50 Greatest X-Men Stories: 50-41
45. “In the Shadow of…Sauron” X-Men #60-63
Roy Thomas, Neal Adams and Tom Palmer introduce the villainous life-sucking villain Sauron in this four-parter that brings the X-Men to the Savage Land where Angel encounters a mysterious old man who is revealed to be none other than longtime X-Men for Magneto! The X-Men then battle Magneto and his Savage Land Mutates.
44. “Imperial” New X-Men #118-126
In this second New X-Men story arc, Grant Morrison further establishes Cassandra Nova’s bona fides as a major villain as Nova (who had taken control of Charles Xavier’s body in the previous story arc) heads off to the Shi’ar Empire and uses her powers to turn the entire Shi’ar Empire against the X-Men. The X-Men must now combat an alien invasion of Earth while also dealing with the fact that the X-Men are all infected by nano-Sentinels that are destroying them from the inside. Meanwhile, this storyline also introduces a number of new X-Men, most notably the Stepford Cuckoos and Angel. Angel shows up when she is targeted by the U-Men, who are ruled by the evil John Sublime, who want to kill mutants to harvest their organs to give people powers. Essentially, everything is falling apart at once. Luckily, this being the X-Men, they manage to pull it together at the last minute because, you know, that’s what the X-Men DO. They are aided by the mysterious new mutant healer known as Xorn. The artwork for this story was done by Ethan Van Sciver, Frank Quitely and Igor Kordey.
43. “World Tour” X-Men #114-121
I initially counted this Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin storyline as three separate tales (one for each of their stops on the World Tour), but if I had done so, none of the individual parts would have made the list and that didn’t seem to make sense to me, so I combined them all as World Tour. This story details the adventures of Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Banshee as they are though to be dead after the X-Men’s battle with Magneto the previous issue (they, meanwhile, believe that Jean Grey and Beast are dead). Stranded in the Antarctic without any easy way of getting back home, the X-Men slowly but surely make their way back to New York, stopping off in the Savage Land, Japan and Canada on the way home. Along the way, they fight Sauron in the Savage Land alongside Ka-Zar, fight Moses Magnum in Japan alongside Sunfire and finally battle against Wolverine’s former team, Alpha Flight, in Canada. These stories introduced Wolverine’s girlfriend, Mariko, saw Banshee lose his powers and saw the introduction of Alpha Flight. We also saw notable development of Wolverine as a character during this arc.
42. “An Age Undreamed Of” Uncanny X-Men #190-191
In a rare example of the X-Men interacting with the Marvel Universe as a whole (not counting Secret Wars), this two-parter featured the Conan villain Kulan Gath transforming Manhattan into a medieval fantasy world with the X-Men as magical outlaws hunted down by the Avengers. Onnly Spider-Man and Warlock know the truth of how the world used to be. As heroes are forced to remember the truth, a desperate battle is raged with many heroes being killed, all so that Doctor Strange can be given a shot at reversing the spell and turning everything back to the way it was before the spell was cast. Chris Claremont wrote it and John Romita Jr. and Dan Green clearly had a lot of fun re-designing all of the heroes of New York into medieval versions of themselves.
41. “Rise and Fall of the Shi’Ar Empire” Uncanny X-Men #475-486
In this follow-up to X-Men: Deadly Genesis, Ed Brubaker takes over Uncanny X-Men as a ragtag group of X-Men, led by Professor X and Nightcrawler, travel to the Shi’ar Empire to stop Vulcan, who is seeking his revenge on the Shi’ar Empire (the former Emperor sort of killed his mom). Drawn by Billy Tan, Danny Miki and Allan Martinez (with three interlude issues drawn by Clayton Henry and Mark Morales), this arc solidified Vulcan as a major intergalactic threat while also giving Havok, Polaris and Marvel Girl a strong new status quo as the new Starjammers. The story was not without great loss, though, as Cyclops and Havok’s father, Corsair, is murdered by Vulcan. At the end of the story, Professor X’s powers return to him and he and Nightcrawler are sent back to Earth.