50 Greatest X-Men Stories: 25-21
In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the X-Men, we’re doing a poll of the greatest X-Men stories of all-time! You all voted, now here are the results of what you chose as the 50 Greatest X-Men Stories!
We’ll do five each day from here on out (until we get towards the end, when it’ll probably get down to 3 a day). Here is a master list of every story featured so far. Here are #25-21.
25. “Mutant Genesis” X-Men #1-3
This storyline, which was the end of Chris Claremont’s initial tenure on the X-Men titles, reads like the ultimate X-Men movie screenplay, if budget was no object. After first introducing the newly reformed X-Men (having merged X-Factor and the X-Men into one massive team), the X-Men are forced into conflict against Magneto, who now has his own group of followers called the Acolytes. Magneto manages to capture the first team of X-Men sent after him and also brainwash them into becoming his followers. This leads to the remaining X-Men (the “Gold” team, because the “Less cool characters” team sounded less appealing) having to both take down their comrades while still managing to save them. This storyline also comes with a major revelation about Moira MacTaggert that lands her squarely in the realm of the “Charles Xavier school of messed up stuff that I didn’t want to tell you I did because it was so messed up.” Besides drawing a series of impressive and imaginative battles, artist Jim Lee also re-designed most of the X-Men’s costumes which were all adapted by the X-Men: Animated Series, so soon became the definitive look for a number of the X-Men, including Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey and Rogue. Scott Williams inked Lee on the book.
24. “Dancin’ in the Dark” Uncanny X-Men #169-170
The Morlocks, a group of mutants who live in the sewers because they are too ugly to pass as humans, kidnap Warren Worthington, the X-Men known as Angel. The X-Men come to free him and it comes down to Storm challenging the leader of the Morlocks, Callisto, to a knife fight. It is all extremely bad ass. Chris Claremont wrote it and Paul Smith and Bob Wiacek drew it.
23. “Demon” Uncanny X-Men #143
The last issue of X-Men that John Byrne, Chris Claremont and Terry Austin ever did together, this one-off where Kitty Pryde is alone at the X-Mansion on Christmas Eve when a demon attacks might be the greatest final issue from an acclaimed creative team EVER, as Kitty remarkably does whatever she can to stop the demon solo. It is a tremendous issue and really solidified Kitty as a bad ass.
22. “Magneto Triumphant!” X-Men #112-113
While last page Magneto reveals had long been an X-Men staple before the end of X-Men #111, it was still quite a shock to see Magneto show up after the X-Men battled against their old foe Mesmero (or a reasonable facsimile thereof). Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin did a great job capturing the sort of “Oh crap, we have no way of beating this guy” attitude that the X-Men dealt with in this battle, where Magneto punishes the X-Men for him being reverted to a baby years earlier (which the X-Men didn’t actually DO, but whatever). The X-Men, of course, are well known for their ability to beat long odds, and they manage it here, too, as they escape…but in their escape, it seems like most of the team die in Magneto’s underground volcanic base. This leads to the World Tour storyline starting the next issue, the first of a few times that Claremont had the rest of the world believing that the X-Men were dead.
21. “LifeDeath” Uncanny X-Men #186, 198
An issue after losing her powers to Forge’s “make mutant powers go away” gun, Storm has to come to grips with what is pretty much the worst day of her adult life. Forge (who she doesn’t know actually invented the gun) takes Storm in and the two spend some deep, personal time together at his apartment getting to know each other as she deals with her great loss. When it seems like the two are ready to take things to another level, Storm learns of Forge’s involvement in her power loss. It would be almost forty issues before they somewhat reconcile. This story was written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith and Terry Austin. It is hard to properly realize how out of nowhere having a special Barry Windsor-Smith drawn issue of X-Men was at the time, but trust me, it was a big deal. Twelve issues later, Claremont and Windsor-Smith (no Austin this time around) continued Storm’s journey by having her travel to Africa to deal some more with her power loss. She encounters a young pregnant woman and Storm valiantly helps save the woman and deliver the baby (and then revive the baby when it is seemingly stillborn). The happiness of the moment is quickly overshadowed by the fact that the village elder now has to kill himself in a tradition where an elder sacrifices themself every time a new baby is born to the village. Storm spends time with him leading up to his death, trying to make heads or tails of his sacrifice. It clearly deeply affects her.