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CSBG Archive

50 Greatest X-Men Stories: 10-7

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.

Enjoy!

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

xmen9

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.

113 Comments

5/10

Mutant Massacre..

ugh, so much claremont is not going to make the list, but a great list overall

Reckon I know the top six now – the order will be interesting though.

Ah, some good stuff here. The only one that was on my list was Unstoppable, but I did like To Have and Have Not and the Proteus Saga. Never had any interest in the Marauders or Mister Sinister, and Mutant Massacre happened when I was quickly losing interest in the X-Men, so I barely remember it.

Up to 8/10, with “To Have and Have Not”, which is just such a fantastic bit of characterization and superhero action. The Wolverine/Silver Samurai fight is a great example of the way comics depict movement through static images.

“Proteus” is another favorite, and it almost made my list, but I left it off in favor of a Claremont/Byrne story I figured needed the support more, confidant that “Proteus” would make the list regardless.

“Unstoppable” probably reads much better in one sitting (how I first read it) than monthly, what with all those delays, but given the esteem in which the Whedon/Cassaday run is held I’m only mildly surprised to see this place this high.

And “Mutant Massacre” of course is a no brainer. Oddly enough, for as much as the disconnect amongst the titles bothers me in “Fall of the Mutants”, here I like it: this is a crossover, but really a bare bones one, as the characters of the three books never really direct interact with one another. Heck, the big Marauder/X-Men fight that is the centerpiece of the story happens in the first issue!

Patrick Joseph

July 30, 2013 at 2:58 pm

X-Men 127 was my first issue. I loved it, but didn’t see another issue until 145. Newsstand distribution could be frustrating.

Once I found a drug store that carried it, I was hooked. I even saved money to get such recent issues as 137 and 141-144. They set me back about $7 in total. That’s a lawn and a half in 1982 money.

Looking good.

The Proteus Saga is so good. I’m glad to see it here as I forgot to vote for it, but I tried to spread my votes across creative teams and eras with top votes going to more slightly obscure stories like the Thomas/Adams Sentinels stuff. I’d put Proteus Saga right up there with World Tour and Dark Phoenix. That initial Claremont/Byrne run is probably the best X-Men run of all time, for me.

I love Mutant Massacre as well even if it really upended the Claremont/JRjr/Dan Green era and splintered the team. It also began the X-Men sliding into Grim & Gritty territory, like any book in the 80’s really, but what a way to go. And it really opened the book up to new stories, for good or ill. The post-Seige Perilous era would never happen now. You couldn’t break up a top selling book’s team and have them broken up for a year-plus. (I guess you could say Avengers Disassembled sort of did that too but as far as I know Avengers wasn’t a top seller, like 1980’s Uncanny X-Men was, pre-Disassembled.)

I just want to say, Brian, that when you said “From the Ashes” had to be broken up, that I was a little sadden as I thought none of Paul Smith’s legendary run would make the cut as it was too divided. Now that all of it has made the list, every single issue, you sir, are a genius and sorry I doubted you for a second!

I’m for sure going to be 8 of my top picks are going to be on the list then. Pretty sure I can name all six of the remaining slots but no way in the correct order.

Onto the list:

Proteus Saga, I only became a bigger fan of after watching it get adapted as the FOX Animated Series episodes. It suffers from being the story that comes right before Uncanny 129, when my X-Men Comic Collection ways begins.

Unstoppable I could not enjoy as Whedon banished the greatest fictional character of all time into deep space. Once Fraction corrected that oversight, I was able to come back to it and appriciate it. I still think Torn is by far the best arc of their run, so I would have swapped the two positions but that’s just me. Cassaday getting a chance to draw anyone’s favorite Marvel character has to be a treat for that person.

To Have and Have Not, I wouldn’t have thought this was the best arc of Paul Smith’s, haven’t really thought about it in terms as I just made my first vote the Brood Saga and went down the line. It would be this one or the From the Ashes arc with Maddie and Cyclops against the team. Can’t express how happy I am that his run (and my favorite run of all time) made the list completely. Once the list is completed have to see if every Bryne issue made it.

Mutant Massacre, I would pay this price every time to give the world Excalibur, as without MM, I would never have gotten it. Such a dramatic time and I can only imagine how crazy fandom went with each new issue. Shame we didn’t have the Internet and message boards back then as I bet buzz would have been crazy.

Imraith Nimphais

July 30, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Am I the only one who stopped caring about AXM because Whedon and Cassaday took so bloody long to get to the frakkin’ end? By the time issue 24 came around I had lost all interest. I remember reading it once an then just throwing it aside…and have not read it since.

Yay!!! To Have and Have Not and Mutant Massacre were in my top ten as well.

Just checked my list, and I went backwards, From the Ashes, to Have and Have Not, Morlocks, then Brood Saga. I didn’t think the stand alone issues would get votes but I should have knew that 168 would and I wouldn’t count 171 – though it is crucial to the mythos, as a vote.

Going to be 7/10 for sure, I wasted three votes but I knew that going in.

Huge fan of Mutant Massacre, I’m ashamed to admit I forgot about it until after I turned in my list otherwise I would have dropped Fatal Attractions for it and reshuffled my list.

Kind of surprised that the Proteus Saga made it this high; I know it helps lead into the Dark Phoenix saga, but otherwise it just feels kind of pedestrian and not all that important a story. Still, it’s competently drawn and written.

To Have and Have Not is probably my favorite of the purely Paul Smith story arcs, it looks amazing and there’s some really emotional moments that still hold up very well. Also, I think these issues might be the ones that Claremont has the lowest word count on; the Silver Samurai battle, iirc, actually has a whole 2 pages without dialogue! Can you believe it?

And I hate Whedon’s Astonishing in general, but I figured at least two of his arc would crack the top 10, so I’ve already mentally prepared myself lol

Man, I cannot *stand* “Unstoppable;” it’s poorly told and relies on Whedon using his stock moves in lieu of actually plotting. The Giant Bullet makes no sense if you think about it for a few minutes — how fast does it have to be traveling to get to Earth so quickly, yet Kitty and other characters can meander up to it without moving at translight speed? why wouldn’t it be possible to simply shove it off course, especially since you’re in frigging space where things are weightless? — and is essentially a massive contrivance so that Whedon can give us his perennial climactic plot move: the death of a sympathetic character. Breakworld itself is poorly fleshed out and rather generic as alien worlds go. (“Evil green warlords who hate mutants” makes no sense. And why would a race that doesn’t even have a concept for hospital because they’re so pro-war/killing ever develop resurrection technology?

None of those plot holes would bother me much if the damned thing weren’t so glacially paced, and if Whedon hadn’t left loads of unfinished plot ideas from earlier in his run. Remember Armor getting a nosebleed in “Torn” strongly suggesting that Cassandra Nova had jumped into her mind? Cyclops gets control of his eyebeams and then….just doesn’t have that anymore because No Reason Given? Why didn’t Jean ever sense that his entire problem was a mental block rather than the physical brain damage? (Well, because it was a shoddy, instantly-ignored retcon, but in-story it didn’t make sense.)

Look, “Gifted” was a very good start, immediately undercut by Marvel publishing “House of M,” but Whedon’s run, outside of that one arc, was really rather poorly plotted. it’s a nice, glib script, but really lousy story ideas and a lot of half-baked “big concepts” that Whedon never bothers to think through or fully explore. People like it because it brought back Kitty Pryde, a longtime fan favorite, and because it’s got that trademark Whedon snark…but honestly, it’s quite possibly the worst thing he’s ever written, and a rather subpar X-Men story to boot.

Unstoppable and To Have and Have Not are two of mine(that is, if I got around to voting, I made a list…>_>)

Unstoppable still has Whedon’s pacing problems and doesn’t tie up all it’s loose ends, but I love it anyway. Whedon’s script is just as peppy and witty as ever, with some very fine plotting, humor, and characterization throughout. But the real stars here are John Cassaday and Laura Martin. Their depiction of the alien world and all it’s various technologies and denizens are absolutely fantastic. It’s like the world is perpetually stuck in the most beautiful sunset you’ll ever see. It goes a long way to getting you invested in this world and it’s drama, it’s wide-screen splendor giving the book a cinematic pace and scope that showcases Astonishing X-Men at it’s best. My favorite X-Men in Space story, I think(alongside “Crossroads”, but the Magneto Savage Land stuff is really the heart of that one)

And it’s got THE Cyclops moment, even surpasses the vaulted “Cyclops vs EVERYBODY” from UXM #175.

To Have and to Have Not is the peak of the small but stellar Paul Smith run(I think all his stories made it on this list? Good job, everybody!), a wonderfully focused and choreographed bit of dramatic elements come together in perfect clockwork unison. Absolutely sublime storytelling here, well deserved top 10 finish here.

Mutant Massacre didn’t make my list, but it’s a good one. It’s a crossover, which usually vary in quality depending on the creative team(see: the Claremont/Silvestri issues vs the non-Claremont/Silvestri issues of Inferno), but Mutant Massacre(and Fall of the Mutants, which I like even more) tell a more or less self-contained story, I think one issue of New Mutants sneaks in there. The Romita Jr/Dan Green era had already started to get dark for the team, but this is the X-Men’s greatest loss up until now, with several members of the team taking out of commission, two of which never return to the team, on top of so many mutants being slaughtered. It’s a big status quo changing event that would lead into the even weirder, edgier, and my personal favorite section of Claremont’s run, the Marc Silvestri/Outback era.

6 slots to go. I’m sure we all what they are, but outside the top 2 Byrne stories, I’m curious where they all land. 9/10 of my choices are here (Wolverine in Japan, Professor X is a Jerk, Asgardian Wars, Broodfall, Here Comes Tomorrow, Unstoppable, Supernovas, Riot at Xavier’s, the first Genosha story), with one more almost undoubtedly showing up later. Lookin’ back, this is a very nice list of quality X-men stories; some of the best stories from each of Claremont’s artists run(Byrne, Cockrum, Smith, Romita Jr, Silvestri, Lee) with a few of his special artist issues(Barry-Windsor Smith, Art Adams), the ever-popular Whedon/Cassaday run, several from Grant Morrison’s run, Mike Carey’s best story, and the required appearances of the X-Crossovers. Not bad, not bad at all. Don’t think we’ll gonna be seeing any Lobdell which is a shame, because some of his one-shot quiet issues are classic.

5/10

Massacre was my number one for all that it represented in so many ways. Extermination of mutants by other mutants for no other reason than orders and “fun” and how that runs smack against Xavier’s ideals was nicely done. Fundamental altering of the team; Colossus being the one to kill Riptide; first Wolverine/Sabretooth fight; Angel losing his wings leading to Archangel; Storm and to some extent Wolverine having to grow into fuller leadership roles absent a Cyclops or Xavier; Mags even trying to make amends and falling short with Peter. And then we got Excalibur out of it, which was worth it in so many ways.

Just some really good stuff there that still holds up.

For the rest, never cared for Proteus. It won’t be popular, but that whole era from Proteus to DPS seems like a lull in what had been some better work in my opinion with Magneto and the World Tour storyline. I get that they work for many, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

To Have and Have Not is solid; it boiled down to liking others more, and I only read bits of Unstoppable, so it’s hard to comment. I think I have 4 more of my list that will show and a good idea of the last 6, though I continue to hope that the most obvious thing ever doesn’t happen for 1.

Onslaught for the win. We all know we want it.

Mutant X/Proteus was in my top 3…a great slow burn of suspense and that finale all-out battle was fantastic. Nobody but NOBODY plotted a fight sequence better than Claremont and Byrne.

Didn’t care much for Unstoppable, even read in one sitting.

I wouldn’t have expected the Japan storyline in the top ten except the buzz on these comment sections turned it into a bit of a certainty. No objections, it’s not my favourite (maybe ’cause it introduced Mohawk Storm) but certainly a worthy addition. That Wolverine/Silver Samurai fight was very cool.

Mutant Massacre was the last X-Men storyline I got real excited about, but I must say, it ended way more anti-climactic than it began. By the time it came down to the Wolverine/Sabretooth fight, it felt to me like a bit of “show-don’t-tell”, with us being hit over the head with how epic this match-up was, while not seeing anything terribly exciting (as opposed to, for example, the Wolverine/Silver Samurai fight). Doesn’t help that this story marked the beginning of Mutant Crossover Fever.

I’m 5/10 with From the Ashes, Magneto Triumphant, Brood Saga, Phoenix Rising and now Proteus. I fully expect to see my remaining 5 coming soon!

Two posts in one day! Lucky us!

I approve wholeheartedly of these four stories AND their positions on the list. Good work everyone.

Of the four, I voted for “Proteus.” I ALMOST voted for “Massacre”; it definiely would have been the only crossover I would have voted for. Theonly thing I don’t approve of here is the cover choice. That Alan Davis Wolverine v. Sabretooth cover of “Uncanny” 213 is gorgeous. My opinon.

So, we all know what the top 2 are, right? Just a matter of seeing which is which at this point. Two days left!

Nothing from my list, but all good stories.

@ Jeremy

One of TWO of the defining Cyclops moments to me. That and “I want this thing off my lawn.”

Huh. Starting to think that a few of Whedon’s stories might miss the top 50 when I was fairly certain all four would make the cut. And I don’t think we saw the whole Messiah trilogy did we?

Yes! So glad to see “To Have and Have Not” break the top ten. A story I love to this day. Paul Smith drew the **** outta that story and it featured Claremont doing some of his best character work.

As a side note, wasn’t Sinister only mentioned/hinted at in Mutant Massacre? “Newly introduced” seems kind of misleading.

Messiah War wasn’t eligible. It took place in Cable and X-force, not in any X-men books. I don’t know why those three are considered a trilogy though. If you’re going to consider those books as a coherent whole, you really need to include House of M, Decimation, and Avengers vs. X-men too. Maybe even Utopia, too.

On that point, It’s weird that House of M is on the list but not Decimation. Unless it’s in the top six, which seems a bit high.

I’m 4/10 so far, but I really, really doubt my remaining six swept the top six, especially considering there are two stories I didn’t vote for that will definitely place highly.

This part of the list really goes to show, despite the overkill that made a lot of people stop caring about him, why Wolverine really is one of the best characters ever created.

And Colossus, too, to a lesser extent.

I was going to vote for Mutant Massacre. I had not factored in that it led to Excalibur, which does indeed make it cooler.

Kitty saving the day in Unstoppable was great, but the only Whedon story I had thought of voting fore was the one where Colossus returned.

The rest I have not read. Maybe. I started to get Classic X-Men Byrne era back issues around 2001, but I have not looked at them in years.

Meghan Ansbach

July 30, 2013 at 5:16 pm

That leaves me with 5/10. I have a pretty strong idea of what the top 6 are going to be, and I am certain 1 more of mine will be in there, but the other 4 will definitely not be. Which isn’t too bad since I picked a lot of one off character driven issues.

I had no doubt that To Have and Have Not would be in the top 10, in part because it ranked super high on the top Rogue stories of all time and also because this entire list has been loving the shit out of Paul Smith. Plus its wonderful.

I am so excited for the rest but at the same time I don’t want it to end!

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

July 30, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Omar Karindu, I agree with everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, you said. You perfectly encapsulated the problems I have with Whedon’s run. Well done.

As for the list, 4/10!

I admittedly haven’t read Proteus, though I really want to. And did anyone read Mike Carey’s follow-up during Necrosha? In addition to being the only good thing about that whole crossover, it was also just a really good story in general.

Omar said everything I wanted to about Whedon and “Unstoppable,” so I’ll leave that be.

Mutant Massacre got my vote! Shocking events, great action, major character beats: this one had it all. I really need to go back and revisit this one. It’s been too long since I read it.

I’m trying to suss out the remaining 6: I know three of them, easily (one of which I wish I’d remembered about when making my list and didn’t vote for it as a result). The other three will be the interesting part.

I know three of my choices aren’t going to make it (2 Gillen stories and a Mike Carey), so it looks like I’ll top out at 7/10.

Still looking forward to it!

Just checked my list, and I went backwards, From the Ashes, to Have and Have Not, Morlocks, then Brood Saga. I didn’t think the stand alone issues would get votes but I should have knew that 168 would and I wouldn’t count 171 – though it is crucial to the mythos, as a vote.

#171 almost made it, also!

#171 has that CLASSIC bit where Carol knocks Rogue through the roof, right? I love that scene

Great list!

I loved that era of the X-Men where Rogue was still considered quite untrustworthy by the rest of the team.

Proteus was genuinely a scary villain. I loved how much background that storyline gave to Moira and how it helped cement the friendship between Cyclops and Wolverine.

@Omar Karindu, you said it better than I could’ve. It astonishes me that we’re probably looking at three Whedon stories in the top nine (assuming that “Gifted” and “Danger” will make the top six).

Don’t get me wrong, Whedon’s stuff was nice. But if anyone thinks that any of Whedon’s stuff outside of “Gifted” was even as good as Morrison’s worst story, you need your head examined. We’re clearly not reading comics for the same reasons.

This is why I never self-identify as an X-Men fan, despite reading, liking, and even loving a lot of X-Men comics. Because I have nothing in common with X-Men, who straight-faced contend that Claremont’s work holds up as well as his peers, like Miller’s Daredevil or Moore’s Swamp Thing, or that Whedon’s run is superior to Morrison’s.

Because I have nothing in common with X-Men…fans. X-Men fans, obviously.

Unstobbable was my #3. It made me love Cyclops. I grew up a Cyclops hater because of the ’90s X-men cartoon and that one story completely turned me around on the character.
Mutant Massacre was my #9. It was an emotional rollercoaster of epic proportions. Plus, the first meeting of Sabertooth and Wolverine, and the beginning of the Australian Era, my favorite X-Men period.
Proteus was one of my hypothetical top 20. It’s my favorite part of Byrne’s run. I always felt it was stronger than the more famous Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past. It was also the first hints of the dark emotional work that Claremont would get into later.

Mike Loughlin

July 30, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Unstoppable: Omar summed up my feelings about the story. Stupid, stupid giant space bullet.

To Have…: another from my top 10.

Know what makes Paul Smith X-Men so good? Pacing. He moves each story at just the right clip. The slickness of his art and excellence of his layouts elevate Claremont’s scripts. Other X-artists have notable talents, but Smith is a master of tempo.

Proteus: also on my list. I’ve never been a Cyclops fan, but the scene in which he snaps Wolverine & Nightcrawler out of their funk is one of my favorite sequences in the history of the franchise. Byrne & Claremont also did a fantastic job with the finale, one of my all-time favorite super-hero battles.

Mutant Massacre was the best X-crossover. The Alan Davis drawn finale was fantastic. I’ll even give JR Jr. props for the X-Men vs. Marauders fight; Colossus snapping Riptide’s neck was chilling. The Thor vs. Blockbuster fight was another highlight. I’m impressed that Simonson & co actually made Thor work in an X-Men story. Nowadays, writers throw every character in with every other character (and then make them Avengers). I miss the Marvel U having more separation between the various teams and characters.

@Joe C:

Grant Morrison is easily my favorite-ever comics writer, but these stories aren’t being judged on plots alone. Whedon’s characterization is arguably on par with Morrison’s though his plots are weaker. When it comes to art, though… Whedon had Cassaday on every delayed issue while some of Morrison’s tightest scripts were drawn at the last minute by Igor Kordey.

(by the by, while I don’t think Claremont’s stuff holds up quite as well in collections or large chunks as Miller or Moore’s stuff, I think that if you were reading it as it came out each month, it would have been so exciting and certainly as fun to read as Daredevil or Swamp Thing)

Six left are, whedon, morrison, 3 by CC and one more….

No way can both reamaining arcs from whedon be in the top 6, can they?

I voted for “Mutant Massacre.” That was such a cool read for me when I was ten years old. Uncanny X-Men was soooo incredibly intense. And I liked how it even managed to tie in with both Thor and Power Pack. Loved the throw-down between Thor and the Marauders. And, yeah, in hindsight, having the pre-teen Power Pack kids have to fight a savage psychopath like Sabretooth just sounds insane, but Louise Simonson pulled it off.

I’ve got 3 by CC, one by Whedon, one by a group…and then I can see it going any number of ways, honestly.

But I think it would be brilliant if Onslaught was the sixth.

@ Omar – if I remember correctly, Kitty is able to meander up to the space bullet at first because it hasn’t launched yet. And it can’t be knocked off course because..it’s been enchanted? Is that right? A contrived macguffin for sure, but at least the enchantment makes for some fun moments throughout the story.

I’m a big fan of Whedon’s run… the whole thing, read in one sitting, would probably be my favorite “story” if it counted that way. I can see how its approach would rub some people the wrong way with how it streamlines or glosses over some things to get where it wants to be, but its amazingly high density of awesome moments, big and small, really works for me. So, I definitely voted for Unstoppable. (Though my top spots ended up going to Claremont, and actually one Lobdell/JoeMad done-in-one… the Christmas issue with Cannonball vs. Gladiator.)

I voted for Mutant Massacre also, but it’s funny. That vote was more for the general JRJr era; it’s pretty hard to pick out specific stories from that time, besides the odd Barry Windsor-Smith issues, but Mutant Massacre seemed like a pretty good representation. Another I might have considered is “Warhunt 2″ from #193 (including the first comics appearance of Firestar.)

While I like the Wheadon run, it always reminded me of the classic Claremont days, just done with less caption boxes and thought bubbles. And yeah, Unstoppable falls apart if you look at it too closely, kind of like every Doctor Who episode since 1963. Which doesn’t make it an unenjoyable experience, but why vote for the Claremont homage when the real thing has so many stories to choose from?

Then again I’ve really only read some of the old Lee/Kirby/Drake/Steranko/Thomas/Adams stuff and then 17 years of Claremont followed by Image Dudes until they bailed then Lobdel/Nicieza until I couldn’t take things like Revanche and the Legacy Virus and losing Peter David on X-Factor and hurting my eyes with so so many Image clones. Only to pick up again with Morrison and Wheadon and dipping a toe in here and there with Brubaker and Fraction until Greg Land scared me off again. But I don’t feel that I’ve missed out on much. Maybe the Alan Davis written/drawn run? I’ve never touched Age of Apocalypse or Onslaught as the concepts haven’t appealed to me.

Meghan Ansbach

July 30, 2013 at 7:45 pm

I feel like X-Men fans either liked the Whedon run or the Morrison run, with very few who liked both (in this instance I define X-Men fans as those who read the series on a regular basis both before and after these runs and not just casual readers who only read X-Men because of these specific writers).

I personally prefer Whedon to Morrison, whose appeal as an X-Men I never understood. He had some interesting ideas but I didn’t like his execution of a lot of them. Oddly enough, I had read and enjoyed work Morrison has done prior to his run on X-Men, but it was the run on Astonishing X-Men that sparked my initial interest in Joss Whedon, so maybe it was about expectations for me.

Well, sure, but you know what makes less sense than Unstoppable? Pretty much everything about Wolverine. His convoluted history, his set of mutations, all of it. See also: Archangel, Psylocke, et al. I do like my comics to have some kind of internal logic, but that’s pretty rare in the X-books.

@ buttler

Convoluted doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t make sense. Just means it can get complicated. Whedon, on the other hand, not really convoluted. It’s more, he creates incredibly thin plots he stretches out for six issues that have kinda big plotholes and then his reasons for not filling them in or at least having more go on so that you don’t notice them are, “I’m Joss Whedon you bitch! Be happy I’m even writing in your useless medium!”

“Harpoon! Make peace with your gods, little man. You are NEXT!”

27 long boxes and counting all started with Uncanny X-Men 211. So. Amazing.

I might have consider voting for Giant Size Astonishing X-men #1, which was an excellent issue, and had a relatively straightforward plot, but I can’t stand the rest of Unstoppable.

Convoluted doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t make sense. Just means it can get complicated.

True, convoluted doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. The fact that Wolverine’s history is convoluted and the fact that it doesn’t make sense are two different but related things.

Well look at that… I’m now 6/10! A record for one of these polls, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be at 7 before it’s over.

Proteus was my #1! Glad to see it place in the top ten, didn’t expect it to make it this high as it always seems to be overlooked in favor of Dark Phoenix -which I didn’t like- or Days Of Future Past.

Unstoppable was #7. I agree with a lot of the criticism of Whedon’s run that many have mentioned here. I’m neither a Whedon fan or hater as I’ve never seen much of anything he’s done, so I had no preconceived opinion of his work. I read it all at once (well ok, over a week or so) so delays were not a factor. Gifted was good but I never was a Colossus fan so didn’t care about his return, the Danger thing was laughably stupid, didn’t think much of Torn. The whole run was centered around the Breakworld stuff, which is really lame overall (again pointing out that I don’t like X-Men in space stories but at least this one didn’t involve stupid Shi’ar) and the giant bullet is so ridiculous you’d think you were reading a comic from the 60s. But where I think Whedon excelled was in the characterization, as it’s the one thing that kept me reading despite all the faults I’ve mentioned before, and Unstoppable is where that characterization truly shined in my opinion and why it earned my vote. That stuff with Kitty and Emma near the end was outstanding and one of the few times where I can say I was moved by a comic book (maybe not “cry like a bitch at the first 10 minutes of UP! moved” but still).

The Japan stuff is good but I have to re-read it. Mutant Massacre I never cared much for.

Unstoppable was fifth on my list, though I included GSAXM #2 in my vote. I really have no idea why that’s not included as part the entry on this list. I actually think Gifted is the stronger arc, but I was afraid Unstoppable wouldn’t get its due so I bumped it up a few spots. I’ve always considered Whedon’s run as one story, but Gifted and Unstoppable especially go hand in hand. Whedon is the best thing to ever happen to Cyclops, and the first to consistently write him with anything resembling balls. Morrison deserves some credit for setting up that transition by introducing Emma as a love interest and, especially, by freeing him of Jean. But Whedon was the one that kicked him over that line, and he’s been one of the best characters in the franchise since. It was nice to see the guy actually demonstrate why he deserved to be leader, and holy crap did he do that during Unstoppable. He’s been such a fun character to read since. I also appreciated that Wolverine was relegated more to the background, and that it was done well. He did a great job making that feel natural, and did the best job of it since the early days of Claremont’s run. No one’s managed to do it that well, or really at all, since.

#172-173 were in very brief contention for a spot on the list, but I just could not bring myself to vote for them without also voting for the Claremont/Miller Wolverine miniseries that leads right into #172. Those UXM issues are enjoyable in their own right, but it’s a much stronger and more complete story with the miniseries factored in. An easy omission with so many other stories to pick from.

I wasn’t sure just how much of Mutant Massacre would actually count given some of the voting rules that were laid out. It’s one of my favorite X-Men crossovers, which now that I say it doesn’t really mean that much, but I’d be a bit hesitant to include it in a list of my absolute favorite X-Men stories. All of the UXM issues are fine, but #212-213 are the highlights and I wasn’t completely sure that they would have counted in the tabulations. I probably still wouldn’t have for voted it, though. I just cannot enjoy Simonson’s writing on X-Factor. I’ve tried. I really, truly have. I cannot stand it.

Proteus was sixth on my list, but I voted for it as #126-128 (again due to possible voting criteria conflicts). #125 deserves to be lumped in there as that’s the real kickoff point to the events that follow, and I’m glad to see it included. Byrne got to stretch out a little bit with some more trippy art. The fight between Wolverine and Cyclops was arguably the best of that whole story, and was a rare strong moment for Cyclops. It’s so strange seeing Wolverine reduced to such ineffectual levels, and for that Proteus deserves some credit as one of the most dangerous villains the team has ever faced. The ending is so terrible for Moira. Not only does she lose her son, but Wolverine and Colossus (the guy that just killed her son) are having a grand ol’ time cracking jokes about it while Moira’s weeping in Piotr’s arms. Talk about harsh.

When people are listing the involved issues for the Mutant Massacre, they always tend to forget that an issue of Daredevil was involved. IIRC, it was 238 or thereabouts, and it had DD face off with Sabretooth. Even the collected editions tend to leave this issue out.

Unstoppable was fifth on my list, though I included GSAXM #2 in my vote. I really have no idea why that’s not included as part the entry on this list.

What’s GSAXM #2?

@ buttler

Eh, that’s what happens when your publisher milks the crap out of flashback stories because they sell well, and even after all these years they continue to pile on with more unnecessary stories set in Wolvie’s past, mucking things up more.

Psylocke, though – I’d say a lot of her baggage ultimately does make sense. I mean, her Yost mini-series I think summed her up pretty well in four issues. The way Nicieza went about revealing stuff in X-Men vol 2 made things ten times more convoluted than they needed to be (that’s what happens when you tell stories in an era when it’s practically editorial edict that you can’t explicitly state a character’s back story but instead have to hint at it subtly while at the same time raising two other mysteries). Archangel is pretty convoluted because of all the wing stuff that’s happened between Fall of the Mutants and now, but most of it was stated out and out; he’s needlessly more complicated but it all makes sense.

@ Chris F

My hardcover collection does. And it’s got the nice paper, too. Totally worth it.

It’s the second part of Giant-Size Astonishing. I’ve seen it referred to collectively as #1 on trades, but as #1.2 (comiXology), #2, and #2 of 2 (front cover) when referred to in parts. If it’s part of the entry then I apologize, but given all of the denominations for it I think the confusion is understandable.

There was just one issue of Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men.

Sounds like maybe they chop it up for digital, if I’m understanding what Bullio’s saying.

A comic company trying to milk more money out of something? NO!!!

Three left from my list heading to the top six (they are all a given.)

I have a good idea what the final six are, but I am stunned that Lee and Kirby appear to be coming up with a big goose egg. I didn’t vote for it, but the two-part debut of the Juggernaut was really good. Well, that or it just happened to stand out from the giant pile of crap they were producing. Yeah, it hurts my point but it has to be said.

“I feel like X-Men fans either liked the Whedon run or the Morrison run, with very few who liked both”

I like both.

I grew up on ’90s X-Men. I stopped reading comics entirely for a while. When I came back to comics, I was reading mostly X-books (along with Amazing Spider-Man), and started reading Astonishing in the middle of Whedon’s run – I think right at the beginning of Torn, actually. I have since read both his full Astonishing run, and Morrison’s full New X-Men run. I thought both were great. I didn’t actually include any of Whedon’s run on my list, but I did have Planet X from Morrison.

IMHO the Juggernaut story was one of Lee/Kirby’s best, not just of Xmen, but period. It was on my list.

It makes significantly more sense to me that Cyclops’ control issues be psychological rather than physical head trauma, since he never showed any other symptoms of brain damage beyond having to worry about killing people with his EYES! ACCURSED, MUTANT BLASTING EYES!

Unstoppable is a decent story with some great character moments, but I find it hardly quintessential X-Men material and I’m a little disappointed it placed so high. I think I know what the top 6 will be at this point and I don’t think I’ll like it too much. Whedon’s run was cool and really brought back alot of fun stuff from the Claremont era, but if the top 6 goes as I think it’s going to go (3 arcs in the top 10? As many as Claremont in the top 6?), I’d have to say its vastly overrated.

A thought: is Whedon getting a bump from Avengers-goodwill? Just trying to find an explanation for how 3 of his 4 stories are going to end up in the top 9. Because it’s certainly not merit. If this vote had been taken place two years ago, I suspect that “Gifted” is the only one that cracks the top 20.

Or it could be that some people like the Whedon run and voted for it because of that. Will wonders never cease?

Neil said:

Cyclops “never showed any other symptoms of brain damage beyond having to worry about killing people with his EYES! ACCURSED, MUTANT BLASTING EYES!”

Well, that and being terminally hung up on Jean Grey….

Oh the suspense!

Of course, we all know what will be the number #1 story…

“why wouldn’t it be possible to simply shove it off course, especially since you’re in frigging space where things are weightless?”

“Weightless” does not equal massless. It would still have inertia, and, if moving, momentum.

Isn’t the Earth itself “in space”, and “weightless”? Try shoving it off course :)

I have been following the X-men fo a certain amount of time and I have to admit I liked the Whedon run but not the Morrison one.
I feel Whedon was a fan and tried to serve the franchise while Morrison tried to use the franchise to add more glory to his name – just a personal feeling.

I’m now at 4/10 and I think I’ll top at 5 or 6 depending on the definition of a certain arc.

I’m amazed of the quality Claremon could get of done in one or done in two stories. No arcs then, every issue was important and could make you jump on the serie.

Do I need to say I LOVE done in one stories ? ^^

“It’s the second part of Giant-Size Astonishing.”

It was released as one comic, but for some reason (size?) is split into two in digital version. Same as last issues of both Millar’s Ultimates series (both have 14 issues instead of 13) and Invincible Iron Man Annual (that one’s split into three parts).

It makes significantly more sense to me that Cyclops’ control issues be psychological rather than physical head trauma, since he never showed any other symptoms of brain damage beyond having to worry about killing people with his EYES! ACCURSED, MUTANT BLASTING EYES!

Why is it any less convenient or unrealistic that Cyclops’s psychological issues with repression manifest as a very specific psychosomatic illness related to his powers, and that a team full of telepaths — including one who was linked to his mind for literally YEARS — never noticed until Emma came along? And hey, how fortunate that no one has tried to work with him on any of this stuff since those fifteen minutes or so when he got control again!

The underlying problem is the idea that Cyclops’s powers aren’t just “on” by default, and that his lack of control needs an origin story. Plenty of other superpowers don’t have an “off” switch. It always made more sense to *me* that his personality is the result of his power incontinence; Whedon’s big idea is to casually flip the causality, but it’s hardly a deep insight or a lasting plot idea.

I didn’t think much of The Mutant Massacre. If that Paul Smith story was in the From the Ashes trade then I have read it and was unimpressed.

I’m sure I’ll like Unstoppable though, but it’s the only Whedon/Cassaday TPB I haven’t yet picked up.

Stephen Conway

July 31, 2013 at 3:08 am

Unstoppable makes that 4/10 for me. (Or was that 5, I really should have kept a note of what I voted for.)

Any way, delighted to see To Have and To Have Not make the top 10. I only voted for Professor X is a Jerk in terms of Paul Smith stuff, but he’s probably the best of Claremont’s collaborators other than John Byrne. One of the reasons I like Coipel on Adjectiveless these days is that I find his work reminiscent of Smith while having his own personal flair.

Also, I guess I’m not going to see Gillen’s Sinister arc from his recent Uncanny run. I thought it had a good chance of cracking the top fifty, maybe even the top forty but it certainly won’t make the top six.

Not to worry, I think the rest of my choices are locks.

Has anyone done an artist breakdown of the list so far?

I’m 7/10 so far and I’m pretty sure the 3 CC left on my list will make it. I’m pleasantly surprised all of Paul Smith’s run made it ( I voted for To Have & Have Not and Fall from Ashes 174-175).

from v.1 artists:
Byrne: 4
Smith: 4.5
Cockrum: 3.5
JRjr:?
Sienkiewicz: 1 (only had 1 qualify)
BWS: 1 (only had 1 qualify)

The Proteus Saga is my third choice to make it. The others here were on my shortlist, save Breakworld which I can’t remember very well.

I’m surprised how many people say they forgot stories they might have voted for. It makes me wonder if Paul Smith’s (deserved) success was bolstered by all the fuss over From the Ashes on the voting page.

Really surprised by the Whedon hate. I carry his Astonishing run on my Comixology app and still reread it from time to time. It was either 1-4 on my list or 2-5 (might have rated Age of Apocalypse higher). It was a fun run of issues with some hilarious character moments.

Like I’ve said, I’ve never read Morrison’s run. I’m unlikely to ever do so as I’ve been burned too often by him after his awesome JLA run.

I’m shocked how much of this list I have read though. Never considered myself an X fan but outside the Morrison stuff I’ve read almost all of these.

And for the record, I didn’t vote for it but Mutant Massacre was awesome.

From what I can guess, we’ll have one Whedon, one Morrison, one mixed, and three Clarenont to finish this off, excluding any real shockers up there. That would put Claremont at 6 of the top 10. Overall it seems pretty well balanced considering the amount of time people worked on the book.

I think I have no life, I’ve read every story so far on this countdown.

Based on what remains for the last 6 spots, it looks like I’ll end up with 9 out of 10 of my picks making the list. My only selection not in the top 50 will probably be the heartbreaking Uncanny #303.

Making my list, I forgot so many classic storylines – totally forgot about The Proteus Saga, which I would have included in my top 10 if I had remembered.

I enjoyed Whedon’s run, but didn’t love it. So to see what would appear to be 3 of his 4 arcs making the top 26 X-Men stories of all-time baffles me. Same with Morrison’s run, which in my eyes was marred by some poor fill-in artwork. And I’m not even a big Quitely fan! Pretty sure we’ll soon see the one Morrison story I did vote for. But after the big Magneto reveal, I despised the remainder of Planet X, and didn’t like Silvestri’s art on Here Comes Tomorrow (despite loving his 80s UXM and Wolverine art). To each his/her own, I guess.

that Wolverine/Rogue vs SIlver Samurai story should also have that issue where rogue first shows up attached issue 171 and maybe even 158. I’d consider that by and large the same story and Xavier’s speech about letting about why they should let Rogue in the team is one of the best monologues in comics ever.

@Dr Traveler

…no Whedon hate here. I really like his run. Great character moments throughout. In fact, I re-read the whole thing just a few months ago.

…that said, it seems odd, rather, I don’t know, superWhedonfanboy-ish maybe, to rank his arcs 1-4 as the best X-men stories of all-time, especially considering how much of the stories are building on story threads from Claremont and Morrison and drawing from a well of nostalgia for the peaks from Claremont’s run.

He crafted solid stories and great moments, but its not like he brought some strikingly original vision to it or created new characters or story threads that resonated throughout all future runs. That’s why it’s odd to me to see 3 of his stories in the top 10 and (probably) as many as Claremont in the top 6. But, to each his own.

@Jerzy: I’d have rather picked his whole run as a single story arc honestly. I think splitting it does it a disservice.

I confess, I wasn’t very objective and picked favorites over best, which aren’t always the same thing.

It’s interesting that everyone’s questioning stuff about the Whedon run. I’d say that, right now, the “conventional wisdom” is that it’s a masterpiece. IGN’s comic section devoted a whole podcast to it (their 75th, I believe). Just go ahead and Google (do we capitalize that when it’s a verb?) “best x-men stories” or something to look for online lists, and you’ll ALWAYS see Whedon’s run (at least Gifted) near the top. I’m not surprised that it’s polarizing, because there are weaknesses. But I think it has, at this point, pretty much vaulted into “all-time-classic” status, to the point where it can’t NOT be rated highly. Also, to those projecting that Dangerous will make the top 6, I’m very, very doubtful of that. Far and away the weakest arc of that run.

The top six are not hard to call at all, but I’m very, very curious to see the order.

Why everybody seems to dislike AXM’s Dangerous arc?
It is always regarded as the worst os Whedon’s run but I don’t get it why… I like Dangerous more than the other 3 arcs.
I would like to understand why there is so much hate for Dangerous? Anyone cares express his impressions on this?
Thanks in advance!

It’s funny, Whedon/Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men run seems VERY popular when the votes come in. I remember back in ’08 with the original “Greatest Comic Book Runs Ever”, Astonishing X-Men was #36 I believe and comments were like “wtf Astonishing X-Men, prisoner of the moment, do this poll in four years nobody will talk about it”

skip ahead four years, it’s boosted up to 16th favorite comic book run of all-time! And now it’s got two stories in the top 10, 3 in the top 20.

Vocal minority at work, ladies and gentlemen…

Personally, I give Astonishing X-Men out to people who are interested in the X-Men, and it never fails to entertain. It’s a VERY accessible book. It stars a small cast of A-list X-Men characters, has a very modern, witty script by Whedon(a far easier sell than Claremont these days, you gotta admit), no crossovers you need to read, no background info you really need to know(although you’re gonna miss out on a few references), all drawn by the same great artist/same great colorist, whose art is very realistic and incredibly accessible for first-time readers. And in the collected format, the constant delays are rendered moot, and the slow pacing isn’t so bad when you read them in 6-issue chunks…Axel Alonso mentioned how Astonishing X-Men continues to be one of their most popular collection, and I believe him. It will continue to do well in countdowns like this, even with some hardcore dissent from the peanut gallery.

I suppose we’ll see soon enough, but I don’t get how the last six are obvious. Five of them, sure. But I could see the last spot going any of four different ways.

Meghan Ansbach

July 31, 2013 at 9:03 am

“I feel Whedon was a fan and tried to serve the franchise while Morrison tried to use the franchise to add more glory to his name – just a personal feeling.”

I agree with this 100%.

@Ariel

I think Dangerous is so much less regarded than the others because the X-Men face two major threats which tie in throughout Whedon’s run: Cassandra Nova and Ord/Breakworld. The other three arcs do something to advance at least one of those plots. Dangerous really only serves to further the run by adding the Sentinel (who ends up being a bit of a red herring in the end) and helping add Danger to Ord as an additional villain. But was Danger really a necessary villain? Since the rest of Astonishing is so plot-driven, it seems odd that Dangerous is shoved in. I think the story actually works perfectly fine if you read it an completely omit that entire arc. The only things that won’t make sense are the Sentinel at the end and the presence of Danger. But those are, ultimately, pretty darn unimportant points of plot. Not to mention the character beats aren’t as good; there aren’t as many memorably quippy lines or fun moments. I actually just (coincidentally) re-read it this morning. I can’t help but think it’s far-and-away the weakest. I hope that answered SOME of your question.

@Greg (hope I don’t get in trouble for this…)

One Whedon, one Morrison, three Claremont, one 90s-collaboration-extravaganza. I don’t think there’s anything really in question there. I almost forgot about one of the Claremonts – the one that wasn’t released as a monthly. But those seem to be set in stone to me.

The Morrison we’re probably both thinking of is one of the possibilities, but I could also see another big 90s crossover, another 00s crossover, or a couple different Lee/Kirby stories.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

July 31, 2013 at 9:20 am

I want to clarify something regarding my stance on Whedon’s X-Men run: I actually like it overall. My main complaint about it in regards to lists like this is that I feel it isn’t anywhere near the best X-stories of all time.

It’s got very good character work throughout and, thanks to excruciating delays, consistently good artwork by Cassaday.

On the flip side, it doesn’t feel wholly original (Whedon pretty much modernized the relationships defined by Claremont and Morrison), and the plots (with the exception of Gifted, which itself was almost totally nullified by House of M) were mediocre to poor.

So overall, it’s a good run that I would recommend to people on the outside who are curious to see what the X-Men are about. But that’s the problem: it’s good, but it isn’t GREAT. And when you put up a list like this, you expect to see the GREAT stories.

Opinions will vary, of course, but that’s my take on it.

I always felt Dangerous was the weakest of the Astonishing X-Men run. 6 issues about a rogue Danger Room? Bendis would’ve had trouble spreading that thin of a plot out. It could’ve easily been 3 issues and no big loss of content.

IMHO, if Whedon had written it under a pen name, I doubt it would be part of this conversation. There’s a lot of stuff of comparable quality (which I agree is above average) that’s getting ignored.

“IMHO, if Whedon had written it under a pen name, I doubt it would be part of this conversation. There’s a lot of stuff of comparable quality (which I agree is above average) that’s getting ignored.”

This guy gets it. There’s been two writers who’ve pushed the X-Men forward, really changed the paradigm, and made art. Their names are Claremont and Morrison. And while Whedon’s run owes a great deal to both of them, that does not make it the better or equal of their work.

As I mentioned on an earlier part of the list, I have ONLY read “Dangerous” of Whedon’s run, and really liked it. So, since it seems to be (mostly) agreed upon as the weakest of the run, I’m looking forward to reading the rest.

Meghan Ansbach

July 31, 2013 at 10:21 am

“Personally, I give Astonishing X-Men out to people who are interested in the X-Men, and it never fails to entertain. It’s a VERY accessible book. It stars a small cast of A-list X-Men characters, has a very modern, witty script by Whedon(a far easier sell than Claremont these days, you gotta admit), no crossovers you need to read, no background info you really need to know(although you’re gonna miss out on a few references), all drawn by the same great artist/same great colorist, whose art is very realistic and incredibly accessible for first-time readers. And in the collected format, the constant delays are rendered moot, and the slow pacing isn’t so bad when you read them in 6-issue chunks…Axel Alonso mentioned how Astonishing X-Men continues to be one of their most popular collection, and I believe him. It will continue to do well in countdowns like this, even with some hardcore dissent from the peanut gallery.”

Agreed to this as well.

People come into my shop looking for the Morrison run a lot too, and I will hand it to them and say “it’s a good read, but if you’re looking to get into X-Men you need to know that you are not going to find any other X-Men stories that read like this.”

I’ll also tell them about classic Claremont stories, but that usually comes with the disclaimer that the writing style is very dated. The Whedon stories are a great jumping on point.

Les Fontenelle

July 31, 2013 at 11:05 am

I’ve been reading X-Men since the start of Claremont’s run (with a hiatus during the 90s because they were frankly awful comics) and I love both Morrison’s and Whedon’s runs.

For all its faults, “Unstoppable” is miles superior to many other stories that made this list, terrible stuff like “X-Tinction Agenda” and the hilariously overrated “X-Men #1″ drawn by Jim Lee (an indefensible comic for anyone who’s not blinded by nostalgia). I have to laugh at the idea that if Whedon had used an alias it wouldn’t be as well received. It might have sold less because lemmings flock to famous names, but in terms of writing quality it stands out among most X-Men stories. Yes, the “giant bullet” made little sense if terms of physics, but the same could be said about the powers of most X-Men (including fan-favorites like Colossus, Angel, Cyclops and Wolverine). Let’s be honest, without generous amounts of suspension-of-disbelief this is all garbage. Whedon brought top characterization, multiple memorable moments and his stories were genuinely compelling, and that’s not even mentioning Cassaday’s outstanding performance.

I also think it will be a shame if none of Kieron Gillen’s X-stories make the top 50 list (I seriously doubt there will be any among the top 5 and don’t remember having seen any of them so far, please correct me if I’m wrong). But then I didn’t have time to make a list, and it’s not reasonable to dispute the selection after not having voted.

@Greg and @JoeC

The top 6 are set in stone. We don’t know the order, but we definitely know what 6 stories are coming. 3 Claremont, the first Morrison and Whedon stories, and the greatest ever X-crossover (and Lobdell/Nicieza’s finest moment as directors of the franchise).

The means that one of Whedon’s stories (Danger) and two of Morrison’s (New Worlds and Assault on Weapon Plus didn’t make the top 50. It also means that 30 of the 50 slots will be Claremont stories (counting things like Fall of the Mutants/Inferno/X-Tinction Agenda–stories that Louise Simonson technically wrote more of but which Claremont probably conceived). I am a huge huge Claremont fan, but I honestly find it a bit depressing that he’s so dominating this list, for the simple reason that he’s been off the franchise for 22 years (discounting a few returns), and this list seems to serve as at least partial proof that the last 22 years of X-stories haven’t all together been that good. Of the 18 post-Claremont entires here, 8 of them are from the Morrison/Whedon runs, and only ten from anything else. That’s not a very good track record, and a franchise/characters this good deserve to have better stories. But, I think Aaron’s W&TXM series has been phenomenal, and I think Bendis’ UXM is off to a very good start, so maybe we’re entering a great new era of X-books and it’s just a bit too early for them to show up in lists like this. But even still, the point remains: These books have had far more lowlights over the last 22 years than highlights, and that’s very unfortunate.

And now that we know what the top 6 are going to be, it’s worth looking at some notable omissions from the list.

The two big shockers for me, both of which I voted for, are UXM Annual #10 (the classic Art Adams issue where Longshot joins the team, the X-Men first get turned into the X-Babies, and the New Mutants join in a battle royale against Mojo and Spiral) and UXM #268 (the classic Wolverine/Captain America/Black Widow issue with Jim Lee art). I really thought those were both sure things, but I guess not.

A few other Claremont stories that I would have initially expected to be here are UXM #139-140 (the Wolverine/Nightcrawler/Alpha Flight vs. Wendigo issues with Byrne art) and UXM #256-258 (the new Psylocke/Lady Mandarin trilogy with Jim Lee art).

And as for non-Claremont stuff, a few notable omissions include the Cyclops/Jean wedding from X-Men #30, the death of Illyana from UXM #303 (I thought that was a sure thing to make the top 50), The Team X vs. Omega Red 4-parter by Jim Lee from X-Men #4-7 (I voted for this one, but nostalgia probably played a huge part there), Operation Zero Tolerance and Onslaught (the only X-crossovers from the 80’s or 90’s to miss the top 50), and Schism & AVX (nice proof that new stuff doesn’t always get preferential treatment in these things).

I do wonder a bit if all mutant stories were eligible, how this list might be different. I definitely would have voted for the Claremont/Miller Wolverine mini-series and some of Sienkiewicz’s New Mutants stuff were the list broader in scope.

But even still, I love when Brian does lists like these, and kudos to him for all of his work and the opportunity for all of us readers to weigh in on such a cool topic.

The lack of Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men and Kieron Gillen’s Uncanny X-Men is disappointing, but I knew we’d be missing them once we got inside the top 25.

@Third Man

I thought about UXM Annual 10 but liked 11’s story better (it just has more high points for me). Both are good.

Hope your post doesn’t cause any issues.

The thing with Whedon is – of course its very well told and polished and done in a style that’s more palatable to casual fans and people who don’t like to read comics regularly. And I understand that it’s very popular because Whedon has become a kind of Steven Spielberg for the current generation of 25-35 year olds.

I voted for Gifted and wanted to vote for Torn (even though it doesn’t actually have an ending).

The main issue I had was the idea of Whedon dominating the top of the list, given that what he was essentially doing was playing with characters, tropes, and history that Claremont (and to a much lesser extent, Morrison) had done the heavy lifting to create and define. It was like the height of fan fiction, in a way. Still, all 4 arcs are really entertaining reads.

That said, it appears I’ve been arguing a moot point. I thought for sure I knew what the final 6 were, but it turns out I totally forgot about GLMK, so I’m dumb. 3 Claremont, 1 each of Morrison & Whedon, and 1 big crossover seems about right and makes sense.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

July 31, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Ben Olson, definitely agreed on the lack of Gillen. I voted for two Gillen stories myself, and it’s disappointing to see that as much praise as his run got, it didn’t crack the top 50 in any fashion.

Jason Aaron is extremely hit or miss with me, and he’s probably more miss in regards to his X-Men run. I’d say his hit-to-miss ratio is about 40%, as in his hits about 40% of the time and misses 60%.

I tried to spread votes around creative teams, but kept coming back to older non-crossover stories because the teams were smaller and there was less continuity to deal with then. And artists remembered that Wolverine is supposed to be 5′ 2″ and not in every panel. ;)

This countdown has made me curious to check out some of the less known stories from the mid-90’s through late-90’s. I always see Alan Davis, Steve Seagle, and later Lobdel/Nicieza written issues in various clearance bins. I think once the 90’s speculator bubble burst and Marvel realized they still had to make comics that didn’t look like Image books, things possibly cleared up. Or maybe they’re continuity and retcon filled nightmares, I really do not know.

David and Jeremy, thank you for your opinions on Dangerous.

Third Man, I voted for the Omega Red X-men 4-7. I think it is a great action packed story and it presented one of the most interesting Logan’s related flashbacks. If I’m not mistaken, in those years we didn’t know as much about Logan past.

I also voted for another “Schism”, the Claremont and Larroca X-treme X-men arc in issues 19-22.

I don’t remember… Hellfire Club and Dark Phoenix counted as one story or two? Because everyone keep thinking that we will have 3 Claremont in the top 6.

And I’d love to see certain x-crossover in the first stop, but I don’t think that comic’s history can be beaten!

@Third Man: One thing to keep in mind for the lack of the last 22 years on this list is he limit on spin-oofs. Acclaimed runs like Lobdell/Bachalo’s Generation X, Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, Millgan’s X-Force/X-Statix PAD’s X-Factor, Alan Davis and Warren Ellis’ Excalibur runs, Kyle/Yost’s New Mutants/X-Force, etc were all off limits. Many of my favorite X-Books stories come from these runs, and by forbidding them, you go back to the old faithful of Claremont, Morrison, and Whdeon

As far as glaring omissions, I’m surprised by the thus far complete lack of Lee/Kirby. Granted, most of it is crap, but the Juggernaut story remains one of my favorites in all of comics and the Sentinel story was a standout too.

I’m also surprised that Decimation will probably not make the list, whereas House of M did. HoM is barely even an X-men story, while Decimation set up the core conflict for the whole X line for the rest of the decade. It was also the storyline where the immediate ramifications were first felt and the trauma was the rawest.

So much of Gillen’s run was dominated by AvX that I’m not surprised it was overlooked, but Uncanny X-men #4 is one of the best single issue stories in X-men history.

Still, I don’t take it for granted that E for Extinction will be in the top six, so there might yet be surprises.

I’ll say this though, Uncanny X-Men has been largely mediocre ever since Claremont left. And it’s not like Marvel hasn’t been trying. Joe Casey, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, hell even Chris Clraemont himself have all been chewed up and spit out by Uncanny over the last decade. Gillen’s run seems like an anomaly.

I Grok Spock:

The Alan Davis run from the late ’90s is mostly disappointing. The issues he drew are good, but the heavy editorial hand is obvious. Additionally, a lot of the scripting is by Terry Kavanaugh, and reads terribly. I’m a huge Alan Davis fan, but I still can’t recommend them.

The Joe Kelly & Steve Seagle issues are better, up until The Hunt for Xavier. I liked the new team members and the dialogue had some snap to it. Then, editorial got overinvolved and drove the writers from the franchise. The last issues by each writer are good, though.

Jeremy is right. If, for example, X-force books had been allowed you’d have seen quite a bit of Remander’s run up there. Dark Angel Saga for sure at least.

And yeah, it’s depressing that Clairmont has dominated this list. He’s done really amazing stuff but it shows that the good stuff since then has been more anomalies than an actual franchise revival. It reminds me of Simonson’s Thor, where any really good runs seemed really short lived since.

Stephen Conway

July 31, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Having read very little of the 90s X Men, this talk of a group collaboration project that everyone is agreed will make the top six leaves me befuddled. The only 90s events I know of have already featured.

Stephen Conway

July 31, 2013 at 1:16 pm

On second thought, I just remembered the 90s thing, and now I feel stupid to have forgotten it.

@Stephen

It starts an A and features a prominent villain in its title. No way it isn’t on this list, and if you haven’t read it, try to. It has rough spots but is worth it.

On my comics app I keep two x stories. One is the Whedon run and the other is the 90’s mega crossover being discussed. One of the best crossovers ever in the history of comics. And that isn’t an overstatement.

Speaking of, a top 50 crossover list would be really awesome.

Meghan Ansbach

July 31, 2013 at 2:06 pm

There are a lot of X-Men stories over the past 10 years (since Morrison) that I’ve really enjoyed.

I thought Mike Carey did a great job on X-Men Legacy for his run, Fraction was just kind of steady but enjoyable, I wasn’t a fan of Gillen’s Uncanny at all, and I’ve been surprised how much I’ve been enjoying both of Bendis’ X titles. Kyle and Yost had some solid stories though some came off as a little silly at times but were still far better than some of the late 90s and early 00’s, I’ve been enjoying Lou’s run on Astonishing even with the editorial forced in marriage of Northstar, Aaron’s WatX has been super fun, and I absolutely love Wood’s arc on both his X-Men books, but i guess some of that just seemed too soon to vote for in a “best of” list?

As someone else has mentioned, I’d love to see what a list of marvel mutant universe as a whole would look like with a top 50 countdown. Not just X-Men.

I’ve already started on my spinoff list. The shortlist is very heavy on Exiles, New X-men, and X-Factor.

@Mike Loughlin, ah ha! I forgot Joe Casey did some time on X-Men as well and even own Uncanny #400 (with the Eddie Campbell art as well as others).

It seems that crossovers and editorial interference have bogged down the X-Men for the past decade plus. Which I guess makes the original Claremont era more distinct as the creative teams were given more leeway then. I still think the 80’s books read well if you can ignore the many Claremontisms (though after a while they all seem like old friends) and can appreciate the Shooter Doctrine of “Every issue may be someone’s first issue” which I think makes a lot of sense. Until we started to get Recap Pages I think stepping to a comicbook was hard to do, and not just with our beloved yet convoluted X-Men. Try explaining Heroes Reborn Tony Stark to a 10 year old kid who just saw The Avengers and the Iron Man trilogy.

Mike Loughlin

July 31, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I Grok Spock,

Oh yeah, Joe Casey’s run, another forgotten bunch of issues. I didn’t care for most of it, but I remember liking issue 400 as well as the Vanisher story.

I was referring to Joe Kelly, who wrote X-Men at the same time Steve Seagle was writing Uncanny. If you find the Kelly & Seagle issues cheap, they’re worth picking up.

Potomac Ripper

July 31, 2013 at 6:45 pm

It’s hard to understate how game changing Mutant Massacre was. The first mega crossover any of us had ever seen. It went beyond the X books even into books like Power Pack.

And towards the end when there was one issue that was just a fight between Wolverine and Sabretooth? We tore that issue apart in the junior high hallways reading and and re-reading it.

Ha! I always get Joe Kelly and Joe Casey confused. Doesn’t help that they bot wrote X-Men comics around the same time. D’oh!

So I got my 3 and 5 at 8 and 7, respectively. X-Men in Japan is just chalk full of goodness, and Mutant Massacre was maybe the only major crossover based on a plot first. With all the X-People who were messed up, maybe the worst was Angel losing his wings (and the only one that really still is felt today). Five of ten total, and I’m sure four will be on there, but ten is not making it.

was waiting for the Proteus saga to show up for not only did it let fans into wolverines head it showed even he can be scared . plus also sadly proteus started making a character like Moia a mess even willing to play god a few times. the mutant massacre proved how not only how dangerous it is to be a muntant but also even the x-men can pay a big price in injuries not to mention think it was also where the bit about sabertooth being wolverines pop came up. and loved not only storm finaly getting a new look in have and have not. but rogue proving to the other x-men that once a enemy if given the chance can change.

a big improvement on the previous batch – all in my top 50 but none in my shortlist.
While my feelings for Mutant Massacre may have been boosted by a certain frog, I’ve never been a big fan of Wolverine or Sabretooth

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