In a true rags-to-riches comic books story, the X-Men rose from being Marvel’s least popular Silver Age book to the biggest team in comics history. Reborn with Len Wein and Dave Cockrum’s Giant-Size X-Men #1 in 1974, the X-Men ruled the sales roost pretty much unopposed until the mid-2000s. Over the years, X-Men comics have given readers amazing stories, ones that every fan knows and loves.
However, there are also brilliant X-Men stories that have fallen through the cracks. They’re great stories, giving readers X-Men adventures unlike anything they’d seen before. These underrated stories deserve a second look from fans, as they’re much better than they got credit for.
10 Chris Claremont’s 2000 Uncanny X-Men And X-Men Run Is Wildly Imaginative
Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #381-389 and X-Men vol 2 #100-109
X-Men history was changed forever by Chris Claremont. His seventeen-year run on Uncanny X-Men is legendary, supplying stories that are considered some of the best superhero stories ever told. Claremont’s return in 2000, writing Uncanny X-Men and X-Men, is looked down upon by fans. That’s actually pretty unfair to these fascinating and creative stories.
Working with artists like Leinil Yu, Adam Kubert, and Tom Raney, Chris Claremont introduced a new type of mutant called the Neo. New characters popped up all the time, and Claremont did his trademark character work. These comics are highly underrated and deserve a better reputation than they have.
9 Uncanny X-Men: The End Of Tomorrow Pits A New X-Men Team Against The Fury
Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #444-447
Chris Claremont’s third run on Uncanny X-Men is better thought of than his second run, but isn’t talked about much as well. There are some superb stories from this run, with its inaugural story, Uncanny X-Men: The End Of Tomorrow, kicking things off with a bang. Working with longtime artistic collaborators Alan Davis and Mark Farmer, Claremont gives his new X-Men team a powerful threat: the Fury.
Introduced during Alan Moore and Alan Davis’s Captain Britain Marvel UK run, the Fury is a highly adaptable android. This story is four issues of amazing action, brought to life by Davis, Farmer, and colorist Frank D’Armata. It’s a great story and one that every X-Men fan needs to check out.
8 Uncanny X-Men: Revolution Was A Great Beginning To A Mediocre Run
Uncanny X-Men vol 3 #1-4
Writer Brian Michael Bendis’s run on the X-books isn’t well regarded, but his time writing Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men started off well enough. Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 3) #1-4, with artist Chris Bachalo and inker Tim Townsend, introduced readers to Cyclops’s new status quo. Escaped from prison and working with Magneto, Emma Frost, and Magik, Cyclops decides to build a new school.
Bendis had a great idea in this book, and these first four issues bear that out. Cyclops fighting the power as a quasi-mutant terrorist was an inspired status quo change for the character. These four issues went a long way in presenting this bold new status quo, introduced some great new mutants, and had a showdown with the Avengers. It’s a shame that the rest of Bendis’s run wasn’t this good.
7 The Hunt For Xavier Is A Mutant Masterpiece
Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #362-364 and X-Men vol 2 #82-84
Among the must-read X-Men runs, most people don’t really talk about Joe Kelly and Steve Seagle’s time on X-Men and Uncanny X-Men. Their run barely lasted a year, but it was full of great stories, with the two writers working very well together. The centerpiece of their run was “The Hunt For Xavier”, which ran in Uncanny X-Men #362-364 and X-Men #82-84.
Joined by artists Leinil Yu, Adam Kubert, and Chris Bachalo, the story followed the X-Men as they finally got some clues on where to find Xavier, who had been missing since the end of Operation: Zero Tolerance. The story pits the team against an unexpected enemy and is chock-full of surprises and action.
6 Generation Next Is A Gem From The Age Of Apocalypse
Generation Next #1-4
Consisting of two book ends and ten miniseries, The Age Of Apocalypse is beloved by fans and among the best Marvel stories of the ’90s. Some of the minis are better than others, with Generation Next, by writer Scott Lobdell, artist Chris Bachalo, inker Mark Buckingham, and colorist Steve Buccelato, standing above the rest.
The AoA version of Generation X, Generation Next followed Colossus, Kitty Pryde, Chamber, Husk, Skin, Vincente, and Know-It-All on their most dangerous mission ever. Charged with finding Illyana Rasputin, the team has to sneak into the Seattle Core, the heavily fortified power plant for Apocalypse’s America. It’s a roller coaster of a story like no other.
5 Planet X Is A Very Different Look Into The Character Of Magneto
New X-Men vol 1 #146–150
Grant Morrison’s time at Marvel was short but fruitful, with their New X-Men run is counted among the best X-Men runs of all time, and for good reason. However, New X-Men: Planet X, with artist Phil Jimenez, inker Andy Lanning, and colorist Chris Chuckry, doesn’t really get the love other stories do. The X-Men’s battle against Magneto is epic and deserves more love.
Beyond the fact that Marvel retconned it to death after Grant Morrison left, a lot of fans didn’t like the writer’s view of Magneto, whom they wrote as a deluded terrorist and not the sympathetic quasi-hero he’d been for years. However, that’s one of the reasons Planet X is so good – it plays into a different aspect of Magneto that is rarely looked at.
4 Germ-Free Generation Introduced A Great Concept
New X-Men vol 1 Annual 2001 and #118-120
The X-Men have faced some weird circumstances, but the U-Men brought about an interesting new threat. Introduced in New X-Men Annual 2001 by Grant Morrison, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Hi-Fi Design before making their mark in New X-Men: Germ-Free Generation, by Morrison, Ethan Van Sciver, and Igor Kordey, the U-Men are humans who go about vivisecting mutants to gain their powers, forcing the X-Men to step in.
This story gets a bad rep because of the art. Van Sciver was supposed to be New X-Men’s main fill-in artist but was actually much slower than regular artist Frank Quitely, which is saying something. Kordey had to be brought in at basically the last second to get the issues published. The art can be rough, but the story more than makes up for it.
3 “When Strikes a Gladiator!” Is A Slugfest For The Ages
Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #341
Cannonball is an underrated X-Man, and one issue shows why. Uncanny X-Men #341, by Scott Lobdell, Joe Madureira, Tim Townsend, and Steve Buccelato, pits the young mutant against Gladiator. It’s an exciting slugfest that shows just what Cannonball is capable of.
Mid-’90s Uncanny X-Men gets a bad rap that’s often undeserved. This issue shows why. It’s a great one-and-done issue that has an amazing action-packed main plot, a cool B-plot, and gorgeous art. The issue was a huge surprise for readers when it dropped and is still a treat all these years later.
2 X-Men: Supernovas Threw A New Team At A New Threat
X-Men vol 2 #188-193
Thought-provoking X-Men stories take readers in many directions. X-Men: Supernovas, by Mike Carey, Chris Bachalo, and Clayton Henry threw Rogue’s new rapid response team – Iceman, Cannonball, Cable, Mystique, Sabretooth, Lady Mastermind, and Omega Sentinel – against the Children of the Vault. It’s the perfect mix of X-Men-style sci-fi and superhero action.
Writer Mike Carey’s X-Men run is amazing, and this story kicks it off perfectly. It grabs readers right from the start and never lets them go. It’s one of those X-Men stories that has everything a reader could want or need in one package.
1 The Rise And Fall Of The Shi’ar Empire Is An Epic
Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #475-486
The X-Men have taken things too far in the past, especially in their dealings with Vulcan, the youngest Summers brother. When a team of X-Men are sent after Vulcan to stop him from taking revenge against the Shi’ar in Uncanny X-Men: Rise And Fall Of The Shi’ar Empire, by Ed Brubaker, Billy Tan, Clayton Henry, Danny Miki, Mark Morales, Will Quintana, and Frank D’Armata, it’s a sci-fi epic like few others readers have seen.
Rise and Fall Of The Shi’ar Empire is like a blast from the Chris Claremont past. It has a great X-Men team, the Starjammers, Shi’ar lore, and mind-numbingly awesome battle scenes. It’s twelve issues long, and by the end, it still leaves readers begging for more.
NEXT: 10 X-Men Twists That Surprised Everyone (Except The Readers)
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