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50 Greatest X-Family Stories: 30-26

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! Here is a master list of every story featured so far.

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).


30. “The Sword is Drawn” Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn, Excalibur #1-2

The trade paperback Marvel did of this included Excalibur #1-5, so a bunch of people voted that way. I honestly think “only” the graphic novel should count, but #1-2 of the ongoing series are close enough that I’m willing to count them as a compromise. Anyhow, this is the tale by Chris Claremont, Alan Davis and Paul Neary of how Excalibur was formed. Shadowcat and Nightcrawler are in Muir Isle, fully recovered from their injuries during the Mutant Massacre. Sadly, before they were healed, the X-Men were killed (Surprise! They really weren’t!). Meanwhile, Captain Britain is also super sad that his sister, Psylocke, was killed with the rest of the X-Men (Surprise! She really wasn’t!). His girlfriend, Meggan, is sad as well. The two pairs are drawn together when another former X-Man, Rachel “Phoenix” Summers shows up. Roma (sort of the boss of the Multiverse. She also happens to know that the X-Men aren’t dead but doesn’t tell Captain Britain because…well, she can often be a bit messed up like that) says that Rachel is a threat to the Multiverse. So he and Meggan go to get her. Meanwhile, Nightcrawler and Kitty are also drawn to help their old teammate, who is being hunted down by Mojo’s Warwolves. They all team up and stop the Warwolves and they figure, hell, with the X-Men dead (not really dead), they might as well keep the dream alive and continue on as a new superhero team, Excalibur! In the first two issues of the series, the Warwolves show up again. They capture Kitty, who had disguised herself as Rachel. Excalibur must then rescue her.

29. “Final Execution” Uncanny X-Force #25-35

Rick Remender’s run on Uncanny X-Force (and the series as a whole) come to a close with the Final Execution Saga, drawn by Mike Mckone, Phil Noto, Julian Totino Tedesco and Dave Williams. Wolverine’s son, Daken, essentially puts together an X-Force Revenge Squad made up of some of the baddest villains you’ll ever see, like Sabretooth, Omega Red, Mystique, the Shadow King and the Age of Apocalypse Blob (who killed the wife of the latest member of Uncanny X-Force, the Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler). Part of Daken’s plan is to take young Evan, the Apocalypse clone that the X-Men have been keeping under wraps, and manipulate him into embracing his supposed villainous nature, to prove to Wolverine that basically nothing he has done matters. It’s all rough stuff and the rest of X-Force does not fair much better. In the end, Wolverine must make a terrible decision for the sake of the greater good, which is sort of the principle X-Force was founded on.

28. The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix #1-4

While on their honeymoon, Cyclops and Jean Grey were transported to the future in different bodies. They take the names Redd and Slym (“So your name is Slim?” “No, Slym.” “That’s what I said.” “No, Slym, with a Y.” “Slimy?”) and end up actually raising Nathan Christopher Summers, who is sort of their son (Cyclops’ son with a clone of Jean Grey). Nathan had been sent into the future awhile back and now Cyclops was getting the chance to spent time with his son once again. The rest of the series details their journey raising him from a baby to an adolescent, helping him keep the techno-organic virus he was infected with in the past from killing him. They never tell the boy that they are really his actual parents. In the end, they help stop Apocalypse in the future, although a clone of Nathan named Stryfe (“Strife?” “No, Stryfe, with a Y” “Strifey?”) takes over from Apocalypse. Their duty done, they get sent back to Earth, as the decade they spent in the future was only a moment in the present. Before they get to the past, an older Rachel Summers (who is also in the future) tells Jean Grey that she should call herself Phoenix again. Scott Lobdell wrote it, Gene Ha penciled it and about a gazillion different guys inked it.

Story continues below

27. “The Necrom Saga” Excalibur #42-50

Alan Davis, the original artist and co-plotter on Excalibur returns to draw AND write the series (along with inker Mark Farmer). He returned with a long saga that involved a number of unresolved subplots from the beginning of the Excalibur series. The key issues in the series are #46-50, which revealed the powerful (and evil) sorcerer know as Necrom who was the teacher of the powerful Merlyn (father of Roma, who basically formed Excalibur back in the day). Necrom had left our Earth in fear of the Phoenix Force, which was wielded by one of Necrom’s other students, Feron. Necrom left behind a force before he left that would eventually grow to become the Anti-Phoenix. Necrom spent his time on thie other Earth preparing for when he would return and take care of business. Merlyn spent centuries preparing the defense of our Earth, including creating the Captain Britain Corps. Eventually, Necrom shows up, along with a new mutant named Kylun, who has magical blades that could kill Necrom. Necrom merges with the Anti-Phoenix and basically all of the Multiverse is at risk. Excalibur fights him but it is really down to Rachel to see if she can’t stop him (somewhere far from the Earth, to minimize damage). This was a really enjoyable story with lots of cool subplots (Nightcrawler training Technet to be a superhero team, for one) that culminated in a battle that fully realized all of the machinations and behind the scenes dealings in Excalibur leading up to this point. Great stuff.

26. Generation Next #1-4

Set in the Age of Apocalypse universe (written by Scott Lobdell and drawn by Chris Bachalo and Mark Buckingham), the Generation X of this universe is led by Colossus and his wife, Shadowcat. Colossus is sort of short a screw as his ideas on teamwork are basically “fight each other to the death. Whichever kids are left are therefore the best of the bunch”). Colossus is given the assignment by Magneto (head of the X-Men on this worl) to rescue Colossus’ sister, Illyana, who could serve as a force in fixing the Age of Apocalypse universe (due to her ability to travel through Limbo). So Colossus and the young mutants under his charge try to rescue Illyana, but the adventure goes horrifically wrong and in a chilling final issue, we learn where Colossus’ loyalties really spand. It’s one of the more shocking final issues (a little bit less so since these were all alternate realty characters, so if any of them die it is not exactly a big deal, but still, Colossus has some pretty whacked out priorities).


Lots of good stuff here. Glad to see “Final Execution” make it. I think it WAS a step down from the greatness that Remender’s X-Force had achieved up to that point, but it was still a really good story, and it reads much better as a whole (rather than in monthly installments over a year’s time).

If that run of x force is included than the rest of the series is probably going to dominate alot of the higher spots.

Final Execution was one of I think only two UXF stories that made it. Noto’s art is top-notch and the Wolverine/Daken scene was brutal to read. Plus, it has a shark!

The last page of Generation Next #4 is still fresh in my mind 17 years after publication. Powerful stuff.

Generation NeXt was the first from my list to appear here. And it deserves to be here. Of all of the AoA minis this is easily the most powerful and the one that makes it most clear how WRONG the AoA is and how dangerous that world is.

And again, I’m enjoying this list. Very unpredictable.

wow, pretty quick. I like this list

THE SWORD IS DRAWN was on my short list …but I ended up requiring my top 20 to feature no more than 4 stories for any team and there were 4 Excalibur stories I preferred (the comment about the voting reduces my hopes for 1 of them).

and on the subject of Excalibur stories my number 3 Excalibur choice (number 6 or 7 overall) was the Necrom saga with Alan Davis’ return, the debut of Cerise and that first meeting with Nightcrawler (and technet) and tried to enquire what the native life form looks like…

…I loved the series (maybe its partially local bias because I’m a fellow Corbyite but I insist the inventiveness, the characters, the humour, etc all contributed)

so I’m now on 1/10. ( a good start to my predicted 4/10 approx)

Half-way through and still 0-for.

Ugh. I hated Final Execution. It was just a long, drawn-out, boring arc.

I liked everything else here, though. Excalibur was always great. Loved that series.

I was disappointed in Final Execution, especially after the Dark Angel Saga, but perhaps it reads better in one sitting. There’s an Omnibus coming out next year, that’s on my list.

Glad to see some Alan Davis Excalibur here!

Ugh. Remender. Trash.

BTW, in the “Necrom Saga” write up, you never mention Alan Davis by name. He is only referred to as “He”.

BTW, in the “Necrom Saga” write up, you never mention Alan Davis by name. He is only referred to as “He”.

Also as “the original artist and co-plotter of Excalibur”! :) But yes, obviously that needs to be fixed. Thanks!

I’m now 2 for 10, and also regretting not just doing pure Alan Davis arcs, but glad others did, good job!

The Sword is Drawn, Excalibur 1-2, I own these and love them during! I doubt Cross-Time will make the list as boy is that drawn out, with what, three fill in issues (which really extends the entire storyline when I reread the entire series last year).

Final Execution, I own issues 25, 26, 27, 30, 31, some amazing plot points happen in those issues.

Brian, very fun write up for Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix. Never read it, as I feel like the one sentence for Cable has already been enough for me. Son of Cyclops, sent to the future as a boy, comes back to the present as an old man battle worn man. Everything else is just bonus or unnecessary.

The Necrom Saga, that’s a good name for issues 42-50, such a fun ride. Just love Davis/Farmer’s entire run on Excalibur.

Generation Next, Bachalo at the top of his game (hasn’t really fallen either). Such an amazing story and when people say “Age of Apocalypse” it is Generation Next that comes to my mind first. Love that version of Kitty Pryde and one of the few times a young Illyana is depicted as well. Forgot she had Limbo powers in AoA, I thought it was just time travel portals but my memory of her part in the story is vague.

Top 25 next! Have no real qualms with what has been listed thus far. Expecting a couple Wolverine arcs and hopefully at least two more New Mutants and Excalibur arcs to still show up.

Excalibur #42-50 by Alan Davis & Mark Farmer was in the number one spot on my list of votes! I was a huge fan of Excalibur when I was a teenager. But between the last few chapters of “Cross Time Caper” and these issues, wow, the book was really uneven, both in terms of writing and artwork. Some really good stuff, some really awful stuff, and quite a lot of merely average stuff. And then Alan Davis returned with issue #42. Suddenly the series was an absolutely amazing read once again. Each month I couldn’t wait for the next issue to arrive. I really should re-read these again.

It is amazing that they didn’t just cancel the book instead of handing it to Lobdell for a while until Davis was available again. That’s what they would do nowadays. But it is a rought seven issues until it gets good again.

Excalibur 42-50 remains one of my favorite run of comics. The humor was genuinely funny, and Davis’s storytelling was inventive. There is SO MUCH going on in those comics, but Davis kept everything crystal clear. The new characters were good (to this day, I wish Cerise & Nightcrawler remained a couple and Kylun was still running around the Marvel U) and the art was vibrant and assured.

The Sword is Drawn is a good intro to the team, even if it paled compared to the later solo Davis issues (which I’d read first). Nightcrawler’s speech to Captain Britain (“…but I am alive, Herr Braddock!”) was a highlight for me, and the Technet’s always fun.

Generation Next was one of the highlights of Scott Lobdell’s career, and Bachalo turned in some of his best art. For me, it’s the highlight of Age of Apocalypse.

Generation Next and The Sword is Drawn were #3 and 4 on my list, respectively. Aoa was 2 or 3 on my X-Men list, and Gen Next was the easily best mini out of that. And that’s despite me not being a fan of Generation X at the time.

I found Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix to be pretty underwhelming when I read it back when I came out. One problem I have with the story is them spending a decade in the future, then coming back a second after they left and acting like no big thing happened. The same type of thing is going on currently in Captain America, too. The thing is, with Marvel’s sliding timescale, they basically spent as much time, if not more, in the future or Dimension Z as they did as X-Men or Avengers or active super-heroes. That 10+ years away makes that their real life now, not the main Marvel U. Imagine if you were all of a sudden plopped back into your body from 10 years ago. They probably wouldn’t even remember the names of half the heroes they interact with, since to them they were just some random co-workers from over a decade ago. Neither Cyclops and Phoenix or Cap should be readjusting to their old lives so easily. Especially since both sets of them spent their time in the alternate timeline/dimesnions as parents and then essentially lost their children.

Sorry about that, I’ll turn my rant off.

Extremely balanced list so far. No series has more than three entries and all eras are represented.

Extremely balanced list so far. No series has more than three entries and all eras are represented.

It’s pretty darn shocking how balanced the end list is. I was quite surprised.

The balance is a good thing (though it would be nice to see more different solo characters in (hopefully some to come)
(There are other valid teams but I don’t know if any are going to make it)

whether any series has had 4 entries yet depend on which you count as the same series
There have been 4 X Factors (1 original, 1 1st PAD, 2 2nd PAD) and 4 XForces (1 Cable, 1 post-Cable Road Trip, 2 Wolverine’s team) (and if you consider the Road trip story in XForce to be New mutants then that would increase New Mutants to 4)

My own disputable summary so far
New Mutants (including Road Trip) 4 (3 if you don’t count Road Trip)
Wolverine (solo) 3
XFactor (PAD version) 3
Excalibur (UK version) 3
XStatix 2
XForce (Wolverine’s) 2
XFactor (original) 1
Cable and XForce 1 (or 2 if you count Road Trip)
Exiles 1
New XMen 1
Generation X/Next 1
misc solos/duos 3
With 0 for Excalibur (Xavier), Generation Hope, Dark XMen, XMen 2099, etc

The Final Execution was eighth on my list. I almost didn’t include it, but there’s a scene during the final issue that firmly establishes one of the characters as the true soul of the team that’s just such an amazing moment that I couldn’t let it off my list. I haven’t read anything about Daken outside of UXF and Utopia, but I still found the moments between him and Wolverine to be heartbreaking. I absolutely loved the way Remender wrote Deadpool throughout the whole series, and it might be my favorite depiction of him. Some of his best moments of the series happened here. And the art…just amazing work by Noto. UXF had absolutely amazing art throughout nearly the entire series (#19-23 being the exceptions, though the Otherworld arc had some gorgeous covers from Leinil Yu). Dean White deserves a lot of credit for his coloring work on that series too. I was a bit bummed that he didn’t finish the series out, but Frank Martin Jr. came in and did some very excellent work without dropping the ball.

Never read Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, but I remember it being a bit of a “thing” while growing up. I know the important parts well enough as it was integral to the phenomenon that was Cable, but I’d still like to track it down and read it at some point.

I didn’t see much point in voting for any AoA stuff as I thought it all got it’s due during the X-Men list, though if I’d seriously considered voting for any of it I don’t think any of it would have made my list anyway. Generation Next was probably the most consistently enjoyable of the “regular” series that made up AoA. Some pretty crazy stuff, even by AoA standards.

Haven’t read any of the Excalibur stuff. Some day, though.

interesting to see excalibur getting some much love. though surprised to see the cyclops and jean mini on this list at this ranking for that thing has got to be really confusing . final exicution shows that some time even wolverine no matter what he does will wind up losing a battle plus also shows how nasty nightcrawler can be .

Maybe I need to re-read Final Execution in one shot, but I thought it was terrible.

It went on for way too long, but the blame on that partly goes to the same problem the series as a whole had, which was an abuse of traveling to alternate timelines as story device.
No wonder Logan was the one who broke the timestream in Age Of Ultron.

I was surprised to see Cyclops and Phoenix on here. I didn’t think it was very good.

Excalibur definitely belongs, though. If I had voted, I certainly would’ve included the first two issues somewhere in my top five, possibly as number one. Without the graphic novel, though. It’s pretty good, don’t get me wrong, but the first two issues of the regular series are just so much better.

I didn’t vote for Generation Next since I already voted for it as part of AoA in the last poll, but it’s still an amazing story. If I hadn’t put limits on my list (no voting for things I already voted for), this easily would have made my top 5.

Also, big fan of Remender’s UXF, but I only had one slot on my list for him and this was maybe my least favorite of his arc. But to each his own.

Also, I have yet to read TACaP, which surprises me as someone who’s a big fan of Cable, Stryfe, 1990s X-Men stories, Gene Ha and Lobdell. I have heard a lot of good things about it, I’m surprised Marvel hasn’t released a trade collecting this and the Askani’son mini.

I’m going to be very disappointed in humankind if the top 25 isn’t chock-full of Milligan’s X-Force/X-Statix…

I didn’t see this list till about two hours after voting was finished, but I am glad to see at least two of my favorite stories are here. Excalibur was by far one of my favorite comics ever. The first comic I ever bought for myself was Excalibur #2. I would like to see a couple more of their stories on this list, like their inferno cross over, Kitty in the movies was great. So far I agree that most of the stories on this list are good, but I never really cared for the Cyclops and Phoenix story. I agree with Jazzbo that they should have had more of a reaction when they were returned to their own time. I don’t think that they would forget the other x-men of the time, because back then they were more of a family than they are now. I could see them maybe forgetting some of the peripheral characters such as Forge, Strong Guy, and Warpath, but they were very connected with most of the others, at one time or another.

Wow these are surprisingly some great comics. These might even be as good as the original list of top X-Men stories, more diversity with all the spinoffs. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

It’s been said, but I’m super happy to see both “Generation Next” and “Excalibur” on here. Also, as far as the latter goes, we have both Claremont/Davis and just Davis runs here together, which is awesome. I only recently bought the Necrom saga in trade and devoured it for the first time (only read the Claremont/Davis stuff as a kid), and it was fantastic. I don’t know that there has ever been a comic like “Excalibur” at its best.

Also, Gen Next makes me even more excited to see what of “Generation X” will show up…

Would have voted for both The Sword is Drawn and the Necrom Saga.
Huge Alan Davis fan here – also loved his stint on X-Men (late 90’s) and Uncanny X-men with Claremont (Reloaded).

“The Necrom Saga” and Generation Next 1-4 are truly some of the greatest X-comics of all time. Cyclops and Phoenix and The Sword Is Drawn are pretty good. “Final Execution” wasn’t even amongst the best fifty X-titles of last *year*.

“Final Execution” was pure crap.

People need to climb out of Remender’s ass. His very best work has been middling, but most of it is as awful as “Final Execution,” or worse.

Jazzbo, took the words out of my mouth. I HATE those time travel stories that last a reallllllyyyy long time and then they’re back to who they were before, with no change. Might have started with the Superman-Wonder Woman fight a war for 1,000 years one. Man, they suck.

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