Forbidden Planet Loves: The X-Men
21 August 2014
Get started With Marvel's Favourite Mutants
In a world that fears and hates them the X-Men strive to use their mutant abilities for the good of mankind. And this never goes well. Operating under a veil of anti-mutant sentiment and the guiding hand of their founder, Professor Xavier, a massive cast of Marvel's A-list characters - including Wolverine, Cyclops, Phoenix and Rogue - always aim to save the world form impending doom.... whilst dealing with their angst ridden private lives. Unputdownable stuff! A heady mix of superhero soap opera, social morals and action packed science fiction.
Since their creation, by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in 1963, the X-Men have had an amazing selection of comic writers and artists at the helm - from the classic Chris Claremont years to Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker.
The creation of spin off X-Teams has taken place, with Marvel's introduction of X-Force, New Mutants and X-Factor. They've tackled everything from religious zealots to repeated Sentinel attack, having their mutant school destroyed on a regular basis and crashing more Blackbirds than anybody should really be allowed to do. Team members have left, team members have returned and everybody has fallen in love with Jean Grey, so in a series that twists and turns with alternate time lines, crossover events, people refusing to stay dead and a huge cast of characters...where the Hell should you start reading?
Tricky. And with nearly six decades of X-Men titles to go at everybody has their favourites but if you've never had any X-Men in your life before try our following fave graphic novels as a good place to begin and hopefully open up the X-Universe for a whole world of excellent reading!
Early X-Men, from Lee And Kirby, wasn’t as successful as many of their other titles and may seem a little dated for contemporary, first time readers so why not start off with X-Men: First Class from Jeff Parker and Roger Cruz.
Laying the foundation of the mutant dynasty, X-Men: First Class tells tales from the very earliest days at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters and establishes the team's founding members.
In 1976 writer Chris Claremont took over on X-Men and, as they say, the rest is history! Claremont’s mutants, fighting against prejudice and intolerance, found a place in the hearts of millions of devoted readers and Marvel’s team became a firm fan favourite.
His landmark work is collected in Uncanny X-Men Omnibus: Volume 1 and introduces the Phoenix and Wolverine! And if you just fancy a taste of 1970s X-Men the highlight is Claremont and Byrne’s Dark Phoenix Saga. Considered one of the most important arcs of the X-Men mythos, Jean Grey unwittingly acquires the power beyond imagination…
Hit the 1980s and Claremont is still at the writer’s helm and his standalone graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills from this period is epic X-Men stuff! One of the most powerful and influential X-Men stories it hammers home the civil rights metaphor with an enthralling Professor X Vs Magneto storyline and classic X-Men artwork from Brent Anderson.
If you fancy starting your X-Men reading with something a little more contemporary we love Grant Morrison’s New X-Men from 2011.
As part of a Marvel revamp Morrison gave the X-Men a stylish overhaul - there’s still the school setting, with Professor X and all the team but now the X-Men are under attack and it’s time to fight back! With beautiful art from - among others – Frank Quitely, and a super bitchy Emma Frost! Excellent.
If all other X-Men graphic novels pass you by our one and only ‘must read’ is Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men.
With beautiful art by John Cassaday, Whedon’s twenty-four issue run on the X-Men is an excellent place to get started. With a self-contained story arc it’s massively accessible but retains all the classic X-Men character and traits from the series' foundations. Written with Mr Whedon’s usual spot-on sense of style, wit and drama you can’t go wrong.
Want to begin reading the current X-Men titles? Well, writer Jason Aaron irreparably changed the X-Men landscape in 2012 with X-Men: Schism. As anti-mutant hatred hits all new heights Cyclops and Wolverine erm… have their differences as to how to deal with the situation.
Head off to the Jean Grey School with Wolverine & The X-Men and follow the adventures of an angry, angry Cyclops in Uncanny X-Men. With X-Teams popping up all over the place ‘Schism’ explains why everybody isn’t exactly getting along and saves you a whole world of bafflement with the current issues!
So you want X-Men comics and you want them now? Our current favourites to pick up are All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men from the inimitable Brian Michael Bendis. Sharp, snappy and fun All-New X-Men has the original X-Men travelling through time to the current Marvel Universe, and some ‘future X-Men’ and involves at least three different versions of Jean Grey. Really. It’s great. Take our word for it. Whilst the Uncanny X-Folk involves Cyclops’ break away X-Team, Magneto and Mr Scott Summers getting right on everybody’s nerves to save mutantkind – including The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. and Wolverine.
So welcome to the wonderful world of the X-Men. We hope your enjoy your brief enrolment at the Xavier Institute and lots of future reading!