Best X-men Teams

Brent Mccoy
• Saturday, 19 December, 2020
• 9 min read

As a counterpart to the soap opera of Uncanny X-Men, Excalibur focused on more light-hearted adventure with the team hopping dimensions and dealing more with outlandish, magical threats than mutant politics. Excalibur helped breathe new life into Captain Britain, and gave a couple of B- and Clusters the chance to shine to X-fans, even welcoming in stranger characters and other X-vets as the years went by.

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Grant Morrison simplified things by keeping the roster small and close-knit, focusing on developing and even overhauling his chosen characters. Reformed villain Emma Frost became the team’s breakout character, with her romance of Scott Summers driving a wedge between him and his wife Jean Grey.

Morrison also embraced the aesthetic of the 2000 X-Men film, outfitting everyone in sleek, black leather, and bringing back the idea of Xavier’s School, creating characters like Beak, Angel Salvador, Glob Herman, Quentin Quire, and more, who still play a role in the X-Men years later. (Image credit: Marvel)The 80s were an odd time for the X-Men as Professor X decided to stay in space with his main squeeze, Linda, and left Magneto in charge of the Xavier School.

Think about all the cool stuff we got this with this: Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and Colossus essentially became the mutant equivalent of the Fabulous Free birds, newbies Shadow cat and Rogue getting some great development, and of course punk rock Storm fighting Cyclops for leadership. While this line up is one of the shorter ones, Claremont evolved and pushed these characters and let them actually grow older and helped make way for the newer heroes that would soon join the X-ranks.

This era is also the indirect inspiration for the popular “Pride of the X-Men cartoon pilot, and the X-Men arcade game of the late ‘80’s, though Magneto is a villain in both of those. (Image credit: Marvel)Government sponsored and approved, the all-new all-different X-Factor, led by Cyclops’s oft-overlooked younger brother Havoc, showed us what misfits and rejects were all about.

As the years went by, the team gradually shifted again, bringing Forge into a leadership position when Havoc was presumed dead, and adding former villains such as Mystique and Sabre tooth, as well as even more obscure characters like Shard and Wild Child. After the team crossed the Siege Perilous, many of its core members were presumed dead, but in fact took up residence in Australia, using their anonymity to save the world.

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(Source: astonishingxmen.blogspot.com)

The tail end of these years also added X-Men mainstays like Jubilee and Gambit to the team, along with the enigmatic teleport er Gateway. (Image credit: Marvel)While most of these adventures have been reconned or ignored by modern day canon, the 'First Class' line-up set the stage for what was the come.

And while some, like Thunderbird, who died in his first mission, and Gunfire, who left not long after, weren’t major players at the time, their legacy also resonates to this day. Not only were the original X-Men fully together again but this was an era when the characters grew in their personalities and interacted in bold new ways.

Instead, it had some great action-filled villains and storylines like the Marauders, Four Horsemen and more, while also including engaging character dynamics like the Jean-Cyclops-Madelyn Pryor love triangle. X-Men stalwarts like Kurt and Kitty went across the pond to join up with Captain Britain in the UK and the results were amazing.

The Cross Time Caper was as entertaining a comic story as you’ll see, having the team warp across alternate universes as they tried to figure out a way home. Stories like that are now commonplace (Spider-Verse is a recent example) but Excalibur helped to establish the trope, and did it wonderfully.

Lineup : (Blue) Cyclops, Beast, Wolverine, Rogue, Locke, Gambit, and Jubilee. (1991) Lineup : (Gold) Storm, Iceman, Archangel, Jean Grey, Colossus, Bishop and Forge.

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With some X-Men on Muir Island, others in Shear space, Kenosha on the board, and threats from the Readers, Sinister, and Shadow King, X-Factor and the X-Men rejoined although split into two teams. Lineup : Cyclops, Jean Grey, Emma Frost, Beast, Wolverine, Born, and a bunch of oddball new students.

Plus, Born was added, as was an entire school full of strange and oddball young mutant students. Sadly, most of Morrison’s plot points were reconned, but reading them at the moment was a real treat.

Lineup : Cannonball, Mirage, Wolfs bane, Sunspot, Magma, Magic, Warlock and Doug Ramsey. Bringing in a team of teenaged mutant to serve as the next class of Xavier students was wonderful and brilliant.

It featured iconic storylines such as the Demon Bear Saga and multiple trips to Limbo, as well as much beloved characters who were learning to become adults. Lineup : Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Gunfire, Thunderbird, and Banshee.

So Giant-Size X-Men was the first new X-Men story in several years and introduced characters you may have heard of: Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, and Nightcrawler. Lineup : Storm, Wolverine, Havoc, Colossus, Rogue, Locke, Dazzler, Long shot, Jubilee, Gambit, and Gateway.

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There were also wonderful character moments during this era, as Claremont really leaned into the situation, the environment, and the particular mix of X-Men. The X-Men have one of the most expansive rosters in all of Marvel Comics, even routinely placing in the line-ups of other high profile teams.

The line-up shifts so often that it's hard to keep straight, but a good barometer of what generation a fan belongs to is to find out what their favorite line-up is. This version focused on some classic characters like Cyclops and Jean Grey, but leveraged new members of the team, like Emma Frost.

A little of humor was sorely needed to be given the main X-Men titles involved a lot of doom and gloom (and often still do). Kitty, Rachel, and Kurt all anchored a team that included some of the X-Men's most prominent and powerful members like Colossus and Rogue.

Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast, and Angel represent some of the most important and consequential characters in all of Marvel history. Though their early adventures didn't prove as popular as later iterations of the book, they laid a solid and important foundation that keeps them anchored in the team's destiny to this day (it helps that they die and come back to life.

The Astonishing X-Men run in the mid-2000s by Joss When and Frank Quietly succeed the New X-Men, by involving many of the same characters as Cyclops, Beast, and Emma Frost. This roster returned fans to the colorful costumes and the crazy fun of earlier eras while adding in that trademark When pathos as well.

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It's hard to imagine today, but this was the first appearance of numerous iconic characters, like Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus. From there, they launched secret missions around the world with a line-up that including newcomers Locke (before her traumatic transformation into a ninja assassin) as well as Dazzler and Long shot.

This roster scraped by on next to nothing, which honestly made a lot more sense for outcasts than living in a fancy mansion and flying a supersonic jet. Once the X-Men revealed themselves to be alive and went back to more or less the status quo, the team expanded and then divided into what are arguably for most fans its two most well-known line-ups.

The first was the X-Men Blue Team, which consisted of Cyclops, Wolverine, Beast, Rogue, Gambit, Locke, and Jubilee. It also helps that Colossus, Archangel, and Bishop round out the squad, nicely balancing firepower with a little of muscle and air superiority.

His short fiction appears in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Shimmer, and other venues. Thus, when Claremont was removed from his second X-Men run, he was given the opportunity to launch a third X-Men title, this time featuring a group of X-Men devoted to finding those diaries.

Instead, we'll note that for the 35th anniversary of the X-Men, there was a major shift on the X-Men, ” where then-new writers Joe Kelly and Stephen Eagle were forced to drop their initial approaches on the series (where Kelly wrote about a new group of X-Men like Cecilia Reyes, Marrow and Maggot, while Eagle followed the original five X-Men) and instead follow a stripped-down, eight-person team, under the theory that the cast of the X-Men had grown too large over the years. Kelly and Eagle's stint was cut short due to editorial conflicts, but this team was notable for bringing back some vestrymen of all-time to the title, where they belonged.

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Rogue was initially on Claremont's “Extreme X-Men squad, but after Grant Morrison left “New X-Men, ” there was a shuffling of the three X-Men titles, with Claremont continuing “Extreme X-Men with a third stint on “Uncanny,” Chuck Austen moving to “New X-Men (which went back to its original title, X-Men “) and Joss When launching “Astonishing X-Men to replace “Extreme X-Men on the schedule. Rogue then ended up in X-Men, ” but then Austen left that series early into his run and Peter Milligan took over for a couple of years.

In the end, Wolverine took many mutants and left Utopia to start the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. Realizing that he no longer had strength in numbers, Cyclops decided that they had to win the public relations battle against how humans perceived mutants.

After the events of the “Mutant Massacre,” the X-Men saw drastic membership changes as some of their members were seriously injured in an attempt to protect the Warlocks from the Marauders' vicious attack. In addition, due to the Marauders' attack, which made it clear that they knew where the X-Men lived, the team went on the run.

The powerful being known as Roma, though, decided to reward the X-Men by resurrecting them and making it so that no one on Earth could prove (through electronic means) that they were alive again. The X-Men then settled in the Outback of Australia and used a local teleporting mutant, Gateway, to fight missions across the globe.

The original 8-member team (counting Madeline Pryor) slowly broke apart until there were only a few members left (and then they went through the Siege Perilous to escape an attack by the evil Readers that would have killed them due to their reduced roster size). Following the Outback X-Men falling apart, the next year or so in the pages of “Uncanny X-Men just showed the adventures of the various team members as they were spread around the globe.

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Once he learned that the X-Men had survived the Dallas battle, Forge decided to put the team back together again, working with former X-Man, Banshee (who had recently regained his mutant powers). Forge and Banshee set up shop at the X-Mansion, while Storm was on the run from the Shadow King, being aided by a mysterious new hero known as Gambit; meanwhile, Wolverine, Locke and Jubilee were in Asia together.

The darkness of the team came to a head during the “Mutant Massacre,” when they had to watch the Warlocks be slaughtered and Colossus had to resort to snapping the neck of one of the Marauders to protect his teammates. After the X-Men started working with Magneto, the original members of the team grew wary of their newer counterparts, so when Jean Grey turned up alive and wanted to get back into being a superhero, her friends cautioned her against returning to the X-Men.

After the events of “Extinction Agenda,” there really was no longer any reason for the teams to stay separate, but that was resolved by having the X-Men abducted into an outer space adventure. When they returned, after helping to save Muir Isle from the Shadow King, the X-Men and X-Factor decided to finally merge together.

However, in the late 160s, he took another leave of absence that ended up being more of a permanent thing when he then got married (he would keep popping up sporadically after that, as Claremont liked the idea of having characters show up when needed), so Storm was now definitively the leader of the X-Men (and she proved her badass skills when she took on the Pollock leader, Callisto, in a famous knife fight), but at the same time, she began to go through some personality changes. The biggest change to the team was the addition of their former enemy, Rogue, due to her inability to control her powers without the help of Professor Xavier.

So too did Charles Xavier's increasing desire to get involved in field missions due to his legs being healed after getting a new body. Jim Lee was the main creative force on the series (as he was likely the most popular artist in all comics at the time) and thus, the book he wrote, starring the Blue squad, would have the “coolest” characters.

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In the first issue of X-Men, ” way back in 1963, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced the final member of the original five X-Men, with Marvel Girl meeting her teammates, who all pined after her (including, in a disturbing moment quickly forgotten about, Professor X). When Roy Thomas took over writing duties on the series, he soon had them move on past school and had them “graduate,” which involved them getting new costumes.

Neal Adams also came on board for some memorable issues, including the introduction of Havoc (Cyclops' brother) to the team. After Chris Claremont's second stint did not work out, Grant Morrison was allowed to do pretty much anything he wanted with the X-Men, and his approach was spotlighted by “New X-Men, ” which opened with 16 million mutants being murdered on Kenosha by a new villain, Cassandra Nova, who turned out to be a psychic twin of Charles Xavier taken corporeal form.

The main team in “New X-Men were highlighted by the Cyclops/Jean Grey/Emma Frost love triangle (as Emma Frost joined the X-Men for the first time and promptly began a psychic affair with Cyclops), Wolverine, Professor X, Beast (who was dealing with transforming into a being far more beast-like than human) and a mystery new member known as Born (who turned out to be Magneto in disguise). You might question placing Joss When and John Cassady's X-Men team ahead of Morrison's, when When was basically following in Morrison's footsteps with his squad, but we think that the addition of Kitty Pride and Colossus to the team were major enough changes that it merited this lineup taking the higher position.

The concept behind this team was that, following some bad publicity, Cyclops decided that the X-Men had to re-embrace wearing costumes, as they needed the world to see them as superheroes rather than as a threat. When and Cassady also worked in a new member of the team, with one of the students at Xavier's, Armor, became a regular part of this squad.

In 1975, Marvel decided to reboot the team using an international team, and the new characters (created by Len Wan and/or Dave Cock rum) consisted of some of the greatest characters Marvel has introduced in the past 50 years period, from Storm to Nightcrawler to Colossus to the not quite new but almost Wolverine. As we noted earlier, this was also the first time that the series was without Cyclops on a regular basis, and Storm stepped up as the leader of the team in a big way.

(Source: www.marvel.com)

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