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50 Greatest X-Men Stories: 3-1

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!

Here is a master list of every story featured so far. Here are #3-1!


3. “The Age of Apocalypse” X-Men: Alpha #1, Amazing X-Men #1-4, Astonishing X-Men #1-4, X-Men: Omega #1 plus a bunch of tie-ins


In this alternate universe storyline, Charles Xavier’s crazed yet powerful son, Legion, went back in time to kill Magneto, figuring that he’d put a stop to the Magneto/Professor X feud before it ever started. A group of X-Men went back in time to stop him, including the X-Men’s resident time-traveler, Bishop. They fail to stop Legion but young Charles Xavier DOES stop Legion, but only by sacrificing himself to save Magneto. This, as you might imagine, throws the whole timeline out of whack. First of all, no Xavier. Second of all, Magneto now has to vow to take up Xavier’s dream for himself. Third, and perhaps most importantly, this big mutant battle years before mutants were supposed to be up and around at this level woke up Apocalypse earlier than the world was ready for. So Apocalypse proceeds to pretty much take over the world, as no superheroes were yet around to stop him. Magneto, for his part, puts together a ragtag group of mutants known as the X-Men (I think Xavier can cut the BS about the team being named after their X-tra powers when it turns out it is named after him even with him dead) to fight against Apocalypse. Sott Lobdell, Mark Waid, Fabian Nicieza, Andy Kubert, Joe Madureira, Steve Epting, Roger Cruz and a pile of other artists and writers show the adventures of the X-Men as well as every other X-related character, with the titles of each book being changed for four months (X-Factor became Factor-X, X-Men became Amazing X-Men, Excalibur became X-Calibre, X-Force naturally became…Gambit and the X-Ternals?! Okay, not all changes made sense). Bishop, being out of time already, retained his memory of the changes and he eventually helped the X-Men to get him back in time to put right what once went wrong. This was a tremendously fun and very well-coordinated crossover and the idea of actually stopping all of the books for four months (and then return them to normal) was a shocking move at the time, especially because most of the books ended on some dramatic cliffhanger before the timeline shifted (Wolverine had just popped a third claw into Sabretooth’s brain, Rogue had just kissed that slimy Gambit, etc.)

2. “Days of Future Past” X-Men #141/Uncanny X-Men #142

Days of Future Past was a major X-Men storyline, as it introduced many key figures and plotlines that would reoccur many times over the next 30 years (and counting).

The main concept of the book is that a group of X-Men in the future, a dark future where most mutants have been hunted down and killed by government-mandated genocide (using giant robots called Sentinels), decide to try to change their present by sending one of them back in time to stop the problem before it began.

The way they do this is by sending the mind of Katherine Pryde into the mind of herself as a teenager, Kitty Pryde of the X-Men.

You see, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are destined to kill Senator Robert Kelly, an anti-mutant Senator who wants to run for President. If they succeed, this will lead tot he backlash that made their timeline occur. So the idea is to avoid that by saving Kelly’s life.

The rest of the comic mixes in the present-time X-Men trying to stop the Brotherhood along with the future X-Men facing off against the Sentinels.

The story introduced the dark future timeline, which became a major trope for the X-Books (alternate timelines), plus introduced major characters like Rachel, the telepath who sends Katherine’s mind to the past, and a few new evil mutants who kept popping up over and over again over the years (Avalanche, Destiny and Pyro).

This was also notable in that it was the last storyline that the classic X-Men team of Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin did on the book (Byrne left the book after one more issue, a classic Christmas tale that appeared earlier on the countdown).

Story continues below

1. “Dark Phoenix Saga” X-Men #129-137

The last few issues of the Dark Phoenix Saga (which was written by Chris Claremont and John Byrne and drawn by Byrne and Terry Austin), where Phoenix actually BECOMES Dark Phoenix, almost overshadow the importance of the issues that lead up to Phoenix turning evil.

To wit, those issues (which actually were a bit of a cause for celebration for the X-Men, as they were finally reunited after being split up for a year or so – real time – as Jean Grey and Professor X thought that the rest of the team had died after a battle with Magneto) introduced the following characters:

Kitty Pryde
Emma Frost
Sebastian Shaw
The Hellfire Club, in general

Think about that – Kitty Pryde and Emma Frost are two of the more memorable additions to the X-Men since Giant Size X-Men #1, and they BOTH debuted in this storyline!

Not to mention the fact that the lead-up contains the fight against the Hellfire Club where Wolverine is thought dead, only to turn up at the end of #132 vowing revenge, in a panel that you readers voted the #4 Most Iconic Panel in Marvel Comics History a few years back!

And then we get to the actual revelation of the Dark Phoenix (which also landed in the Top 20 Most Iconic Panels at #18).

John Byrne really does a marvelous job on the battle sequences involving Dark Phoenix as the X-Men do their best to take down their friend. They try their best in #135, but she quickly defeats them and flies off into outer space. Her traveling makes her yearn for sustenance, which she gets by entering and imploding a star, soaking in the energy of its destruction. She does not care that the destruction of the star also destroys the planet it orbits. A starship of the Shi’Ar Empire notices, though, and challenges Dark Phoenix.

She destroys the ship easily, but not before it gets off a message to the Shi’Ar Royal Throneworld, where the Empress of the Shi’Ar Empire, Lilandra (Professor X’s current lover) springs into action.

Meanwhile, in #136, Dark Phoenix returns to Earth where her teammates and her love, Cyclops, await her with a device meant to shut down telepaths. She destroys it and once again takes care of her teammates with ease, but Cyclops manages to calm her down by appealing to her still human side. At this point, Professor X attacks, and he and Phoenix have a telepathic battle, where ultimately, due to the aid of whatever vestiges of Jean Grey remain in Dark Phoenix, he manages to shut Dark Phoenix’s powers down.

The X-Men do not have a moment to rest, though, as they’re instantly teleported to a Shi’Ar battleship orbiting Earth, where the Shi’Ar Imperial Guard and Empress Lilandra demand Jean Grey be delivered over to them for punishment for her actions as Dark Phoenix. Professor X utters a Shi’Ar ritual challenge, which Lilandra is duty-bound to accept. Therefore, in #137, the X-Men will fight the mighty Shi’Ar Imperial Guard for the fate of Jean Grey.

The next day, the teams meet on the Moon for their battle. The X-Men are heavily outnumbered and outclassed by the Guard, who are made up of the most powerful heroes of the Shi’Ar Empire. Although the X-Men fight valiantly, they are slowly picked off, one by one, until only Cyclops and Jean remain free. When Cyclops is taken out as well, Jean begins to panic and the limits Professor X placed on her begin to crumble – Dark Phoenix frees herself and wants revenge. The X-Men stand ready to battle Dark Phoenix, but Jean manages to take control long enough to intentionally trip a defense mechanism laser, killing herself so that Dark Phoenix can hurt no one else ever again. It’s a terrible poignant moment, expressed beautifully by Claremont and Byrne.

That moment, by the way, was #17 on the panels countdown.

People sure do love the Dark Phoenix Saga.


joe the poor speller

August 1, 2013 at 10:53 am

nice list, overall. any chance we get the 51-75 positions?

Still looking for the issue of “Crazy that parodied #135 or was it #136…? “I want to …Boogie….Boogie!”

How about that… My #1 and #2 match the this Top 50 list’s #1 and #2 — No surprise there. “The Dark Phoenix Saga” and “Days of Future Past” may be the most easiest and most obvious answers when it comes to the question of what are the best X-Men stories ever, but there is a good reason for that. They are the best! And certainly two of the most important stories in the canon.

I am a bit surprised that Age of Apocalypse made it so high on the list. Definitely belongs on the list, but not so sure it deserves the #3 slot. It truly was an EPIC event, but as a single complete story… it is not.

Quick correction: Xavier’s son is Legion, not Legacy.

I like how 2 & 3 both deal with time travel and alternate timelines, never thought about that before.

These are how I imagine the top three would have been ranked.

I liked AoA for the different take on the character, especially giving Kitty that extreme edge. Illyana as a little girl was nice to see what would have happen to her without the Limbo influence. This arc also started me on not liking Colossus as it started a trend of alternate Colossus(es?) killing Kitty Prydes.

Days of Future Past, such an amazing story, lessen by how often they go back to it but amazing how two issues really gave the franchise so much material.

Dark Phoenix Saga, gave us Kitty Pryde so 129 will forever be in my heart.

Thanks Brian for taking the time to compile all of this as I’m sure this isn’t easy to do, even though I’m sure you got it down to a science by now. may I ask how many voters you got for this?

The pic up top is from “The Draco” storyline, right? Never read it, but I’m aware of its craptastic reputation.

I went 6/10

My misses

The two parter of Storm vs. Stonewall/Crimson Commando/Sabre
X-Men and Hellfire Club vs. Nimrod
Duel (Storm vs. Cyclops)
X-Men #177-179 (my first issues…X-Men vs. the Brotherhood)

It’s really impossible to oversate the impact Claremont & Byrne had on the X-Men, Marvel and comics in general. I remember reading it when it was being published and it (along with Miller’s Daredevil) was mind blowing stuff. We’d never seen anything like it before… and maybe this is just me being a cranky old man but I don’t think we’ve seen anything like it since.

Dat Draco image header, lol

Not a bad list at all for pure X-Men stories. Well done, ya’ll! And thanks again for all the hard work, Brian!


I stayed up the night before writing my thoughts on the Age of Apocalypse as it became clear in the 7-4 entry that it would be controversial. I voted for this crossover and put it very highly in my list not just because it’s one of my favorite X-men stories but because I think it is one of the best comic book epics written in a long while. Here is why:

1. The AoA became THE formula for crossovers for a good long time. As recent as the DnA crossovers, and even over at DC (Infinite Crisis) you see the format play out. Introductory one shot, lots of separate mini-series with strange seemingly unrelated threads that tie in together in a final one-shot/miniseries. AoA is arguably THE crossover that made this popular. It isn’t just a 36 part epic (as some crossovers are). You can read as much of AoA or as little as you like, find a thread to follow all the way to end and enjoy it, or sit down and read it all together one issue at a time. Either way it holds together.

2. The 90’s had a lot of excesses, but if one story brings out the best of that era, it’s this one. The dialogue, the dark tone, the over top costumes actually WORK in this story of a world gone far far awry. This is a militant hardcore world where a lot of the 90’s tropes actually make sense as they play out.

3. The X-team at the time had a firm grasp on their characters. This could have easily played out as a “Mirror Mirror” story with everyone having ridiculous goatees and acting deliciously evil, but it didn’t. You saw a lot of redemption arcs (Sabertooth, Magneto) play out here in a world savage enough that they’d be heroes without a redemptive arc. You saw that even in a dark world, the central character of guys like Cyclops, Wolverine, and Jean Grey play out. When characters did play out in a different way, it was almost always logical how that happened. Quicksilver was naturally a hero in a world where his father was a respectable figure, etc. Even Colossus’s dark arc made sense in light of how we’d see him move in the main continuity in the 90’s.

4. It is a self contained epic that draws on a great deal of X-lore. Plus, despite the deep darkness in the story, there’s an unexpected optimism about it even as the world ends…

There’s a reason this crossover has been revisited so often with mini-series, one shots, what if’s, arcs in the Exiles and Uncanny X-Force and even it’s own short lived monthly. This was some high quality stuff. So excellent it’s actually physically painful to read the X-men: Prime one shot that segues back into regular continuity.

I will admit, it’s not perfect. There’s some clunky dialogue here and there. Gambit and X-ternals isn’t ever going to be hailed as one of the best X-men space stories. Sending over into the 616 X-Man, Sugar Man, Dark Beast, and Holocaust was probably a mistake. Not to mention that Marvel would learn a lot of the worst possible lessons from this crossover as seen in some of the disastrous stuff that happened in the Avengers and Spiderman lines. But even with it’s warts, it still deserves a spot in the top 3 easily.

What will be fun is when the X-Men flick base don Days of Future Past is released, and all the critics think it was influenced by The Terminator and other such films.

I’d add, as for Dark Phoenix and Days, I recall both as being stories where I first felt the real dangers in the X-universe. Days showed that if the X-men couldn’t bridge the divide between mutants and humans we’d all face a dark dystopia future. It made the stakes real for the Xmen.

Dark Phoenix on the hand demonstrated just how dangerous mutants were and that maybe the rest of the population was right to be scared. One of the good guys goes so far wrong she becomes a galactic scale menace and a galactic scale empire literally steps in to shut things down. Again, this was a good guy who was trained and part of a team turning out to be that dangerous. Imagine if a kid or a villain had that power level! I know everyone always talks about the drama and pathos of Dark Phoenix, but for me that was when things really felt good and dangerous.

This is a great top three, and virtually every mega-x-story of the last 15 years has attempted to recreate or build on one of these in some way. It’s appropriate that Days of Future Past beat out Age of Apocalypse, because the former was hugely influential on the latter.

In my own list, I voted for 8 Claremont stories, but Age of Apocalypse was my #1. A few reasons:

1. It was one of the most ambitious comic stories I ever remember, especially at the time. Coordinating 8 monthly series (written by 6 different writers) to each enter an alternate reality for four issues and use characters that were just incredibly different from their main reality counter-parts, but often were characters largely different than the ones normally featured in the book.. I can’t imagine how difficult that all was, and it came off without a hitch, without any major inconsistencies or plot holes. It was so audacious. Does anyone know who actually came up with the idea?

2. Of any X-franchise story, I think this one uses the full extent and potential of the mythos better than any other. Virtually every single character that had ever appeared in a mutant book to that point had to be recreated from the ground up and then a place found for him/her that made sense in the grand scheme of things. It was a bit like Ultimate X-Men long before Ultimate X-Men in that regard. Ideas like Madrox being the Madri (Apocalypse’s guards), or Kitty using claws to fight like Wolverine–it just all made sense and fit. And the back-story the writers all created for this new mythos was incredible. Like the original Star Wars filling in just enough about everything that had happened before with the Jedis and the Empire, the way it hinted at this vast universe of stories that had already occurred off camera. Stuff like Wolverine having lost a hand and Cyclops having lost an eye, Emma Frost having had part of her brain removed, it was all just so well conceived.

3. The 8 series in this crossover featured an incredibly talented group of artists mostly at the top of their game. Andy Kubert, Joe Madureira, Chris Bachalo, Steve Skroce, and Adam Kubert all turned in some of their very best work without missing an issue, Steve Epting was solid (though not yet in his prime) and Tony Daniel (who I don’t particularly like) did some good work. Carlos Pacheco was fantastic on a tie-in mini-series, and even artists like Terry Dodson, Ian Churchill, Ken Lashley, and Salvador Larocca all did fine jobs. Everyone brought their A-Game, and the art looked uniformly fantastic. The only misstep was probably in getting Roger Cruz to do the two bookends. Cruz did a fine job, but those issues probably should have been done by a true star (someone lie Art Adams or Alan Davis would have been perfect). But still, great art on this mega-crossover.

4. Looking back, it’s one of the only crossovers that feels like the point of it all was much more about telling a great story, as opposed to how it would “change” everything. Yes, there were some lingering effects, like Nate Grey, Dark Beast, and Holocaust, but it never felt like the reason for the crossover was to shake up a status quo or draw attention to itself. It was just an incredible story that deserved to be told.

5. As with the deaths of future Wolverine and Storm in Days of Future Past, Age of Apocalypse felt the freedom to go all out, and characters started dying left and right (especially in the Generation Next mini-series, which was a pretty sobering reading experience–albeit a great one). These comics had a poignancy that standard reality comics often don’t have, because they can’t make any changes that will last. And the stakes felt huge.

6. Magneto’s final words to Apocalypse in X-Men Omega (the last pages of the whole story) is one of my favorite lines of dialogue in comics history: “We were the mightiest of our race. Imagine if we’d been on the same side, what a world that would have been.”

For anyone that hasn’t read this story and assumes it’s just another crossover, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Most of my votes went to one off character issues like Lifedeath and Madripoor Nights, but this was my #1

@ Rich

Yep, that’s the Draco, and it really is as bad as its rep. The images are taken from the first part, which at least features Sean Phillips on art. The fact that one chapter was drawn by Phillips is the only good thing about that story.

@ James Felix,

I’m jealous. I’ve been fortunate to get in on the ground floor for some amazing comics, but nothing as game-changing as early-’80s X-Men & DD.

I tried to think of any other story that deserved the #1 spot on the countdown, and I couldn’t. The Dark Phoenix Saga features the highest stakes, best action (other than the Paul Smith issues and Proteus), and most memorable speechifying in the franchise’s history. The Classic X-Men reprints happened to be my 1st X-Comics due to the cover of part 2 and the fact that they were cheaper than other back issues. I was blown away by the art and story, and became an X-Men fan because of it.

Thanks for running the poll, Brian! These are always my favorites feature on this site.

Thanks again Brian! This was awesome!

Endangered Species was such a great story. I’m kinda sad it didn’t make the list. I actually had it ranked pretty high.

My 1 and 3 were 1 and 2. It was pretty obvious that was going to be the case.

Alternate timeline stories have become such an X-Men trope that I can’t believe we made it 47 places before we see any alternate timeline stories (and then two in a row)! Not even one placement of the horrible Ultimate X-Men! However, “DoFP” and “AoA” deserve to be on this list, even if I think “AoA” should be a bit lower.

Hey Brian, I’d like to second the votes to know what some of the runners up were.

And if anyone cared, now I guess we can reveal, here were the stories I voted for (and the issues I had originally put down, a couple don’t exactly match Brian’s but I was close:

1. The Dark Phoenix Saga, “X-Men” (1963) 129-136
2. Mutant X, “X-Men” (1963) 125-128
3. Days of Future Past, “X-Men” (1963) 141 and “Uncanny X-Men” (1981) 142
4. The Original Brood Saga, “Uncanny X-Men” (1981) 156-167
5. Riot at Xavier’s, “New X-Men” (2001) 134-138
6. Xavier’s Nightmare, aka The Phoenix Saga, “X-Men” (1963) 96-105 & 107-108
7. The Sentinels Live, “X-Men” (1963) 57-59
8. The original Brotherhood of Mutants storyline, “X-Men” (1963) 4-11
9. The second Brood Saga (Earthfall), “Uncanny X-Men” (1981) 232-234
10. The Trial of Magneto, “Uncanny X-Men” (1981) 196-200

My number 11 and 12 probably would have been either Illyana’s death, the Massacre or Magneto in the volcano.

9/10 out of all -“Days of Future Past” made my list, with Uncanny X-Men #309 the only thing to not place.

No surprises or arguments here – though I maintain that DoFP is actually more significant to the X-Men than “Dark Phoenix”, since it’s really the story that codified the idea of “fighting to protect a world that fears and hates them” by making clear the cost of failure for Xavier’s dream.

Not that “Dark Phoenix” is bad or unworthy of its acclaim. I just think it is even more significant to superhero comics on the whole than just the X-Men. But even beyond the significance, it still tells a great story. Issue #136 might possible be the most pure and distilled superhero comic, with #137 just a fantastic climax to almost three years worth of stories.

I went 7/10. The stories I had show up on the list were Age of Apocalypse, Wolverine’s Wedding, Crossroads, The Asgardian Wars, Lifedeath, Wounded Wolf, and Days of Future Past. I didn’t vote for Dark Phoenix Saga just because I knew it wouldn’t need my help and because I don’t go back to it as much as I do these others. The three stories I had miss the list were UXM Annual 10, UXM 268, and X-Men 4-7 (the Team X vs. Omega Red story with Jim Lee art).

A few questions for Brian-

–Would it be possible to list how many first place votes everything got?

–If the four separate From the Ashes stories were combined, how high would From The Ashes have ranked? And what three stories would have snuck into the bottom of the list if From the Ashes were combined into one entry? I agreed with them being listed separately, btw, I’m just curious.

–Any chance of getting a Top 50 X-Men spinoff stories vote/countdown sometime?

Thanks again for doing this!

And thanks Brian, as always. This was a blast!

Age of Apocalypse: I remember people at the comic book shop being super excited about it. I only bought the Generation Next & X-Calibre minis originally because they came out of the only 2 X-books I was buying at the time. Lobdell & Bachalo did a stunning job giving mr a sense of just how screwed up the AoA world was. Ellis & Lashley took my favorite character and twisted him in a way that was both sad and logical. Eventually, I got most of the rest of the series and had a good time reading it. Truly, AoA was the best X-Men story of its era.

Days of Future Past: I got the prestige format reprint and loved it. In 2 standard-length comics, Claremont & Byrne created a dark future for the characters, gave them one of their best battles in the present day sequences, and gave every character a good scene. Give a modern Marvel or DC series six issues and they still won’t give you half the content.

One question for everyone-

Did anyone vote for Days of Future Present (the story that ran through the 1990 annuals)? I’ve only read the story once and keep meaning to revisit it, but I remember thinking it was great, and it made my short list of candidates. Does it stand up well?

Thanks for the list Brian, these things are always fun.

The top two are brilliant X-Men stories. They may be obvious choices but that’s for a reason, and the sub standard follow ups that leeched off them don’t matter.

I’m now 6/10. The biggest omission here to my mind is Kitty’s Fairy Tale, something I could have sworn would besomewhere above 40. It became apparent early on that none of the Classic X-Men backups would make it, I voted for The Big Dare. It’s also a shame none of Lobdell’ s single issues made it. My final vote is one I very much regret, a short crossover which isn’t even the best choice through my own personal nostalgia.

I never imagined there’d be an X-Men top 50 list where I wouldn’t have read one of the top 10, let alone the top 3.

But I’ve never read Age of Apocalypse. The premise looks great, but I was too burned out on mutant continuity and crossovers by then. Maybe someday…at least it looks like, being an alternate timeline, I wouldn’t have to be up on the continuity at the time…

The list of characters introduced in Dark Phoenix is remarkable, especially considering that all happens in the first act of the saga, and things only get better from there.

I think that second act (132-134) is the real gold of this story. The villains were original and cool (always loved Shaw’s power) the suspense was immense, Wolverine had his killer solo issue…and I’ll say again, Claremont and Byrne produced beautiful fight scenes, and those two Inner Circle battles were great.

The final act was chock full of drama, the significance of the first-ever “Stan and Jack” original superhero to actually be killed off and (yet another) great fight scene with the Imperial Guard. How crazy that the most important fight in X-Men history is one they lose?

Dark Phoenix is certainly the best X-Men saga out there (my only problem with it is I really wish they’d worked Iceman into the finale somehow…having two full X-Men rosters, old and new, for that last stand would’ve been cool…)

How cool that it only took a few issues for the creative team to produce the SECOND best X-Men saga out there. The Sentinel scenes were moody and unlike anything I’d seen in a superhero book, and the present-day scenes introduced yet another great team of antagonists who were original, cool, and made for great superhero fighting…which I tend to enjoy.

Thanks, Brian, for this great list.

The Ghost Of Carl Sagan

August 1, 2013 at 12:02 pm

“She does not care that the destruction of the star also destroys the planet it orbits.”

13th century thinking called, it wants it’s understanding of cosmology back.

I was 9/10

My one miss was Uncanny X-Men #254-255, the “All New, All Different, Here We Go Again” story that had numerous minor characters banding together to defend Muir Island from the Reavers. I always liked this story. I thought the action really worked well, with the characters’ stuck on the island, backs to the wall, forming a tenuous alliance with traditional baddies from Freedom Force. It had a Die Hard/Rio Bravo kind of feel to it. I thought it was cool to see these background characters take center stage for once and I liked that it was more grounded than most X-men battles and that the stakes seemed real (a couple of excellent death scenes). Also, the background stuff with the Shadow King was suitably mysterious and creepy and really made it seem like it was building to something cool (still think it’s an awful shame that storyline didn’t come to fruition as planned).

So, that’s mine, but I’d really like to hear other people’s “misses”…what did you vote for that didn’t make the cut? Why did you dig it?

RIP Broccoli People of the D’Bari System

I was 8 for 10. The one story that I voted for that didn’t make it and probably should have was Uncanny Annual 11. I also voted for the X-men “disassembled” arc right around Uncanny 250, not surprised that it didn’t make it but I did prefer it to a couple of stories that made the list.

Overall it’s still a pretty good top 50 list.

Thinking about this, some rightful omissions:
There was no Austen, Milligan, Drake, non-crossover Fraction, Seagle, Kelly or Claremont’s 2000-2006 return. Also nothing from the Byrne/Lee/Portacio co-written era. I’m fine with all of that.

The bad omissions:
No Lee/Kirby, no non-crossover Lobdell or Nicieza, no Alan Davis, nothing from Roy Thomas’ first run, no Gillen, no Liu, or Aaron.

I’m on the fence regarding whether or not Joe Casey’s exclusion is justified.

I honestly expected “Schism” to rank higher than “X-Tinction Agenda,” “X-Cutioner’s Song” or “Phalanx Covenant.” Surprised it wasn’t here at all.

Quick correction: Xavier’s son is Legion, not Legacy.

D’oh! Obviously my mind mixed it up with the book he is currently starring in. Thanks, fixed it!

–If the four separate From the Ashes stories were combined, how high would From The Ashes have ranked? And what three stories would have snuck into the bottom of the list if From the Ashes were combined into one entry? I agreed with them being listed separately, btw, I’m just curious.

A combined From the Ashes would not have changed the placement of “To Have and Have Not.” There was a big bump in points between “To Have and Have Not” and Mutant Massacre.

AoA was my #2 spot (I put X-Cutioner’s Song over it because of the Epilogue which I count as part of the story and because it was the first, I felt, really good crossover I’d ever read). AoA, as people pointed out, was ambitious and incredibly well-thought out, plus you really feel how much enthusiasm the creative teams have for it. Also, I like the point someone else made of how you can read series and the two one shots and enjoy it, or you can read the whole thing, or follow two of the series, etc. You can basically pick and choose what you want to read, and you don’t really lose out on the story. Plus, I agree that this story took a lot of the 90s stylistic excesses (grim and gritty tone, extremely colorful and out there costumes, gratuitous death and melodrama) and actually makes them work very well in this universe. Is it any wonder that Bendis and Johns ripped this formula off a bit for House of M and Flashpoint?

What people haven’t really talked about are the art teams, which to me, help knock this story out of the park. Joe Madureira had his finest hour on this story, where he got to shine with action heavy plots. Andy Kubert turned in some of his best work (although editorial messed with Nicieza’s scripts which does lower the quality of Amazing a bit), Adam Kubert and Larry Hama on Weapon X is just as good has their Wolverine work, Steve Epting was still on X-Factor and thus carried over to Factor X, which was having a last gasp of quality with JFM, plus you had Chris Bachalo, just as good as ever, doing Generation Next and Carlos Pacheco making Mackie’s X-Universe scripts LOOK pleasing. Yeah, Gambit’s book is pretty weak compared to the rest, but overall this was 90s X-Men at its finest. It’s more than EARNED it’s spot on this list.

Also, I purposely left the 1 and 2 spots on this list off my ballet because I knew the spots they’d take no matter what I voted for.

One thing that’s always bugged me about AoA is that the Age of Apocalypse didn’t really come from Xavier dying prematurely so much as the fact that some X-men time-travelled and woke him up early. It’s not really the world as it would have existed had Xavier not founded the X-men. But that’s just a nitpick. AoA is probably the most epic story in all of comics. The number of characters it effectively juggled deserves comparison to Game of Thrones. Even though it was a basically a big reset button story, it still had plenty to say about the characters we knew in the real world, and who they were deep down.

I voted for all of these. I reread both Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past yesterday and they still hold up so well. I often don’t like cosmic stuff or alternative realities but they work so well as they focus on character. 2 of my favourite arcs.
Whilst I find a lot of the 90s crossovers are disappointing this one is so well executed.

Think I got 8/10 overall. My misses were (if I remember correctly) Assault on Weapon Plus and Welcome To The X-Men Rogue.

@ Teebore

I went 9/10 too, however instead of a Lobdell one-off (I consolidated that spot w/ on of my “favorite 90s crossover” spots), I picked the opening arc of Wolverine and the X-Men. Not my favorite arc of the series, but the one that I’d figured would garner the most votes. Would have loved to see Aaron make the list, but oh well lol

And Brian, as always, thank you very much for doing these lists, they’re a hell of a lot of fun! :)

I haven’t read AoA, but I didn’t much like the other two. I don’t think they were bad stories, but I just can’t abide Claremont’s writing style.

It’s a shame Millar’s Ultimate X-Men didn’t make the list. I loved that stuff.

One last note about AoA. Someone mentioned that AoA isn’t really about the world without Xavier as much as it is about a world Apocalypse woke up in too early. That’s partially true but I’ve also always thought its a love letter to how important Magneto’s and Xavier’s relationship is. In our world it isn’t enough for Xavier to preach peace, it’s that Xavier’s message looks like to reasonable middle ground thanks to Magneto’s message. I’m not articulating it well, but it is almost like a good cop/bad cop routine. And without that everything just went down the tubes.

I got 9/10 overall with Uncanny #201 being the one that didn’t make it on the list. I think it says something about my love of the X-Men that out of all 50 stories there was only 3 I haven’t read yet.

Saul Goode,

I did the exact same thing. When it comes to these types of list, you sort of know what the top three are going to be so I like to have fun with my 1-7 ranks as that’s where the real numbers matter.

Third Man,

I didn’t vote for Days of Future Present but I do like that story. If it had even an appearance of Kate Pryde or more of a “this is what is happening in that timeline now” that would have made it even better but instead, its a nice character piece and one of the only times Rachel and Franklin ever spend any time together. I’m sure they have not been in the same room since then. Which is pretty good, I suppose, as I’m sure that would be weird for Rachel to be standing around her boyfriend when he’s only 11.

All ten of mine show up.

AoA is top ten material for sure, but in the lower end in my opinion. As I said in the last post, it’s a crime that it beat out numbers six through four. Yes, it’s bombastic. Yes, it’s a lot of fun. But it’s so lacking in nuance and dripping with cliche. Lobdell’s best work for sure, but it’s not immune to everything that was and is wrong with him.

Despite my saying it’s top ten material, I deliberately DID NOT VOTE for AoA OR “Days of Future Past” to help ensure my number one pick would get the spot it deserves.

“The Dark Phoenix Saga” was the first trade I owned, and even though I’d already seen the cartoon version it blew me away. My favourite moment is when Beast (albeit temporarily) abandons his Avengers duties, showing where his true loyalties lie. Second favourite is the series of Claremont soliloquies as the team wakes up in space and prepares to do battle. This arc did so much for Cyclops, Jean, Wolverine and Professor X, let alone the rest of the team.

My picks (can’t remember the order): Dark Phoenix, Phoenix, GLMK, Inferno, Gifted, Torn, Unstoppable, Messiah Complex, Second Coming and House of M

It’s great to see AoA meant so much to other people besides me. I think Mike Loughlin said it best up there, when he said that it was the best “of its era”. 1 and 2 absolutely deserve their spots, they are fantastic. But for many of us, the ’90s X-Men is “our” X-Men. I remember it coming out month by month and being one of the biggest things to happen in pop culture (as far as I was concerned, anyway) in my young life up to that point.

I knew it was an alternate universe, I knew it had little to no effect on my regular X-Men comics, but everything that happened still totally mattered to me. I remember the scene (mentioned a few comments up) where Colossus accidentally kills his beloved Kitty in a rage just GUTTING me. And then a few panels later, when he gets his punishment, I was somehow both upset and satisfied by it.

By the way, to the people knocking Claremont’s writing style:

Go and find yourselves anything from Marvel that was written by Steve Englehart or Roy Thomas immediately before or during Claremont’s run on X-Men. Trust me, it makes his writing style seem EONS better.

Would not have pegged AoA for top 3 material. Top 10? Sure. Top 5? Acceptable. I would have placed anything from 6-4 above AoA, but that’s not to detract from the quality on display during that event. That such a large event turned out as well as it did is a remarkable achievement, especially considering the time period it was released and the sheer size of the thing (which the event always threatened to crumble under). It’s not perfect as there a couple spots where it drags a bit, but it’s a fun, imaginative, well-executed re-imagining of the X-Universe (and to an extent the entire Marvel Universe) that’s easy to just pick up and read in trade without having to know a thing about the decades of lore and backstory and that came before it (though being familiar with it certainly makes the experience a richer one). I still haven’t read any of the prelude stuff. All I’ve read of it was the main event starting with Alpha and ending in Omega. I have the prelude TPB. Maybe I’ll dig it out and read through it this evening. By far the best X-Men story to come out of the 90’s.

I don’t think there’s anything I could say about DoFP and Dark Phoenix that hasn’t been said in the years since, so I won’t bother. Their placement was obvious from the start and I had the slightest of inklings that they’d manage to do just fine without my voting for them.

Two stories I voted for didn’t make the list. Like many, I voted for UXM #303 (ninth on my list). Probably the best thing Lobdell ever wrote. He did handle those single issue “downtime” stories quite well.

The other was Fever Dream/Where’s Wolverine?!? (UXM #251-252), which was either first or third on my list (can’t remember if I switched places with Wounded Wolf at the last minute or not). It’s the story where The Reavers crucify Wolverine and Jubilee rescues him. #251 is one of the single strongest issues Claremont ever wrote, which seems like something that could be said of all of the Wolverine solo stories that occurred in that title. It was the very beginning of Claremont’s long term plans for the character, which we (sadly?) never saw come to fruition. Wolverine, perhaps the mightiest X-Man, was completely defeated and nearly dead. And it was the end of X-Men as we knew them as they made their touching final farewells to each other as they passed through the Siege Perilous. It was such a depressing issue to read. #252 suffers from some frankly lousy art, but the story of The Reavers hunting the duo down managed to be enjoyable anyway. It truly ends in #253 when Lady Deathstrike spots Wolverine and Jubilee with the scope of a rifle and decides to let them go, because shooting her nemesis in the back wouldn’t be the honorable thing to do, but I wasn’t sure if it’d actually count as part of the entry so I didn’t bother including it in my ballot. It was only 3 or so pages of the whole issue. I put this story so high on my list because I was afraid it’d get overlooked, but hoped it would still manage to crack the bottom ten with some help. At least Wounded Wolf managed that feat.

Thanks for running this. I definitely do not agree with all of the entries, and am puzzled by some of the omissions, but I had a lot of fun following this list anyway. It was the first one I felt like I could actually participate in considering how much X-Men I’ve read over the years.

Stephen Conway

August 1, 2013 at 1:23 pm

A great top two (Never read any of AoA so no comments there).

DOFP and Dark Phoenix bring me up to 8/10.

The omission of Uncanny X Men #1 surprises me. The story that kicked the whole thing off really should be somewhere on this list.

I also thought there’d be more post-Whedon stuff. Carey on Legacy and Rise and Fall are a very small sample. I expected Schism to turn up, and some of Gillen’s stuff and maybe AVX at the very least.

Serously. No surprise here. Serioulsy, Fuck the haters.
The best list ever.
You can’t get better.
People voted, so, seriously stfu.
#1 was what was supposed to be one.
With Avengers, they sucked so bad, that it was really hard to find the best story.
but X-Men?
This list is the best ever.
You cannot make a better list.
You can’t!

Only half of my list made it: AoA, Dark Phoenix, Fatal Attractions, Second Coming, and Messiah Complex.

The rest were Lady Mandarin, Decimation, Avengers vs. X-men, the opening arc of Wolverine and the X-men, and the original Juggernaut story.

As you can probably tell by my choices, I’m a fan of what the X-men have been doing since M-Day. Especially the evolution of Cyclops from a boy scout, Captain America type to more of a Magneto. Each step along the way makes sense as a response to what came before, but when you look at how far he’s come, it’s staggering. If All New Xmen had had a defining story by now, it would probably be on my list too.

Seriously, anyonw who disagrees with the list is a douche that deserves everything that is evil in life. No tolerance!

Well, that escalated quickly!

Uncanny X-Men 141 (first part of Days of Future Past) a cover so great that I collect every single homage (or plan too) to it that I can get my hands on. Some are quite expensive like the GI Joe ones.

Actually I just came to see what #2 and #3 were.

Huh, I dunno…I didn’t care for Age of Apocalypse at the time, and having recently re-read it, it most certainly does not age well. GENERATION NEXT excepting; I had to actually flip back to the credits to make sure it was actually Scott Lobdell who wrote it. Harrowing at the time, and it still reads as much. If we could have peeled that away from the rest of the crossover, like some kind of “Best Mutant-Related Stories” then I would be on board with it being in the top ten, maybe top five. But the crossover as a whole? I dunno.

That Draco…good for a laugh. Great job, Brian!

Re: The header image:

You’re a bit of a bastard, Cronin.

I’m pretty sure that the whole “Age of Apocalypse” as #3 is a joke, and my #1 pick (Wolverine and the X-Men 17) will be revealed to be the REAL third-greatest X-Men story in due time.

@ Chakal

Seriously? No one said you can’t disagree – everyone of my posts had had me disagreeing with the placement of something, my reasons why, etc. I’m just not being a dick by saying “NO, this list is bullshit because this story I hate shouldn’t be on it.” The whole point of voting is that everyone gets a say, so it’s a list of everyone’s collective favorite stories. If a lot of people like a story enough to vote it into a certain spot, it earned it’s spot. Brian said going in that you should vote for your FAVORITE stories. If a lot of people’s favorite stories happen to be AoA or UXM 161 or whatever, then they’re going to show up on the list.

Why do people feel the need to be a dick because the list doesn’t represent what they believe to be the best 50? Go make your own list then!

I think my entire list made it except for Assault on Weapon Plus. Cool beans.

“All New, All Different, Here We Go Again” (Uncanny X-Men 254-255) was going to be my number one vote, if I had voted. Not only my favorite X-Men story, buy probably one of my top ten favorite comic book stories of all. I think I would include 253 as part of the story.

As for the actual top three, I have not read any of them in my 29 years of comic book collecting….

Didn’t vote but if I had I was 9/10.

The only miss was (as others had mentioned) “Kitty’s Fairy Tale” which I have now owned 3 different single issues of (first I bought off the newsrack thrown out by my mom for not cleaning up, second bought at a store and got rid of when I was in my high school “I don’t like comics phase”, and the third I have now).

The only comment I really wanted to add was about AofA. When this was announced I absolutely detested the idea. Even though I was a 90s demographic and would probably be the perfect audience I just hated the fact that these long running stories I enjoyed would be put on hold for this. I actually skipped the first two months of the event until my friend and local comic shop guy kept telling me to check it out. I broke down and picked up a few and came back the next day to get the rest that had already came out. I’m not sure I would put it at 3 but it’s a definite top 10 for me and by far the biggest gap between what I expected and what I actually thought once I read it.

Btw, I use that same story to friends who tell me the only reason I don’t like any of the New 52 is because they are “new stories.” I actually tried a few out simply because of how I reacted to AofA. Turns out? Just didn’t like them.

It’s interesting that, aside from two very late Roy Thomas arcs, the original X-Men got no love in the list. No Stan Lee, no X-Men: First Class. I still have a soft spot for those loveable misfits,

Jeff: ” nothing from Roy Thomas’ first run”

Is there anyone out there who thinks that’s great stuff? Did you vote for it? No disrespect intended :).

Anyway, I ended up with 7 or 8 of my picks making it. The “Xavier is shot” story from #196 didn’t show up, neither did Gillen’s Sinister solo story. And then I voted for UXM #185-188, but I’m not sure if that counted towards “Lifedeath” or not.

Times like these, I wish that Wolverine and the X-Men cartoon got picked up for a second season as it was going to use Age of Apocalpyse as its “future to be stopped” concept. Only got to see AoA versions of Apocalypse, Cyclops and Mister Sinister at the end of the season one finale.

Sometimes I wish Marvel had an animation studio like DC as I would love to see some of these works adapted “properly” as you can do so much more in animation. Plus, with no channel to force its way on, it can be much longer than a 90 minute cartoon.

Though I suppose that is what Disney XD is, Marvel’s animation’s channel. So they will probably still be 90 minutes long so that they can air them there at some point.

@Third Man- I actually liked Days of Future Present, too. If I were to have made a Top 25 list, it probably would have made it.

Thanks again Brian! Love these lists, and X-Men is my all-time favorite comic. Loved it!

Ultimately, my top ten was 9/10 on this list. The only story of mine that didn’t make it was Classic X-Men #1. Not just a brilliant, brilliant example of how great the backup stories Classic were, but also a phenomenal “Director’s Cut” of the original story, too. I loved Giant-Size #1 for what it did to the X-Universe but the dialogue always seemed a little clunky to me because, let’s be honest, Claremont didn’t write it. Classic #1 was Claremont going back and basically cutting what didn’t work and putting in much more character-driven scenes. The old team interacting with the All-New, All-Different team was just brilliant. And John Bolton’s art is perfect for those moments. Great stuff.

My whole list was 1) Crossroads, 2) Mutant Genesis, 3) Dark Phoenix, 4) Days of Future Past, 5) Age of Apocalypse, 6) To Have and Have Not, 7) X-Cutioner’s Song, 8) Classic X-Men #1, 9) God Loves, Man Kills, 10) Wounded Wolf.

My favorite part of Dark Phoenix Saga is actually the last few pages of Uncanny 138, which isn’t usually counted because most of that issue is just filler recapping Scott and Jean’s history. But the last few pages, with Scott leaving the team and then a small but really well executed epilogue with Kitty, really bring the whole arc together. I guess that scene has taken on a lot more significance in retrospect, knowing how big a part of the X-Men mythos Kitty subsequently became, but darn if it doesn’t nearly make me tear up, reading it at the end of the whole story.

I think the only story I voted for that didn’t place was one I didn’t really expect to: “When Strikes a Gladiator,” a Lobdell / Joe Mad done-in-one I read when I was 11 and revisit every year or so. Packs in a lot of nice little Christmas moments (partially in homage to X-Men 98) and then has a great battle between Gladiator and Cannonball, who was my favorite character at the time. That was my number 3, after “Demon” and “Lifedeath”.

Oh, and that Cannonball v. Gladiator Christmas issue is Uncanny 341, if anyone’s interested.

I will never understand why 138 isn’t included in trade collections of Dark Phoenix Saga. You have a crucial character death and the next issue is a funeral for said character, sounds to me, like it should be included in the trade as it is the proper ending of that storyline.

I suppose its due to have to include an extra 23 pages and that adds to the over all cost, but I don’t care about details like that :)

AoA was on my shortlist, but I left it off. It’really good, but I just preferred Phalanx Covenant.

DoFP was #6 on my list. The second part, where everyone died, was excellent. Just a chilling, brutal sequence.

Dark Phoenix Saga, naturally, was my #1. Because obviously.

I’m sad that Kitty’s Fairy Tale didn’t show up. That issue was adorable, with a touching ending. Even more disappointed, as I’ve said, at the failure of UXM #303 to make it in. That is, in my eyes, one of the finest stories the X-Men have ever had. In terms of the sheer emotional power of it, it beats out anything Claremont has ever done. And Claremont did a lot of powerful stories.

@Skip That awesome Dark Phoenix Saga alternate story (“Death of a Tough Broad”) from Crazy Magazine was written by Christopher Priest, and is much better than the Untold Story.

Yeah, this is about what I figured. Not a bad list, though I’m not as experienced with X-Men comics as I once thought I was, but these are some of my favorites.

X-Men #137 might be my favorite issue of X-Men. And really, it’s one of the few times I dig Scott Summers.

@ Chakel- Seriously Chakel, from one fellow CBR X-poster to another, calm the fuck down. You are letting the side down and coming off as a rabid nutter when no one is saying anything negative about the list or the X-Men. Calm down, have a nice cup of tea, and follow your own advice and “stfu.”

I must apologize on Chake’s behalf, he can be a bit passionate as an X-Men fan, but that isn’t an excuse, merely stating we tend to get passionate about the X-Men and prone to spout profoundly ridiculous comments ever now and again. My apologies to everyone here.

@entzauberung Actually it didn’t make my list, but if we were allowed to put our top30, I probably would have put down Thomas’ “Factor Three Saga”. It’s good, cheesey ’50s B-movie-style fun. But I get what you mean :-)

I’m giggling at all the “Draco” ridicule too, don’t get me wrong … but there are worse X-Men stories out there too! Don’t forget all the ridiculous Neo/Goth/Crimson Pirate nonsense in “Uncanny X-Men” 381-385 and “X-Men” 100-104? UGH, dreadful. Maybe make some of that the banner picture haha.

How in the fuck did ANYONE vote for AoA? I can’t even imagine the appeal of that arc.

I think the Uncanny X-Men books (Claremont and Byrne especially) were brilliant. I think you’d be hard pressed to find any comic book series as well done. There are better arcs here and there but Uncanny X-Men was classic. Unfortunately, Marvel has saturated us with things X-Men and some of the glow has faded. It just isn’t the same; the ideas these days are recycled and not as ground breaking. Ah well. That’s why ya love back issues!

I gotta say, Hulik, while I can certainly see where you’re coming from, things seem to be getting better. Both “X-Men” and “Uncanny X-Men” are starting off great. Even “All New X-Men”, despite some people finding the concept (understandably) ridiculous, has been doing great stuff. And I can’t speak for much of the recent stuff right before Marvel Now, but what little I read of Whedon, Aaron’s “Wolverine and the X-Men”, and Remender’s “Uncanny Force” were great.

All opinions, I guess. But I’d hate to see someone miss out on stuff they might enjoy for nostalgia’s sake.

Obviously, that was meant to say “Uncanny X-Force”, though now I really want to create a superteam that’s just called “The Uncanny-Force!”

Painintheasso the Mime

August 1, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Seriously, where did Obnoxio the Clown vs. the X-Men rank?

Meghan Ansbach

August 1, 2013 at 5:38 pm

I enjoyed this entire countdown and reading about everyone’s love of X-Men.

This year marks my 20th anniversary of buying X-Men comics every month since I was in 6th grade, and while I obviously treasure some stories and creative teams more than others, I have loved the X-Men and all of their spin off teams the entire way.

Thank you so much for compiling this list, Brian, and is there any chance we can see some runners up? To help tide me over until I have the free time to go back and re-read all of these stories? So. Many. Feelings.

No Wolverine and the X-Men at all? Or am I just missing it? I didn’t vote, but it woulda claimed three spots on my top ten list. At least *I* love you, Doop.

I think there’s a paucity of stories featuring the original X-Men because:

– Not enough people have read Jeff Parker’s X-Men First Class.
– A lot of the original X-Men comics are lesser Silver Age; not necessarily bad (although some definitely were) but nowhere near as good as FF, Spider-Man, et al.
– The All-New, All-Different team overshadowed the original X-Men completely.
– Reprints wren’t readily available until recently.
– The original team is boring to some of us. Beast is great, but Cyclops spent decades being boring, Angel spent decades being boring, Jean was forgettable until the Phoenix stories, and Iceman has yet to grow a second dimension. Additionally, their powers were bland (flight, blasting, weak t.k., jumping and holding things with one’s feet. Shooting ice was always kind of cool, though). Without the personalities of the similarly lamely-powered FF, the original X-Men don’t hold the same appeal to a lot of readers.

That said, the right writer (Parker, Thomas with Neal Adams on plots) can make the team work. If you want to tell us why you like he original team, go for it. I’m genuinely curious if any readers prefer the originals and why.

@Mike Loughlin

I thought Scott, Jean, Bobby, Hank and Warren were great.

…. when they were X-Factor.

@Mike while I don’t PREFER the original team, I like them when paired correctly with the right later generation people. Cyclops obviously has the best chemistry with the second 4 (Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus); Jean has a sisterly thing with both Lorna and Ororo; Iceman has a buddy-buddy thing I can appreciate with Cannonball and Rogue (and funny rivalries with Havok, Gambit and Northstar); Warren and Betsy did have a slightly believable relationship in the ’90s, even though everything else about them back then was completely screwed up.

And EVERYONE loves the Beast. Even the worst characters love him. Marrow loves the Beast. Bishop Loves the Beast. Frickin’ Dr. Reyes loves the Beast. How can you not?

Let’s debate relevance of alternate reality stories and the evil of editorial mandate again.

So, is the most recent story on the list Second Coming? I’d have thought you’d have seen Schism.

No surprises for the top stories… but then, they deserve to be there.

I’m surprised that Uncanny X-Men/New Teen Titans didn’t make the list, unless it was disqualified for some reason. That book narrowly trails JLA/Avengers as the best intercompany team crossover.

Well, I ended 7/10.

This was my list…

1. AoA
2. Days of Future Past
3. The Sentinels Live! (Thomas and Adams)
4. CrossRoads
5. X-men The End
6. Schism (X-Treme X-Men #20-23, Claremont and Larroca)
7. X-men versus Magneto (Uncanny X-men 111-113, Claremont and Byrne)
8. Here Comes Tomorrow
9. Omega Red (X-men vol. 2 #4-7)
10. Mutant Genesis (X-Men Vol. 2 #1-3)

I didn’t vote for Dark Phoenix because all of us alrady knew it will make number 1.

I don’t get the hate on X-Men The End… I think it’s great. It’s a huge story showcasing almost every character and plot from the franchise… And kind of a great end.

It seems nobody liked X-treme X-men neither. The Larroca issues are great and the Schism arc is very very good.

Finally, X-men 4-7, the Jim Lee issues, are a great action packed story. I really believed that it will make the top 50.

In any case, a very good list!

Mike Loughlin
“Give a modern Marvel or DC series six issues and they still won’t give you half the content.”

It’s a shame the current state of the comic medium. To much decompressing… To much title for franchise… Do you remember the done in one issues?
Do you remember when Batman had only two titles: Batman and Detective Comics? And both had great sales! You had the whole Batman universe contained in two titles! Most of the stories were great because they have 24 issues per year to tell all the Batman related stories.
Now? You have Batman, Detective Comics, The Dark knight, Batman Inc, Batman and Robin, Nightwing, Catwoman, Red Robin, Batgirl, Batwoman and some more! And the global quality of the stories goes down proportionally!

The same happened with the X-Men… Why the Claremont – Byrne era has so many good stories? Because there was ONLY ONE TITLE!!!! Everything important and shocking happened in that title… Any character development happened in that title… I think the X-Men started to went down in quality as the spin off started to appear: Wolverine, Cable, X-Factor, X-Men, X-Calibur, Generation X, Gambit, Rogue, Bishop, and so on.
So… if some revelation or something interesting about Gambit had to be told… it was told in a miniseries and not in the main title. The same for the rest.
And that’s a problem the X-Men still face… to many titles!

“And EVERYONE loves the Beast. Even the worst characters love him. Marrow loves the Beast. Bishop Loves the Beast. Frickin’ Dr. Reyes loves the Beast. How can you not?”

I think Bishop is a great character. What is not to like about him? I enjoy Bishop since I first saw him in the Days of Future Past episodes of the X-Men Animated Series in the 90’s.

Many of us entered the the world of X-Men with this animated series so I think it deserves to be highly appreciated!

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

August 1, 2013 at 7:50 pm

I voted for all three of these! So I ended up 7/10, which ain’t bad.

The 7 I voted for were (in no particular order because I don’t quite remember which ones went where after my top three) Dark Phoenix, Days of Future Past, Messiah Complex, House of M, Age of Apocalypse, Mutant Massacre and Here Comes Tomorrow.

The 3 of mine that didn’t make it were Uncanny X-Men (vol. 2) #1-3 (Gillen’s Extinction team first outing against Mr. Sinister)*, AvX: Consequences** and Age of X.

*The Extinction Team a fantastic line-up, Gillen wrote one of the best Mr. Sinisters ever and the moment Cyclops told the Celestials to back off (and THEY DO) sealed this arc as one of my all-time favorites. And it was only 3 issues!

**While I love this story, I would’ve replaced it with God Loves, Man Kills if I’d remembered it when I was making my list. For shame…

Kinda funny that I had 4 alternate history/timeline stories on my list. What can I say? I’m a sucker for those kinda stories.

My personal top 50 would’ve seen some changes (as would everybody’s, I imagine): most of the ’90s crossovers would’ve dropped out, Avengers vs X-Men and Utopia would’ve been added (even though the latter failed to capitalize on the potential of a fantastic first issue) and so on.

But still, this was a great list overall. And I really appreciate all the effort you put into it, Brian! Thanks a ton!

Any chance we’ll see a rough listing some of the notable choices that just missed the top 50? I’m curious is any additional Carey or any Gillen came close.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

August 1, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Wow, I just re-read my previous post. Hello, typos!

At any rate, Mike Loughlin, I love Jeff Parker’s work, and I’ve been meaning to get his First Class for a while now, but my LCS has two different trades saying they have number 1 issues enclosed. Were there two separate minis, or how did that work?

Days Of Future Past is great and I considered it for my list but felt it didn’t really need my vote to rank high.
Never cared to read AoA.
Dark Phoenix Saga is… I like everything with the Hellfite Club, but once Jean goes cosmic crazy and the Shi’ar show up and all that, I’m out. (did I mention enough already that I don’t like the Shi’ar? haha) Jean’s death is a great moment tho, I’ll give it that.

@John Klein III the 30th Anniversary HC of Dark Phoenix does include #138 as well as a bunch of extras, that,s the one I have.

So my picks that made the list were:
1. Uncanny 125-128 (Proteus story)
2. X-Men #1-3 Mutant Genesis
3. E is for Extinction
5. Uncanny #114-116 Savage Land
7. Astonishing X-Men Unstoppable
8. Riot At Xavier’s
10. Uncanny X-Men 111-113 (Magneto Triumphant)

And the ones that didn’t:
4. WildC.A.T.s/X-Men: The Golden Age
Figured it would never rank but Brian said crossovers were allowed, so there. I just totally love this issue (the rest of the crossover was meh at best tho). Great WW2 story and Travis Charest’s art is nothing short of spectacular and my favorite book he has done.

6. What If Vol2 #87: Screams In The Night
The alternate version of Uncanny X-Men #311, where Sabretooth kills Bishop and Beast and poor Jubilee somehow manages to evade getting slaughtered the psycho killer and actually gruesomely defeats him at the end. A freaky horror tale, and I actually read it before the original version.

9. X-Men #4-7 Team X-Omega Red story
#1-7 was a great run, miles above the crap Ghost Rider and Mojo stories that followed. This is a great story, back when Wolverine had not yet been ruined by having too much background origin stuff revealed yet. And I love Maverick, wish his own series had lasted more than 12 issues.

So thanks a lot for doing all this for us Brian, this was a lot of fun!
Looking forward to the next one. I agree with others that a best of spinoff mutant stories list would be nice to do.

Well, I got two more…kinda. I didn’t have AoA, because while a creative crossover, did anything really result from it other than a few of the characters crossing universe (and other than Blink, fairly lame ones like Dark Beast)? I had DoFP #1. It’s not even my favorite, but so much was done and set up in TWO ISSUES. Compare that to #3 (which just seems a bit high).

Then my 4 and 6 were 1. He made such a point on how separate stories weren’t all one arc I voted separately for the Hellfire Club and Death of Phoenix. Yeah, it’s all collected in the Dark Phoenix trades, but I’m not sure they’re any less or more separate than the Paul Smith arc that was broken up. All together it’s obviously #1.

Only one that didn’t make it was my #10, 201, Storm vs. Cyclops. It doesn’t break my heart, and I didn’t think it would be top ten, but top 50 maybe. The only other one I considered that missed was 209 with Nimrod. Just a great old fashioned fight with an imposing bad guy….who got screwed up later by making him a guy.

And has there ever been a top 50 list where issue #1 didn’t make it?

Then my 4 and 6 were 1. He made such a point on how separate stories weren’t all one arc I voted separately for the Hellfire Club and Death of Phoenix. Yeah, it’s all collected in the Dark Phoenix trades, but I’m not sure they’re any less or more separate than the Paul Smith arc that was broken up. All together it’s obviously #1.

Luckily the Hellfire Club story was specifically spelled out as counting as part of Dark Phoenix Saga in the rules so as to avoid any confusion.

Very fun. 10 of 10. And what if I came away with ten more to love?

Hmm, so we were talking around here about the Regular Show cast dressed and posed as X-Men. :-D
I know it’s irrelevant to the countdown, but it should be a funny picture. What do you think?

Went 9/10 with my only miss being the first New team in the regular book (#94-95Thunderbird). Actually went 4/10 on the top ten. Not bad…

9/10 made the final list…X-Men: The End was my only choice that didn’t make the cut…cant really argue with how the list turned out, but I will say, even though it wasn’t on my list, I am surprised Duel didn’t make the cut

10/10 for me

10. (35) “Blood Feud!” Uncanny X-Men #159/X-Men Annual #6
9. (21) “LifeDeath” Uncanny X-Men #186, 198
8. (37) “From the Ashes” Uncanny X-Men #174-175
7. (22) “Magneto Triumphant!” X-Men #112-113
6. (23) “Demon” Uncanny X-Men #143
5. (8) “To Have and Have Not” Uncanny X-Men #172-173
4. (10) “The Proteus Saga” X-Men #125-128
3. (4) “God Loves, Man Kills” Marvel Graphic Novel #5
2. “Days of Future Past” X-Men #141/Uncanny X-Men #142
1. “Dark Phoenix Saga” X-Men #129-137

I was Claremont & Byrne biased because those were the stories I read as a kid and grew up with (still have the original issues). Looking at the non-Claremont top 5 , it can be daunting to the newcomers because of all the tie-ins. It’s easy to suspect that these stories were voted so highly mainly for their epic scope (over several different books & months). Looking at the list below, only “Gifted” is contained to one contiguous book. I’m curious how others feel about how watered down the stories are excluding Claremont & Whedon?

12. “Messiah Complex” X-Men: Messiah CompleX”, Uncanny X-Men #492-494, X-Men #205-207, New X-Men #44-46 and X-Factor #25-27
9. “Unstoppable” Astonishing X-Men #19-24, Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1
6. “Gifted” Astonishing X-Men #1-6
5. “E is for Extinction” New X-Men #114-116
3. “The Age of Apocalypse” X-Men: Alpha #1, Amazing X-Men #1-4, Astonishing X-Men #1-4, X-Men: Omega #1 plus a bunch of tie-ins

Someone said there was no alternate timeline stories until number three
Wasn’t there one from Uncanny X-Men in the eighties
think it was between 190 and 200 that charted further down
A two parter
I never would have ranked AoA anywhere near number 3
for a start House of M was better and my number three would probably have been E For Extinction or God Loves Man Kills

First up…frames from “The Draco” before the jump!..give me a heart attack, why don’t you, Cronin. :)

I guessed correctly that “Days Of Future Past” and “Dark Phoenix Saga” would be the top two. Those were no-brainers. I’m, totally, surprised to see “Age Of Apocalypse” rounding out the top 3. I would, never, have figured that one. All in all, great list!

4/10 for me

My sacrilegious votes were:

1 – New X-Men – Riot at Xavier’s (17)
2 – New X-Men – Planet X (20)
3 – Ultimate X-Men – The Tomorrow People
4 – Ultimate X-Men – Return to Weapon X
5 – New X-Men – Here Comes Tomorrow (32)
6 – Ultimate X-Men – Return of the King
7 – New X-Men – New Worlds
8 – New X-Men – Imperial (44)
9 – New X-Men – Assault on Weapon Plus
10 – New X-Men – E is for Extinction (5)


I’m glad to see someone else loves that story too. It’s really one of the main ones that made me fall in love with the series. What other comic had such a rich tapestry of characters, that you could essentially sit out all of your headliners and do a two/three issue battle arc with just background characters culled throughout the years and make it so powerful? It gave me sense of the scope that Claremont was operating on, which was so rare and so much fun to discover.

@Saul Goode

So, if I am understanding your posts correctly, you didn’t vote for classic stories simply because you knew they would make the list and you also voted for stories that weren’t your favorites just because you thought they might have a shot at making the list? I just don’t see the point.

Brian – first off, thanks muchly for the work in compiling this list. And that image from the (deservedly) much-maligned Austen run to kick off this last post – nice touch!

Great to see how things all shook out in the end, and the comments sections have been must reads if only to understand some of the rationales for peoples’ choices and trying to gauge where their X-Men “jumping on” points might have been based on their selections – because I actually HOPE that with only a few exceptions, these Top 10 lists were based *somewhat* on that loverly bit of the alchemic element called nostalgia (and I would argue that it has more of an influence on people’s choices than some would care to admit). I also love the fact that those who have not read some of the ranked storylines say they plan to track them down – the real benefit of lists like these I think.

While one of my favourite quotes of all time is a definition of that word “nostalgia”, which I have heard said a few different ways – “it is based on a fear of one’s future and a disdain for one’s present”, I happen not to subscribe to that rather cynical viewpoint. I am a looooong time X-Men fan and my personal list had 9 of 10 ranked (#s 1,3-7, 11,15 and 28), but I am not disappointed that my 10th did not make the list, because it, more than any of my other choices, was definitely influenced by nostalgia.

I don’t even know how to define it, but my 10th choice was the X-Men in Australia/Reavers/Siege Perilous storyline (uh, UXM 250-269? – that Silvestri cover to UXM 251 – wow!). Though I will argue its deserving of some “recognition” for its gritty and chaotic nature (yet evolved in a very organic way, unlike too many “grim and gritty” or “disassembled” storyline directions to follow). My choice is also based on the experience of my early days of actual X-Men comic COLLECTING in the early 90s, tracking down those back-issues and being absolutely blown away by them. No coincidence that Havok counts among my favourite X-Men given his prominence at that time – those outback stories certainly tipped the Summers brothers scales towards Alex in a big way for me.

And while it will might end up being flame-bait, my “honourable mention” list included two Lobdell one offs:
UXM 297 (X-Cutioner’s Song aftermath), and 303 (“Death” of young Illyana due to the Legacy Virus).

Yes, he was largely aping Claremont’s style (possibly under editorial edict/influence?), but when he brought his A-game, the results were incredible as in the cases above (of course the reverse is also true – ala X-Men Unlimited #4) but I would argue that overall, he certainly deserves more credit/less abuse over his run of X-Men stories than he tends to get on the interwebs, at least IMHO.

Anyhoo, great stuff…can’t wait for more X-related lists!

nice figured that the dark phoenix saga if some how did not get number one on the list would be top three for not only was it the first time marvel had a beloved fan character like jean die but also showed how power can corrupt too much but moslty jean deciding she had to commit suicide to keep dark phoenix from doing any more destruction ever. days of future past also figured it would be in the top ten since it showed how the actions of some one or a group can have long lasting affects later. plus also the odds are against the x-men from the start of a victory. and aoa . showed that even in the xmen universe what the worth of one man is really. mostly with out xavier ever forming the x-men the mu could wind up going to hades. not to mention certain x-men characters like beast and cyclops work with the bad guys .

Here was my Top 10.

1. Dark Phoenix Saga
2. Kulan Gath Saga Uncanny X-Men 190-191
3. X-Men/New Teen Titans
4. Days of Future Past
5. Proteus Saga
6 World Tour – Savage Land #114-116.
7. World Tour – Magneto #111-113
8. Original Brood Saga
9. X-Men meet Alpha Flight Uncanny X-Men #120-121
10. X-Men vs Murderworld/Doom Uncanny X-Men #145-147

I was shocked the Uncanny/Titans crossover didn’t make the list. Wasted several of my votes for the different parts of World Tour. Would have thrown votes to Paul Smith issues had I known ahead of time. Not surprised my #10 was left off. I really liked seeing the “new to me at 10 years old” characters of Havok, Polaris and Ice Man as #128 was my first issue and I had never seen these characters before. Nothing published after Mutant Masacre is better than anything published before Mutant Masacre.

It’s interesting how diverse the group of villains are that appear in these stories. Only a handful of villains make more than one appearance on the list, and the most frequently occurring villain, Magneto, only appears five times. I’d be interested to look at some of the other top 50 lists to see if it works out the same way, but with most other characters or teams, I feel like no matter how diverse their rogues’ gallery is, they’ll usually hit their highest heights against the same character (ie FF vs. Doom or Galactus, Spidey vs. Doc Ock or the Green Goblin)

Lue Lyron: I actually think that “Regular Show” thing would be neat. I might even draw it myself for fun (I may not be up to the level where I’d try out for “The Line it is Drawn”, but cartooning is my specialty).

Ron Koomas: Actually, you’ll be happy to hear that the death of Illyana and the “X-Cutioner’s…” epilogue have both been mentioned multiple times in the comments on various parts of the list. So those choices are far from flame-bait for this group, more like “praise-bait”!

No real surprise here. I think I finally got all of AoA together after all these years, and have to dive into it all again at some point.

Until Dr Traveler pointed it out, I didn’t realize that AoA and GMozz’s 7 Soldiers were structured in the same way…

OK, so on the 4-6 post, several people acted surprised that AoA made it, saying that there were 3 more Claremont stories that were a lock and there’s no way they didn’t make it. Is it because they weren’t thinking that the entire Dark Phoenix saga counted as one storyline and thought both that AND the Hellfire Club stuff were still appearing?

Great list and thanks for all the work, Brian. You so crazy!

Here was my list of votes:

1. “Dark Phoenix Saga”
2. “Days of Futures Past”
3. Uncanny X-Men #205, “Wounded Wolf”
4. Uncanny X-Men #150, “I, Magneto”
5. X-Men #57-59, “The Sentinels Live!”
6. “Mutant Massacre” (Uncanny X-Men #210-213 and various crossover issues)
7. “Bloodties” (Avengers / X-Men crossover)
8. Uncanny X-Men #162-167, “Broodworld” story arc
9. Uncanny X-Men #171, “Rogue”
10. Uncanny X-Men #297, “Up and Around”
Honorable Mention : “God Loves, Man Kills” graphic novel (because I forgot to vote for it when I cat my ballot)

I guess most of these made it into the top fifty, which is cool. This was fun. Thanks for all the hard work, Brian!

I’m surprised that Uncanny X-Men Annual 10 didn’t make the top 50. Arthur Adams, X-Babies, Longshot, Mojo, and New Mutants. What’s not to like?

@TJCoolGuy: would love to see it! We drew them a little, earlier this year. AT caricature/ portrait gigs at parties, it is good to know them and Adventure time for the kids. I figure, Rigby for Wolverine, Eilene as Kitty…Starla as Emma Frost, Margaret as Storm…Pops as Professor X perhaps, and Skips as the Beast. Maybe Muscle Man as Colossus :-D Was on the fence about Benson and Mordecai…the Avengers Alliance game has us saying “Get Back to Work!” whenever Cyclops uses his Morale Boost power.

ONe thing, upon reflection…a lot of great one and done stories back there. I remember when “offbeat” issues during the Shooter era were always favorites! I will be looking for those Lobdell stories one day. And really? I crave NEW X-Men comics from the past year or so…I have a new writer or two for whom I’ll look. Kelly Thompson already has me excited about the X-Women team. Gosh, I just don’t know if there will be a LCS when I get back to GA; we just lost the last owner standing to an illness this January. I spent so very many hours in his store. The Comics Legal Defense Fund aided Gordon Lee in one of the most high-profile censorship cases in American Comics. Funny I just saw Jay-Z performing “Picasso” tonight, because a naked depiction of Picasso somehow started the whole mess! Nope, not Witchclaw…a saggy old fanny.

Brian, thanks for running the poll.

I wanted to echo the calls for you to share 51-75 or 51-100 with us. 88% of the top 50 ended up being either Claremont, multi-author crossovers, Morrison or Whedon. All of which I’m familiar with and all of which makes sense. However, one of the things I enjoy most about your polls is finding about out arcs and runs that are new to me. I suspect a few of these would turn up once you get past the top 50.

Anything that starts with “In this alternate universe storyline…” doesn’t count. If you can’t write a good story in a situation that has no impact on continuity then you should NOT be drawing a paycheck as a writer.

While it is tempting to not vote for the best stories trusting other people to vote for them instead -if too many people did so an all-time classic may fail to make the chart.
HellFireClub/Dark Phoenix was my number 1 representing the moment when XMen was at it’s peak
..and Days of Future Past with it’s powerful but bleak future was my number 3
..bringing me to an expected 8/10
1) Hellfire Club/Dark Phoenix saga
2) God Loves, Man Kills
3) Days of Future past
4) I, Magneto
5) the sentinels live
6) Into the land of Death (Marvel Fanfare 1-4)
7) Nightcrawler’s Inferno (annual 4)
8) strangers in a savage land (XMen 62,63)
9) Blood Feud
10) to save the savage land (World tour)

odd that XMen 1 didn’t make the list
Some people always seem to vote for these early landmark issues so they usually get enough votes to get in (e.g. issues 1 and 4 made the Avengers list).
XMen 1 is better than most of those but didn’t make it.
Maybe because it didn’t include Wolverine

Nice to see someone else voted for the Marvel Fanfare opening arc. Thanks, as always, to Brian for spending the time and effort on putting together these lists and for tolerating the truly bats**t insane entries like mine — which, incidentally, is as follows:

1. Giant-Size X-Men #1 “Deadly Genesis”
2. X-Men (1st Series 1963) #111-113 “Magneto Triumphant”
3. What If? (vol. 2) #46-47 “Cable Had Destroyed the X-Men / Magneto Took Over The USA?”
4. X-Men Adventures #7-8 “Yearning to be Free (Genosha)”
5. X-Men (1st Series 1963) #123-124 “Arcade’s Murderworld”
6. X-Men Animation Special Graphic Novel “Pryde of the X-Men”
7. X-Men Adventures #10-12 “The Cure (The Muir Island Saga)”
8. Marvel Fanfare #3-4 “X-Men In The Savage Land”
9. X-Men (1st Series 1963) #8 “The Uncanny Threat of Unus the Untouchable”
10. Uncanny X-Men #246-247 “Mastermold/Nimrod, Siege Perilous”

Just barely missing the cut were “Dream’s End” (Uncanny X-Men #388, Cable #87, Bishop The Last X-Man #16, X-Men #108)…

…and The Uncanny X-Men “Madness In Murderworld” Promotional Comic which has the excellent Konami arcade game line-up, as well as Sentinels, Magneto, Juggernaut, Blob, Mystique, Pyro, White Queen, Wendigo, Silver Samurai and Arcade all in only 16 pages and Mark Bagley on pencils!

Claremont and Byrne. That is my definition of X-Men. The franchise still uses concepts and ideas put out there by that creative team. Lots of good stuff.

I think Marvel is starting to saturate the X market. Too many books and teams again. There have been lots of great issues throughout the years. Nothing has been as innovative, groundbreaking, original as the Claremont/Byrne years. They gave the X-Men an identity; they put in concepts about human hatred towards mutants; they added a touch of sophistication to comics…the list goes on. We get a lot of that now but these guys were some of the first. Today’s stories still use these ideas and concepts (too often in my opinion).

Solid list.

Why is there so little love for the Gambit and the X-ternals mini?

It is possibly my favorite part of the AoA crossover. The whole battle isn’t that fun in AoA, what makes it fun is the relationships that are present. The new ones benefit from our expectations of the 616 ones.

G&X focuses on this and the choices people that are caught in the middle have to make. the space story is just a backdrop for these things.

There was a very interesting triangle between Rouge, Gambit and Magneto going on. Rouge had feelings for Gambit and vice versa. Gambit wanted to act on them. Magneto stopped it and nearly killed Gambit. For Rouges sake Gambit left the X-mens and lived his Robin Hood life while still being in love with Rouge. Charles gets kidnapped and Magneto has to ask Gambit for help. It wasn’t simple. Magneto hated gambit, Gambit hated Magneto. Rouge had feelings for both of them. No “I grudingly respect you now” shit going on after it. Gambit did it for Rouge and it cost Sunspot his life, Guido too. They all had to live with the choices they had made. Rouge new what it costed everyone and herself but she made her choice. Magneto showed us that even if he was the X-mens leader he was still not a pleasant man, just in a better spot to fit his personality. It showed Gambit making losing choices because of love and in the end finally making the right one.

Luckily the Hellfire Club story was specifically spelled out as counting as part of Dark Phoenix Saga in the rules so as to avoid any confusion.

Yes, as the very last ruling “J”…which still makes no logical sense with ruling “I” that World Tour is separate (and was mentioned multiple times in the comments of the top 50 listings), other than it overwhelmingly stacks the deck for the Phoenix Saga.

The Dark Phoenix Saga is the ur-story of modern comics. Before Alan Moore’s Miracleman, The Judas Contract, Squadron Supreme, The Maximortal, Parallax, Kingdom Come, Civil War, Red Son, Final Crisis, Irredeemable, Injustice etc., there was Jean Grey as a superhero gone mad with power and killing millions. Sure, those millions were nonhuman-looking aliens, but it was a seminal story – not just the descent into madness but the severe consequences and traumatic aftermath. It has been done better several times but Claremont and Byrne did it first, a third of a century ago.

Thanks for the poll Brian – although I did not vote. Love reading everyone’s comments.
I would have thrown in some votes for Claremont’s 2000 + return – maybe Dreams End.
I think much of XTreme Xmen is underated too (Claremont and Larocca were an amazing team ).
I particularly loved Uncanny #444 (love me more Alan Davis).
I would have thrown votes to Dark Phoenix; Magik; From the Ashes and Inferno (enjoyed the Madelyne arc – poor woman). i also enjoyed #151 – 152 – where Kitty joins the Massachusets Academy .
Probably Mutant Massacre. Really love the whole chunk from the 180s to 220s but hard to break some of it into individual storylines. Loved Rachel becoming the Phoenix and battling the Beyonder. And Storm’s depowering.
While I enjoyed Whedon’s run I’m not sure if I would have put them into my Top 10. With Morrison I may have voted for Imperial or Murder in the Mansion. And I am particularly fond of Carey’s Blinded by the Light and Messiah Complex.

I hate seeing these lists and realizing I missed the voting. Oh well. Interesting list. Age of Apocalypse at 3 is mind boggling.

I was shocked to see Age of Apocolypse so high. As far as I am concerned it is utter dreck, especially the art. I seem to be in the minority in this opinion, though, and I wonder if it’s because I basically skipped the 90’s when it came to comics.

I grew up ready comics starting in the mid-70’s and read just about everything Marvel and DC published from then through ~89 when I went to college (and couldn’t afford comics any more). I read a few things during the 90’s, but hated most of it (Death of Superman, the transition from New Mutants to X-Force, pretty much anything involving Gambit) and became convinced that guys like Rob Leifeld and Todd Macfarlane plus the whole comics speculation thing had absolutely ruined comics. It was like every comic had to be dark and brooding because Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns were so successful. Blech.

I started reading again in the early 00’s and found a real mixed bag. Some stuff I loved (Grant Morrison’s New X-men run, Judd Winnick’s Exiles, some of the Ultimate universe stuff, Invincible, etc…) and other stuff not so much (Infinite Crisis, Avengers Disassembled). I started paying more attention to creators instead of characters like when I was younger and for the most part that helped.

Then about a year ago, I noticed a friend of mine had a copy of the 4 volume X-Men: Age of Apocalypse: The Complete Epic and asked to borrow it because it was such a big storyline in the X-Men lore. So borrowed and read it and…

I just don’t get the acclaim. I couldn’t find anything enjoyable about it. Maybe if I had read more of the crap that came out in the 90’s, I would have appreciated AoA at least “by comparison” but I don’t know. /shrug

It just seems wrong to me to have it ranked with Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past. My opinion and nothing more.

Great list! The first issue of “X-Men” I ever bought was #111, where the “new” X-Men were captured by Mesmero. That was the famous issue that ended with Magneto’s last page appearance. I later realized that I picked up the issue (I had not really known much about the X-Men before then – just an appearance in an issue of Captain America when Cap first encountered the Banshee) specifically because of the art. It was Byrne’s second issue drawing the X-Men (#109 was his first; I can’t recall who did #110, but it wasn’t Byrne) and I was blown away. After that, I became an X-Men follower, and part of a phenomenon. X-Men quickly went from being published every two months to being a monthly comic.

@James Felix: as James said, those really were incredible times for comics. As I recall, at that specific time, the “Teen Titans” by Wolfman and Perez was the only other comic coming out that rivaled the X-Men, though the Avengers under Shooter were also producing some great stuff. It was a great thrill to be a kid getting these issues of the X-Men. Going down to the drugstore every week, hoping that the newest issue came in, was agonizing. I finally subscribed to the series to guarantee that I got every issue, though the subscription issues always arrived late.

Anyway, this is all to say that the initial Claremont/Byrne run really was fantastic. I have not read the X-Men in years – at some point, it all became too complex, too many different books, too much questionable plot developments. But those early days and the run-up to the Dark Phoenix Saga were fantastic. The stories were manageable, the characters were believable, human and sympathetic, and the final fate of the Phoenix was deeply touching and heartbreaking.

Marvel ruined much of it by retconning the storyline, of course, and making the being that died a copy of Jean. It’s sad -albeit not surprising – that Marvel could not have left this classic alone.

One nitpick: I disagree with part of the summation of the Dark Phoenix Saga. When Jean’s Phoenix power is restored on the moon during the battle with the Imperial Guard, she is not after revenge. Indeed, she is in control of her power. She takes out the Shi’ar battleship precisely so it cannot attack her (and the X-Men) on the surface of the moon, and then she doesn’t strike back when the X-Men attack her (on Prof X’s orders). Indeed, she wants to be attacked. This burns off her power and makes her vulnerable enough to be harmed by the laser that she uses to commit suicide.

Pretty anti-climatic list, as its just repeating the same stories that we have seen on dozens of other similar lists.

And I know I am in the minority, but I still find everything Grant Morrison did to the X-Men to be absolute rubbish. But I know thats just me…

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