Top 25 Best X-Men Comics of All Time

Best X-Men Comics
90's X-Men

25 Best X-Men Comics Every Fan Should Read

A band of outcasts, thrown into a situation beyond their control, forced to fight and defend their race, Homo-superior. I know! I know! Sounds like Richard Spencer on a night out with his boys, but it’s a diverse way of describing Marvel’s The X-Men. What follows has been a 55-year run of epic heights, featuring some of the most significant artists and storytellers of our time. The wealth of arcs and storylines featured in X-Men, The Uncanny X-Men, and a colorful host of other ‘X-Men’ branded titles, made it hard to pick just a few, so I narrowed it down to the Top 25 X-Men storylines of all time.

25. All-New X-Men #1

Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen produced this series, where the original X-Men from issue #1 are brought to the future by a melancholy Beast. In an attempt to prevent a war amongst the mutants, the original five encounter their future selves but are also thrust into combat with a Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from a separate timeline.

24. X-Men Noir

In 2009, Fred Van Lente 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.

23. X-Men: X-Tinction Agenda

X-Tinction Agenda ran simultaneously through X-Men, X-Factor, and New Mutants respectively back in 1990. Cybernetic psychopath Cameron Hodge and his crazed followers plus an amnesiac Havok, 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 Genosha to rescue their friends and family.

22. New X-Men: E Is for Extinction

Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly produced this gem in 2001. 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 Genosha, which is now home to Earth’s mutant population. New costumes, new attitude, same X-Men.

21. X-Men: Messiah Complex

Messiah Complex was written by Ed Brubaker and penciled by the fantastic Marc Silvestri in 2007. Messiah is the first major storyline after House of M, in which mutantkind was wiped from existence, and features the first mutant birth in several years. As Cable evades the X-Men to save the baby, he is attacked by Bishop. Setting the stage for an epic clash that comic geeks have wanted for 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.

20. X-Men: Blue

X-Men: Blue is a currently running series that began in 2016. 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 psychic-ly linked, Angel has cool flaming wings, and Iceman can form a giant snow beast that rivals the Hulk in size.

19. Avengers vs. X-Men

Avengers vs. X-Men was a company spanning event for Marvel in 2012. With the Phoenix force being resurgent, Captain America believes that they must step in and force the untamed Phoenix entity to leave earth. The scale of the fighting was so epic that the sister series, AvsX, 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.

18. The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix

You know what they say. How do you get over an ex? Find a new woman! That’s what Scott Summers intended to do when he wound up with Jean Grey’s clone, a woman named Madelyne Pryor. Pryor was created by Mr. Sinister in hopes of defeating his evil master Apocalypse. Sinister believes that the offspring of Cyclops and Marvel Girl would be able to bring down the world’s oldest mutant. The child is Nathan Christopher Summers, the baby who eventually becomes Cable. The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix show the origins of cable, how he came to be infected with the technorganic virus, and his trip to the future with Askani. If you’re yearning for more Cable before he hits the big screen this summer, I would recommend starting here.

17. The Astonishing X-Men

The Astonishing X-Men was released as a limited series back in 1999 but didn’t take off until 2004, when Joss Whedon took over. His run revitalized the series, which cherry-picked the favorite fan mutants and teamed them up for perilous and thrilling adventures. Not impressed enough? Starting with issue 25, Warren Ellis took over and raised the stakes yet again. 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.

16. House of M

What happens when one of the world’s most powerful mutants has a mental breakdown? Ok. Then what happens if that mutant’s power is warping reality? Oh, snap! In the House of M series, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by the sublime Oliver Coipel, 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. Pushed to his limits, Charles pushes Magneto for a permanent solution. Alas, the distraught woman is unable to control her powers and creates a separate reality. In this reality the dreams of Magneto are realized. He has enough mutant support to attempt a legitimate take over of the government.

15. The Proteus Saga

Sometimes, the X-Men aren’t all action and fisticuffs. The master of these stories is Chris Claremont, and his love of snippets of a story leading to a grand showdown is legendary. In this comic, Kevin MacTaggert, the son of Moira MacTaggert, is the most powerful mutant alive. He can control other people and can warp reality. He lives a life of seclusion but longs to see his absentee father. Claremont’s building of the story takes well over 27 issues, with only the sparse thread of ‘Mutant X’ being sprinkled about. He finally comes to power in issue 126, and his power scares Wolverine if that’s any indication of what you can expect.

14. To Have and Have Not

Again, Chris Claremont delivers a series that engross readers and gives them complex storylines. While in Japan for Wolverine and Mariko’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. Logan is unlucky in love. His failed marriage to Mariko is par for the course. His lovers Jean, Mariko, and Silver Fox all meet an untimely end, simply because they loved Wolverine.

13. Fall of the Mutants

In the Fall of the Mutants, a series that spanned each of the mutant titles, and featured no intersecting plot lines. . In a battle with the Adversary, the X-Men are wiped out on live TV. What the viewers don’t see is the mysterious Roma saves them before their doom. What appeared to be a titanic defeat was an epic win for the mutants. It allowed the group of mutant heroes opportunity to regroup and reform. This was the plateau which Jim Lee and Claremont built into a money making machine in the 1990’s.

12. Asgardian Wars

In this one-shot yearlycomic, the god of mischief Loki kidnaps the New Mutants and Storm. Loki has hatched a plan to make Storm the new god of thunder, but he wasn’t counting on the students and their powers. He gives them to Enchantress, who splits them apart to the distant reaches of Asgard. In the final battle, Storm wields the hammer and kills Wolverine. When Hela comes to take Wolverine’s soul, Dani Moonstar is revealed to have Valkyrie powers. Part of her new power allows her to bring Logan back from the dead.

11. Sentinels Live

As if Scott Summers didn’t have enough trouble, his brother Alex shows up. Alex is better known by his codename Havok. It’s hard for Neal Adams and Roy Thomas to do any wrong, and this storyline is proof. Through a series of twists and turns, we see Alex Summers (Havok) come into his powers and the revelation that a lifelong hater of mutants is indeed a mutant! It’s cool because we see a threat reimagined. For years to follow the worst nightmare of the mutant has been the sentinel. This story provided a leg for the X-Men to rely on for decades to come.

10. God Loves, Man Kills

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. Chris Claremont has had as much an impact on the canon of the X-Men that it’s impossible to pick his best, but this is close. The story is so odd that it was hotly debated as if it was even canon until 2003. The sadistic mutant hating preacher Stryker attempts to kill all mutantkind with a cerebro like machine. It’s a gripping story that turns the series on its ear.

9. X-Cutioner’s Song

What more does a new and likable superhero like Cable have to give the readers? How about a bat-sh*t crazy clone who will stop at nothing to erase Cable from existence? Believe it or not, Stryfe is just that. 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. It’s pivotal in the series because Jean and Scott discover that either Stryfe or Cable is their long-lost son. Also, it builds upon the mysterious backstory of Cable. Who is he? Where did he come from? What are his powers? It was a built in mystery the fans still can’t get enough of.

8. Inferno

Written by a host of who’s 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. Pryor attempts to sacrifice her son Nathan to open the portal. Ultimately, when the clone passes away Jean receives it’s memories and develops a love for young baby Nathan.

7. Mutant Massacre

When it comes to multiple issues converging, you have to pay respect to the first. When the X-Men learn that a vicious group called the Marauders are attacking the Morlocks who live in the sewer systems of New York, both X-Men and X-Factor arrive, and the slaughter is abated. However, the losses for the teams are severe. Angel is nailed to a wall and Colossus is so severely injured that he is unable to change back to his standard form. The work of Claremont with Louise and Walter Simonson crafted an arc that is at once triumphant and depressing.

6. Age of Apocalypse

Age of Apocalypse is a fan favorite written during the height of X mania in 1996. In this alternate timeline special, Legion a mutant from the future, comes back to kill Magneto, but instead in a stroke of irony, kills his father, Professor X. This causes a break in the timeline, creating a new and separate reality, and Apocalypse attacks the X-Men sooner than intended. The team-up of Magneto and the remaining X-Men in itself is something to be admired. When Bishop appears from the future, the group's aid in full force in hopes of restoring the timeline.

5. The Dark Phoenix Saga

What makes a great story even better? How about when the love story turns dark, and one of the partners is infested with a planet-eating entity that is going to destroy the planet. When Jean is bombarded with a form of a cosmic ray, she can tap into the Phoenix force. Eventually, the power overtakes the tenderhearted Grey, and she leaves Earth. In a later battle, she triggers a laser that kills the Phoenix and frees her from its torment. The list of heroes revealed in this series is staggering. It is Claremont and Byrne at their most magnificent and the story plays out in a sympathetic and meaningful way.

4. X-Men #1 (Deluxe Edition)

3. Giant Sized X-Men

Published in 1975, Giant-Size X-Men #1 debuted the new team of X-Men, as well as Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm, and Thunderbird. While on a mission to a mysterious island the original X team is captured by an indescribable being. Professor X uses Cerebro to contact mutants from around the globe, in an attempt to save his young wards. This book is excellent because of the social significance of the addition of Wolverine to the team. His addition raised the stakes for fans. Showing the dark edges that would become the X-Men’s reality in the 80’s and 90’s.

2. X-Men #1

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. For the first time, a group of heroes was shunned by the public for having strange and unusual abilities. 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. Lee and Kirby added another feather to their cap with this series. It places the X-Men among the most celebrated comics of all time.

1. X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men number 141 is one of the most recognizable covers in the history of comics. Issues number 140 and 141 in Chris Claremont and John Byrne's X-Men featured a storyline that, outside of the initial issue, defined the series ever after. Kitty Pryde has her mind sent from a dystopian future where Sentinels, the gigantic robotic mutant hunters, have all but extinguished the mutantkind from Earth. She returns to the past in hopes of changing an event that leads to this happening. It's by far the most influential of the releases in the last thirty years only because of the effect the story had on its readers.

Over the last 55 years, the X-Men have been a constant source of happiness and joy for millions of fans. 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 1990’s. 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. Enjoy!

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Seeking his own path to happiness Dan joined the Army in 2010. After his service he earned his BFA in Creative Writing and spends his time playing and reviewing games and comics.
Gamer Since: 1985
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