"U.S.Avengers": A Guide to Marvel's New Patriotic Superhero Team
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 #10-7.
10. “The Proteus Saga” X-Men #125-128
The Proteus Saga might be one of the most famous examples of Chris Claremont’s love for slow-boiling sub-plots until they simmer over into an explosive story. In X-Men #104, we learn that there is a mysterious “Mutant X” who has now escaped. In X-Men #119, we see Mutant X again, as he has taken over the body of a Muir Isle resident. Finally, in X-Men #125, the other shoe drops and Mutant X attacks the rest of Muir Isle in full force. Mutant X is both extremely powerful (he can jump into different bodies and he can alter realities) and also incredibly insane. The X-Men are called to Muir Isle in #126 and they take on the mutant, who soon takes on the name Proteus. Proteus, astonishingly enough, is the son of longtime X-Men friend (and Muir Isle resident) Moira MacTaggert. The X-Men get their asses kicked in X-Men #126, leading to a classic moment where Cyclops has to whip the shaken team into shape for another go at Proteus in the following issue (the idea of Wolverine being given a sort of draconian pep talk by Cyclops was amazing at the time – Wolverine seemed like he was made of such stern stuff that the sight of him shaken was stunning). Ultimately, the gentle giant Colossus is forced to take extreme measures to defeat Proteus. John Byrne and Terry Austin excelled on the artwork on this story.
9. “Unstoppable” Astonishing X-Men #19-24, Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1
Joss Whedon and John Cassaday concluded their Astonishing X-Men run with this arc, which finally brought to a climax the long-running sub-plot of the Breakworld fearing that Colossus was going to destroy their planet. They decide to essentially strike first by firing a giant bullet to destroy the Earth. No one can stop the powerful and deadly projectile, except one of the X-Men, who must sacrifice his or herself to save the world. It is a touching and heartfelt ending to their acclaimed run on the title.
8. “To Have and Have Not” Uncanny X-Men #172-173
Chris Claremont, Paul Smith and Bob Wiacek tell the story of when new member Rogue first proves herself to the rest of the X-Men and when Storm opened up a brand new side of herself. With the X-Men in Japan for Wolverine’s wedding, the entire team is stricken down with poison by the evil Viper – all except for Storm (Wolverine managed to warn her in time). Storm then must go to protect Wolverine’s bride, Mariko, from attacks, with the help of Wolverine’s Japanese friend, Yukio. The pair spend a lot of time together and Yukio’s views on life opens Storm up to embracing her repressed wild side. Soon, Wolverine and Rogue are the only X-Men to recover from the poison attack (Wolverine recovers due to his healing factor and Rogue recovers due to her Ms. Marvel powers, or more specifically, her half-alien DNA) and head off to track down the Silver Samurai. The pair end up facing off against Viper and the Silver Samurai. Rogue takes a deadly blast meant for Wolverine and, in a tender moment of approval, he lends her his healing power. Mariko’s life is spared, but she ends up having to spurn Wolverine at the altar. Meanwhile, Storm shows up sporting a new punk look. This was a powerful two-parter with SO much character work mixed into the two issues. Paul Smith, meanwhile, put in some of his most dynamic work on the title yet (and a stunning Storm re-design).
7. “Mutant Massacre” (Uncanny X-Men #210-213, X-Factor #9-11, Thor #373-374, New Mutants #46 and Power Pack #27)
While it is a part of comic book reality nowadays, back in the late ’80s there had never been a crossover between the popular X-Men related comic books. In fact, until the early 80s, there was only one X-Men title, “Uncanny X-Men!” But by 1986, there was the regular “X-Men” title, there was “New Mutants” (detailing the next generation of mutant heroes) and “X-Factor” (starring the original five members of the X-Men), and in the fall of 1986, the first X-Crossover took place detailing the “Mutant Massacre.”
The Mutant Massacre featured the Marauders, a team of vicious killers employed by the newly introduced X-Men villain Mr. Sinister, going into the New York sewers, where a community of mutants known as the Morlocks lived (the Morlocks were mutants who tended to be disfigured or were otherwise unable to fit in living with “normal” humans). At this point, the Marauders proceeded to murder as many Morlocks as they could. The X-Men entered the tunnels to save the Morlocks, and engaged in a dramatic and deadly battle that lasted from Uncanny X-Men #211 to #213 (all three issues were written by Chris Claremont, with John Romita Jr. drawing the first issue, Rick Leonardi the second and Alan Davis the third).
The X-Men suffered critical injuries soon after entering the battle, when the teleporting X-Man Nightcrawler, who was recovering from a recent injury and had only recently regained the ability to teleport, used his powers to disable one of the Marauders. However, he was unable to use his powers once he was finished, leaving himself vulnerable to the Marauder Riptide, a mutant whose power involves sending barrages of razor sharp blades flying people at high speeds. Nightcrawler was severely injured by Riptide.
This led to one of the most dramatic moments of the war when the X-Man Colossus determined that the only way to stop Riptide was to use deadly force. As Riptide continued to pummel the X-Man’s metal body with blades, Colossus forged forward until he was able to snap Riptide’s neck.
At this point, Colossus collapsed due to the wounds he incurred during his fight. As it turned out, he was so injured that while he could survive in his metal form, he could not transform back to his human form. Meanwhile, the X-Men suffered another casualty when Kitty Pryde was injured and trapped in her intangible form.
While the X-Men return to their home to recover with the Morlocks they manage to save, the deadliest of the Marauders, the evil Sabretooth, makes his way to the X-Men’s home. During the course of his journey, Sabretooth tangled both with Wolverine and ultimately with the telepathic Psylocke, who was staying with the X-Men at the time.
In the end, the X-Men managed to save many Morlocks (X-Factor also saved some, in a separate excursion into the Morlock tunnels), but the team was forever changed, with longstanding members Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler leaving the team and new members like Psylocke joining the group. The most important change for the team was that they no longer had any illusions of safety at their home, and soon left the X-Mansion entirely.
The full creative team for the crossover was Chris Claremont, Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, John Romita Jr., Alan Davis, Rick Leonardi, Sal Buscema, Terry Shoemaker, Jon Bogdanove and a host of inkers.
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