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CSBG Archive

50 Greatest X-Men Stories: 20-16

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 #20-16.

Enjoy!

20. “Planet X” New X-Men #146-150

The penultimate story in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run, this story begins with one of the more dramatic reveals in X-Men history, as the seemingly pacifistic new X-Men Xorn is revealed to secretly be none other than Magneto! Magneto then proceeds to essentially tear the X-Men apart. This being the X-Men, though, they do some of their best work when the odds are the longest so they are able to fight back against Magneto’s tyrannical approach (we later learn that Magneto has been manipulated by the evil sentient bacteria Sublime, which is why Magneto is so especially sadistic in this story). In the end, a pair of major characters end up dead and the X-Men are almost in a state of ruin. Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning drew the story.

19. “The Sentinels Live!” X-Men #54-59

This is an odd one, since the story is best known for Roy Thomas, Neal Adams and Tom Palmer’s re-introduction of the Sentinels, but the story really begins a few issues earlier when previous X-Men writer Arnold Drake introduces Alex, the brother of Cyclops. Similarly, Don Heck is the original artist on this story. The Alex storyline, though, soon dovetails into the re-introduction of the Sentinels by Thomas and Adams, as Thomas reveals why the villainous Living Pharaoh is so obsessed with Alex. Alex also becomes Havok during this stint, as the X-Men fight against the Sentinels, who have returned under the command of Larry Trask. However, is Trask hiding a secret that could turn the whole thing on its ear? Why yes, yes he is. Reading this story as a whole just shows off how dramatic the change was to Thomas and Adams – it is like a jolt of energy entered the book with Adams’ dynamic artwork and Thomas’ clever stories.

18. “Second Genesis” Giant-Size X-Men #1

Not really much more needs to be said about this story, does it? It is only one of the most successful reboots of a comic book series ever as Len Wein and Dave Cockrum combine to introduce an All-New, All-Different team of X-Men to replace the original X-Men (whose title had gone to all-reprint status a few years earlier). Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Thunderbird all debut in this issue, which also adds formerly established characters Wolverine, Banshee and Sunfire to the mix as this new X-Men team is an international affair. The X-Men were captured by a sentient island. Only Cyclops was freed. He now leads the new X-Men back to the island to rescue his friends. Once freed, the old X-Men and the new X-Men work together to defeat the island and a new era in X-Men history has begun!

17. “Riot at Xavier’s” New X-Men #134-138

After first establishing the new status quo for mutants in the world in the beginning of his run, Grant Morrison slowly tried to tear away at this status quo with this powerful storyline where the X-Men have to deal with the fact that not all of their students necessarily buy into what Charles Xavier is selling them. At the head of this rebellion is Quentin Quire, a powerful telepath who feels that Magneto’s teachings were the way to go all along (Morrison’s Che Gueverra-influenced “Magneto Was Right” posters became such a potent image that they’re still being used today in Brian Michael Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men series as “Cyclops Was Right”). The charismatic Quire convinces a number of students to follow him and when they all get high on the mutant power enhancing drug “Kick,” they take their fight directly to the Xavier School is a violent riot that shocks the foundation of the X-Men (and Xavier’s soul). This story arc was the last New X-Men arc to have artwork by Frank Quitely, who began New X-Men with Morrison.

16. “The Brood Saga” Uncanny X-Men #156-157, 162-167

This is one of those Claremont storylines that is really hard to pinpoint which issues exactly take place in the story proper, since until the X-Men are actually taken by the Brood at the end of #161, the stories all sort of mix together. To wit, #154-155 have Corsair and the Starjammers show up on Earth looking for help from the X-Men. It is not until #156 that the Brood actually get involved in the story. #158 is mostly a story of the X-Men fighting Rogue, but it also deals with the coma Xavier was put into by Brood nightmares. #159 and #160 are pretty much unrelated stories. #161 is the famous flashback issue where we see how Magneto and Xavier used to be pals who fought the good fight together but at the end of that issue the X-Men are captured by the Brood. So which issues you count as “The Brood Saga” is really up to you (for their part, when Marvel actually reprinted “The Brood Saga,” they began with #162). In any event, the main gist of the story is that the evil Brood capture the X-Men. The Brood try to conquer their universe by converting other species INTO the Brood, basically a hostile takeover of other species’ bodies. The X-Men are all infected, but at first only Wolverine knows what the deal is because of his healing factor. He fights off the infestation and must then let his teammates know that they are all infected, as well. This leads to some powerful character-driven stuff, as Claremont shows how each of the various members of the team (as well as Carol Danvers, who was along for the ride) deal with learning that they are infected and unlike Wolverine likely have no way of preventing the alien from taking over their body and killing them. While they deal with their impending doom in various ways, Wolverine also has some soul-searching to do about if/when he should kill his friends if they’re going to turn into Brood creatures. Naturally, this being comics, there is a miraculous twist where they all are able to be saved. In the meantime, Claremont also finally finished his long-running attempt to redeem Carol Danvers after the end of the Ms. Marvel series and the infamous Avengers #200 “sort of rape” she dealt with. He turns her into Binary. Finally, the X-Men return to Earth with the knowledge that Professor X has been taken over by a Brood and unlike them, it is too late to cure him (of course, they then just clone his body and transfer his mind, but still). Dave Cockrum finished his second run on the X-Men with this storyline and Paul Smith began his run at the end of the arc. Bob Wiacek inked them both.

74 Comments

Stephen Conway

July 28, 2013 at 5:56 am

All great stories again. I particularly like the Riot at Xaviers and the Brood Saga but didn’t fit either in to my list.

Brood saga was on my list. Reread it recently and it is wonderful, classic stuff.

Giant-Sized got me very excited when it was reprinted as X-Men special edition #1.

I had a great hardcover edition of Sentinels Live printed in the 80s, probably my favourite “old x-men” story (although I’m also partial to Factor 3).

Riot at Xavier’s is one of my favourite Morrison stories.

The only one of these I’m not that fond of is Planet X, despite its first issue having one of my favourite splash reveals ever. Then it felt all downhill from there (it’s since come to my attention that this arc was probably meta-commentary on the inevitable X-Men vs. Magneto dynamic in their adventures, but to me it just wasn’t that fun a read…)

Guess we’re coming down to some really, really good stuff…

Riot At Xavier’s and Planet X were both on my list. Both of them sort of ideologically complement each other, with Riot showing the flaws in the Xavier model and Planet showing the untenability of the Magneto doctrine.

Obviously Quitely is far and away better than Jimenez, but damn if Morrison can’t write a good climax.

Nice to see Thomas and Adams in the top twenty. I have the X-Men Classics baxter reprint edition of their run.

Second Genesis I have only read in Classic X-Men 1, and the Brood saga I only have two or three issues of.

I have all of Morrison’s run, but I do not know if I would count any of it as greatest X-Men (or Morrison). It maybe the changing artists (I thought some were terrible), generic covers, and bland non-costumes keep me from revisiting this run to much. I also never cared much for the X army in place since the Blue/Gold era, or the school as an actual school.

I do think that if Marvel must have four to five X-Men titles a month, one or two should be given over to the X-Corp., though.

Planet X wasn’t on my list(limited myself to three Morrison ones), but I quite admire it. Controversial and no doubt a far cry from Claremont’s Magneto, but I find it’s cynical viewpoint on the status quo of super hero comics fascinating. For months now Xorn had been all that was good inside Magneto; compassionate, poetic, teacher of mutants, using his powers to mend bones and create bonds. But in the end, with the influence of Sublime(the real bad guy on this entire run), it goes right back to that status quo of Magneto, the evil big bad guy because that’s the X-men ideal sold to the masses. No matter how much good they do, the world will never accept them, things will never change, and the battles will rage on. But by showing Magneto’s violent tactics stripped of all their pretentions and laid bare, it shows the reader the basic insanity of Magneto’s viewpoint and violent revolutionaries such as him. These ‘no-nonsense’ solutions of yours just don’t hold water in a complex world of jet-powered apes and time travel.” It ends with a fantastic climax in #150, with each mutant tearing down Magneto one-by-one. Physically, psychologically, and philosophically, it’s their most complete victory over their most iconic villain. And it would be wrong for me to forget the fantastic Logan/Jean material walking into the sun, or that great last meeting between Jean and Cyclops as everything burns to ashes.

Riot at Xavier’s is something I probably don’t have to defend. It’s a brilliant X-Men story and deserves it’s place here.

The Brood Saga definitely has it’s moments, especially when Paul Smith comes on board, but I’m a much bigger fan of Broodfall, leaner and meaner with 3 fast-paced issues, with great Silvestri work here. Giving the Brood superpowers were an inspired touch, as was setting it on Earth raises the stakes and cuts down on all that shi’ar/spacewhale junk that hung around the Brood Saga. Love that great moment with the pastor “healing” Wolverine, nice to see a naturally good priest in the book after Rev. Stryker and his purifiers one-note villainy.

I’m pleasantly surprised to see The Brood Saga rank this high. I didn’t put it in my top 10, but I remember being blown away by that story and I rarely see it get any love.

Six on my list still haven’t shown up and I’m beginning to have doubts that a couple of them will even though they were major crossovers (one Claremont from the 80s, the other from the 00s)

By the way, I’ve read part of the Havoc story and while Adams’ art is fantastic, I have a hard time getting into Roy Thomas. To me he has the same problem Stan Lee does: while he’s brilliant conceptually, he’s inept when it comes to execution.

Mike Loughlin

July 28, 2013 at 8:03 am

Jeremy pointed out the virtues of Planet X perfectly, so I’ll add my own reactions:

The Xorn reveal was heartbreaking. The character with the biggest heart was a lie perpetrated by an old super-villain. The children who needed the most help and guidance were being indoctrinated into terrorism. The rest of the arc was spent dismantling Magneto’s poisonous philosophy while reinforcing the fact that Xorn’s compassion and striving to better the mutants’ situation was the more legitimate path.

The finale was great, up to Jean’s death & Wolverine beheading the villain. I knew Marvel would bring back Magneto at the earliest opportunity, and they would do so in the clumsiest way possible. I wish he’d stayed dead (although I like how Kieron Gillen wrote him years later). Two major character deaths at the end of the story felt both too abrupt and too cheap. The rest of the story, however, was riveting and almost made my top 10.

Planet X is the first one on my list to appear but don’t really disagree with any of these.

Saddened to see Second Genesis so low. It was my #1 vote and I was hoping it would make #3.

At this point, I think I’m ready to do what Brian always tells me not to and call the top 15, though I am displeased by at least half of my own predictions.

We’ll see how I do.

I’m 5/10 until now…

I’m glad that “The Sentinels Live!” made it in the top 20. It’s an amazing story and it’s the only pre-Giant Size #1 story I really like in the X-Men mithos.

I don’t think “Second Genesis” is a better story than many of the others that came before in the countdown. I think many voters selected it more for its historical importance than for it really beign a “great X-Men story”… “Magneto Triumphant!” is way better, per example.

In general, Morrison’s X-Men don’t feel (nor looks) like the “real X-Men” for me. That’s why I only really like the “Here comes tomorrow arc” because it is set in the future where anything can heppen. But the rest of the stories are very difficult for me to like…

I really think, and I hope no one takes offense, that many that praises Morrison’s X-Men praises it more for beign Morrison fans than actual X-men fans. No X-men fans can defend Magneto’s treatment in Plante X.

And for Riot At Xavier’s, I don’t get all the praise about it neither… Quitely work is great but that story isn’t that good. And I don’t like the fact that Morrison always shows the next generations (the kids and teenagers) like kind of inmoral, drug-addicted, psichological conflicted and ill-mannered people.

So far so good.

And I don’t like the fact that Morrison always shows the next generations (the kids and teenagers) like kind of inmoral, drug-addicted, psichological conflicted and ill-mannered people

The truth is a harsh mistress, Ariel. Kids these days are rebellious, uncaring, uncouth, selfish addicts (phone/internet/tv/videogame/caffeine/junk food)

Magneto was/is/andwillalwaysbe a terrorist.
A writer can’t mistreat him, only use him to tell good stories

I voted for the Brood saga, but totally forgot that the climax of the storyline actually ended not when the X-Men were cured, but when they got back to the mansion to fight Prof X having been turned into a Brood. I think that was also the first time the X-Men met the New Mutants wasn’t it?? I just remember being totally blown away by Paul Smith’s art.

You know, I’ve never read Morrison’s run. I know it’s fairly controversial but maybe I should read it with as much of it in the countdown as I’ve seen.

Woo! The Thomas Sentinels story brings me up to 3/10. And I’m reasonably confident that at least two more will show up later. Others are looking pretty unlikely, this high up on the list.

I always wondered if those the people who liked “Planet X” tended to be fans who came to the X-men in the 90s and early 00′s, people who hadn’t read Claremont’s work with Magneto or followed along while it was happening. (I came into the franchise around #200, when Magneto joined the X-men and became headmaster for the New Mutants.)

I also remember Morrison saying that he’d read through the Claremont and Byrne issues, and I think only those issues, in preparation for his run (it was mentioned in his manifesto for the book), saying that was when the franchise was at its best, and at its most popular, and that was what he wanted to recapture in the series. It might not be a coincidence that Claremont’s long arc detailing the redemption of Magneto doesn’t get going until after Byrne left. I always wondered if Morrison was unaware of it.

I could be wrong about all of the above, of course.

There’s some very good stuff in Morrison’s run, and the best thing to come out of it was Scott and Emma, and a refocus on the school, but “Planet X” creates such cognitive dissonance for me that I’ve never reread it, and never plan to. It’s so far from my understanding and experience of Magneto, and seems to replace a more interesting and nuanced approach to the character with a flat, boring, two-dimensional old school comic book villain, jettisoning years of character development in the process. Seemed to me like a big misstep from an often talented writer like Morrison.

Obviously, plenty of people disagree with that, and like Morrison’s interpretation of Magneto.

I voted for both “The Brood Saga” and “The Sentinels Live!” I’m happy they scored relative high on the list.

As for people disagreeing with Grant Morrison’s interpretation of Magneto, well, I really had no problem with it. In certain respects it reminded me a great deal of how the character was depicted in the fan-favorite “Magneto Triumphant,” which, as I pointed out yesterday, is as a complete & total bastard. And that, of course, was written by Chris Claremont. The point being that Magneto, despite his noble intentions, is no saint. I’ve always seen him as the personification of Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous warning “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.”

I don’t think “Second Genesis” is a better story than many of the others that came before in the countdown. I think many voters selected it more for its historical importance than for it really beign a “great X-Men story”… “Magneto Triumphant!” is way better, per example.

I can’t speak for others who voted, but this is simply not the case for me. GSXM #1 was my number one vote, and Magneto Triumphant was my number two vote. I love ‘em both, but Giant-Size is simply a more fun read for me, and never gets stale whenever I revisit it. “You fool — don’t you understand? It wanted you to come back –” That scene is just glorious.

Interesting personal note about the ‘Magneto Was Right’ meme. I remember watching the final episode of the X-Men Animated Series “Graduation Day,” when it was first broadcast, and there is a scene after Professor X is attacked and exposed as a mutant on live TV where Sunfire, arguing that if someone as famous, rich, and human looking as Xavier can still be violently assaulted for simply being a mutant, states “Magneto was right all along.” Sunfire’s argument leads to a swath of mutants finally turning to Magneto for leadership and guidance.

That line stuck with me as a perfect culmination of the entire human-mutant dynamic of the ongoing X-Men saga. Years of calculated diplomacy and alleviation of fear can be wiped away in an instant. And that perhaps there is no avoiding the war that Magneto has been warning everyone about for years.

Cut to a few years later in Morrison’s run, and suddenly there is this instant, marketable catchphrase. I’m still convinced that he lifted it from that final episode of the cartoon.

@KF
The fact that it was (later revealed) not really Magneto in Planet X might have given some long time Magneto fans the pass they needed to vote for the story.

@Mike Loughlin
The Xorn reveal was a bit ‘heartbreaking’, and even more heartbreaking was Damion Wayne’s death. We should all beware becoming fans of a Morrison creation.

@Ariel,

I understand where you’re coming from, it’s hard to reconcile Claremont’s Magneto with Morrison’s Magneto (as well as most post-Claremont writers’ takes on the character). Still, please don’t say I and others who like Planet X are not “true X-Men fans.” I’ve read tons of X-comics. I liked Claremont’s Magneto arc, one of the highlights of his run. I liked Planet X. You can’t dismiss people’s opinions just because they clash with yours.

@kdu2814,

It’s amazing how Damien went from obnoxious twerp no one seemed to like to a character whose presence is now missed. Morrison’s Batman run isn’t a favorite of mine (although there are some excellent parts, and it got much better to me post R.I.P.), but I like what he did with Damien.

@Mike You’re welcome, the search for Nightcrawler, led by Wolverine with Firestar now a full-fledged X-Men, returns in Amazing X-Men #1 by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuiness—as if you didn’t know!

6/10 I believe up to now! I think we’ll get them all. Thomas’ characters are really over-the-top, but the plain-clothes X-Men, Adams’ depiction of Ice Man’s rescue of the Beast, so many intense layouts from the first photo-realist of comics…that single issue of X-Men Classics with the foreword by John Byrne has stayed so vividly with me after twenty-seven years, one of my favorite borrows ever…my #4 pick! ER, I dropped some pizza sauce on a Nightcrawler page of the Giant-Sized reprint though…bad reader! It was fun at age eleven, but I can’t imagine rushing back to it. Boy was the Dark Genesis revisit messed up. Professor Xavier’s gotten a LOT of grief in the post Watchmen landscape! But he did always get a bit carried away.

There’s more of a sense of loss with Xorn as a new character, a fresh idea…honestly, unless you were deeply attached to the original X-Men (a few were) or Scott’s relationship with her, my less-superhero indoctrinated reader friends don’t really “get” the fascination with early Jean Grey. Most of them actually prefer to identify her with Logan for their own purposes, too (and Angela Dawn here can’t figure out what she does that fascinates him, either)! I look forward to seeing how the Morrison run hold up again after a decade. (I keep one short box of comics, some cd-roms, and a few Essentials out here—travel light!)

Funny, I remember feeling let down in Planet X…I think we’re meant to for the reasons discussed above, after so many flashes of truly “new” in our X-Men.

And hurray, I found an Essentials volume with Earthfall and Genosha (and Inferno) while packing up the Apartment of Ideas to leave San Diego! I must have bought a duplicate to mail to our Georgia friends.

KF: “Claremont’s long arc detailing the redemption of Magneto”

There were no such thing. The character was basically redeemed within issues. Not so much character progression as character transplant.

KF: “Planet X” creates such cognitive dissonance for me that I’ve never reread it, and never plan to. It’s so far from my understanding and experience of Magneto, and seems to replace a more interesting and nuanced approach to the character with a flat, boring, two-dimensional old school comic book villain, jettisoning years of character development in the process.”

Magneto had been an outright villain for years at that point. His previous appearance was during Lobdell’s short second run, where he was a complete lunatic. And before that we had the Davis run, and before that Fatal Attractions.

I don’t know what is more bothersome, Morrison’s wiggy writing or Quitely’s hideous art.

I just finished rereading the Brood Saga, wish I would have remembered it for my list.

Get the feeling a whole lot of Morrison readers had basically been gone since Claremont? That was essentially my case. The “transplant” gets spread out sporadically across about four years, so while it only took a few issues of stories, spread over time it acquired an illusion of greater depth…I guess Secret Wars was the first place I became aware Mags was every anything but a baddie. A mini would’ve been so perfect but they were still rather rare at Shooter Marvel before “Trial” came along.

Excuse me–7/10! Honorable mentions and stories I referenced in comments twist in and out of the list I recall.
Sprawl of the Mutants, Age of Apocalypso Music, and Dark Phoenix Ails are my other three, and no way are they not upcoming!

I just know when we go to Japan, I’ll be thinking of X-Men #172 & 3 and the Wolverine mini…Rogue & Wolvie/ Yuko & Storm’s story, we’ll see you in the top X !

I’m feeling more vindicated regarding my list, as 3 more of my choices pop up all in one day, “The Brood Saga,” “The Sentinels Live” and “Riot at Xavier’s”

It took me a while to get into Morrison at first because his approach was so jarring, but “Riot” is the story that sold me. I do still complain that they could have done that story with costumes and not blakc leather, but it’s still an amazing storyarc.

“The Sentinels Live” is hands-down my favorite original X-Men story.

Brian, after reading your write-up I was a little confused as to how you list “The Brood Saga” beginning at issue 156 as opposed to 154. The Brood first appear in issue 155 (not 156 as you wrote), and that issue is a direct continuation of 154 — there may be no Brood in issue 154, but they are part of the reason Corsair came to Earth — Deathbird was after Lilandra, the Brood were working with Deathbird, Corsair was trying to rescue Lilandra, etc. I understand not including the interlude “Xavier’s Coma” issues in the story rank (especially considering two of them appeared seperately on this countdown already), but there is no question that “The Brood Saga” definitely 100% begins in issue 154 (sorry to be so passionate, but it’s probably the X-Men tale I’ve read the most in the last 20 years, even more than “Dark Phoenix”)

I wonder if I’m the only person who voted that did NOT vote for “Giant-Size” No. 1. I get that it’s an iconic book that set up the new team dynamic for the next 5 years until Kitty came along … but honestly, to me, it’s just not that good of a story. Len Wein is great at Hulk and Spider-Man (his slow build with the “Bowery derelict”/Doc Ock story followed again with another slow build with Marla and the Spider-Slayer and then the Hamilton Goblin in particular) but when it comes to X-Men, “Giant Size” always felt a but rushed for me, and coming off the long-running “Secret Empire kidnaps the X-Men” thread running through Englehart’s “Avengers,” “Hulk” and “Cap,” and then all of the great Claremont about to come, “Giant-Size” feels sub-par to me.

Get the feeling a whole lot of Morrison readers had basically been gone since Claremont? That was essentially my case.

That was certainly the case with me. I stopped reading X-Men while Claremont was still writing it, during the Australia arc, and I still haven’t read any of the X-books between then and Morrison. (Unless you count the X-Men/Star Trek crossover.)

and thus finaly the only grant morrison train wreck story has come on the list train wreck being xorn turning out to be magneto and even with the sublime part still a wreck given how marvel decided no it was not magneto at all under the xorn mask. and brood saga figured it would come since it not only showed that wolverine may be willing to have to kill his own team mates to spare them a horrid fate but carol danvers got a new lease as binary.

I read Morrison’s run after it was completed, so I knew the big twist going in, but Xorn really being Magneto still didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Comic book megalomaniacs may love their convoluted plans, but the Xorn-is-really-Magneto thing is way out there. I have a hard time believing that was the plan when Xorn was introduced. And of course Marvel had to undo the whole thing almost immediately, and personally I think that was the right decision. I’d love to know when the decision was made to retcon Morrison’s story, right after he left or even before his run was completed?

For me, Planet X would be ok in the top 20 IF, and I mean IF the ending wasn’t immediately reconned and it turns out Jean Grey was killed by a crazy nobody like Xorn rather than it really being Magneto.

But no way would Riot at Xavier’s be in my top twenty. Good story and all but not that high.

I mostly enjoyed Morrison’s New X-Men run (am probably in the minority that actually preferred it to his JLA) – though I indeed had issues with his use of Magneto.
I thought he wrote Jean very well. Murder in the Mansion was a fun arc too (though I doubt it will make this list).

Riot at Xavier’s was pure insanity. Very enjoyable insanity, but insanity nonetheless. Morrison was the first to really examine mutant culture, which was a fresh aspect to the franchise that I always appreciated. Too bad that approach fell to the wayside for quite awhile after NXM. Not my favorite NXM arc, but it’s one of the strongest.

Planet X came really close to making the final cut of my list. The “Xorn is Magneto” reveal at the end of #146 completely blew my mind. Like Magneto Triumphant, it was the absolute worst time for Magneto to reveal himself and it made an already terrible situation for the team even worse. I didn’t really mind the reversion to full-tilt supervillain that Morrison wrote as Magneto had been heading in that direction since reappearing during Fatal Attractions. That era was over and had been over for Magneto since Mutant Genesis. That said, Magneto’s voice during Planet X always read a bit over the top. The idea that Sublime was in control and that it was his influence driving that voice makes it easier for me to digest, but it’s still a bit goofy. It’s a damned shame Marvel decided to take a huge dump on everything Morrison did with Austen and Claremont’s work that followed. That’s part of the reason why I enjoy and respect Whedon’s Astonishing so much: he was the only one that didn’t actively try to sabotage it (quite the opposite, really).

Actually surprised to see any pre-GSXM stuff this high up on the list. Thomas’s was certainly the best of it all.

Not a lot to say about GSXM. I read it for the first time a few years ago. Loved the art, but the story didn’t quite live up to expectations. It starts out strong, but it loses some steam in the third chapter. Still like it overall, though.

The Brood Saga was fourth on my list, though I voted for it as 162-167. I had no idea how many, if any, of the related issues prior to #162 would count, so I voted for the main part of the story. I always thought it was underrated in the Claremont pantheon, so I’m glad to see it this high up. There was a lull post-Dark Phoenix/DoFP which, while mostly enjoyable, felt like a (perhaps inevitable considering what had just come before) down period in terms of the art and the stories being told. But that all changed instantly for me with #162, which is one of my favorite single issues. Cockrum was back on art duties (yay!), Wolverine was in predator mode, and the X-Men were right in the middle of a really bad situation. It’a shame that Cockrum didn’t finish the story. Artist changes in the middle of a story greatly annoy me, but Smith actually did some real nice work to close it out.

Stephen Conway

July 28, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I think it’s fairly safe to say at this stage that we won’t be seeing any Ultimate X Men turn up.

“@Ariel, I understand where you’re coming from, it’s hard to reconcile Claremont’s Magneto with Morrison’s Magneto (as well as most post-Claremont writers’ takes on the character). Still, please don’t say I and others who like Planet X are not “true X-Men fans.” I’ve read tons of X-comics. I liked Claremont’s Magneto arc, one of the highlights of his run. I liked Planet X. You can’t dismiss people’s opinions just because they clash with yours.”

Mike Loughlin, you’re totally right. I apologize to you and everyone else.
I wanted to express that many Morrison fans can’t see no wrong in anything he writes, and so everything he writes is brillant even if it is not that good.
Obviously, you and many others may not match that description so I should have been more respectful when trying to express my opinions.
Sorry again!

“I wonder if I’m the only person who voted that did NOT vote for “Giant-Size” No. 1. I get that it’s an iconic book that set up the new team dynamic for the next 5 years until Kitty came along … but honestly, to me, it’s just not that good of a story. [...]”

Jeff, as I posted before I didn’t vote for the Giant-Size story for exactly the same reasons you express. I believe that many of the other stories from 50-21 are way better than this is. If we were voting the more important or historically trascendent stories we will be seeing Uncanny X-Men 1 and Giant-Size #1 on the first spots.
By the way, I’m not saying that it is a bad story or that the other people voting for it are wrong. If you liked it, it’s fine.

“I read Morrison’s run after it was completed, so I knew the big twist going in, but Xorn really being Magneto still didn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

Lorrie, it didn’t make sense to me neither. There’s a couple of issues where Xorn is even lying to himself!!!

“But no way would Riot at Xavier’s be in my top twenty. Good story and all but not that high.”

Shawn, I think exactly the same here.

There are parts of the first Brood Saga that are well done. Then there’s the idea that we’re supposed to buy Storm as a mystic space whale and it all falls apart for me. That, and Cyclops is turned…yet he doesn’t need any special treatment like Xavier (I know, cleansing power of the space whales). So for me, it’s a case of the ending being such a stretch that it undoes all of the rest of the story despite the high points in it.

GSXM #1 I felt would be top 15 for the same reason that we may see Uncanny #1 on the list: historical significance. Neither story is all that great compared to others that followed (the fight with the island isn’t even a fight, really; Nightcrawler’s one on one fight with his son was more gripping), but they have historical value.

“KF: “Claremont’s long arc detailing the redemption of Magneto”

There were no such thing. The character was basically redeemed within issues. Not so much character progression as character transplant.”

I guess I’d disagree. It was in bits and pieces prior to Uncanny 199, but that was part of how Claremont worked, keeping a lot of subplots going by revisiting them. After 199, it was a pretty regular feature of Uncanny and New Mutants until Louise Simonson took over and pushed him back toward villainy (if I remember correctly.)

“Magneto had been an outright villain for years at that point. His previous appearance was during Lobdell’s short second run, where he was a complete lunatic. And before that we had the Davis run, and before that Fatal Attractions.”

Okay, I’d stopped reading Marvel’s stuff (stopped around Uncanny 275) by that point, and didn’t come back to them later. Either way, I’d say reverting him back to an outright villain was a bad idea, and I’d have preferred Morrison hadn’t gone that way. I’d have had the same reactions to Lobdell’s and Davis’ work with the character as well, if that was the case. But, okay.

I never liked the Brood Saga. A story about Alien rip offs that goes on for far too long. I often wonder if people who write off the second half of Claremont’s run get to that bit and give up.

Riot is the best Morrison X-Men story, Planet X is the worst. I always half liked Xorn but sensed he wasn’t what he seemed through most of the run.

I think Giant Size #1 does a good job of introducing a bunch of new characters, reintroducing Cyclops, Xavier and mutants while still telling an interesting action story. It’s a far better choice than Avengers #1 which made the other list.

“I think it’s fairly safe to say at this stage that we won’t be seeing any Ultimate X Men turn up.”

That’s too bad, cuz although I didn’t vote for any, there were some good stories in there, particularly from BKV/Stuart Immonen

My only hope now is the Asgardian Wars shows up, because those two stories are some of Claremont’s finest

@Jeremy: “My only hope now is the Asgardian Wars shows up, because those two stories are some of Claremont’s finest”

Not to mention some great work by Paul Smith (assuming the X-men/Alpha Flight series is included in that.)

I wonder if I’m the only person who voted that did NOT vote for “Giant-Size” No. 1

Pick any story and someone didn’t vote for it.

Planet X was #7 on my list. I just thought it was a fantastic story. Interestingly, I’m largely the opposite of the assumptions people are making about Planet X voters: I’d grown up with ’90s X-Men, I’d read through a lot of classic X-Men before I read Morrison’s run, and New X-Men was the first Morrison work I’d ever read.

All the other stories here are great. I just re-read the Brood story recently. Really good. The Thomas/Adams run was the best the original series ever had – Thomas’ original run was really bland and boring, but Adams seemed to bring out the very best in Thomas. Adams delivered some really cool, unique layouts, as well. (Unique for the time, anyway.)

It’s really interesting to me how people talk about the treatment of Magneto in Planet X ignoring two really important points:

First, that Magneto was being manipulated by Sublime. He killed Jean, quote, “under orders he never understood.” But, more importantly than that is the second point:

The fact that Morrison started off his run by WIPING OUT HALF THE MUTANT RACE in Genosha.

Character arcs can swing both ways. Even after decades of redemptive arcs, what did you think Magneto would do if he had to experience the genocide of his people all over again? Should he have shown up at the mansion and declare that it was time to push the Xavier doctrine harder than ever? The destruction of Genosha could easily have been seen as proof of the failure of peaceful cooperation, which was a specter hanging over the better part of New X-Men.

As for people who weren’t sure if Morrison “wasn’t aware” of Magneto’s redemptive arc, I don’t think they were paying much attention to Xorn. Morrison is a writer who works in metaphors: if the Xorn persona had JUST been a tool of the master plan he wouldn’t have been doing his job. Xorn was a legitimate part of Magneto, just one that he’d compartmentalized.

I think you can make the argument that Morrison simply shouldn’t have written a plotline in which half the mutant race died and Magneto reverted to his normal villainry. But to say that the way things played out isn’t consistent with what we know of the character doesn’t seem to hold water.

KF: “I guess I’d disagree. It was in bits and pieces prior to Uncanny 199, but that was part of how Claremont worked, keeping a lot of subplots going by revisiting them. After 199, it was a pretty regular feature of Uncanny and New Mutants until Louise Simonson took over and pushed him back toward villainy (if I remember correctly.)”

I guess it depends on what you mean. I just don’t buy the transition from total sadist in #113 to guy who wants to conquer the world for humanity’s own sake in #150 to the saintly Holocaust survivor of #200, given how few appearances Magneto had in between. It’s what I mean with “personality transplant”, Claremont pulling a fast one.

@entzauberung: If it’s Claremont pulling a fast one, it’s a slow fast one :-)

But okay, I get where you’re coming from. If you didn’t buy it at the time, that’d lend itself to a different reading of both the character and the quality of Claremont’s work with the character.

For me, I bought it, and that move from black and white battle lines between the good guys and the bad guys to more grey lines across which different character relationships get established (Mystique, etc., fits in here as well), was to me a key element of Claremont’s run, and part of why it dug into me so much while growing up. Magneto’s shift was a part of that, and a hopeful one, I thought.

But then again, part of the greatness of the X-men in general is how they’re open to so many different approaches, and have had so many different approaches, that there’s room for a lot of fans with a lot of different preferences. Cheers.

Mike Loughlin

July 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm

@Ariel,

No worries! It’s big of you to apologize, and I look forward to reading your posts in the future. I get your point about blindly

@Lue Lyon,

I actually can’t wait for an X-Men comic! Hopefully, Amazing X-Men will live up to its title.

@entzauberung,

I get what you’re saying. I think the transition from mustache-twirling super-villain to mutant rights crusader is kind of jarring, but I look at it this way: the moment he almost killed Kitty was a epiphany leading to his reassessing his goals and the path his life had taken to that point. Granted, that could be me reading a lot into the story, but I think the character arc (including Magneto’s return to villainy in Uncanny 274-275) works.

Mike Loughlin

July 28, 2013 at 4:35 pm

@Jeremy,

The BKV & Immonen issues were awesome. I considered voting for the Longshot arc but ultimately (pun slightly intended) went with other stories. I miss Ultimate Dazzler.

Riot At Xavier was on my list. It’s a great little story, and I like that it is contained at the school for the most part.
Best Morrisson story with E Is For Extinction.

Giant-Size was a runner-up for a while but didn’t make the cut.
It was my introduction to the X-Men, and I thought the idea of a living mutant island was awesome.
I still do actually. Too bad they had to ruin it with the “Vulcan’s other second team of mutants” thing.
Sometimes retcons are not a good idea.

I don’t like X-Men in space stories, and The Brood suck as X-Men villains.

Never read the other two.

Since Morrison had Magneto poised as a Che Guevara-style legend, even worn on T-Shirts by children completely unaware of the character and his legacy, it’s appropriate that the returned Magneto more resemble the real Che Guevara– whose positive qualities were counterbalanced by his jingoism and ruthlessness.

That, and portraying Magneto as a psychopathic manchild and hypocrite isn’t too far from the way he was portrayed in the 1990s comics, except for giving him the extra nudge to the bottom of his slippery slope.

Shocked the worst of Morrison’s run made it so high and Second Genesis was so low!

Inevitably with these lists one of my favorites turns up in the first batch and then I spend the rest of the countdown roiling with fanboy-rage as inferior stories beat it. In this case, that early favorite was X-Men 150, definitely one of the very best.

It took me years to figure out the REAL reason Claremont redeemed Magneto: He HAD to.

From Lee he had inherited an arch nemesis who controlled all metal, but from Wein he had inherited a new team which had two members with metal bodies! In the two straight-up battles that the team fought with Magneto, he understandably wiped the floor with them, using Colossus and Wolverine against them.

Claremont quickly figured out that the only way to keep Magneto around was to not have any more fights between Magneto, Colossus and Wolverine. The redemption took care of that.

I wonder if I’m the only person who voted that did NOT vote for “Giant-Size” No. 1.

If you were the only one, it’d certainly rank higher than this. I certainly didn’t vote for it.

I think it’s fairly safe to say at this stage that we won’t be seeing any Ultimate X Men turn up.

Hmm, yeah, I could never get into those myself; I couldn’t even finish the first trade.

I’m just sad that it seems highly unlikely that we’ll be seeing any X-Men: First Class stories on the list. It’s a shame because some of those were a lot of fun. But frankly it seems like a miracle that there are any stories with the original X-Men on the list.

All solid stories (and the last installment of the list too, but nothing off my list popped up there). The two highest picks on this list were on mine as well. I picked the Brood Saga as my Paul Smith entry on my list because I’m a sucker for X-Men in space stories, and this one seemed to have it all. Also, I really like these last last Cockrum issues, I know a lot of people consider the first Phoenix art his best pencils, but I thought he turned in some very good work here.

Riot at Xavier’s was also on my list; I think it’s like the only time Quitely did more than three issues in a row on the book (which was nice for me as a Quitely fan), plus I just really like Quenitin Quire (even moreso after reading Aaron’s WatXM. Speaking off, I’m really worried my WatXM pick won’t be making it on this list…). Morrison’s writing on this arc was also very good, but it was the Quitely art and Quire that really got me to pick this over putting Planet X on my list. S’funny, as I was going through this segment, I saw Planet X and was worried RaX wasn’t going to show up anywhere in the top 50 lol

I didn’t consider the the Kitty issue because I’m not a big fan of her back in the Sprite days, but it is a solid story and I can see why it’s here. As I said before, I considered Planet X, but I only had two slots for Morrison and there were two stories I liked better. Giant Size, I can’t remember if that was on my list or not. I know I considered it, but I think I may have picked something else over it.

\So far I’m 5/10. and there’s four stories I picked that I’m sure will be showing up in the coming days.

I’ll have to back and reread the Brood arc. I always thought of it as an Aliens rip-off so maybe I missed something.

I’ve never cared for GSXM1 as a story. Way too much time is spent with Xavier in cliche “putting a team together” scenes, followed by a big battle royale.

In general, I never like any significant characters’ introductions very much. Going back to read a story after the characters have been developed always makes them seem like pale shadows of themselves.

Brood Saga was on my list. Criminally uncollected in a colour trade, probably the most high profile X-Men story that isn’t. Those Smith issues at the end are sooooo good.

Again, all solid reads. GSXM #1 I think is helped a bit by its historical importance but its still not a bad book.

Riot at Xavier’s and Planet X were my #1 and #2 votes.

It’s a bit sad that they’re so low – and it seems a bit unlikely that any other Morrison or any Ultimate X-Men will turn up now – which sadly means I don’t think any more of my votes will appear.

Now I’ll just stand at the back and heckle all of the Claremont stories that win ;)

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

July 29, 2013 at 5:39 am

I’m still only 2/10, though I know a few more of mine will show up. I don’t think my two Gillen stories are going to make it, which is disappointing but not unexpected.

There’s a bit more Morrison love than I was expecting on this list. I’m not complaining about that: just a little surprised.

I haven’t revisited the Morrison run for a while now, but I don’t remember Riot at Xavier’s being as big a deal as it was billed as. Yeah, the build up with Quire and his gang was great, but when the riot actually begins, it doesn’t seem like there’s much to it. In retrospect, though, I guess it was more about the ideological battle and less about the physical confrontation.

Planet X was hit-or-miss for me. The Xorn/Magneto reveal was fantastic, but, as a big fan of Claremont’s take on Magneto, the whole genocidal maniac route didn’t really click for me. Yeah, he was influenced by Sublime, but it stil didn’t feel right to me. So when this story was retconned a month later in Claremont’s second Excalibur series, I wasn’t too upset, even though the immediacy of the retcon robbed the story of a lot of dramatic resonance.

Can’t argue with the Brood saga or Giant-Size, but I am intrigued by the fact that we got a Thomas story this high on the list. Nothing against Thomas’s run, but it always seemed like it’s been viewed mainly as a stopgap run between the beginning of the series and Giant-Size. Clearly, there was more value to it than I thought.

Sam,
I believe the Thomas and Adams’ “The Sentinels Live!” story is one of the best X-Men stories ever!
I think is the best story of the original X-Men and it deserves its place here.
The rest of that run didn’t made much for me but this story is present in every “best stories” list of mine.

Still at 6/10.

Being a huge fan of Claremont’s Magneto, I HATED “Planet X”, even though I absolutely loved (in terms of its execution) the Xorn reveal, probably the last time I was genuinely surprised by a comic. That said, I also wish Marvel had just left him dead and avoided the whole Xorn twin brother nonsense, even though I have enjoyed later portrayals of Magneto.

“The Sentinels Live!” is my favorite of the Thomas/Adams stuff, and almost made my list.

Giant Size is an an issue I think of more in terms of its historical significance than for being a really good story, which is probably why I never considered it.

“Riot at Xavier’s” is my favorite arc from Morrison’s run, and the closest to making my list. Really one of the best uses of the fact that the X-Men live/work at a school, and I really liked the way Morrison expanded the school throughout his run.

I’m a little surprised to see the Brood story make it, especially this high. I get the impression that amongst fans old and new it isn’t that highly regarded, but maybe I’m wrong. I’m largely indifferent to it, though I definitely prefer the second half to the first.

I just can’t get why Morrison is so loved.
I read all these wonderful critics about his run on the X-men two years ago and so bought the whole run in TPB, what a disapointment, none of it made my list and still today, I just don’t understand the acclaim (it’s not bad, just so… so … some good ideas, a lot of blahblah and a will to shock).

Please no predictions for the top 15. I’d like to maintain a veil of secrecy.

If anyone is wondering, the now removed secret blowing prediction was mostly Chuck Austin, with 2 or 3 Bendis arcs…

Okay, sorry Brian. Feel free to delete!

Thanks for understanding!

““Riot at Xavier’s” is my favorite arc from Morrison’s run, and the closest to making my list. Really one of the best uses of the fact that the X-Men live/work at a school, and I really liked the way Morrison expanded the school throughout his run.”

I’d probably agree with that.

I know a lot of fans of Morrison’s run feel that Marvel subsequently ignored or retconned everything he did, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case, and I think his approach to the school has had, and continues to have, and influence on the X-franchise.

Anonymous2 aka Saul Goode

July 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm

@KF

Just look at Aaron’s current run for proof of that statement. It’s been more than just using Morrison characters, it’s about the idea of both expanding the number of students and types (like Morrison did), making the idea of the school more important to the franchise (another thing Morrison did), and doing unconventional things and stories with the students (Morrison, once again). It’s not really surprising either, considering how often Aaron had said he’s a big fan of Morrison’s run.

I’ve given my reasons for not reading the Morrison “X-Men” probably too many times on this blog, and detailed the seemingly endless things I hate about it (choices he made, not the writing obviously, since I haven’t read it), but there’s definitely still a lot of his influence hanging around. He introduced quite a few characters who are still around, notably Quire and the Stepford Cuckoos. And, whether I like it or not (not), secondary mutations are still totally a thing.

Maybe I should finally give it a chance, but there’s a hell of a lot of catch-up stuff on my list before that (Whedon, Carey, “Wolverine and the X-Men”, “Uncanny X-Force” past the first arc, etc.).

Imraith Nimphais

July 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm

The Brood Saga was #1 on my list.

Still 3/10. The Brood Saga didn’t make my top 10, but I do like the story a lot. Other than #150, the issues between Byrne’s departure and the beginning of the Brood Saga didn’t do much for me, but these issues start a really strong run that continues until Paul Smith’s departure. As a result of this extended story, the Brood always loom much larger in the X-Men’s rogues gallery for me than their number of appearances should justify.

Riot at Xavier’s was a good story, but I didn’t really consider it for my list. Morrison made the best use of the school aspect of his X-Men run here.

I wasn’t a fan of Planet X, as I much prefer the nobler version of Magneto that Claremont gave us. This was one of the only instances in which I was happy to see a retcon.

Giant-Size X-Men #1 isn’t one of my favorite stories (not that it’s bad by any means), but I can certainly respect it’s signifigance.

I’ve never read The Sentinels Live! I think i’m going to have to get the Marvel Masterworks versions of these issues.

The Sentinels Live puts me up to 5 (and well on the way to 8/10)
Good story from Rascally Roy and Adams art had characters bursting out of the panels and across the page in a particularly effective way.

While I didn’t vote for Morrison’s run I do have some fond memories of it- for me the highlight moment was when Jean caught Scott and Emma together – followed by a caption “next issue: murder at the mansion”..

well, I’ve always wondered what are some good x-men books. I have way more interest in some of the older titles than I do the “new” marvel now. (well. maybe when the “old” x-men return to their time again)

What I don’t like is how so many are split into multiple books. I mean, ok, uncanny here… new x-men there.. But gambit and the…. WHAT THE _!?!?

anyways… thanks for the list.

My first X-Men issue was #158, the first time Rouge appeared in an X-Men comic. It was followed by #159, Blood fued, #160, Belasco/Magik, #161, Xavier & Magneto fighting Nazis, and the Wolverine Limited series. Then came the Brood story line. What a fantastic run. Nobody draws Cyclops in action like Paul Smith.

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