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50 Greatest X-Family Stories: 40-36

In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the X-Men, we’re doing a poll of the greatest X-Family (spin-offs of the X-Men) stories of all-time (Here is our previous list of the 50 Greatest X-Men Stories)! You all voted, now here are the results of what you chose as the 50 Greatest X-Family 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.


40. “Judgement War” X-Factor #43-50

In this storyline by Louise Simonson, Paul Smith, Al Milgrom and Rich Buckler, X-Factor finds themselves transported to an alien world where the people are separated by how close each class is to “perfection.” Jean Grey, being pretty much perfect, is considered tops on the planet. Beast, not so much. X-Factor is split up and eventually Iceman and Archangel end up participating in gladiator combat against each other. And it turns out that the Celestials are coming to judge this world. Can X-Factor save it? Plus, since this storyline contained either an odd or an even numbered issue in it, baby Nathan was kidnapped.

39. “The Open Hand, The Closed Fist” X-Force #19

When the remaining members of the New Mutants joined up with Cable’s new team, dubbed X-Force, they essentially became terrorists, at least in the eyes of the world’s police authorities. The rest of the X-teams, though, were content to let them do their own thing until the events of the X-Cutioner’s Song, when it looked like Cable just shot Professor Xavier for no reason. So they were hunted down and after that story ended with Cable’s seeming death, X-Force was at a bit of a crossroads. They were still sort of wanted criminals, the X-Men were keeping them under house arrest and they didn’t even know if they wanted to continue together without Cable. Ultimately, Cannonball led the team away from X-Men custody, giving this big over-the-top speech to Professor X over whether they will follow the open hand approach (like Xavier) or the closed fist approach (like Cable). For Cannonball’s point to be made, he carries a mouse around in his hand. It is pretty funny. Also, the members of X-Force work out in the Danger Room and Shatterstar is referred to by the nickname “Shatty.” Awesome. Fabian Nicieza, Greg Capullo and Harry Candelario were the creative team.

38. “Old Man Logan” Wolverine #66-72, Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Sized #1


In this epic tale, it has been 50 years since Logan retired as Wolverine. Now he is trying to make a life with his family on the outskirts of one section of what the U.S. has become after super villains have conquered the nation.. The Hulk Gang, though (who are in charge of the section he lives in), draw him out of retirement and he must go on a cross country mission with a blind Hawkeye in the Spider-Mobile. The storyline is about a man trying to forget his past as a hero but just can’t ignore evil for any longer. Mark Millar, Steve McNiven and Dexter Vines was the creative team.

37. “Multiple Problems” X-Factor #71-75

Peter David, Larry Stroman and Al Milgrom took over X-Factor, revamping the title from “the original X-Men hang out together because they’re all co-dependent” to a government-sponsored mutant superhero team, starring the sort of remnants from the mutant world (the characters not popular enough to be picked to be on either the Blue or Gold X-Men teams). Disaster strikes early when it appears that Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, has been murdered. Instead, we learn that one of Jamie’s dupes has gone rogue and X-Factor must stop evil Jamie and his crew of Nasty Boys. Plus, they must deal with the nagging suspicion that “their” Jamie is actually the dupe and the evil one is the REAL Jamie. This story arc was especially noteworthy for the humorous approach David took towards the formation of a superhero team. A real Giffen/DeMatteis feel to things.

36. “The Shiva Scenario” Wolverine #48-50

After Weapon X introduced the concept of Wolverine not remembering everything about his past, Larry Hama, Marc Silvestri and Dan Green (plus extra inkers) explore Wolverine’s past by introducing the concept that he might actually not remember anything TRUE about his past. He learns that he was not the only test subject of Weapon X. Some of his old comrades like John Wraith were also in the project. As Wolverine digs to find answers about his past, he accidentally sets off a Weapon X safeguard – a robot designed to attack in case a test subject went haywire. This featured the return of Wolverine to his original costume (after nearly a decade of the John Byrne revamped costume).


“Multiple Problems” is my #1 favourite mutant story ever, including the ones with “X-Men” in the title. (I’m also glad that I own all these other than Judgement War, so this time I only need to track down that one story. From #50-#41 I need to hunt down four!)

It’s nice to be reminded that – despite what message boards would have you think – people still enjoy Mark Millar’s writing.

Sorry to be contrarian DanCJ, but I thought Old Man Logan was a top 5 worst comic book story I’ve ever read. And I’m honestly not a Milligan hater; I generally love his Ultimate stuff (I even think his Ultimate X-Men run is underrated), as well as his Swamp Thing and Authority runs. I even think Enemy of the State, while not great, still has its merits. But Old Man Logan, ugghhh… I generally consider my second least favorite comic story ever behind All-Star Batman and Robin. It’s nothing more than a rewrite of Unforgiven with Wolverine cast as Clint Eastwood and the setting of the Road Warrior subbing in for the old west. And while those genre thefts don’t necessarily make it a bad comic, Millar’s refusal to touch on anything interesting does. This story just caters to the lowest common denominator of letting Wolverine spend eight offensively decompressed issues being cool and tough, without ever once saying or doing something remotely interesting. There’s no character work here, just Millar using Wolverine in the worst possible way he can be used: an unkillable killer used for nothing more than splash-page fodder and getting teenage boys to excitedly discuss how cool he is.

I haven’t read Judgment War, but I like the others here. I thought that brief Nicieza/Capullo run on X-Force w/o Cable (basically just issues 19-24) was pretty fun and underrated at the time, so it’s nice to see it turn up here even if I didn’t consider voting for it. I did vote for Multiple Problems and The Shiva Scenario made my list of 20 or so options.

15 entries in so far and I’m pretty sure we’ve seen a dozen different writers, with only Claremont, David, and Milligan having two entries each. I’m enjoying this list.

So glad X-Force 19 made the list. I’m now on the board! I loved that issue, especially Cannonball’s speech at the end. I put different X-Factor issues on my list, but I can definitely support X-Factor 71-75 being on there. Some great issues and moments. I read and enjoyed the Shiva Scenario when I was a kid, but never revisited. Does it really hold up. I remember my favorite issue of the Judgement War being the fill-in issue with Warren and the runaways. Seemed like good stuff at the time!

i am still just one for 10. stories i didn’t even consider are making the list, so im pretty sure i’ll be lucky to do 4/10..still good stuff.

Glad to see X-Force #19 on the list! Issues like that one always come to mind to dispel those offer rumors that ’90s X-comics weren’t very good. Nicieza’s characterizations were great.

On the other hand, I’m also really happy that Old Man Logan isn’t any higher. I was afraid it’d end up being top five. I don’t hate the story, but it’s just such an obvious, random, shock-value oriented tale, which seemed to overly impress people when it came out. Precious few (if any) of the developments we see in this future actually say anything interesting about the characters; it’s all just a bunch of goofy random stuff. I do actually like some of it, and think that it’s definitely a fun story, but to hear some people tell it, it’s the greatest classic in Wolverine history. Happy to see that, on this list at least, solid stuff like the “Shiva Scenario” beats out “Old Man Logan”.

Now all I have to worry about is the most cliche and boring holocaust story ever told (“Magneto Testament”) making the top ten…

Old Man Logan started off well but the conclusion sucked all the fun out of the story. It was unnecessarily violent and nihilistic, thus killing any fun I’d had with the previous issues.

Multiple Problems was fun. I’m amazed Peter David got the cast he was dealt to work as well as they did. Larry Stroman’s oddball angularity fit the cast, especially Guido & Rahne.

As goofy as it was, the “open hand/closed fist” scene is about all I remember from that era of X-Force. Teenage me thought it was deeeep, man.

Wolverine 50 sports one of my favorite enhanced covers. Marvel timed the release of 48-50 perfectly; those of us that liked Weapon X & wanted to know more could hop on to Wolverine the next month. Hama & Silvestri made a killer creative team.

Brian, I’m enjoying the snark that’s creeped into these plot descriptions.

The thing that struck me about Judgement War is how bad the art looks in comparison to previous Paul Smith X related work. I can’t tell for certain but I’m guessing the inker is to blame as I’ve not liked Al Milgrom’s inking elsewhere (sorry Al!)

I’m not surprised Old Man Logan made the list, I’m surprised its so early. I was expecting it in the top half, though honestly I expected this list to essentially be a best of Wolverine list with some Peter David X-factor thrown in. I’ve enjoyed being wrong.

None of my picks have made it yet, but I’m really enjoying this count down so far!

Old Man Logan would be my example of Millar at his worst if he hadn’t also written Kick Ass 2. As other commenters have put it, Old Man Logan is too many issues featuring “COOL OMG” moments that aren’t generative for character or even for the themes of redemption. It’s just empty window dressing. What does it say about Logan that Claremont didn’t do in one single issue?

OML(and much of Millar’s writing) is just a five year old’s fan wank ideas put on paper. “OMG what if Venom was a T-Rex?? ZOMG What if Red Skull was Captain Mmurica AND The President!!!” etc etc.

Oh, and professional attention whore Mark Millar paid me $20 to mention his name.

Still 0-for. I am kinda stunned Judgement War made the list. I thought it was terrible.

Haven’t read ANY of these, though I still kinda sorta intend to read some X-Factor someday.

Well, come to think of it, I guess I did read Old Man Logan, but with so little engagement that I hardly remember it.

Wow. Judgement War is the one section of my X-Factor collection that I sold off because it was so boring. A precursor for The Age if Decompression.

I voted for both “Judgment War” and “The Shiva Scenario.” But I’m really pleasantly surprised that the former made the Top 50. I honestly thought I was one of the few people to remember it, much less like it. Glad to see I’m not the only one who enjoyed it. Definitely had some nice writing by Louise Simonson.

I do agree that “The Open Hand, The Closed Fist” from X-Force #19 and “Multiple Problems” from X-Factor #71-75 were also both very good. Peter David’s first X-Factor story almost made my list of votes.

Never read “Old Man Logan,” though. Maybe one of these days.

Didn’t much enjoy Judgment War. Thought it was too long, rather dull, and mostly pointless.

Haven’t read X-Force #19.

I read Old Man Logan a couple years after it was published, and it’d been hyped quite a bit by that point. After finishing it, I thought it was over-hyped and underwhelming, but still alright. It didn’t help that I went into the story under a false pretense. “Wolverine meets Unforgiven? Hell yes I want to read that!” Yeah, that’s not really the case. I can sort of see the Unforgiven comparison when talking about the first and last issue, but not the meat of the story. I thought it was a mostly goofy story set in a very interesting, but poorly utilized, world. The setting is rife with potential, but it saw practically no development in the story outside Wolverine’s direct interaction with it, which was a shame.

Multiple Issues came really close to making my list. Peter David + X-Factor is one of the most sure-fire combinations in comicdom. Going back to this after reading his Decimation-era relaunch, you can see a lot of the trademarks of his work there already being established here. I think his later X-Factor work is more refined, but that first X-Factor run is still one of the best X-book runs ever and very much worth visiting (or revisiting). I knew it was well-received, but I was honestly surprised at just how well written and enjoyable it was.

Hama’s Wolverine run is a “whole is greater than its parts” thing for me. When I try to think of one story from that run to recommend to people I can never come up with one. Shiva Scenario’s not a bad choice, and is one of the higher points of his run. Thinking back, I’m not sure Hama actually did much to shine some light on Wolverine’s origin. Whenever he dove into it, especially the Weapon X stuff, there was always the feeling of “is that really true, or just more lies and manipulation?” But that mystery was an aspect of his run that I always enjoyed. He had a strong grasp of the character and did some fun and interesting things with him, and there was a subtle darkness to some of his stories that I associate with the run overall. Elsie Dee, and Albert to an ever so slightly lesser extent, were just a terrible ideas, however. I still mostly enjoy the run between #39-46, but whenever Elsie shows up I just wish she’d go away and never come back. But she still crept up from time to time after that run, though mostly as a side issue and never for very long. That batch of issues is pretty much the perfect example of my “sum is greater…” feelings about that run.

I really should read Judgment War just because of Paul Smith’s involvement.

I must have read X-Force 19 back in the day, just have no memory of it.

Old Man Logan, I own issue 70, the whole “What Wolverine Did” issue, which was amazing!

The Shiva Scenario, I own issue 50, which was pretty awesome what that did with the Wolverine mythos.

Not a bad assortment of issues here.

The Crazed Spruce

August 24, 2013 at 11:51 am

I get the feeling from the comments that you weren’t a fan, but X-Force 19 was one of the three stories on my list. Now if I could only have come up with three more, it would’ve gotten my vote.

(And it’s too bad you couldn’t have included a few pages from each story. Cannonball’s “open had/closed fist” speech deserves to be shared with the world. Mouse and all.)

I think the biggest problem with Old Man Logan is that it’s spread over too many issues. If Millar had trimmed it down to like 3, maybe 4, issues, instead of the 8 that we got, I think it would have been great. But it’s Millar, so why would he do 3 when he can do 8?

Peter David is always great, but Larry Stroman’s art was horrible even by ’90s standards.

The two x-factor runs were both on my list. Really surprised Judgement Wat made it. I wanted to read it again before I voted to see if it held up, but couldn’t find my x-factors. So I just voted from nostalgia.

John: Don’t. If you’e reading it just for the art then what’s here is nowhere near as good as previous Smith X-Men work.

Reprinted in a Essential X-Factor 3 in B&W. No colour reprint available.

Multiple Issues is one of my picks!
Love that story, even with Mr Sinister, who at that point was new to me and had not yet become one of my least favorite villains hahaha.

Shiva Scenario I liked a lot but didn’t make my list.
Same with X-Force #19, part of a great run until #25 that I almost voted for.

I finally read Old Man Logan recently and it’s boring pointless overextended overrated garbage with a few cool moments here and there.

Haven’t read Judgement War.

I am absolutely floored by some of these choices (in a good way.) I haven’t read some of these in over a decade and am shocked to see how well-liked they are when teenage me was just not impressed. Great poll!

Just a quick correction: I’m pretty sure the Hama/Silvestri team ended their run on Wolverine with the death of Mariko seven issues later.

None of mine have made the list (yet), but a lot of the X-Force stuff that made it so far would have been if I was listing a top 20. X-Force 19 especially.

I just wanted to question the tone these story descriptions were written in, it seems a little condescending for a greatest story list. X-Force 19 might seem silly in write up, but it was a really powerful issue at the time and obviously people felt for it to appear here.

Is the author of these not an X-fan?

Thanks Philip for the heads up. I absolutely love Paul Smith’s run on Uncanny, but I’ve never followed him to anything else except for his Shadow and Flame mini and that one She-Hulk issue. Keep meaning to give his Keave it to Chance but can never find it anywhere.

I do enjoy the Essential format, a slew of comics for only twenty dollars, what a deal. Maybe I’ll try Volume Three of X-Factor out if I can find it locally. Thanks for knowing which volume it is.

“This was the end of the acclaimed Hama/Silvestri run” I’m pretty sure their run continued on after 50, ending sometime later with the death of Mariko

oh, somebody beat me to it

Nothing from my list. I don’t have many memories of X-Force in general. I read it, it just never really left an impact on me. Multiple Issues almost made it just for the first issue alone – the mayo jar. Such a great gag. Old Man Logan was a fun story, and made my shortlist, but I just didn’t enjoy it enough to include on my final list. I’ve never particularly cared much about Wolverine. There was very little I truly enjoyed from the original X-Factor.

Just a quick correction: I’m pretty sure the Hama/Silvestri team ended their run on Wolverine with the death of Mariko seven issues later.

Yeah, good point. I was confused because of all the fill-in artists over the next few issues, but yeah, Silvestri still officially stuck with the book until the Mariko storyline.

Agree about the problems with Old Man Logan, which is especially frustrating because Millar wrote a superbly fun Wolverine story with “Enemy of the State”. The latter was a big dumb crossover adventure, but it was written inventively with a lot of neat twists and turns. The former was basically a bland merger of Hollywood tropes with Marvel Universe tropes, often in an aggravatingly cliche fashion (Hawkeye as the blind old master? Really?)

@John Klein III, Paul Smith had a great run on Doctor Strange in the 80’s as well. I only mention it because I just discovered it recently.

Marvel was really on a roll in the early 80’s. I can pick up almost any random issue and it’s good or great and then I read the Checklists for the month and just see all kinds of cool books written up as well. Not to mention EPIC Magazine and the Epic line.

And then you get things like Star Comics as well, but 10 year old me fondly remembers the Ewok comics…

Must pick up the Doctor Strange run.

There’s also a Iron man issue in the late 150s that he pencils that’s a lot like his X-Men work – Iron Man 159

Does anyone know if Smith changed his style or is it the Inker responsible for Judgement War looking different?

The inker, most likely. Most of Smith’s issues were just layouts.

Loving some of these writeups. They remind me of that favorite X-Men list, which was comedy gold, especially bits like Colossus liking the underage girls and Bobby Drake and Rogue being illiterate.

MULTIPLE PROBLEMS is the second story from my top 20 to make the list…it was at number 14
still none from the top 10

The only really meaningful that Old Man Logan contributed to comics as a whole was the most useless double-page spread in history. For those of you who’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about…

Still no X-23, sigh…

“the most useless double-page spread in history. For those of you who’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about…”

Yeah, I know.
But then, almost half of every issue was pointless splash pages/panels. The whole thing could have been easily condensed to about 4 issues.

Some great stories here. X-Force 19 was number 6 on my list; I love the pairing of Capullo and Nicieza on this book, and this may very well have been their strongest issue together. Also, as a Cannonball fan, his speech at the end is amazing.

The Shiva Scenario was 8 on my list; I just bought the Silvestri Wolverine Legends trade a couple months ago, and this story became an instant favorite of mine. I’ve always loved Silvestri’s art, and Hama was amazing while he was writing this book. This was back before the Weapon X stuff had gotten tedious, so I imagine it must have been very exciting for fans at the time. Not shocking that they ultimately made this story into a solid episode of the 90s cartoon.

Also, I’m a fan of the two X-Factor arcs here, as someone who is a big fan of both Paul Smith and Larry Stroman. I wish both guys had put out a lot more work, they’re both extremely talented.

I remember just HATING Strohman’s work on “X-Factor” when I first saw it. I later realized that was because I was like 10, and I wanted everyone to draw like Jim Lee. Looking back, I love it. It’s so stylistic and expressive and interesting.

Also not a fan of Stroman’s pencils – though Peter David’s XFactor deserves all the kudos it gets.

Rather surprised that Judgement War Made this list – also remember it being rather dull. Thought it was Walt Simonson on pencils. Oh well. I may be in the minority but I’d take Weezie’s New Mutants over her Xfactor.

I’m happy that these showed up on the list.

X-FORCE #19 : I do not think Cannonballs’ speech at the end was “over-the-top” or “funny”, as Brian Cronin does. As someone else said, it was a very powerful issue at the time :

It showed that X-Force had outgrown Xavier’s naive dream of co-existence and his methods, and that they were no longer the teenage New Mutants that had been under his wing.

After Rob Liefeld left, X-Force was quite brilliant and enjoyable, as far as writing and art. Fabian Nicieza and Greg Capullo were involved in some of the best Original X-Force stories. Tony Daniel had some great work in it, as well. I hope that more of the stories from that time show up on this list. # 20-25 definitely should.

WOLVERINE : Chris Claremont and Larry Hama are the only writers to really ‘get’ Wolverine… they are the only writers who have worked on the character and did an immensely enjoyable job. Their characterization of him was perfect…a far cry from the inconsistent portrayals of Logan we get nowadays.

# 48-50 was popular at the time. As someone else pointed out, it was when Weapon X as a story element had not been overdone yet. If only the film X-MEN ORIGINS : WOLVERINE could have been done as well as these issues and Barry Windsor-Smith’s WEAPON X.

More of Hama/Silvestri Wolverine should show up on the list.

OLD MAN LOGAN : People saying this was “shock value”, “unnecessarily violent”, and “nihilistic” : It’s by Mark Millar, those qualities are the style/tone of everything he writes ! What did you expect ?

I love alternate reality/timeline/future stories (nothing will ever beat “Days of Future Past”)…I would not say this was the worst, but it was far from the best.

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