Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
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!
This installment is the top five X-Men battles!
X-Men vs. Proteus (X-Men #126-128)
The X-Men had their hands full with the reality-altering, life-sucking mutant known as Proteus. He almost killed them twice! He rattled Wolverine so much in their first encounter that Cyclops actually had to provoke a fight between himself and Wolverine just to get Wolverine’s head back in the game. In the end, the battle came down to Colossus and his ability to hurt Proteus (due to his weakness to metal) and his willingness to kill if necessary.
5. X-Men vs. Magneto (in his Volcano Base) (X-Men #113 by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin)
The All-New, All-Different X-Men first faced off against Magneto in Uncanny X-Men #104, where he trashed them badly in a manner of seconds before a distraction saved them.
Now, a year later, he showed up again in Uncanny X-Men #112 to finish what he started. He takes the team apart very easily, challenged only by Phoenix, who he is surprised to find such a formidable opponent. Sadly for her, her powers cut out at a bad time, and she is taken in. Wolverine is the last X-Man standing, but that does not last long.
At the end of #112, Magneto has the X-Men captive and he plans to have them held in captivity for the rest of their lives with a robotic Nanny taking care of them (similar, I suppose, to what happened to him when he was reduced to infancy).
Claremont and Byrne continue the story in the next issue where Storm’s pickpocketing experience helps her out as she picks the lock on her chair. When Magneto comes back to the base (which is underneath a volcano in the Antarctic, natch), he discovers that the X-Men are free.
While the first time around, the X-Men tried fighting him one on one (and got beaten easily), this time, Cyclops is coordinating their attacks telepathically through Phoenix, and their hit and run style of attacks are disorientating Magneto enough so that he is having a hard time using his powers.
However, during the battle, the base is damaged, and the lava from the volcano begins to seep in. The X-Men all dash for the exits, with Beast and Jean being the only ones who make it out to the surface alive – or so they think.
4. X-Men vs. Dark Phoenix (X-Men #135-136 by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin)
After their battle with the Hellfire Club in Uncanny X-Men #134, Phoenix has officially flipped her lid and become Dark Phoenix.
The X-Men battle against her in Uncanny X-Men #135, but she casts them aside like they’re children compared to her might. After the fight, the ex-X-Man, Beast (now an Avenger) comes to help the team out in Central Park where Dark Phoenix left them.
The X-Men regroup and decide to try to get her into a MacGuffin device, but she ruins that plan easily and once again kicks all their collective behinds. Cyclops is left standing and he tries to appeal to the human essence within Dark Phoenix. He begins to break through, but Professor X never turns down an opportunity to attack someone, so he begins a telepathic assault on Dark Phoenix which is a major battle of the minds.
Ultimately, with the help of the Jean Grey persona within Dark Phoenix, Xavier is able to shut down Jean’s telepathic powers and silence Dark Phoenix…for now!
3. X-Men vs. Marauders (Uncanny X-Men #211-213 by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr., Bret Blevins, Rick Leonardi, Alan Davis plus their respective inkers)
The Mutant Massacre featured the Marauders, a team of vicious killers employed by the newly introduced X-Men villain Mr. Sinister, going into the New York sewers, where a community of mutants known as the Morlocks lived (the Morlocks were mutants who tended to be disfigured or were otherwise unable to fit in living with “normal” humans). At this point, the Marauders proceeded to murder as many Morlocks as they could. The X-Men entered the tunnels to save the Morlocks, and engaged in a dramatic and deadly battle that lasted from Uncanny X-Men #211 to #213 (all three issues were written by Chris Claremont, with John Romita Jr. and Bret Blevins drawing the first issue, Rick Leonardi the second and Alan Davis the third).
The X-Men suffered critical injuries soon after entering the battle, when the teleporting X-Man Nightcrawler, who was recovering from a recent injury and had only recently regained the ability to teleport, used his powers to disable one of the Marauders. However, he was unable to use his powers once he was finished, leaving himself vulnerable to the Marauder Riptide, a mutant whose power involves sending barrages of razor sharp blades flying people at high speeds. Nightcrawler was severely injured by Riptide.
This led to one of the most dramatic moments of the war when the X-Man Colossus determined that the only way to stop Riptide was to use deadly force. As Riptide continued to pummel the X-Man’s metal body with blades, Colossus forged forward until he was able to snap Riptide’s neck.
At this point, Colossus collapsed due to the wounds he incurred during his fight. As it turned out, he was so injured that while he could survive in his metal form, he could not transform back to his human form. Meanwhile, the X-Men suffered another casualty when Kitty Pryde was injured and trapped in her intangible form.
While the X-Men return to their home to recover with the Morlocks they manage to save, the deadliest of the Marauders, the evil Sabretooth, makes his way to the X-Men’s home. During the course of his journey, Sabretooth tangled both with Wolverine and ultimately with the telepathic Psylocke, who was staying with the X-Men at the time.
In the end, the X-Men managed to save many Morlocks (X-Factor also saved some, in a separate excursion into the Morlock tunnels), but the team was forever changed, with longstanding members Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler leaving the team and new members like Psylocke joining the group. The most important change for the team was that they no longer had any illusions of safety at their home, and soon left the X-Mansion entirely.
2. X-Men vs. Hellfire Club (X-Men #129-134 by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin)
The X-Men were at a relatively stable point in their lives at the beginning of the Dark Phoenix Saga (the book’s creative team during this time was Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin). The team had finally reunited with Professor X and Phoenix, who had believed that the rest of the team had died months earlier in a battle with Magneto. With the team together again, Professox X felt it was a good time to go about adding new mutants to the school, and sent the team after a young teenage mutant in Chicago known as Kitty Pryde.
Unbeknownst to the X-Men, Phoenix had been manipulated by the evil mutant, Mastermind, during the time that the rest of the group had been missing. Mastermind felt that his control over Phoenix would allow him access to the Hellfire Club, a society club that secretly consisted mostly of evil mutants, particularly the “Kings” and “Queens” of the Club.
The X-Men encountered the White Queen of the Hellfire Club, Emma Frost, when they tried to recruit Kitty Pryde in Uncanny X-Men #129. Frost was also attempting to recruit Kitty for her group’s purposes. Instead, Hellfire Club agents end up capturing the X-Men sent to Chicago – Storm, Wolverine and Colossus. Kitty Pryde, meanwhile, stows away with the bad guys to see if she can help her new friends. In the next issue, the other X-Men who had been in New York meeting another new mutant, the singing Dazzler, are notified by Kitty of the situation. They travel to Chicago to rescue their friends in “Uncanny X-Men” #131, where Phoenix and Emma Frost have a powerful telepathic battle. The X-Men rescue their friends, but Frost escapes.
In the next issue, the X-Men decide to take the fight to the Hellfire Club, especially when they learn that Warren Worthington, the former X-Men known as the Angel, actually has a membership in the Club!
Cyclops, Storm, Phoenix and Colossus attend a Hellfire Club function (while Nightcrawler and Wolverine sneak into the Club through the sewers). However, once there, Mastermind completes his work on Phoenix, transforming her into the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, and she turns on her teammates. After a pitched battle, the X-Men are all captured, save for Wolverine who is seemingly killed. However, in perhaps the most famous Wolverine scene ever, we learn at the end of the issue that Wolverine is not actually dead. He has survived, and now he wants revenge.
The next issue sees Wolverine make his way to the prison where his teammates are being held, and he severely injures the Hellfire Club guards blocking his way in what was a pretty shocking fashion for the time the story was published. Meanwhile, Cyclops attempts to free Phoenix, but Mastermind begins a fight with Cyclops on the mental plane, and defeats the X-Man – almost killing him. This action causes the brainwashed Phoenix to begin to fight her programming.
In the final issue of the arc, Wolverine finally appears to save his friends, and Phoenix has turned back to the side of the heroes. She helps Cyclops escape, and the X-Men have their rematch with the Hellfire Club, which the X-Men win. However, Mastermind has pushed Phoenix too far – she snaps and becomes the Dark Phoenix.
1. X-Men vs. Imperial Guard (X-Men #137 by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin)
As mentioned in the fight between the X-Men and the Hellfire Club (which was handled by the same creative team as this battle – Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin), the end result was that Phoenix had her mind messed with so much that she eventually snapped and basically became a separate entity, calling itself Dark Phoenix.
The X-Men battle her in Uncanny X-Men #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 “Uncanny X-Men” #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 “Uncanny X-Men” #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.
That’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.