The entire line was seemingly canceled, replaced by new series set in a new timeline defined by the fact that Professor X was murdered decades before he could form the X-Men. This double-sized issue acts as an overture for the massive, four-month-long event, introducing readers to an even more powerful Apocalypse and Magneto's darkly heroic team of X-Men.
“Dark Horizon” (July 1996) Writer: Scott Lob dell Penciled: Joe Madeira Inner: Tim Townsend Colorist: Steve Uccello Letterer: Richard Starlings Editor: Bob Harris Following the departure of Chris Claremont and Jim Lee a few years earlier, the partnership of Scott Lob dell and Joe Madeira became a new high watermark for the franchise.
The rest of the issue unfolds in Lob dell's often-used vignette structure, as Cannonball has a tense conversation with a dismissive Xavier and Jean relays a terrifying encounter with the mysterious Onslaught to Cyclops. A wave of dread washes over the X-Men, culminating in Jean Grey agreeing to assist Juggernaut, just before things get really dark.
“Bye” (June 1995) Writer: Scott Lob dell Penciled: Chris Bachelor Inner: Mark Buckingham Colorist: Steve Uccello Letterer: Richard Starlings Editor: Bob Harris “Age of Apocalypse” used its dark setting to reimagine plenty of X-Men, including the usually optimistic Kitty Pride and Colossus.
It may come as a surprise considering how funny Lob dell's scripts can be and how bright Madeira's artwork is, but this pair actually does tension and foreboding quite well. Just like the previous “Onslaught” prelude issue on this list, this one, which kicks off the 1994 event “Phalanx Covenant,” is another creepy installment in the Lob dell/Madeira partnership.
By the end of the issue, Banshee realizes that he's surrounded with imposters, his only allies being the teenage Jubilee and two of the X-Men's captives, Emma Frost and Sabre tooth. The makeshift X-Men just barely escape the taken over X-Mansion with their lives, having uncovered a massive plot by the alien Phalanx to abduct and assimilate the next generation of mutants.
“The Ties That Bind” (March 1994) Writer: Fabian Nicaea Penciled: Andy Hubert Inner: Matt Ryan Colorist: Joe Rosa's Letterer: Bill Oakley Editor: Bob Harris After a 30-year courtship, one with plenty of ups and downs, Cyclops and Jean Grey finally tied the knot in this event issue.
The issue includes all the traditional wedding stuff, from the groom not knowing how to tie a Bowie to the first kiss, the tossing of the bouquet and the first dance. After years spent scattered across the planet, with various temporary iterations of the team popping up in different configurations, all the X-Men -- all of them -- finally came home to a rebuilt X-Mansion in this issue.
“Generation X” launched out of the “Phalanx Covenant” event, introducing a crop of new characters (M, Chamber, Penance, Skin, Synch) co-created by Lob dell and Bachelor. This issue is notable for a number of reasons, including Bachelor's fresh-from-Vertigo illustration style and the Gothic bubblegum aesthetic the art team gave this book.
Jubilee's dynamic with Husk and M in the first few pages is crisp and well-defined, and Lob dell plays co-headmasters Banshee and Emma Frost off each other like Han and Leia from “A New Hope.” DP's first ongoing, launched in 1997, also gave him holdovers from the original “Wolverine” series, in the form of Landau, Luck man and Lake.
Really, the entirety of Peter David's “X-Factor” run with Larry St roman, Joe Lee and Joe Nevada deserves to be at the top spot of this list. Kicking off with the team's relaunch in “X-Factor” #71, David took a group of B and C-list characters (Havoc, Polaris, Quicksilver, Wolfs bane, Strong Guy and Multiple Man) and made them a madcap unit of misfits that bickered and agonized like real people.
The issue may be filled with talking heads, but David's way of getting into the unexplored psyches of these characters makes every page stand out. A lifelong obsession with comics led him to Wizard Magazine in 2008 and then to writing gigs for The Robot's Voice, Marvel.com, and MTV's Splash Page where he served as managing editor.
Brett served as a writer and Assistant Editor for CBR from 2011 to 2017, where he wrote a lot about the X-Men, Foggy Nelson, and plenty of gay stuff. Spider-Man's stories like “Maximum Carnage,” Punisher’s “Acts of Vengeance,” Ghost Rider’s “Rise of the Midnight Sons,” or whatever the heck Rob Ziegfeld was working on were more definitely more bombast than soul.
The Avengers were the focus of several iconic and memorable stories of the 70s, but they were down on their luck by the 90s, sporting an odd duck roster of characters many folks had never heard of. But a villainous team called the “Gatherers” finally made itself known, resulting in a saga with a surprisingly good payoff.
What’s more, with Black Knight being cast in the upcoming Eternal movie, there is evidence that the MCU’s love affair with 90s storylines will continue. In just 4 issues in 1994, writer Kurt Busied, supported by the painted artwork of Alex Ross, told one of the best Marvel Comics stories ever.
Written from the perspective of news photographer Phil Sheldon, the miniseries portrayed ordinary life in a world full of costumed superhuman, with each issue featuring events well known to readers of Marvel Comics, as well as a variety of minute details and a retelling of the most famous events in the Marvel universe. Speaking of bombast over soul, a not very good 90s Marvel comic book crossover had a stupid dumb villain named Onslaught eliminate a bunch of heroes directly in the public’s eye.
Seeing an opportunity, Baron Zero rebranded his nefarious no-good Masters of Evil into heroes called the Thunderbolts and was subsequently warmly received by a gullible public. But a funny thing happened: Some né’er-do-well Thunderbolts actually began to find meaning and purpose in disguising, choosing instead to become the heroes they were at first only pretending to be.
(I’ve written more about the journey of the Thunderbolts wrestling with their angelic and devilish soles, so if you are interested in more, I’ll send you there.) Written by Kurt Busied with art by Mark Bailey, the entire classic series is excellent, but start with the first trade, which is collected here.
As a bonus, Baron Zero’s inclusion in the upcoming Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+ might mean the Thunderbolts will be realized on screen. During the event the regularly published X-Men comics were replaced by new X-Men related miniseries, including Caliber, Gambit and the Internals, Generation Next, Astonishing X-Men, Amazing X-Men, Weapon X, Factor X, X-Man and X-Universe.
The death of Professor Xavier meant Apocalypse attacked 10 years sooner than he did in the original timeline, altering everything that happened from that point forward. Alternate timelines had become a staple of the X-Men by that point, but Age of Apocalypse showed that Marvel could still do the story really well, even if the X-Men crossovers both before and after that were an absolute mess.
Those things added together make for an enjoyable time reading a comic; one where you are eager to turn the page to find out what happens next. Without countless new teams being created, so many X titles to choose from and, of course, the unforgettable characters that were being formed, this era wouldn't have been nearly as fun for comic readers.
The 90s helped to bring in a new wave of X-Men fans, but relied heavily on characters they had previously created. True fans of the TV show might remember Forge, but to many he's a forgettable addition to the team.
He's incredibly talented with technology, with the ability to invent many useful gadgets and gizmos for the team and the power of superintelligence helping to guide him through these advances. First appearing in Uncanny X-Men issue 244, perhaps she is underrated because her power set is both very visual and a little confusing for people to understand.
While her powers were sometimes not as useful as they sound, she more than made up for it with the other factors she could bring to the table; chief of which is her strong personality and ability to keep the team together. She has completely heightened human abilities, including senses like vision, scent and hearing, as well as strength and agility.
It is this lull in his appearances that makes him underrated, though, as was still (partly) a member of the team and was performing his own heroics, but was never a main player. She's been featured in so many classic stories, including Age of Apocalypse, but her true gift is that she is powerless.
She's one of the few key team members who are not a mutant, but is caring enough and incredibly intelligent that she belongs alongside these other heroes. It wasn't until the 90s that he really joined the team in the Uncanny X-Men run, by which point he'd really mastered his powers of supersonic speed which he could use to propel himself as a weapon.
He's a bit of a hotshot and a little reckless, having been a part of a lot of varying teams including X-Force. This may be due to how he has been portrayed as of late, especially on the big screen, but a character that is often seen to be bland or uninspired actually has a lot to give to this dysfunctional family.
He's been a core part of the team ever since his debut, yet he's often associated with being in the minor leagues in comparison to some other heavier hitters. Starting in 1982 in the New Mutants, Moon star first found her footing with this team of young misfits.
First joining X-Force then teaming with the X-Men on occasion, Moon star was a largely forgotten character that should have left a bigger mark on fans. Her psi abilities mean that she can communicate with animals as well as create visual illusions with her mind.
Despite the weird title, the character actually has a really deep set of team affiliations, even though you have probably never heard of him! He has since been a member of X-Club, Weapon X and of course the X-Men and has played a role in many major crossover events, including Age of Apocalypse.
His abilities mean that he can reshape physical materials such as plastics, glass and metal with sheer imagination, as well as being able to communicate with machines. About The Author George Chrysostom (364 Articles Published) Politics graduate, freelance writer and all around film geek.
If George isn't lecturing someone on the history of the MCU, he's probably ranting about the political consequences of Putin's latest horse riding trip.