Best X-men Stories

Christina Perez
• Tuesday, 05 January, 2021
• 8 min read

(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.

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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. As Claremont is wont to do, he does get a little too wrapped up in explaining to readers the facts of the world that might be new to those not following Thor at the time.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)Because of the size of the cast, penchant for time travel and experimentation and general disregard for the best practices surrounding those things, the X-Men have always been ripe for an alternate reality tale. 'Age of X' would predate Schism (in which the X-Men split into two separate factions) by a couple of months, and present a world in which the X-Men are essentially doomed to suffer.

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.

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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).

'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.

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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 Uncanny X-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.

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With the humanity and clean lifework of McKenzie on display, Hopeless takes readers through some of those early years interactions between the Original Five X-Men and refocuses them for modern audiences. 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.

In addition, if you're so inclined, we also did a Top 50 countdown of the greatest stories featuring X-Menstories (like Wolverine, X-Force, X-Factor, New Mutants, etc.). Click here for that top 50 list.

And one book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books. His writing has been featured at ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Times, About.com, the Huffington Post and Gizmo do.

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