With “X-Men: Apocalypse” nearly upon us, I thought this would be a good time to tell you all about some of my favorite X-Men stories.
For this post I’m going to ignore the more famous story arcs like “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” “Fall of the Mutants” and “Age of Apocalypse.” Instead, I’m going to tell you about a few X-Men stories you probably missed when they first came out.
But to be clear: these comic stories are by no means necessary to enjoy “X-Men: Apocalypse” in theaters. These are just good stories you might enjoy before or after seeing the movie. Got it? good, and here we go:
Uncanny X-Men #145 (1981)
In this issue by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Joe Rubinstein, Stevie Hunter and Storm, attend the ballet at Lincoln Center when Arcade’s assistant, Miss Locke, enters their box, drugging both women. As they pass out, she explains that Dr. Doom has captured Arcade, so Miss Locke has kidnapped the X-Men’s friends and family, including Moira MacTaggert, Amanda Sefton, Candy Southern, Illyana Rasputin and Jean Grey’s parents, and is holding them hostage in Murderworld. If the X-Men don’t free Arcade from Doom’s clutches, their loved ones will die.
When Storm awakens, Stevie is gone, taken by Locke, and Storm scouts the city, quickly confirming Miss Locke’s claims. At the mansion, Storm informs the other X-Men of the situation and announces she has a plan. Professor X telepathically contacts former X-Men Havok, Polaris, Iceman and Banshee and asks them to return to the mansion.Plus, Cyclops finds himself marooned on a desert island in the middle of no where.
I don’t know if this was the first time the X-Men met Doctor Doom (probably not), but it was the first time I saw them together in one comic. And when I saw that cover… I was in. Add in the legendary team of Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum, and you got a classic.
X-Men #12-13 (1992)
“Broken mirrors” / “Hazardous territory”
In previous issues we saw that something labeled the Xavier File was on Professor X’s desk, and we also saw Maverick kill a scientist named Alexander Ryking. This story ties those things together, but it also links Professor X’s father into Wolverine’s origin.
The idea in this two issue story is that Brian Xavier, Kurt Marko (Juggernaut’s father), and Alexander Ryking all worked together at the Almagordo testing field. And it’s implicated that the nuclear testing was actually a front for something more sinister. Basically, Professor X’s father may have been involved in Wolverine’s origin.
Anyways, Ryking later created a facility in New Mexico, where he kept his son locked up for years. A son that Xavier knows very well, because the two were friends when they were kids.
Following a fan-favorite run by Jim Lee was no easy task, but the man tapped to draw the first two post-Lee issues was more than up to the job.
Art Thibert had occasionally inked or finished for Jim Lee, and on these first issues after Jim Lee’s departure, he’s doing full art for the first time. I thought Thibert did an excellent job retaining the look of the book. Even though his style was different from Lee’s it still felt like I was reading about the same team. Art Thibert is still one of my favorite artits and it still baffles me why Marvel didn’t name him the regular artist.
X-Men Deadly Genesis #1-6 (2006)
With Professor X missing after M-Day, Emma Frost makes an attempt at locating him with Cerebra but instead located a NASA shuttle crashing into orbit that seemed to contain an omega level mutant.
When Wolverine, Cyclops and Marvel Girl investigated the crash site they discovered that the shuttle was caught by a hand made from the earth itself and were soon ambushed by a mysterious figure who defeated the trio within seconds.
Deadly Genesis was one of the last X-Men mini-series that I read, but it was also one of the best and most underrated. I liked the story because it took you back to the 1975 team, and gave you a “What If” scenario. Deadly Genesis also asked the question: do good guys have skeletons in their closet?
And to think, the only reason I picked up the series in the first place was beacuse Ed Brubaker was involved.
The Uncanny X-Men #289 (1992)
The issue starts off with a tour of the X-Mansion for the newest member of the team, Bishop. He even tries to flirt with Storm but gets shot down. But its obvious that something else may be bothering her. Elsewhere, Forge and Iceman chat as Iceman gets ready for a date, and like Storm, something seems to be bothering Forge.
As Iceman is finishing his grooming, discussing his love life with Archangel a younger version of Angel shows up. Archangel attacks the impostor as the fight spills into the hallway and attracts the attention of Storm, Bishop, and Forge. Storm reprimands Mystique but Forge leaps to Mystique’s defense as she was only trying to reach out to Archangel.
The argument then shifts to the issues between Forge and Storm. Forge admits to her that his problem is the complete lack of a relationship they have had since she has resumed leadership of the X-Men. Forge professes his love for her and finalizes it by asking Storm to marry him.
Even in 1992, I was pretty new to the X-Men world, so this issue just came out of left field for me. This was the first X-Men issue I read that focused a lot on a relationship in this case the relationship between Forge and Storm. Before Uncanny #289 I had no idea they were even a couple! But that Whilce Portacio cover was so damn good, I had to get this comic.
This is one of my favorite X-Men issues which is a bit strange since there’s very little action in it. But maybe getting to know the Gold team on a personal level is why Uncanny X-Men #289 still holds up today.
“Muir Island Saga”
Uncanny X-Men #278-280
In “Muir Island Saga,” The Shadow King attempts to free himself from the Astral Plane and enter the physical world to take it over. He takes mental control of the inhabitants of the Mutant Research Center on Muir Island and several X-Men who show up to help.
Meanwhile at the mansion, Professor Xavier battles a Shadow King controlles Colossus. At this point Professor Xavier has no choice but to call X-Factor for help.
“Muir Island Saga” often gets lost in the shuffle because it came right after “The X-Tinction Agenda” and before the mutant-genesis of 1991. But Muir Island is one heck of a story, and it had lasting ramifications for all the X-Men. Now twenty-five years later, I think its time the “Muir Island Saga” got its due.