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50 Greatest X-Family Stories: 15-13

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).

Enjoy!

15. “Enemy of the State” Wolverine #20-31

xfamily15

It’s really fascinating to see the impact that Hush had on comics. The idea of a “super run” by big name creators on a title was never really considered (except for Steve Englehart’s mid-70s DC work, but that was basically “I have X amount of time before I quit comics. Would you like me to do something in that time?”) until Hush showed how successful the concept could be. Mark Millar then followed that approach on Marvel Knights: Spider-Man and then on Enemy of the State, where he would come in, tell one epic story and then leave (Millar would later repeat his feat with Old Man Logan and his FF run). Enemy of the State is two six-part arcs, both drawn by John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson. The first, titled just “Enemy of the State,” revolves around the Hand brainwashing Wolverine and having him become the world’s most effective supervillain, raising an army of brainwashed superheroes. It ends with Wolverine being captured and then de-programmed, leading to the second arc, Wolverine, Agent of SHIELD, where he resolves to kill every single Hand member there is after what they did to him. It’s a grand, sweeping storyline packed with action and pathos. And a lot of awesome guest stars like Elektra.

14. “The Longest Night” X-Factor #1-6

The opening arc on Peter David’s X-Factor, this storyline both addresses the precarious nature of a mutant private investigation firm at a time when suddenly there were very few mutants left on Earth as well as introduce a powerful adversary for Jamie Madrox’s merry band of mutants. The now de-powered Julio Rictor joins the cast, as does Siryn, M and the breakout character of House of M, Layla Miller. Ryan Sook started off as the artist on the series but Dennis Calero quickly took over. These were powerful issues with extensive insights into the various cast members, setting a high bar for the rest of the series – a bar David has cleared with ease.

13. “Chilhood’s End” New X-Men #20-31

The other side of the “no more mutants” coin was New X-Men. This series had initially featured a variety of “Squads” of students at Xavier’s, with the two most prominent teams being the “Hellions” (Emma Frost’s students) and the “New Mutants” (Dani Moonstar’s students), with the New Mutants being more or less the stars of the book. However, then M-Day happened and many students were no longer mutants. With things being very precarious, as anti-mutant hysteria was now at a fever pitch (with anti-mutant racists figuring that they could now wipe out mutants all together), Emma Frost decided to revamp the approach of the students at Xavier’s and instead just pick one squad that they could concentrate on as the main team. After a free for all, the new team consisted pretty much of a mixture of the New Mutants and the Hellions (shocking, I know). However, things were only going to get worse as the evil Reverand Stryker was planning an all-out assault on the X-Men. First, as the former mutants were all shipped home, they were attacked and many were killed in front of their friends! Next, an all out assault on the school by Stryker and his evil Purifiers began and more mutants were killed. Things went from bad to worse when the futuristic Sentinel known as Nimrod was brought to attack the young mutants, as well. This set of harrowing events were written by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost and took place over three four-part mini-arcs. The art on the first mini-arc was by Mark Brooks and Jaime Mendoza. Paco Median and Juan Vlasco drew the last two (with one fill-in issue by Duncan Rouleau).

46 Comments

Seriously people? Enemy of The State was terrible.

O.K. terrible might have been extreme but still…

^Translation: Mark Millar’s beliefs are not the same as my own therefore his work sucks by proxy.

was wondering if enemy of the state would make the list since it shows how wolverine is a real power ful living weapon if in the wrong hands. and also the price one will like the hand will pay for messing with him. the longest night showed how if he is given the okay peter david can make certain characters like even rictor interesting again. childhoods end shows that even with low numbers the x-men and fellow mutants still will be targeted by those who want to destroy them and stryker is still one nasty sob as a x-villain

Miscalculated earlier: I actually have TWO that have made the list now: “X-Aminations II” and “The Longest Night.” I actually voted for the latter as a combined story with “Life and Death Matters,” as it forms a more complete narrative, but I guess others did not. Ah, well.

Red – I never said Mark MIller’s work sucks or made any remarks on his beliefs. There are plenty of his stories I kinda dig, Enemy of the State is not one of them, it’s repetitive and derivative. I guess you just felt like judging and that’s cool too I guess…

I voted for a lot of single issue one and done stories I now believe won’t make this list. But wow if this isn’t a good list anyways.

And I’m not surprised to see Enemy of the State. It’s a fairly high profile and well selling project by a “top name” creator. That usually guarantees a spot on lists like this.

I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of Uncanny X-Force. Just one arc so far.

I voted for Enemy of the State, as it was one of my two “Wolverine” votes that I allowed for the list, bringing me to 3 successful entries thus far. That’s probably where I will end, with maybe just one more making the cut.

I was tempted to write it in as Enemy of the State/Agent of SHIELD but I only own the last issues of that section of the story. I have issues 20-25, then 30-31.

The Longest Night, I read and really enjoyed, I’m sure I was following this version of X-Factor for at least the first 25 issues and they were all very good. I only kept 9, 11, 23. Which I doubt any of those three will make this list.

Childhood’s End, I own 21, 23, 24, 26, 31, such an amazing run by Yost and Kyle. Couldn’t believe what those two did to the characters and to the title. They for sure left an impact and became “those guys” afterwards.

Can’t believe we are so close to finding what what “just messed” the top ten!

Childhood’s End was just brutal. I liked those kids. It was well written, but I can’t say I really enjoyed it. On the other hand, their murders got me board for Cyclops and Wolverine’s X-Force kill squad, which perhaps was the point.

Finally read Enemy of the State just weeks ago, and it wasn’t that great. I expected, I don’t know, more. And after Logan stopped being brainwashed, the story was kind of boring. Just isn’t my kind of thing I guess.

But that opening arc of X-Factor is exactly my kind of thing. Such a great series, especially the first few years.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

August 29, 2013 at 10:33 am

Still 1/10. I’m gonna do terribly on this list.

At any rate, while Enemy of the State was one of the few Mark Millar stories that I can tolerate, it didn’t make my list.

I didn’t read X-Factor or New X-Men, so I can’t comment on either of those.

I have a really bad feeling that Mike Carey’s X-Men Legacy is gonna get shut out entirely. Le sigh…

This puts me up to 3/10! Yay! And if Mercury Rising is unexpectedly extremely popular, the entire Yost/Kyle run on New X-men will end up on one or the other list.

New X-men is IMHO, hands-down the best “junior X-men” series ever.

Enemy of the state is too high

Stupid that Enemy of the State and Agent of SHIELD are being considered one story. By that logic Whedon and Cassaday’s run on Astonishing X-Men should be considered one story in the previous countdown.

Marvel released both six-issue arcs as Enemy of the State Vol. 1 and Enemy of the State Vol. 2.

It is not even remotely similar to Whedon/Cassday’s Astonishing X-Men.

Except, I guess, they both featured Wolverine in them.

@ Greg

Yeeeeeaaah…. Pretty sure that honor belongs to Generation X. So long as you don’t count Hama (and we don’t).

I can’t imagine anyone would vote for “Agent of SHIELD” by itself, it probably just added like three votes or something.

I was tempted to write it as one vote just because it felt like one entry, but it cleary is two stories. I’m sure either the votes were “Millar’s Wolverine” “Enemy of the State” or “Enemy of the State / Agent of SHIELD’

I would have thrown the three “Agent of SHIELD” into that group.

I’m sure that means Enemy of the State will rank high on next year’s Wolverine stories list. Can’t believe he’s turning 40

I would say New X-Men may have been a more exciting book but “best junior” team has to go to Claremont’s New Mutants.

Wow, I actually never thought about it, but that’s a really difficult choice to make. “Generation X” and “New Mutants” have always been personal favorites of mine, and I’ve heard lots of good about “New X-Men” (came out during my Marvel/X-Men “blackout” period).

Regardless of what your favorite is, I guess we should just be happy that we have so many “Junior X-Men” choices, and all of them are viable.

Childhood’s End was on my shortlist. But I didn’t include it on my list. So this is another set I didn’t vote for.

Enemy of the State is a fairly enjoyable story. But I hate JRJR’s art. it’s too sharp and angular.

I read Enemy of the State/Agent of SHIELD recently and enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s not deep by any means, but it’s a fun, fast paced popcorn story to kill a lazy afternoon with. It felt like a throwback to the old days of classic superhero “who would win?” fights, but on a much larger scale. I had a blast watching Wolverine just tear through hordes of nameless red shirts. It’s something you don’t really see him do anymore. I’m normally not a big fan of JRJR’s art, but he did some rather nice work with this. Definitely the better Millar story over Old Man Logan, I’d say. It does make me wonder what could have been with Claremont’s unused “Dark Wolverine” plot, but this I can certainly live with.

The Longest Night was second on my list, and is one of my favorite stories ever. From any medium. There is so much going on in those first six issues between the chaos in Mutant Town, X-Factor trying to establish themselves, the introduction of Singularity Investigations, and all of the very distinctive character threads. Yet somehow, David made balancing all of those story elements seem effortless. He deserves a lot of credit for his character work here, which is quite possibly the best comic books has ever seen. He did some wonderful work with Layla Miller, especially, by transforming her from a forgettable plot device in House of M into a memorable, fleshed out character. I really wish Sook had done more work on X-Factor. Even if it was for only one more TPB’s worth. His art really fit the mournful, chaotic feel of Mutant Town.

Haven’t read Childhood’s End.

My “mock list” (made for myself after the countdown began since I totally missed voting) also included “Longest Night” and “Life and Death Matters” as one story. The end of the latter arc really seems to bring the first 12 issues full circle.

Enemy of the State wasn’t great, but it was fun, and not in the way superhero comic fans usually define fun (re: atavistic, puerile nostalgia). It was great to see Wolverine getting the chance to hack his way through anything and everything under the Hand’s brainwashing (especially when you see his inner monologue with the conditioned persona, and see him admit things like his jealous of how many women Matt Murdock gets).

My main complaint about it is with Northstar getting killed/brainwashed; out of all the mutants to get put into the meat grinder, why’d Millar have to target the then-token homosexual one? Of course, Millar tends to pretend these unfortunate implications just don’t exist, even when he’s clearly playing off of those tropes (see also: the death of Black Goliath at the hands of Super-Aryan Clone Thor in Civil War, the blinged-out “Black Hulk” in Ultimate Avengers, and of course, his absolutely shameful dismissal of the gang rape in Kick-Ass 2)

Seeing Kyle and Yost’s bloodbath making the list when it seems like the excellent run from Defillipis and Weir will miss out entirely is pretty bad. That run on New Mutants/New X-Men was definitely one of the best runs on any mutant book, perhaps only behind PAD’s X-Factor. It’s sad to see it get so little recognition.

Okay, the more moderate, reasonable rankings for the other “nu classics” (Old Man Logan, Magneto Testament, and Origin) made me forget Enemy of the State. Seeing it ranked this high is just silly. Like OML, it was a fun Millar story, and I don’t hate the guy’s work at all, but . . . smh . . . Style over substance epitomized.

@John: Yeah, hearing people throw out New X-Men and Generation X as the best “junior” title makes my head spin. New Mutants Vol. 1 is so far ahead of the pack that it isn’t funny.

Just re-read Enemy of the State a couple days since it came out. It’s brainless drivel, but well executed drivel. And that counts for something!

I meant that I read it a couple days ago, the first time since it was released. Yikes what an appaling sentence that was

Brendan Hayward

August 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm

“Atavistic, puerile nostalgia.” Sigh. Of course. Why compliment something without also insulting the tastes of a largish swath of people? It’s the internet!! Fuck no, one doesn’t need to just politely state his or her opinion. When casual douchebaggery is an option, we’d be fools not to take it. Something something Stan Lee is worse than Hitler. And, uh, I don’t know, Roger Stern–what an asshole!

Enemy of the State is atavistic and nostalgic, what with the way it’s riffing on decades-old Frank Miller and Chris Claremont stories for basically its entire arc. Wolverine and Elektra vs. the Hand and its Satanic masters, SHIELD getting involved with wacky superspy tech and vaguely amoral dealings, and so on are basically the old Wolverine mini and Elektra: Assassin with the surrealism drained away and replaced with a popcorn-movie shallowness and a boatload of reader-friendly, inconsequential cameos. (See Wolverine fight the entire Marvel Universe, but only a bunch of characters Mark Millar thinks are lame-os will actually die!) It’s just not throwing back all the way to the 1960s, so it slips by a lot of readers.

It’s fun once, but not on a second read, where the deliberate flatness of the characters — especially the antagonists — becomes sort of grating. Even the moments that look like character beats, such as Hand!Wolverine carping about Matt Murdock’s successful love life, are throwaways and never again matter once the caption containing them has come to an end. And the attempt at cloying sentiment in the final scene, where we’re expected to mourn an imaginary child’s death after twelve straight issues of blood ‘n’ guts and literal mass murders played as good gonzo fun, doesn’t even rise to the level of self-parody on the most generous reading.

Now, the actual final issue of Millar’s run, which has a genuinely timeless sort of feel, is excellent, and very much worthy of accolades.

“Enemy of the State” was mindless fun, probably my favorite Millar story post-Ultimates.

I haven’t read “The Longest Night” in a while, but I just mainlined 5 X-Factor trades & enjoyed the hell out of them. I know what I’m going to be buying more of at the earliest opportunity.

The New Mutants are the best junior X-team. They were the only ones good enough to get Bill Sienkiewicz to draw them. Generation X is a close second.

I agree with Omar on the single read problem for Enemy of the State. I remember it being very entertaining at the time, but it’s simultaneously a story that I have no desire to re-read.

On another note, my biggest problem with it is that it just carried the “invincible Wolverine” characterization out even further. At some point there are only so many ways to tell the story of “Wolverine kills everything that gets in his way.” Wolverine fatigue caused me to leave some great runs off my personal voting. Though it’s not surprising how many Wolverine stories made the list.

Enemy Of The State was my #1 pick, and the haters can suck it :p

Yeah the whole thing is just a gigantic ridiculously over the top brainless violence-filled blockbuster actionfest, and that’s why I love it!

I didn’t like Childhood’s End because it killed so many of the mutants I read about in the original New X-Men Title. Both Enemy of the State and X-Factor were on my list. I think I’m at 5/10 for my picks.

I can’t remember if I voted for Childhood’s end or not: I should have done as the entire Kyle/Yost New X-Men run is superb stuff that deserves to be exposed to a wider audience. Needs Ultimate Collecting now Marvel. Go have a look at the price of some of the trades, especially volumes 2 & 5, for a good laugh.

Loved Enemy of the State when I first read it – the first half more than the second though.

X-Factor is legendary. And that first storyline is gold. I’ve read the whole run up to about two years ago. Need to get the rest.

As for Enemy of the State, Omar nails it (as he often does). I also agree with him about the final Millar issue being surprisingly good (if I remember correctly).

I think I’ve read part of Childhood’s End, but I don’t really remember it.

Torn with this grouping – Childhood’s end was amazing and one of my favourite ever but enemy of the state was just terrible and the list is in danger of being over run by very sub par Wolverine stories.

Didn’t vote for, or even read, any of these. I’m not sure why I never picked up X-Factor when Peter David returned to it, because I really enjoyed his first run in the early 1990s which was cut short. I think maybe I was half-expecting this new series to be the victim of swift cancellation, so I decided to pass on it. Then, next thing you know, it lasts years & years, and I just never got around to trying to catch up on it. Maybe one of these days.

I recall skimming through the first chapter of “Enemy of the State” in the comic shop, kinda shrugging, and putting it back on the shelf. Nice artwork by Romita Jr & Janson, at least. But I bet the whole concept would have been better executed if Chris Claremont had been allowed to do it when he originally came up with the idea over a decade and a half before.

I’m probably alone in this but I preferred the Madrox mini to the first arc of X-Factor. It’s been a while since I read either of them so I can’t recall why I preferred the mini. I didn’t read any further than the first 6 issues of X-Factor.

Well, the Madrox mini-series had more to a finish to it than The Longest Night (naturally, of course, as it was a mini-series), so perhaps that aspect appealed to you?

The Kyle/Yost New X-Men run is pure garbage. They took an incredible book by DeFilippis and Weir, added their pet project X-23, and then slaughtered everyone around her. I can’t believe it received any votes. Then again, I suppose people read Geoff Johns’ snuff porn too.

“Childhood’s End” is actually when I started to not like New X-Men. Like somebody above said, it was well-written, and the plot flowed logically from the aftermath of House of M. It made sense that Stryker would see this as the time to pounce on mutants.

It just wasn’t the tone I was looking for. I wouldn’t call the story “garbage” as some have. It’s constructed fine, had some cool moments, etc. Just wasn’t what I wanted to read.

@brian There wasn’t enough in the first 6 issues of X-Factor to keep my interest or convince me to pick up the next trade. Madrox, on the other hand and as you indicated, was a complete story. Also I liked the look of the art in Madrox and also felt let down by what I saw in X-Factor.

I have been away from comics and just checking them out again. How many different X-titles did they throw out there? How many different volumes? I think it is literally impossible to keep track. So odd.

While I like New. Mutants, even the Yost/Kyle run, it was honestly too brutal. Yes, it made the story have weight. Yes, the writing was generally good. But that they killed off so many characters, just, ugh. As jarring a tone shift as possible, not helped by some bad characterisations. It’s good, just, it India went too far in trying to be dark.

Honestly, while “Childhood’s End” fit the times the mutants were going through, the previous creative team’s run is one I love, and is still, in my opinion, the best X-kids book.

@Craig I agree. The inclusion of X-23 was just… ugh. It didn’t help that they wrote Hellion as her love interest right after his previous love interest was depowered and left the school. I honestly don’t like Craig Kyle being on any book because he brings X-23 everywhere he goes.

Okay… just read my first comment. Sounds stupid and doesn’t make sense, which is what I get for typing while on the phone half-asleep.

What I meant to say (Last comment, I promise):

While I like New Mutants, even though it had some problems, the Yost/Kyle run was honestly too brutal. Yes, it made “Decimation” have weight. Yes, the writing was generally good for what it was (X-kids in a darker, more unforgiving time). But that they killed off so many characters, just, ugh. As jarring a tone shift as possible, not helped by some bad characterisations. It went too far in trying to be dark. Yes, I know Yost/Kyle were dealt a bad hand with “Decimation”, but the way they went about it is what I hate about their run. “Decimation” will forever be to me the event that ruined one of my favourite series.

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