Movies & TV / Columns

Greatest X-Men Stories

August 21, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
X-Men 137 Dark Phoenix Saga

I’m Steve Gustafson and thanks for stopping by. Don’t forget to check out 411mania’s Comic Book Review Roundtable, every Thursday! Read up on the best reviews and let us know what you’re reading as well. Click to read the latest Comic Book Review Roundtable! Last week we covered Powers of X #2, Postal #1, and more!

On with the show!

Last time we asked Is Nostalgia Bad For the Comic Book Industry?. Here’s what some of you had to say:

D2Kvirus: “Nostalgia can be a benefit for niche titles as that means there’s a built-in audience so the title would be seen as less of a risk so the title can keep going, for example Titan’s recent picking up of Lenore – however, the problem is that publishers tend to use nostalgia as an excuse to relaunch/reboot the same titles, and that gets old pretty damn fast”

Double J: “I’m thinking nostalgia is one of the things bringing people back to comics, at least the big name ones that need a hook for the people that have already seen them do it all before. I’m thinking a more important question would be, is identity politics and social justice bad for comics? The sales figures tend to say yes.”

Nathan Justice: “Nostalgia is bad for everything. Case Closed”

Defective: “Betteridge’s Law of Headlines. Therefore the answer is no.

That said, so long as the nostalgia isn’t frequently depended on. There’s a difference between Geoff Johns launching DC Rebirth and integrating the Watchmen into the DC Universe and marvel using time travel to bring a younger Cyclops into the “modern time”.”

El Atomico: “Not if it makes them 60 cents again!”

Some great back and forth last week. To read ALL of the comments go HERE! As always, thanks for the input!

This week we ask…

Greatest X-Men Stories

I hope you’re not missing out on the delight and majesty of Jonathan Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X. I’ve been pretty vocal that this might be one of the most well done retcon events that I’ve ever read. I’ve seen a number of posts from people who haven’t stepped inside a comic book shop in years, saying how excited they are to read the next issue. I know we are just getting started but this feels legit.

In honor of the X-Men’s return to center stage I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the more essential X-Men stories out there. I’ll be honest up front, I’m just hitting the big ones and leaving plenty of “meat on the bone” for you to pick at in the comments below.

Let’s get the trinity out of the way first. I was a young comic book reader at the time and didn’t appreciate the gems before me. You could look back and seriously consider 1980-81 prime X-Men period. 1980 gave us the Dark Phoenix Saga in issues 129-138 and in 1981 we got Days of Future Past in issues 141 and 142. On top of that, 1981 also saw X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills

3 stories and 3 defining moments for the mutants that still impact today’s stories. You could place these stories in the Top 3 and have a hard time convincing otherwise. The good thing about the X-Men is they’ve been involved in a number of great storylines that touch readers in different ways.

Take the Age of Apocalypse. In 1995 this crossover replaced Earth-616 (later to be Earth-295) with a world were Legion, aka David Haller, a psychotic mutant who traveled back in time to kill Magneto before he can commit heinous deeds against humanity. In a twist, Legion accidentally kills his own father, Professor Xavier, flipping the timeline on its head. Because of this, Apocalypse is able to take over and alter things as we know it. It was epic, spanning a number of books like X-Calibre, Gambit and the X-Ternals, Generation Next, Astonishing X-Men, Amazing X-Men, Weapon X, Factor X, X-Man and X-Universe. It has aged exceptionally well and deserves its place as one of the best.

Probably the first storyline for the X-Men that I really got hooked into was 1986’s Mutant Massacre. I remember following it pretty closely, even if I got confused at the order in which to read the books. ‘Mutant Massacre’ did surprisingly well and led to Marvel doing mutant crossover books annually.

That can be a good thing or bad thing, depending on how you look at it.

Lifedeath I & II is one of those fine meals that is best read when you’re a certain age of mindset. It’s completely fine for anyone but you truly appreciate its nuances after certain life experiences. Barry Windsor-Smith’s art gives the story an edge and vibe that is unlike other X-Men stories and push this to the next level.

Joss Whedon’s and artist John Cassaday came in and scored with Gifted in the pages of Astonishing X-Men #1-6. It dusted off some X-Men themes, mixed old and new characters in dynamic situations, and brought back Colossus in an instant classic way.

I could go on all day but I think I’ll end with E is for Extinction. The first story from the mind of Grant Morrison was everything you imagined it would be. Morrison turned the X-Men’s world upside down and rattled the mutants to their core.

Ah! As I was writing the above I started thinking about all the stories I missed and didn’t want to leave out House of M. It’s another one that played with the timeline, throwing the X-Men into a situation where things are drastically altered.

If you look at older X-stories, the drama came from within and the themes the mutants operated under. Outsiders who are hunted for being different. As times went on, their very world and reality was constantly in jeopardy. Both very different angles but each gives us classic tales.

Like I mentioned, I picked the low hanging fruit. Which ones did I miss?

That’s all the time I have. Check out our Comic Book Reviews tomorrow and see you next week!

article topics :

Comics 411, X-Men, Steve Gustafson