The X-Men are coming to the MCU in the near future and the best X-Men comic book storylines will certainly influence what fans see. No doubt the period between the late ’70s and early ’90s shepherded by writer Chris Claremont along with artists Dave Cockrum, John Byrne, and others informs the future of the MCU. This period generated some of the best X-Men storylines ever, like The Dark Phoenix Saga.
The best X-Men comic book storylines lean heavily toward this iconic period according to Ranker, though other great storylines by other writers and artists also number among fan favorites. Early ’90s storylines like Age of Apocalypse and Fatal Attractions show the enduring appeal of the X-Men and the nearly limitless potential of the characters and their world in the MCU.
Fatal Attractions provided fans with one of the biggest and most consequential battles between the X-Men and Magneto. The 1993 comic book storyline ends with Magneto ripping all of the adamantium out of Wolverine’s body.
The shocking act remains the most potent image of the crossover that spanned all the X-titles at the time. Professor X erases Magneto’s mind in retaliation, an act that would result in major consequences for both in the less well-regarded Onslaught storyline a few years later.
Rogue’s journey from a villain to a member of the X-Men represents one of the best X-Men comic book storylines ever. Her evolution begins in Avengers Annual #10 where she steals Carol Danvers’ powers and then continues as she tries to reform in Uncanny X-Men #158.
Rogue struggled to control her powers and convince the other X-Men she was more than a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. She eventually became a full member of the team in issue #171, culminating in one of the most satisfying storylines in X-Men comics.
After losing his wings in The Mutant Massacre, Angel would suffer even more in one of the best X-Men comic storylines. Over the course of X-Factor #17-25, he gained a new set of metal wings and a frightening new identity as Archangel.
Apocalypse, one of the evilest X-Men villains, altered Angel forever by making him one of his Four Horsemen. This epic 1987 storyline by Louise and Walt Simonson intertwined Apocalypse and Archangel’s fates well into the present day, leading to complex stories for both.
This 1982 limited series featured Wolverine in his first solo outing and introduced major elements of his character as well as key players like Yukio. Wolverine travels to Japan and battles the Silver Samurai at the same time he falls in love with Mariko Yashida.
Written by Claremont with art by Frank Miller, the storyline influenced Wolverine’s depiction in later comics and also in other media. Much of this great X-Men comic storyline unfolded in 2013’s The Wolverine.
Age of Apocalypse erased the present day of the X-Men and replaced it with one of the darkest timelines in Marvel Comics. This 1995 comic storyline spanned the entire X-world, with every book in publication at the time changing its title and cast to reflect the new status quo.
The prospect of a world where Professor X died and Apocalypse destroyed most of the world unleashed endless possibilities, including a heroic Sabretooth and Magneto leading the X-Men alongside his wife, Rogue.
The Mutant Massacre holds the distinction of being the first major crossover in X-Men comics, spanning several issues of Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, and New Mutants. This dark storyline sees the X-Men fall tragically short of saving the mutant Morlocks.
The 1986 storyline leads to major consequences for the team. Colossus kills Riptide in a fit of rage, demolishing his image as a gentle giant. Angel loses his wings, leading to his becoming Archangel in some of the best X-Factor issues ever.
Giant-Sized X-Men #1 remains an iconic comic book for introducing perhaps the greatest X-Men roster ever. This comic brings Wolverine to the team and introduces Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, and others to the Marvel Universe.
The diverse cast of characters created by writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum jolted the status quo of X-Men, a low-selling book that was in reprints for years at that point, and set the stage for the great X-Men comic storylines that followed.
The Phoenix Saga begins with Jean Grey becoming the Phoenix in Uncanny X-Men #101. She wrestles with her newfound powers until issue #108, in which she seems to understand and control them. It is this issue where she encounters the M’Kraan Crystal.
These issues by Claremont and artist Cockrum take Jean Grey in a fascinating and bold new direction. From this point forward she leaves behind her role as something of a bystander in X-Men stories and becomes a bold leader with a newfound agency.
The Dark Phoenix Saga tracks the tragic rise and fall of Jean Grey as she succumbs to the seductive power of the Phoenix Force. She becomes one of the most powerful cosmic beings in the Marvel Universe but in the process destroys entire solar systems.
Written by Claremont and drawn by Byrne, this epic storyline ends with the shocking death of Jean Grey in Uncanny X-Men #137. She returned several years later, but that didn’t diminish the emotional punch or cosmic scope of The Dark Phoenix Saga.
Days of Futures Past takes place over just two issues in Uncanny X-Men #141 and #142 but it’s had an enormous influence on the X-Men comic books that followed. This vision of a dystopian future where mutants were on the verge of extinction kicked off a legacy of similar stories not just in X-Men comics but many others as well.
The storyline also introduced Rachel Summers, the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey, into this timeline. She eventually traveled into the present day of the Marvel Universe and became a major player in the X-Men as well as the British off-shoot Excalibur.
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