X-Men comics have always been known for their dark and realistic themes. These aren’t just characters who merely have some powers but they are equally emotionally vulnerable, like the rest of us. We asked our readers to pick out the best X-Men comics of all time. The answers were so spot on that we couldn’t help but compile a list for beginners and readers thinking about foraying into the X-Men universe.
The Dark Phoenix Saga
Includes: The X-Men #129-138
Writer Chris Claremont was in the peak of his writing career when he cast long-time protagonist Jean Grey as the X-Men’s biggest villain. Due to the sheer burden of her powers and manipulation because by Mastermind (a villainous mutant who can cast illusions) Jean Grey was forced to abandon her morality and therefore she embraced the world-breaking telekinetic potential of the Phoenix Force. The Dark Phoenix Saga led to Jean killing millions and ultimately sacrificing herself for the good of the galaxy.
The Dark Phoenix Saga is not only one of the greatest X-Men tales, but it is also considered among the best comic book storyline of all-time.
Days of Future Past
Includes: The Uncanny X-Men #141-142
Inspiration for the hit MARVEL movie of the same, it is the tightest X-Men stories to be ever written. Taught and gripping in its pace, The Days of Future past is the first alternate timeline X-Men story.
In a dystopian future, mutant-hunting Sentinel robots have killed mutants completely and turned next to humans. Now it is up to Kitty Pryde and the X-Men who have managed to live, to save the world by using her mutant powers to push her mind through time to save the villainous Senator whose death would have led to the dystopian future.
Even though the story is only two issues long but that is what makes the treatment in the story gripping. The hopelessness, the dread that the writers managed to create makes the readers feel like the end might be on the very next page for the X-Men.
The Phoenix Saga
Includes: The X-Men #101-108
The Phoenix Saga and The Dark Phoenix Saga are both different. The Phoenix Saga came before The Dark Phoenix Saga. When because of radiation on a trip to back home from an outer space adventure the X-Men’s lives are threatened, Jean Grey transforms to become the Phoenix, an angry and destructive force of nature.
The concepts and character development that occurred in The Phoenix Saga were very cutting edge for their time. Therefore the story is considered as a monumental landmark in the X-Men continuity. It’s such an impactful story that the entire Phoenix concept is continuously revisited in other events. Over the years it has become a defining characteristic of the Jean Grey mythos.
Age of Apocalypse
Includes: The Uncanny X-Men #320–321, X-Men Vol. 2 #40–41, Cable #20, X-Men Alpha, Amazing X-Men #1–4, Astonishing X-Men Vol. 1 #1–4, Factor X #1–4, Gambit And The X-Ternals #1–4, Generation Next #1–4, Weapon X Vol. 1 #1–4, X-Calibre #1–4, X-Man #1–4, X-Men Omega and Age of Apocalypse: The Chosen and X-Men Ashcan #2
It was a completely different era when The Age of Apocalypse was written for the first time. This one is especially dear to the kids of the 90s. According to the readers, this type of story is written once in a time. X-Men Age of Apocalypse is loved for its boldness.
When an Unstable but incredibly powerful mutant David Haller planned to go back and kill Magneto he ended up killing his father, Professor X, instead. Which led to an alternate future where Apocalypse was ruling the world. And therefore it was the “Age of Apocalypse.” One of the biggest accomplishments the writer achieved with the Age of Apocalypse was the aspect that the heroes were working to destroy their reality to restore another. Their world was hellish, but to set things right, they had to destroy their entire reality, themselves and everyone they’ve ever known, throwing away their reality’s worth of relationships and memories.
The All-New All-Different X-Men
Includes: Giant-Size X-Men #1
In 1975, The Giant-Size X-Men #1 introduced a diverse team of new X-Men to save the original X-Men after Professor Xavier had failed them. It’s amazing how still today we see the characters having been involved in this team as the core characters today. They had some amazing lasting powers, and it all came from the choice to make it a diverse, multinational team.
No wonder fans have always called X-Men a “Superhero Soap Opera” and that is true. Because there is a certain level of melodrama and depth in these comics. Which is what made these comics so great then and makes them a treat to revisit even now.
Includes: The Uncanny X-Men #210-213, X-Factor #9-11, Thor #373-374, New Mutant #46, Power Pack #27
Probably one of the most brutal and violent X-Men stories of all time. Chris Claremont undoubtedly made The X-Men mature and dark forever with this story. In this story The X-Men fail, the writers have let them fail which is what made this story so great.
When Angel, one of the original X-men, is found crucified, his wings amputated. Psylocke is left alone at the X-Mansion without her bad-ass psychic ninja skills, she must go on head to head with the ferocious and savage Sabertooth and must fend off an attack along with an attempt of sexual violence.
Chris Claremont’s entire run is the most definitive X-Men thing ever. Worth the read.
Wolverine Volume 1
Includes: Wolverine Vol. 11-4
You may remember this from another hit MARVEL movie. Written by the legends of the comic book industry, this was the first outing for one of the most popular superheroes in the world. In 1982, Chris Claremont teamed up with Frank Miller who would cement his name in history with The Dark Knight Returns in 1986. Wolverine Vol.1 took Wolverine on an exotic adventure to Japan without any of the other mutants with him. Details from his painful past slowly came emerging out in a tale with warring ninja clans, family feuds, and probably the most surprising romance.
Includes: X-Factor #92, X-Force #25, Uncanny X-Men #304, X-Men (vol. 2) #25, Wolverine (vol. 2) #75, Excalibur #71
Fatal Attractions showed how brutal and merciless Magneto could get. How vicious he was when he used his powers against Wolverine’s adamantium claws. And of course, it did not end well for Wolverine.
This story has probably one of the most memorable images in X-Men’s history with Wolverine’s metal claws stripped out from his bones and out through his flesh. This is what made the story stood out among the endless count of X-Men storylines.
Includes: X-Men 1-3 from the 1990s
Chris Claremont and Jim Lee are the best X-Men writer and artist duo, ever. Together they created what is still today the highest single issue of all time. Jim Lee, without any doubt, created the biggest and the most epic art in the X-Men history.
There were dozens of heroes against major X-villains like Magneto, Apocalypse, the Shadow King, Proteus, and Fabian Cortez, just to name a few. It was truly the beginning of a new era for The X-Men with this story since it was the end of Chris Claremont’s 17-year run.
X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills
Includes: Marvel Graphic Novel #5
God Loves, Man Kills is considered as the definitive X-Men story of all time. Chris Claremont’s heightened creativity out X-Men in real-world situations and scenarios with real-world references.
This was a story about how the world would react to the mutants in the real world and how the mutants would live with non-mutants. Chris Claremont introduced William Stryker, a villain who couldn’t stand the mutants. This was a story about hate, suffering, and humanity.
Not to forget the dark and gritty artwork of Brent Anderson. This story truly bought Xavier’s most horrific nightmares into reality.
These were the top 10 X-men comics according to a short survey we conducted amongst our readers. Think we missed out on any? Let us know in the comments below!