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Month of Avengers/X-Men Top Fives – Top Five Writers Who Have Written the Most Issues of X-Men

All month-long we’ll be featuring top five lists about either the Avengers or the X-Men. Here is an archive of all the past top five lists!

In this installment, we’ll look at the writers who have written the most issues of X-Men (X-Men in this instance means X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, New X-Men, X-treme X-Men and all of their respective annuals, one-shots, etc. Like X-Men Omega would count as would Dark Reign: The List – X-Men).

Enjoy!

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Mike Carey would be on the list if I counted X-Men Legacy. He’d be #3, actually. But it’s not really a traditional X-Men title. It’s more like a satellite book, like X-Force, X-Factor, etc. Jason Aaron likely will be on this list soon. Roy Thomas and Ed Brubaker both put in good showings (so did John Byrne if you count his Claremont run as being a co-writer). The last writer cut was Matt Fraction, who wrote about 40 issues of X-Men, including a few one-shots. If you gave him credit for the Dark Avengers issues he wrote that tied in with Uncanny X-Men during the Utopia crossover, he’d be on the list. I don’t think you should count the Dark Avengers issues, though.

5. Grant Morrison

Morrison just sneaks past Fraction with 42 issues written (#114-154 plus one Annual)

4. Chuck Austen

Isn’t that amazing? Austen’s run lasted about as long as Morrison’s but just a LITTLE bit longer.

3. Fabian Nicieza

xmenwriters3

Nicieza is a few issues ahead of Austen. His run on X-Men was surprisingly not as long as you might think, as he left Marvel for Acclaim around 1995. He’d actually be behind Austen if he hadn’t scripted The Magneto War.

2. Scott Lobdell

Lobdell is by far the #2 guy on this list. He practically doubled Nicieza’s output, which seems surprising since they seemed to be peers for so long. And I’m not even counting the issues he dialogued early on (as come on, scripting is one thing, but just adding dialogue? I don’t think that should really go on your resume as having written the issue in question).

1. Chris Claremont

Claremont’s probably written nearly three hundred issues of X-Men, possibly even more (#94-278, the 2000 return, the 2001-2004 X-Treme X-Men run and the 2004 return). He obviously is the face of the X-Men comic book franchise.

24 Comments

I don’t understand why a lot of people don’t count X-Men: Legacy as an X-Men title. It literally IS X-Men vol. 2 just under a new title, similar to Morrison’s New X-Men. Yes, it focused on individual characters, but used them as the focal point in relation to other X-Men. For example, while it had Xavier for the first arc, it was his interactions with character from X-Men history to forming mini-teams (Shaw, Juggernaut, Gambit in the Sinster arc), and even the team formed by Legion, Magneto, Xavier, and more. I can agree that the current volume of X-Men: Legacy is more an ancillary title, but the Carey/Gage run, I feel should count as official “X-Men” issues.

As long as it was, Scott Lobdell’s run felt twice as long. What hack, his run was worse that Austen and Casey put together.

I don’t understand why a lot of people don’t count X-Men: Legacy as an X-Men title. It literally IS X-Men vol. 2 just under a new title, similar to Morrison’s New X-Men.

But that’s like asking why Black Panther: The Man Without Fear wouldn’t be counted as a Daredevil comic book, as it picked up the numbering of Daredevil (or Journey Into Mystery as a Thor title, since it picked up the numbering from Thor). It kept the numbering but stopped being a team book. It was first an Xavier book and then a Rogue book. Wolverine’s solo title had plenty of interaction with his X-Men teammates, as well, but it is still a solo book. The book was just called X-Men Legacy because “Professor X” would never sell as a comic (and we already saw that “Rogue” couldn’t carry her own title, either). Eventually the book did become more of a team book when it became a bit of an offshoot of Wolverine and the X-Men, but Carey was gone by then.

I think Morrison should do 25-50 issues more of X-Men so Marvel could redeem themselves for allowing Austen such an extended run.

@ Mel

Really? Have you actually read any of those guys’ work? I understand why people say Lobdell was inferior to Claremont’s first run (he is), but he did do a lot of things right, too. Considering the shadow he was working under from the previous writer plus how young he was when he started and all of the editorial influence, it’s amazing he did as well as he did. He’s written some legitimately classic issues, while the only good part of Casey’s run were the last three issues or so which were sort of a prelude of his Wildcats 3.0 work. Austen? Well, I honestly don’t see why he gets as much hate as he does; he’s not perfect, but he had some good ideas and there were some things he executed well. I think a lot of people nitpick too much over his run, but overall I still liked it better than Fraction’s run. I’d still say Lobdell was much better, if only because of AoA.

Honestly it is hard to blame or credit anybody writing X-Men during the period Lobdell was working.

It was a terrible environment for writers. It is why Nicesa quit and why Claremont left in the first place.

If you count Schism, Jason Aaron will pass Grant Morrison next month. And with Marvel’s release schedule and writing two core books simultaneously, Aaron could pass Lobdell for #2 by the end of 2014.

It’s interesting to think though that the top 3 on this list did the vast majority of their work over ten years ago, which means the core books really haven’t had much writer stability in the last decade. It’s really surprising that it only takes about 50 issues to get to #3 on this list. I’m really enjoying the X-books at the moment and I hope that the current status quo lasts for a while.

Just an observational comment here, nothing that changes anything in the above standings, but: Claremont’s 2000 return, X-Treme run and 2004 return are technically (and really) all part of one single return run to X-Men as opposed to three separate runs. He may have switched titles twice, but from 2000-2006 he wrote an X-Men title every month except like two or three I believe.

And it really is one solid run. He returns with X-Men 100/381 and the not-so-great Neo story; by 109 he’s set up the Destiny quest and characters from that book that head off to X-Treme, which picks up two months later. When X-Treme ends, he continues with most of the same characters in Uncanny (losing only Rogue and Gambit but gaining Nightcrawler), tying up loose ends from X-Treme, including Psylocke’s fate and the whole XSE conceit.

If Wolverine and the X-men counts, X-men Legacy counts, at least the first volume.

X-Men Legacy should definitely be counted. It dealt with a ton of the mythology, more than the adjectiveless X-Men book and some others. It added Frenzy to the team, got Rogue’s powers fixed, a story that was building since the Claremont days. Redeemed Gambit after Messiah Complex and some other stories, along with a ton more.

I’m in agreement that “X-Men Legacy” should NOT count. It’s basically the “Avengers Spotlight” of X-Men titles.

“Wolverine and the X-Men” most definitely counts as an X-Men title because it is 100% a team book despite the fact that it has Wolverine’s name in the title. Or look at it this way: “Wolverine and the X-Men” is NOT a Wolverine book.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

September 18, 2013 at 10:00 am

I’m on the same page as Greg P., Talmidge and Edwardthe_III that Carey’s X-Men Legacy issues should probably count. Especially if Wolverine & the X-Men counts, as that title seems to become almost New Mutants-esque since AvX.

Still, an interesting list. I didn’t realize Austen was that prolific. It’s weird, it seemed like he was everywhere there for a minute, but what’s he doing now?

I know we’re several years after this team’s 50th, but I’d be interested in seeing a similar list for Fantastic Four. Stan and Jack would obviously be at the top (I think they would, anyway), but who else had extended runs on the title? John Byrne? Jonathan Hickman?

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

September 18, 2013 at 10:03 am

And who wants to bet that Bendis will be on this list (I’d wager around #3) by the time he’s done?

@ Sam

I could see Tom DeFalco or Walt Simonson making the 5 spot on that list

Rather than complain about why one title or another doesn’t count, I’d be curious to see it presented as an alternate list, Writers who have written the most X-Men-related titles (including core titles). I’m curious if anybody (Peter David?) can catch Claremont if you open it up that way. Of course, this will create debates about what should count too, but hell those are part of the fun.

I’ll always come to Lodbell’s defense. I loved his 90′s X-Men work. LOVED IT! I think the entire x-line got pretty weak after AoA and picked up some steam right before and during Onslaught. But I loved his work. He’s a very good character-oriented writer. His one issue stories were always superb. In fact, he would be a perfect guest writer if all he had to do was do one-issue character-centric stories. I also loved 90s FabNic on x-men and x-force.

Sigh, those were the days…

Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza had the thankless task of following in the footsteps of Chris Claremont after Jim Lee & friends, after convincing Bob Harras to fire CC, decided at the last minute that, nope, they’d rather not write the X-Men books after all, but go off and found Image Comics. I think that nearly anyone in Lobdell and Nicieza’s shoes would have been hard-pressed to create award-winning material. And having Harras impose one multi-title crossover after another on them did not help matters. Given the extraordinarily difficult circumstances under which the two of them were laboring, I think they did good work.

As for Chuck Austin, though, there is really no excuse! Why he was allowed to remain on the X-Men books for as long as he was remains a baffling mystery. I own maybe five or six of the issues from that run and, wow, are they bad! From the various reviews I’ve read online and skimming through the comic books in the shop when they came out, man, that was some really mediocre stuff.

i dont think Jim Lee & friends conspired to have Claremont fired. i’m pretty sure he got sick of the editorial heavy hand and quit. i believe colossus’ forced “unretirement” from his bohemian life with supermodel calisto was the last straw.

no reason why he couldn’t have kept co-plotting and scripting both Uncanny and new X-Men titles. and there was no ill will between Lee and Claremont. they worked together on multiple occasions afterwards.

i dont think Jim Lee & friends conspired to have Claremont fired. i’m pretty sure he got sick of the editorial heavy hand and quit. i believe colossus’ forced “unretirement” from his bohemian life with supermodel calisto was the last straw.

no reason why he couldn’t have kept co-plotting and scripting both Uncanny and new X-Men titles. and there was no ill will between Lee and Claremont. they worked together on multiple occasions afterwards.

I definitely don’t think Lee and Portacio conspired to get Claremont fired, but at the same time, I also don’t think they exactly went out of their way to keep him around, either. They wanted the titles to go one direction, Claremont wanted them to go in a different direction and editorial was siding with them, so Claremont decided to leave. So yes, he was not FIRED, but he was still pretty much pushed out.

My apologies for getting the specific details wrong regarding Chris Claremont leaving X-Men. The point is, between his abrupt departure, and then Lee & Portacio jumping ship after less than a year, leaving their multiple subplots dangling, the circumstances under which Lobdell and Nicieza came to be writing the X-Men books were far from ideal. Nevertheless, despite those difficulties, plus the heavy editorial hand of Bob Harras weighing down on them, they wrote some good stories. Heck, as a number of people have observed recently on CBR, when Liefeld departed from X-Force and Nicieza became the full-fledged writer, the quality of the book increased dramatically!

@sean

There’s no way anyone would catch Claremont because once you dd in all of his New Mutants, Excalibur, and Wolverine stuff, as well as various mini-series, he’s at well over 400 X-comics. But you would have several other writers at over 100, including Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Peter David, Louise Simonson, Jason Aaron, Larry Hama, and probably someone I’m forgetting. Mike Carey and Peter Milligan are probably close.

Ben Herman said : “as a number of people have observed recently on CBR, when Liefeld departed from X-Force and Nicieza became the full-fledged writer, the quality of the book increased dramatically!”

You are damn right it did. X-Force Series 1 was at its best when Fabian Nicieza was writing it. He understood the characters and the team outlook, and how the members, who were former New Mutants, had grown and changed as people. There was some damn good conflict in there. Plus, the art improved so much because you had Greg Capullo and Tony Daniel ! …Then they ruined it all by getting a much lesser artist in Adam Pollina (I do not care what anyone says, his characters look like anorexic crackheads) and effectively turned the book into “New Mutants” again.

I loved Larry Hama’s run on Wolverine…if you did a list of longest Wolverine SOLO Title writers, he would be the top, yes ? Or would it be Jason Aaron ? Speaking of Larry Hama, what the hell is he doing nowadays ? G.I. Joe stuff, I would imagine.

huh, I never even realized X-Men Legacy was supposed to be a “solo” book. I knew Rogue was out front for most of it, but no more or less than Wolverine in various titles. Never got what the obsession was with her so it was my least favorite of the titles, but it never felt like it was just her book to me rather than featuring various X-Men around her.

But then I’d say Avengers Spotlight is an Avengers title, so what do I know.

I was thinking back to this list recently and it occurred to me that Bendis, Wood, and Aaron are probably all on it by now.

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