This one was long overdue and brought to you due to a suggestion from top fella Darren Yeats. I’ve got a long history with the children of the atom with some of my earliest non Oor Wullie comic memories coming from some of these entries. A couple of caveats before we begin….this will be from crossovers and main x-men titles rather than spinoffs of character’s solo books or things like x-factor as they will no doubt get their own lists at a later date. So let’s get to it shall we? Yes….yes we shall Kinkermaniacs…..p.s I can guarantee there’ll be the odd head-scratcher on this list be it the placement of an entry or just an entry itself but hey ho the views of Kinker Korner reflect me and only me!
24. Mutant Massacre: Year-1986
Wow…starting off with some heat already. Usually this is way high up on people’s list and for good reason. A lot of amazing moments happen throughout this crossover which we’ll get to in a minute but I found it to be a little convoluted in it’s reading order and flow. This was before Marvel spat out a crossover every bloody morning and it was a big deal in 86 but they hadn’t quite got it down to the fine art they do now. When put together, each story seems incredibly esoteric and don’t seem to flow together as one full story. Nonetheless this story gave us Daredevil fighting Sabertooth, Wolverine fighting Sabertooth, Angel having his wings clipped by Harpoon, Psylocke joining the x-men and more!. The story revolves around a group of mutants called The Morlocks who live underground in the sewers (not turtles) because of their looks A group of mercenaries known as The Marauders seek to….well…. massacre all of them which causes an all out rumble that even draws out Thor! Such was it’s success that the crossover would become a regular thing since.
23. X-Tinction Agenda: Year- 1990-91
Now Marvel were getting the hang of these crossover things and this one involved the island of Genosha which was a massive plot point through a lot of the first half of the 90s. Genosha really acted as a nicely veiled representation of slavery and the Mutant version of the hot topic at the time of it’s inception in 1988 which was South African apartheid. The Genoshan government conducts covert operations funded by Cameron Hodge, a mutant hating cyborg where they capture and enslave mutants on the island in an ultimate attempt to boost the economy based on more mutant slave labour. A lot of changes came of the series after this such as the death of Warlock, Wolfsbane remaining on Genosha in wolf form and a whole new official x-team were formed. Big stuff…..and Hodge has one of the craziest designs ever!.
22. Ultimate X-Men: World Tour: Year-2002
I never EVER see this arc on these lists and that really shocks me as I can’t be the only one who loves it. There are often other arcs in Mark Millar’s run on the alternate timeline Ultimate x-men that end up in lists but never this one. Maybe because there’s a fight scene set just up from my small town house in it, maybe it’s because there are a lot of other Scotland references in it but most of all I think it’s because it’s the Ultimate series’ take on the classic Proteus story (more from that later). Unlike the original story, here Proteus is the son of Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggart and just like the original timeline Prof X is a deadbeat dad who is always absent ha. In the normal timeline it’s Legion who is the resentful son but here it’s Proteus and much like the original it’s Colossus who saves the day…..but this is a very different Colossus. He’s not the small town farm boy we all love in the Ultimate series, a very fun change up from Mark Millar.
21. Rise And Fall Of The Shi’ar Empire: Year-2006-07
In my humble bumble, Ed Brubaker is the best writer in comics today and although he’s best suited to street level action and murder mysteries he shows here that he can take on intergalactic space operas just as well. I’ve never been a fan of the Shi’ar stuff and all the intergalactic stories in regards to the X-men which gives even more credence to this as a great story because I was way into it. It acts as a sequel to Deadly Genesis which introduced the new character Vulcan and this arc really showed how powerful and how much of a threat he is and drilled it in that he is a force to be reckoned with. The end of this story also saw Professor X getting his powers back after he and Nightcrawler lead a team during this arc. Entertaining stuff.
20. Mutant Genesis: Year-1991-92
There’s just so much history that goes with this one that I’m not going to mention it all as I like to keep the dialogue in these lists snappy. For instance this signaled the end of Chris Claremont’s mammoth run in which he had amassed a ridiculously large amount of classics in a consistent run that lasted well over a decade….insane to think of that kind of run these days and we’ll be seeing a few of his stories on this list. For a couple of years preceding this arc Jim Lee had been pencilling Claremont’s work and he was quickly becoming the hottest artist in the industry and so they decided to start a whole new volume of x-men as basically a vehicle to promote and showcase his talent. Things didn’t particularly go to plan as Claremont left after only a few issues but Lee stayed on and created the uniforms that would go on to be used for the brilliant 1992 animated series. Issue 1 is still the biggest selling single issue of a comic ever so the promotion worked and it explains the constant re-branding that goes on now as they are trying to replicate that success much to the detriment of the very annoyed customer. Haven’t even mentioned the story….woops, Magneto goes mental, the blue and gold teams are formed, Jim Lee draws Psylocke jumping vagina first into loads of battles and Omega Red kicks arse.
The original brood saga is usually considered the definitive arc involving the parasitic alien beasties but I have always been more partial to Broodfall. Maybe it’s the impact of watching Wolverine being infected and slowly turning into a brood as his healing factor fights it whilst creating unbearable pain for everyone’s favourite Canadian midget (Avril Lavigne came close in 2003). It’s another Claremont joint with art from the always solid Marc Silvestri, including the sublime cover shown above. One of the more dark and brutal X-Men stories of it’s time.
18. Necrosha: Year-2009-10
A story that had been slowly burning through the pages of the excellent 3rd volume of X-Force but the main event was a crossover (surprise) featuring most of the x-titles. It features Selene The Black Queen, a character I hadn’t seen in years, who is part of The Hellfire Club and she plans on resurrecting a bunch of characters from the x-men’s past, becoming a goddess and running an island she calls Necrosha (the destroyed Genosha). Temporary x-man Deadpool is on form here and gets some good moments while the star of the show is Clayton Crain’s techno artwork which, despite making everyone look incredibly feminine is still eye catching and impressive. The amount of mutants resurrected is insane and there are so many nods to deceased characters that will have you checking every inch of each page to see who is wandering around as a zombie. This kind of came and went with little fanfare but I really enjoyed it, maybe it’s the horror fan in me but it really rounded off Craig Kyle and Chris Yost’s X-Force run off nicely.It’s not a fun read as it’s nihilistic grim subject matter and execution leave you feeling a little hollow but that’s the intention…it’s a horror story and a damn good one.
17. The Heart Of Thieves: Year-1994
It’s tough being a Gambit fan which might come off as odd to folk who grew up with the animated show but didn’t read the comics. “He’s one of the main ones no? he must have loads of cool stories” Alas no, despite smatterings of great moments and good solo stories he has mainly been treated poorly in the main x-books due to writers not really getting him or knowing what to do with him. Fabien Ncenzia was always a writer who got the character and wrote him very well…..a charmer but one with a lot more depth than just a womaniser. This issue written by Ncenzia and drawn by Andy Kubert was the first time we get to see a moment from his dark past (a gimmick that has been so overused it’s difficult to see how Gambit had the time to do all these crazy things writers keep adding to his past) as Rogue talks to Sabretooth about how he knows him. The tale starts with Gambit using his charm powers as usual to seduce a young lady but end up in tragedy at the hands of Sabretooth.
16. Crossroads: Year-1991
This story involves a couple of completely contrasting plots as it begins with Magneto and Rogue in The Savage Land dealing with a Nick Fury mission against Zaladane the high priestess of the sun people. It then moves onto a Skrull plot as they plan an attack on the Shi’ar Empire and a part of the x-team end up being replaced by Skrull versions of themselves. There’s also a great moment near the end when Magneto has to deal with the punishment of Zaladane and has a crisis of conscience that Chris Claremont handles expertly.
15.X-Cutioner’s Song: Year-1992-93
A free concert put on by by superstar mutant singer Lila Cheney goes when Cable appears to shot Professor X with a bullet that infects him with the techno-organic virus. Of course it’s not really Cable but his clone Stryfe who is the encapsulation of 90s comics with spikes and shiny metal all over….”The kids love spikes” as Todd McFarlane once hilariously said. This was the story where we find out that Cable is actually Cyclops and Jean Grey’s son from the future!. It also has Mr Sinister and Apocalypse involved in the story so they really threw everything at this one. It’s a little convoluted in places but overall it’s epic enough to satisfy and entertain and in the end that’s all I want.
14. Messiah War: Year-2009
Let me preface this….I LOVE the messiah trilogy, I don’t care if it’s uncool to put newer stories ahead of older stuff in these lists I go by what I like and not what people say I should like. Messiah War was the second part in the trilogy and although this could be disqualified from my list because it mainly deals with X-Force/Cable it still connects the trilogy that consisted of every X-Book so it stays. Awww man this is so great, after Messiah Complex in which the first mutant is born since nearly every mutant had been wiped out due to the events of House Of M. This causes an insane chase for the kid as the anti mutant groups want to kill her and the mutants obviously want to save her as she represents a future for mutantkind….with me?. Cable in particular takes it upon himself to protect the girl now known as Hope and keeps using time jumps to head into the future and keep one step ahead of her pursuers. It’s just a wonderful, emotional story where everything is on the line and made me like Cable for possibly the first time ever…..although he was good in the Deadpool/Cable series but I loved him after this. Speaking of Deadpool, he has a great part in this and I’m not the biggest Deadppol fan but when he’s used sparingly and in this capacity he is brilliant. A wonderful entry into one of the best trilogies in comics ever.
13. Wolverine’s Wedding: 1983
I very nearly put From The Ashes in this spot as it also includes the two issues that deal with Wolverine’s wedding but the overall story was about Madelyn Pryor becoming the second Phoenix and that whole arc just didn’t do much for me. What did do it for me was Wolverine finding happiness with the beautiful and lovely Mariko Yashida. Mariko was The Silver Samurai’s half sister which was obviously going to be rather awkward down the line as he was a bitter enemy of Wolvie. This story acts as a kind of sequel to the classic Chris Claremont/Frank Miller 4 part solo series and it’s great to see a different side of him, however brief. He’s genuinely happy and when his x-friends visit him in Japan he’s delighted to see them. Of course this couldn’t last and when it came to wedding time Mastermind controls Mariko’s thoughts and calls off the event. Our pal Wolvie doesn’t react too well to this and the two part story seems like it managed to cram a lot of great moments into it’s short run but it remains a classic and one that every fan should get a hold of.
12. Fatal Attractions: Year-1993
The common perception within the comic book community is that the 90s were an awful time for the X-Men but looking at my list I’m wondering why I ever bought into this theory. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of guff that came out of the decade, more so than the good stuff but for people my age in particular this is where we jumped on board and it shaped our early comic reading days. There was some great stuff that came out of the 90s and Fatal Attractions is one of them. Written by 90s mainstays Fabien Nicieza and Scott Lobdell this story is most famous for the moment where Magneto destroys Wolverine by using his powers to rip the adamantium out through his skin and off of his skeleton leading to Xavier going tits and mindwiping Magneto and puts him in a coma…….settle doon baldie.
11. The Dark Phoenix Saga: Year- 1980
Uh oh….I’m going to get some hate for this being so low. Usually this epic ends up topping these lists I completely understand why, especially if you were reading the book at the time it was released. It’s beautiful stuff but to be perfectly honest I never connected with Cyclops and Jean Grey and I already knew about all the twists and turns by the time I read it so it didn’t have the impact it could have had. That said it’s some of Claremont’s best writing as Jean slowly starts to lose her humanity to the Phoenix spirit while she and her friends desperately try to fight her change to no avail. Once she had been consumed by the Phoenix force she is a threat to entire planets and kills many innocents before sacrificing herself during a moment of clarity. The epic ends with that creepy egg head Uatu the watcher as Claremont’s has him very poignantly say ” Jean Grey could have lived to become a god, but it was more important that she die… a human” Man when Claremont was on form he was great.
10. He’ll Never Make Me Cry: Year- 1983
Colossus looking extra fly! What a great one and done issue this is and as the cover would suggest we get to see a rumble between to of Marvel’s biggest hitters, Colossus and Juggernaut. This stems from the fallout of the original Secret Wars where Colossus returned from space with a cold and distant attitude. He breaks up with Kitty Pryde claiming he feel in love with someone else in space (Zsaji) and no longer wants to be with Kitty. He delivers the break up in such an uncharacteristically brutal manner that Shadowcat is left heartbroken that her sweetheart would treat her like that. Someone else who didn’t take the breakup well was Wolverine…..which is bad news for Colossus. My favourite characteristic of Wolvie is when he’s protective of the kids and he was particularly fond of Kitty, whom he saw as something of a daughter figure. So he teams up with Nightcrawler and they all head to a pub where they get Colossus steaming drunk and set up a fight with Juggernaut….who also happens to be in the pub (comics eh?) Juggernaut beats the holy crap out of him as Wolverine watches on a grins…..it’s brilliant justice dealt by an overprotective friend and we all live vicariously through him dealing with those who had wronged our friends.
9. House Of M: Year- 2005
The Scarlett Witch has a mental breakdown after finding out that the babies she thought she had we only her imagination but she changed reality to make them real but it still didn’t make them real……just read it, it’ll make sense. Anyway during her breakdown she does a lot of self loathing and mutters 3 words that completely change the entire Marvel universe. ….”No,,,more,,,,mutants”. Her powerful reality changing abilities wipe out nearly the entire mutant population all over the world. Wolverine’s healing factor has him remembering the normal reality and he knows something’s wrong. Alternate reality stories are always interesting and it’s fun to see different versions of well established characters and this is one of those events that really effected the entire Marvel Universe for a long time with the mutant population being almost wiped out. Epic.
8. Second Coming: Year- 2010
The climax of the messiah trilogy comes with a huge bang in the form of this crossover that focuses on the travels of Hope, the first mutant born since the catastrophe of House Of M.The tagline reads”Many will be wounded several will die” and it’s no lie. We lose a very important and beloved character during this story……and a couple of not so important (but I’ sure they’re somebody’s favourite). Cable is still time hopping while protecting Hope and Bishop is hunting them down as he comes from a future where Hope’s birth ruined everything or Mutankind. It’s intense, emotional and a perfect example of why X-Men works. They’ve made us care about so many characters over the years and with fast paced, brutal and exciting storytelling like this, it keeps you flipping the pages desperate to know what’s happening next.
7. Fever Dream Year- 1989
What a stunning image from the mind of artist Marc Silvestri who later went on to illustrate the Wolvie solo series. Wolverine crossed on a crucifix made of an X. Just like the symbol that stands for everything he is. There are so many beautiful set pieces here with Wolvie on the cross for days as he’s torture by Cyborgs who are trying to break him. They are close to succeeding until a rainstorm allows him to free himself. There’s a nice moment where Jubilee tries to avoid being captured by going to check on a tortured and hanging Wolverine. I always liked the Wolvie/Jubilee dynamic even though it was basically an update version of Wolvie/Shadowcat.
6. Age Of Apocalypse: Year- 1995-96
Ah the greatest alternative universe in Marvel history! The reason everything goes tits up and changes timelines is due to Legion (Xavier’s son) traveling back in time to kill Magneto but accidentally kills Prof X instead. In this new timeline Xavier doesn’t exist, Magneto leads the X-Men, Gambit leads a rag tag group of freedom fighters called The X-ternals and Colossus ad Kitty are married. It’s brilliant fun as the dilapidated Mutants fight back against Apocalypse who has taken control of the world and almost destroyed it. Wolverine with his missing hand, Sabretooth and his wee feral pal….just great fun. Also, when Blink is one of the best characters in you series you know it’s an alternate universe!.
5. The Muir Island Saga: Year-1991
This is one of the earliest X-Men stories I remember reading and it’s still one of the only times I’ve read a meaningful story involving The Shadow King who is a pretty cool and underused villain. He possesses people’s bodies and spreads hate which is a good plot device to be exploited as it is done here when he starts possessing people on Muir Island. This is also the story that led to the excellent X-Factor, Legion was left in a coma and Xavier lost the ability to walk again…..nae luck. Chris Claremont, Fabian Nicieza and Peter David wrote this with a host of artists contributing to this cracker.Also for Gambit fans there’s also another classic “Bang…you dead” moment.
4. The Proteus Saga: Year-1979-80
For a while before this classic story Claremont had been teasing a character called Mutant X who was extremely powerful and who had escaped from his captivity.It’s discovered that he’s actually on Muir island off the coast of Scotland and he’s been possessing residents there. The X-Men fly to Muir Island and proceed to get their arses handed to them by the mutant who now calls himself Proteus. ….SCOTLAND REPRESENT!. The big reveal tells us that Proteus is actually Kevin MacTaggart, son of Moira who is a long time ally of the X-Men and former lover of Xavier. Proteus is crazy and also extremely powerful with the ability to body swap and alter reality. Ever seen Wolverine shivering like a baby? That’s what the battle with Proteus reduced him to. It took an awesome pep talk from Cyclops to snap him out of it.There’s also a great development in Colossus character that changes him forever. brilliant stuff.
3. Days Of Future Past: Year- 1981
One of the most famous and referenced covers in the history of the genre….seriously, even Darkwing Duck has one out there!. Another Claremont classic in which we see a future dominated by Mutant interment camps and only a few X-Men left fighting an uphill resistance against giant Mutant hunting sentinels. The remaining X-men send Kitty Pryde’s conscience back in time into her 13 year old body to stop the catalyst that triggered the anti human sentiment from ever happening. That catalyst was Senator Robert Kelly being assassinated by The Brotherhood Of Mutants, led By mystique. It’s brilliant and intelligent storytelling by Claremont and artists John Byrne and Terry Austin. It’s grim and dystopian while the open ended nature of the conclusion has you wondering if victory has genuinely been achieved.
2. God Loves, Man Kills: Year- 1982
When any stuck up idiot tells you that comic books are childish and aren’t real literature then ram this graphic novel right into their pieholes. As culturally relevant and poignant as it was in 1982. Of course it’s Claremont’s work again and it’s some of his strongest writing from his mammoth tenure on the book but it’s remained an undisputed classic because of how well Brent Anderson’s gorgeous, chalky art matches the grim nature of the writing. The X-Men have always been an allegory for race issues and intolerance with Xavier being molded after a Martin Luther King type while Magneto is the more aggressive Malcolm X kind of character. William Stryker is a religious preacher who is spreading hatred and fear of Mutants while a group called the purifiers are killing innocent Mutant children. When events unfold that lead to Xavier’s capture, the rest of the X-Men team up with Magneto to take Stryker down. It’s just such a brilliant, quick read that will stay with you forever.
1: Messiah Complex: Year- 2007-08
Uh oh I’m probably going to get some heat for this one because it’s not 30 years old. I have such an emotional attachment to this story and it pretty much brought me back into reading X-Men comics as I had stopped for quite a while….a few years to be specific. This is the first part of The Messiah Trilogy, the other two have also made this list because it’s such a great, emotional, interesting sci-fi story in which we follow Hope as she grows up quite literally in front of our eyes due to the constant time jumps as she travels with Cable. Even the spinoffs that ran through and came after this event were excellent, in particular Peter David’s X-Factor which followed Layla Miller and Jamie Madrox. The whole idea of a little baby being born to be seen as a saviour for an entire race while other groups try to kill her is so exciting and interesting if you’ve ever had any interest or connection to the universe they live in. Oh and anything with Mr Sinister has got to be good….well not really but he’s a damn good character. Gambit fans rejoice, he is a major part of his event and has a heel turn and a face turn…it’s exhilarating stuff all round and makes my number one spot hands down.
There we go, Darren’s list is done. Did your favourites make the list? Are you thinking of having a look at any of these entries? Let me know what you think @swing_kinker or @BigGlasgowComic ……cheers folks, see you soon for the finale.