Essential X-men Reading

This is my list of what I consider to be the most essential X-men stories.

That's not to say that these are all of my favorites; there's a few stories on here that I'm not even especially into, while some of my own personal favorites simply didn't make the cut.

But these are, to my mind, the stories that have and most likely will stand the test of time as they are most definitive of what the X-men are about.

Feel free to let me know if you think there's anything I've missed.

List items

31 Comments
Posted by Wolverine08

Good list.

Online
Posted by oldnightcrawler
Edited by bigtewell

Well ive read all but 11-14. I kinda stopped after fall of mutants and started around morrisons run.

Posted by ShadowSwordmaster

Glad that X Men 1-3 is on the list I really like those issues.

Posted by oldnightcrawler

@bigtewell: cool, well now you know what you missed (not much for 15 years).. Still, at least you should be well versed in the real classics :v

Growing up with the 80's and 90's X-men, there were a lot of my personal favorites that didn't make this list, so I'm probably going to do another list of some of the more random stuff sometime soon.

Posted by Bubba_Hyde

@bigtewell: cool, well now you know what you missed (not much for 15 years).. Still, at least you should be well versed in the real classics :v

Growing up with the 80's and 90's X-men, there were a lot of my personal favorites that didn't make this list, so I'm probably going to do another list of some of the more random stuff sometime soon.

As another refugee from the late 80s/90s I'd like to see what else you have in mind for you new list.

Good job on this one.

I was an X-Force fanatic, but I remember some of these stories - good stuff here.

Edited by bigtewell

@oldnightcrawler: Claremonts original stuff was just sooo good. One arc that wasnt up there that i loved was when they first fought alpha flight. You really got to know wolverine and i feel no one has captured wolverine that well since. but i eventually got tired after we had like 5 xbooks all related and it just became more painful to read it all then to enjoy it

Edited by oldnightcrawler

@bigtewell: yeah, the hardest part of this list was deciding which of Claremont's stories were really essential reading, and which were just ones that I loved as a kid. But that's part of why I'm doing another list.

Posted by Arkhamc1tizen

nice, but AoA?

Posted by oldnightcrawler

nice, but AoA?

it'll be on the extended list. I enjoyed it, but I don't think of it as an essential read.

Posted by Chapmar

Schizm? Maybe even just for last few years relevanceness?

Oh and how about the X-cutioners song?

Posted by oldnightcrawler

@chapmar said:

Schizm? Maybe even just for last few years relevanceness?

Oh and how about the X-cutioners song?

I considered putting House of M on there, for it's general relevance to so many of the stories from the last decade, but decided it was more relevant to the X-men than it was really an essential X-men story. Similarly, Schism may be relevant in terms of it's effects, but I don't know that I'd call it an essential read.

The stories I've listed here are more what I consider to be definitive X-men stories, stories that really helped define (or redefine) the core characters or concepts. This is just my opinion, but I can't help but feel that for a story like Schism to have any real meaning, one would require at least a passing, prior knowledge of the characters and concepts.

As for X-Cutioner's Song, I already feel I know this to be the case; it was the story that was going on when I first started reading X-men in '92, and lemme just say, I had no idea what was going on. Rereading it years later, once I understood the context, I did quite enjoy it, but it was a ridiculous place to start. Whereas I feel like almost any of the stories here would be a good place to start.

oh, and in case you're wondering why I kept reading X-men if the first stories I read were so confusing to me, the answer is sort of three-fold: firstly, I was already reading X-Men Classic, and I loved that, and that also caused me to feel a sense of mystery to how different the new comics were.. obviously stuff had happened in the years in between, and I wanted to now what. Also, The Uncanny X-Men #297 - X-Cutioner's Song Epilogue Songs End - Up and Around was just really endearing. Archangel and the Beast rebuild a bar that got destroyed in the middle of the night, and Prof.X goes rollerblading with Jubilee. Somehow, that's the part of the story that made the most sense to me.

Edited by Chapmar

@oldnightcrawler: That's weird actually, I started reading jut slightly before the X-cutioners song got started myself!

Posted by oldnightcrawler

@chapmar said:

@oldnightcrawler: That's weird actually, I started reading jut slightly before the X-cutioners song got started myself!

oh yeah? interesting..

where did you start?

I started with issue 295, so it was part 5 of a 10-part story. And I just realized that I couldn't have read any X-men Classics at that time, because the first issue I read was X-Men Classic #81(which came out 3 months later). So I actually would have only known the X-men from Secret Wars #5.

Edited by oldnightcrawler

As another refugee from the late 80s/90s I'd like to see what else you have in mind for you new list.

Good job on this one.

I was an X-Force fanatic, but I remember some of these stories - good stuff here.

check it out :v

non-essential-yet-awesome-x-men-stories

I'm thinking of doing a separate list for spin-off series like X-force, so I'll keep you posted.

Posted by Bubba_Hyde

@bubba_hyde said:

As another refugee from the late 80s/90s I'd like to see what else you have in mind for you new list.

Good job on this one.

I was an X-Force fanatic, but I remember some of these stories - good stuff here.

check it out :v

non-essential-yet-awesome-x-men-stories

I'm thinking of doing a separate list for spin-off series like X-force, so I'll keep you posted.

You're my new favorite Crawler!

Edited by oldnightcrawler

You're my new favorite Crawler!

I'm the best there is at what I do; unfortunately what I do is crawl.

Posted by cattlebattle

Great list. I would pretty much recommend the same stories, probably exactly in that same order except for Astonishing. But, that could just me being biased because I am not a big fan of Whedon.

Its funny, people always claim that is a brilliant "jumping on point", but there is plenty of information you need to know beforehand, that its completely not. Not to mention there is plenty of characters just having interchangeable personalities and stuff like that.

Oh well, haters gonna hate, an thats what I do

Posted by oldnightcrawler

Great list. I would pretty much recommend the same stories, probably exactly in that same order except for Astonishing. But, that could just me being biased because I am not a big fan of Whedon.

Well, I basically just ordered it chronologically except that I started with Astonishing'.

I do think the best way to read all of them is probably chronologically, but starting with the Dark Phoenix Saga doesn't (and shouldn't) really give a new reader a proper sense of the contemporary X-men. So since Astonishing' was the most contemporary book on the list (for now), I started there.

Like I said in my introduction, these aren't even all so much what I what I would consider my favorites (not a huge fan of the DP Saga, for example), but what I consider to be the most relevant books of each era.

I'm sure someone could point out that I didn't really include anything from before 1980, but, as much as I love the X-men, I just don't think they were really relevant before then.

Edited by cattlebattle

@oldnightcrawler said:

Well, I basically just ordered it chronologically except that I started with Astonishing'.

I do think the best way to read all of them is probably chronologically, but starting with the Dark Phoenix Saga doesn't (and shouldn't) really give a new reader a proper sense of the contemporary X-men. So since Astonishing' was the most contemporary book on the list (for now), I started there.

Like I said in my introduction, these aren't even all so much what I what I would consider my favorites (not a huge fan of the DP Saga, for example), but what I consider to be the most relevant books of each era.

I'm sure someone could point out that I didn't really include anything from before 1980, but, as much as I love the X-men, I just don't think they were really relevant before then.

I understand that you would want to recommend a contemporary story, I just think that Whedons run was very self contained and doesn't shed much light on the X-Universe as a whole. Then again, like I mentioned before, I don't care for Whedons works that much, I think they tend to be overhyped and overly celebrated because of his name association, but, thats another argument.

I actually agree with not mentioning anything before 1980. When Claremont first jumps on the book, especially if you read and compare it to the stuff he would churn out later, you can see how absolutely green he is. The Xaviers dream saga (known as The Phoenix Saga these days) consists of absolutely wacky, random events. The X-Men get captured in their own home like 8 times, they all get mind controlled several times though it does have good character interactions, the action stuff is kind of redundant and antiquated. He doesn't really hit his stride until him and Byrne come out of the "world Tour" arc into the Proteus arc and then the Dark Phoenix saga in my opinion

Posted by oldnightcrawler

I understand that you would want to recommend a contemporary story, I just think that Whedons run was very self contained and doesn't shed much light on the X-Universe as a whole. Then again, like I mentioned before, I don't care for Whedons works that much, I think they tend to be overhyped and overly celebrated because of his name association, but, thats another argument.

I see what you mean. I didn't really consider myself a Whedon fan until (and because) I read Astonishing', so I guess I hadn't considered that aspect of it.

I actually think a lot of it's strength as an introduction to the premise and themes was that it was really self-contained. You get a sense of the larger MU and their general place in it, but it really does a good job of introducing the X-men, the school, the politics and ethics of being a mutant, etc, without having to read any crossovers or other books.

I actually agree with not mentioning anything before 1980. When Claremont first jumps on the book, especially if you read and compare it to the stuff he would churn out later, you can see how absolutely green he is. The Xaviers dream saga (known as The Phoenix Saga these days) consists of absolutely wacky, random events. The X-Men get captured in their own home like 8 times, they all get mind controlled several times though it does have good character interactions, the action stuff is kind of redundant and antiquated. He doesn't really hit his stride until him and Byrne come out of the "world Tour" arc into the Proteus arc and then the Dark Phoenix saga in my opinion

Pretty much, yeah. I actually considered including the Proteus arc, but it didn't seem as essential right next to the DP Saga.

Posted by cattlebattle

. You get a sense of the larger MU and their general place in it, but it really does a good job of introducing the X-men, the school, the politics and ethics of being a mutant, etc, without having to read any crossovers or other books.

Yeah, see I don't think so. I think he writes a lot of characters out of character actually, and overall the whole series just seems like a Whedon snarkfest more than anything. There are some nice tidbits here and there, I will admit that Whedon can write. I would just never put the Astonishing run in any top ten.

Edited by oldnightcrawler

@cattlebattle said:

Yeah, see I don't think so. I think he writes a lot of characters out of character actually, and overall the whole series just seems like a Whedon snarkfest more than anything. There are some nice tidbits here and there, I will admit that Whedon can write. I would just never put the Astonishing run in any top ten.

well, everyone's got their own ideas about what the characters are or should be like, so fair enough.

Personally, Astonishing' would make my top ten before Morrison's run or the DP Saga, but understanding why other people rank them so high is sort of why I felt I should go with a longer list.

Edited by cattlebattle

well, everyone's got there own ideas about what the characters are or should be like, so fair enough.

Personally, Astonishing' would make my top ten before Morrison's run or the DP Saga, but understanding why other people rank them so high is sort of why I felt I should go with a longer list.

Really?

The Morrison run is hit or miss with a lot of people. Personally, I love the way he wrote most of the characters, before that point, Beast had been the generic "smart guy" and Cyclops had been extremely boring, and kind of redundant seeing that Storm was also a leader and way more interesting, so, I feel he gave a long missing depth back to those guys. But, I don't know why he decided to make most of his mutants physically deformed, I mean, never really in X-Mens history has it been said that they (mutants) are physical freaks, I mean, there are certain mutants who look deformed, but the same could be said for normal people. He also took a lot of stabs at the super hero genre here and there, which is just Morrison being pretentious.

The Dark Phoenix Saga on the other hand is great, and that whole arc was extremely groundbreaking for its time and sort of set the tone for super hero comics to come. I just love the way it starts out as kind of a normal story of the X-Men tracking new mutants while being tracked by villains, then it eventually escalates to them fighting a god like member of their own team, then they wind up fighting and alien fighting force in space. Its a crescendo in comic form. Its just cool

Posted by oldnightcrawler

The Morrison run is hit or miss with a lot of people. Personally, I love the way he wrote most of the characters, before that point, Beast had been the generic "smart guy" and Cyclops had been extremely boring, and kind of redundant seeing that Storm was also a leader and way more interesting, so, I feel he gave a long missing depth back to those guys.

I totally agree. I just like where Whedon took those characters more. And I liked the stories he put them in more. It's just a personal preference.

He also took a lot of stabs at the super hero genre here and there, which is just Morrison being pretentious.

either way, it was the least interesting aspect of his run.

The Dark Phoenix Saga on the other hand is great, and that whole arc was extremely groundbreaking for its time and sort of set the tone for super hero comics to come. I just love the way it starts out as kind of a normal story of the X-Men tracking new mutants while being tracked by villains, then it eventually escalates to them fighting a god like member of their own team, then they wind up fighting and alien fighting force in space. Its a crescendo in comic form. Its just cool

I agree, and like I say, it's that I appreciate how groundbreaking it was that it's on this list. It just isn't one of my personal favorites, so it wouldn't make my top 10 is all.

Posted by cattlebattle


I agree, and like I say, it's that I appreciate how groundbreaking it was that it's on this list. It just isn't one of my personal favorites, so it wouldn't make my top 10 is all.

Yeah, I understand that you just listed the stories you think are vital more so than your favorites and you will like what you like regardless. I just explaining what I thought of them for the sake of conversation.

Posted by oldnightcrawler
Posted by HAWK2916

Great list. In fact if someone read them in order (chronological) it would be a great and almost complete picture of the Xmen team dynamic

Posted by oldnightcrawler

@hawk2916: Thanks!

like I was saying, other than Astonishing X-Men, it basically is chronological.

Maybe I should have just put it at the end rather than the start.. but that's why I put the dates.

Posted by rodwell

I love this list and own and have read everything on it apart from 13/14 legacies and fatal attraction. I really want to get those so bad.

Posted by oldnightcrawler

@rodwell said:

I love this list and own and have read everything on it apart from 13/14 legacies and fatal attraction. I really want to get those so bad.

glad to hear it!

1993-94 was really the best part of the 90's for the X-men. Especially '93; both of the main books were solid as hell that year, plus X-Men Classic was doing the X-men from 1984 (another great year). It was pretty dope.