants the seeds that lead to rifts so deep the very fabric of the team is altered from this point. In the House of M series, written by Brian Michael Bends with art by the sublime Oliver Compel, explores an alternate Earth in which the Scarlet Witch has lost her children.

Her grief has made driven her insane and her power is only held in check by a strained Charles Xavier. Alas, the distraught woman is unable to control her powers and creates a separate reality.

Again, Chris Claremont delivers a series that engross readers and gives them complex storylines. While in Japan for Wolverine and Mario’s wedding, Rogue earns her keep as an X-man while Storm adopts the Mohawk and leather that would dominate her appearance throughout the John Byrne run as the artist.

His lovers Jean, Mario, and Silver Fox all meet an untimely end, simply because they loved Wolverine. Loki has hatched a plan to make Storm the new god of thunder, but he wasn’t counting on the students and their powers.

When Held comes to take Wolverine’s soul, Dani Moon star is revealed to have Valkyrie powers. Touted as one of the greatest graphic novels of all time, God Loves, Man Kills teams the X-men with general villain and all around bad guy Magneto.

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The sadistic mutant hating preacher Stryker attempts to kill all mutant kind with a cerebra like machine. When the one-eyed hero from the future is believed to have shot Prof X with the techno-organic virus, the X-Men hunt down X-Force and their mysterious leader.

Written by a host of whose who authors, Inferno depicts the corruption of the Jean Grey clone Madelyn Pryor. Inferno has spanned all five mutant titles and centered on Pryor’s attempt to open a portal to limbo in New York City.

Ultimately, when the clone passes away Jean receives its memories and develops a love for young baby Nathan. When the X-Men learn that a vicious group called the Marauders are attacking the Warlocks who live in the sewer systems of New York, both X-Men and X-Factor arrive, and the slaughter is abated.

Angel is nailed to a wall and Colossus is so severely injured that he is unable to change back to his standard form. This causes a break in the timeline, creating a new and separate reality, and Apocalypse attacks the X-Men sooner than intended.

When Bishop appears from the future, the group's aid in full force in hopes of restoring the timeline. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the X-Men in 1963, in the midst of some of the most significant comic creations of all time.

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Angel, Beast, Iceman, Cyclops, Marvel Girl and Professor X all were introduced in this initial issue, along with their arch-nemesis Magneto. The issues are culturally significant to comic collectors everywhere and fetch one of the highest prices for mint books.

Kitty Pride has her mind sent from a dystopian future where Sentinels, the gigantic robotic mutant hunters, have all but extinguished the mutant kind from Earth. When the movies began production in 2000, there was a buzz that I hadn’t felt since the height of the comics collecting era, before the crash in the early 1990s.

Each of the issues and storylines depicted above is worth checking out as they are prime examples of a thread of comic lore that has influenced the nature of where all mutant featured titles are headed. X-Men comics have always stood out from the pack thanks to the dark and realistic themes their books have brought to the spandexed and jaunty world of comic book superheroes.

Their shared conundrum of feeling ostracized for the very thing that makes them special is the engine that powers the most compelling family of books in Marvel's cannon. The books follow intricate, layered story lines that are essential reading for any superhero enthusiast.

It could be argued that even though Spider-Man may have introduced the art of lengthy and powerful story lines, X-Men books perfected it with some of the best arcs in comic history. If you don't have the time to read literally infinite comic books, here are the most essential X-Men story lines to get you caught up.

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At the height of his powers, writer Chris Claremont cast long-time protagonist Jean Grey as the X-Men's greatest foe when the sheer burden of her powers and a nudge from Mastermind (a villainous mutant with the ability to cast illusions) push her to abandon morality and embrace the world-breaking telekinetic potential of the Phoenix Force. It's a cosmic opera in which Jean kills millions, faces a trial at the hands of the alien Shi'AR race, and ultimately sacrifices herself for the good of the galaxy.

The drama lies not only in Jean's struggle, but in the anguish of her friends and teammates as they watch her descent into madness. The Dark Phoenix Saga is not only one of the greatest X-Men tales, but it is also a frequent nominee for the best comic book storyline of all-time.

When the X-Men's lives are threatened by radiation on a trip home from outer space, Jean transforms from her mild-mannered Marvel Girl persona to become the Phoenix, an angry force of nature that manifests a fiery bird to do her telekinetic bidding and that has the potential to destroy planets. They came back in 1975 with a Giant Size issue that introduced a diverse, multi-national team of new X-Men whose first mission was to save the original X-Men after Professor Xavier had failed them.

The original team faded into the background as Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and especially Wolverine took center stage and became fan favorites. Claremont introduced the depth and complexity of a soap opera, believable romances and fragile interpersonal dynamics to the spandex filled punch-fest that had previously passed for story telling in the comic medium.

Dark Phoenix may signal the end of a cinematic era for the X-Men, but fans probably won't have to wait too long until the fan-favorite team is back on the big screen. Disney's ownership of the X-Men and Fantastic Four film rights guarantee a reboot for the X-franchise, which means another chance at seeing a few fan-favorite storylines adapted, this time with Marvel Studios in creative control.

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Thankfully there have been a few modern retelling of the early years of the X-Men, which focus on the original five mutants assembled by Professor Xavier; Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Bobby Drake, Hank McCoy, and Warren Worthington the III. Dennis Hopeless and Jamie McKenzie's X-Men : Season One retold the first year of the young X-Men's lives, while Jeff Parker and Roger Cruz's X-Men : First Class provides an alternate retelling of the team's origins and carries on until their fateful mission to Krakow.

The new team, which featured iconic members like Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Wolverine, would then head off on their own adventures in the relaunched X-Men title from legendary X-scribe Chris Claremont. Giant-Size X-Men #1 kicked off the increasing popularity of Marvel's mutants for years and remains a great introduction to the fan-favorite characters, but Ed Breaker and Trevor Hairline's X-Men : Deadly Genesis offers a bit more depth to the team's origins and the Krakow mission.

Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson released God Loves, Man Kills in 1982 as a part of Marvel's newest foray into publishing, graphic novels. The story featured the X-Men as they were attacked publicly by religious fanatic Reverend William Stryker, whose own son was born with an abnormal mutation that he considered an abomination against God.

While God Loves, Man Kills was originally considered non-canon, Claremont officially brought in to continuity with a sequel storyline that took place during his Extreme X-Men run and further launched the ongoing threat of Reverend Stryker. We can't talk about important issues of the X-Men without discussing Chris Claremont and Jim Lee's X-Men #1, which became the best -selling comic of the modern era after its launch in 1991.

The issue debuted an updated team with new costumes and characters that kicked off the series highest levels of popularity and launched the X-Men into the mainstream. The characters and designs from X-Men #1 inspired the hit X-Men : The Animated Series and launched a number of spin-off titles that further expanded the huge line of X-Men -related comics during the industry's boom in the 90s.

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However, during one of the first big X-Men crossover events, Claremont and John Romina, Jr. would unite for the “Mutant Massacre,” which saw the Marauders set out to exterminate the Warlocks living beneath the streets of Manhattan. Many lives were lost, and the X-Men suffered a number of injuries and personal losses that would shatter the team and set them on a dark path for many years.

The Mutant Massacre crossover also included other titles like Daredevil, Thor, and Power Pack and would continue to inspire new storylines for years to come. The new series kicked off a new super heroic era that saw the main Astonishing team lead the rest of the X-Men through other big events like Messiah Complex, Second Coming, and Avengers Vs. X-Men.

The classic storyline from Chris Claremont and John Byrne lasted for a few years and featured some of the best and saddest moments the X-Men have ever dealt with over their storied past.

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