X-Men (Vol. 1) #1 (September, 1963)
Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Archangel, Colossus, Forge, Jean Grey (past), Iceman, M, Magik, Magneto, Nightcrawler, Old Man Logan, Psylocke, Sabretooth, Storm
"To me, my X-Men"
The X-Men are a superhero team in the Marvel Comics Universe.
When Professor X, a powerful mutant, saw a rise in anti-mutant sentiment, he decided to form a school to teach and protect young mutants. He also had his students learn to defend themselves and others, calling them the X-Men and having them work towards the dream of human-mutant equality.
A quirk in evolution has given a number of children born with bizarre mutations, many of which have resulted in super powers and, in some cases, physical deformities. The fact that many of them are dangerous, in addition to them simply being "other", tensions emerged between humans and mutants which has, at times, threatened to erupt into a war.
The first issue also introduced the team's archenemy, Magneto, who would continue to battle the X-Men for decades throughout the comic's history, both on his own and with his Brotherhood of Mutants (introduced in issue #4). The X-Men universe also includes such notable heroes as Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and Rogue. Besides the Brotherhood of Mutants, other villains that the X-Men have fought include Apocalypse, Mister Sinister, the Hellfire Club, and Weapon X.
Creator Stan Lee devised the series title after Marvel publisher Martin Goodman turned down the initial name, "The Merry Mutants," stating that readers wouldn't know what a "mutant" was. Within the Marvel Universe, the X-Men are widely regarded to have been named after Professor Xavier himself. Xavier however claims that the name "X-Men" was never chosen to be a self-tribute. The name is also linked to the "X Gene," an unknown gene that causes the mutant evolution.
Early X-Men issues introduced the team's archenemy Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants featuring Mastermind, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and the Toad. The comic focused on a common human theme of good versus evil and later included storylines and themes about prejudice and racism, all of which have persisted throughout the series in one form or another. The evil side in the fight was shown in human form and under some sympathetic beginnings via Magneto, a character who was later revealed to have survived Nazi concentration camps only to pursue a hatred for all 'normal' mankind. His key followers, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, were Roma (gypsies). Only one new member of the X-Men was added, Mimic/Calvin Rankin, but soon left due to his temporary loss of power.
The title lagged in sales behind Marvel's other comic franchises. In 1969, writer Roy Thomas and illustrator Neal Adams rejuvenated the comic book and gave regular roles to two recently introduced characters: Havok/Alex Summers (who had been introduced by Roy Thomas before Adams began work on the comic) and Lorna Dane, later called Polaris (created by Arnold Drake and Jim Steranko). However, these later X-Men issues failed to attract sales and Marvel stopped producing new stories with issue #66, later reprinting a number of the older comics as issues #67–93.
In Giant-Size X-Men #1 (1975), writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum introduced a new team which was featured in new issues of The X-Men beginning with issue #94. This new team, however, differed greatly from the original. Unlike in the early issues of the original team, the new team was not made up of teenagers and they also had a more diverse background. Each was from a different country with varying cultural and philosophical beliefs, and all were already well versed in using their mutant powers, several being experienced in combat. The "all-new, all-different X-Men" were led by Cyclops from the original team and consisted of the newly created Colossus (from the Soviet Union), Nightcrawler (from West Germany), Storm (from Kenya), and Thunderbird (a Native American from the Apache nation), along with three previously introduced characters, Banshee (from Ireland), Sunfire (from Japan), and most notably Wolverine (from Canada), who eventually became the breakout character on the team and, in terms of comic sales and appearances, became the most popular X-Men character. A revamped Jean Grey soon rejoined the X-Men as the popular Phoenix; Angel, Beast, Havok, and Polaris also made significant guest appearances.
The revived series was illustrated by Dave Cockrum, and later John Byrne, and written by Chris Claremont. Claremont became the series' longest-running contributor. The run met with great critical acclaim and produced such early storylines as the death of Thunderbird, the return of the Sentinels and the emergence of Phoenix, the saga of the Starjammers and the fight for control of the M'Kraan Crystal, the resurrection of Garokk the Petrified Man, the introduction of Alpha Flight and the Proteus saga. Other characters introduced during this time include Amanda Sefton, Multiple Man, Mystique, and Moira MacTaggert with her genetic research facility on Muir Island.
The 1980s began with the comic's best-known story arc, the Dark Phoenix Saga, which saw Phoenix manipulated by the illusionist Mastermind and becoming overwhelmed by power, taking on the persona of the evil Dark Phoenix. Other important storylines included Days of Future Past, the saga of Deathbird and the Brood, the discovery of the Morlocks, the invasion of the Dire Wraiths and The Trial of Magneto,as well as X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, the partial inspiration for the 2003 movie X2: X-Men United.
By the early '80s, X-Men was Marvel's top-selling comic title. The growing popularity of Uncanny X-Men and the rise of comic book specialty stores led to the introduction of a number of ongoing spin-off series nicknamed "X-Books." The first of these was The New Mutants, soon followed by Alpha Flight, X-Factor, Excalibur, and a solo Wolverine title. This plethora of X-Men-related titles led to the rise of crossovers (sometimes called "X-Overs"); story lines which would overlap into several X-Books. Notable crossovers of the time included the Mutant Massacre, Fall of the Mutants, and Inferno.
Throughout the decade, Uncanny X-Men was written solely by Chris Claremont, and illustrated for long runs by John Byrne, Dave Cockrum,Paul Smith, John Romita Jr and Marc Silvestri. Additions to the X-Men during this time were Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat, Dazzler, Forge, Longshot, Psylocke, Rogue, Rachel Summers/Phoenix and Jubilee. In a controversial move, Professor X relocated to outer space to be with Lilandra, Majestrix of the Shi'ar Empire, in 1986. Magneto then joined the X-Men in Xavier's place and became the headmaster of the New Mutants. This period also included the emergence of the Hellfire Club, the arrival of the mysterious Madelyne Pryor, and the villains Apocalypse, Mister Sinister, Mojo, and Sabretooth.
The multiple, interlocking covers of X-Men (vol. 2) #1 (1991) boosted sales. Art by Jim Lee.
In 1991, Marvel revised the entire lineup of X-Books, centered on the launch of a second X-Men series, simply titled X-Men. With the return of Xavier and the original X-Men to the team, the roster was split into two strike forces: Cyclops' "Blue Team" (chronicled in the pages of X-Men) and Storm's "Gold Team" (in Uncanny X-Men).
Its first issues were written by long-standing X-Men writer Chris Claremont and drawn and co-plotted by superstar artist Jim Lee. This book sold close to 8 million copies. Another new X-book released at the time was X-Force, featuring the characters from The New Mutants led by Cable, and written by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza. Internal friction soon split the X-Books' creative teams. In a highly controversial move X-Men editor Bob Harras sided with Lee (and Uncanny X-Men artist Whilce Portacio) over Claremont in a dispute over how to plot the books. Claremont left after only three issues of X-Men thus ending his sixteen-year run as X-Men writer and what many consider the classic period of the series. Marvel replaced Claremont briefly with John Byrne, who scripted both books for a few issues, in what he called one of the strangest jobs of his career. Byrne was then replaced by Fabian Nicieza and Scott Lobdell would take over the majority of writing duties for the X-Men until Lee's own departure months later when he and several other popular artists (including former X-title artists Liefeld, Marc Silvestri and Whilce Portacio) would leave Marvel to form Image Comics. Their major grievance had been Marvel's heavy merchandising of their work with little compensation. Jim Lee's X-Men became the definitive X-Men for the '90s, and his designs would be the basis for much of the X-Men animated series and action figure line as well as several Capcom video games.
The mainstream success of the X-Men and Claremont's departure ushered in a more commercial era for the X-Men and alienated many longtime fans.
The 1990s saw an even greater number of X-books with numerous ongoing series and miniseries running concurrently. Notable story arcs of this time are "The X-Tinction Agenda" in 1990, "The Muir Island Saga" in 1991, "X-Cutioner's Song" in 1992, "Fatal Attractions" in 1993, "Phalanx Covenant" in 1994, "Legion Quest"/"Age of Apocalypse" in 1995, "Onslaught" in 1996 and "Operation: Zero Tolerance" in 1997. There were many new popular additions to the X-Men including Cable, Bishop, and Gambit – who became one of the most popular X-Men (only rivaling Wolverine in size of fanbase), but many of the later additions to the team came and went (Joseph, Maggott, Marrow, Cecilia Reyes, and a new Thunderbird). Xavier's New Mutants grew up and became X-Force, and the next generation of students began with Generation X, featuring Jubilee and other teenage mutants led and schooled by Banshee and former villainess Emma Frost at her Massachusetts Academy. In 1998 Excalibur and X-Factor ended and the latter was replaced with Mutant X, starring Havok stranded in a parallel universe. Marvel launched a number of solo series, including Deadpool, Cable, Bishop, Wolverine, X-Man, and Gambit, but few of the series would survive the decade.
In the 2000s, Claremont returned to Marvel and was put back on the primary X-Men titles during the Revolution event. He was soon removed from the two flagship titles in early 2001 and created his own spin-off series, X-Treme X-Men, which debuted a few months after his departure.
X-Men had its title changed at this time to New X-Men and new writer Grant Morrison took over. This era is often referred to as the Morrison-era, due to the drastic changes he made to the series, beginning with "E Is for Extinction", where a new villainess, Cassandra Nova, destroys Genosha, killing sixteen million mutants. Morrison also brought reformed ex-villainess Emma Frost into the primary X-Men team, and opened the doors of the school by having Xavier "out" himself to the public about being a mutant. The bright spandex costumes that had become iconic over the previous decades were also gone, replaced by black leather street clothes reminiscent of the uniforms of the X-Men movies. Morrison also added a new character, Xorn, who would figure prominently in the climax of the writer's run. In the meantime, Ultimate X-Men was launched, set in Marvel's revised imprint. Chuck Austen also began his controversial run on Uncanny X-Men. The X-Men have found themselves in many popular movies, starting with X-Men in 2000. Notable additions to the X-Men have been Chamber, Emma Frost, Husk, Northstar, Armor, Pixie, and Warpath. During this decade former villains such as Juggernaut, Lady Mastermind, Mystique, and Sabretooth became members of the X-Men for various lengths of time. Several short-lived spin-offs and miniseries started featuring several X-Men in solo series, such as Emma Frost, Gambit, Mystique, Nightcrawler, and Rogue. Another book, Exiles, started at the same time and concluded in December 2007 but with a new book in January 2008, "New Exiles" written by Chris Claremont. Cable and Deadpool's books were also rolled into one book, called Cable & Deadpool. A third core X-Men title was also introduced called Astonishing X-Men, written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, following Morrison's departure. Another X-Book titled New X-Men: Academy X took its place focusing on the lives of the new young mutants at the Institute.
This period included the resurrections of Colossus and Psylocke, a new death for Jean Grey, who later returned temporarily in the X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong miniseries, as well as Emma Frost becoming the new headmistress of the Institute, a position that was formerly Jean Grey's before her death. The Institute formerly ran as a large-scale school, until the depowering of most of the mutant population. It now serves as a safe haven to those mutants who are still powered, and as the home of the X-Men.
The 2007–2008 Messiah Complex crossover saw the destruction of the Xavier Institute and the disbanding of the X-Men. Out of the crossover spun the new volumes of X-Force, following the team led by Wolverine, and Cable, following Cable's attempts at protecting the Messiah child. X-Men vol.2 was renamed into X-Men: Legacy and will focus on Professor Xavier, Rogue and Gambit. The main team later reformed in Uncanny X-Men #500, with the X-Men now operating out of a new base in San Francisco under Cyclops's leadership. Uncanny X-Menreturned to its roots as the flagship title for the X-Franchise and served as the umbrella under which the various X-Books coexist.
A crossover between X-Force and Cable series entitled Messiah War, written by Craig Kyle and Chris Yost, commenced in March 2009 and served as a second part in the trilogy that began with Messiah Complex. Matt Fraction also wrote a Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men crossover, Utopia, running through summer 2009, as a part of the larger Dark Reign storyline. 2009 also saw the beginning of the new New Mutants volume written by Zeb Wells, with the limited series X-Infernus serving as prologue. The new volume saw some of the more prominent members of the original team reunited.
The end of 2009 and the Nation X storyline saw the X-Men's longtime archnemesis, Magneto, renouncing his villainous ways and joining the X-Men, which Cyclops allowed.This was much to the dismay of other members of the X-Men, such as Beast, who left the team in disgust Magneto began to work with Namor to transform Utopia into a homeland for both mutants and Atlanteans.
Starting with Issue #226, Rogue became the main character of X-Men: Legacy; the new series direction began in the X-Men: Legacy annual after the conclusion of Utopia. X-Force, New Mutants, and X-Men: Legacy were also involved in Necrosha, a crossover in which Selene resurrected all the mutants killed in the Genosha massacre. X-Force contained the main storyline, while the other series handled the consequences of the prologue one-shot.
Notable story arcs of this decade are Revolution (2000), Eve of Destruction, E Is for Extinction (2001), Planet X, Here Comes Tomorrow,Gifted (2004), X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong, House of M, Decimation (2005), Deadly Genesis (2005–2006), Endangered Species (2007), Messiah Complex (2007–2008), Divided We Stand (2008), Manifest Destiny (2008–2009), X-Infernus, Messiah War, Utopia, Nation X,Necrosha (2009), and Second Coming (2010). The X-Men were also involved in the Secret Invasion in Secret Invasion: X-Men.
The future of the X-Men.
Five years of X-Men storylines are set to culminate in March 2010 with Second Coming, the final chapter of the Messiah Trilogy, spinning directly out of the events of Necrosha, and as a result of House of M. "One will Rise… One will Die… One will Lead… One will Sacrifice… All will Unite."
World of the X-MenEdit
The X-Men exist in the Marvel Universe with other characters portrayed in Marvel Comics series. As such, it is unsurprising that they often meet characters from other series, and the global nature of the mutant concept means the scale of stories can be highly varied.
The X-Men fight everything ranging from mutant thieves to galactic threats. The X-Men base themselves in the Xavier Institute, Westchester County, NY, and are often depicted as a family. The X-Mansion is often depicted with three floors and two underground levels. To the outside world, it had acted as a higher learning institute until the 2000s, when Xavier was publicly exposed as a mutant at which point it became a full mutant boarding school. Xavier funds a corporation aimed at reaching mutants worldwide, though it ceased to exist following the "Decimation".
The X-Men benefit greatly from state-of-the-art technology. For example, Xavier is depicted tracking down mutants with a device called Cerebro which amplifies his powers; the X-Men train within the Danger Room, first depicted as a room full of weapons and booby traps, now as generating holographic simulations; and the X-Men travel in their widely recognized and iconic Blackbird jet.
The X-Men introduced several fictional locations which are regarded as important within the shared universe in which Marvel Comics characters exist:
§ Asteroid M, an asteroid made by Magneto, a mutant utopia and training facility off of the Earth's surface.
§ House of M: Reality is altered by Scarlet Witch, with her father Magneto as the world's ruler. 2005's crossover event, it concludes with a reversion to the normal Marvel Universe, albeit with most mutants depowered.
§ Marvel 1602: Mutants are known as the "Witchbreed" in this alternate reality set during the time of The Inquisition. Carlos Javier creates a "school for the children of gentlefolk" to serve as a safe haven and training ground.
§ Mutant X: Set in a world where Scott Summers was captured along with his parents by the Shi'ar and only Alex escaped, allowing him to be the eventual leader of this Universe's X-Factor ("The Six"). The Mutant X universe reimagines Mr. Fantastic, Nick Fury, and Professor X as villains and Doctor Doom and Apocalypse as heroes.
§ X-Men: The End: A possible ending to the X-Men's early 2005 status quo.
§ X-Men Noir: Set in the 1930s, with the X-Men as a mysterious criminal gang and the Brotherhood as a secret society of corrupt cops.
§ X-Men: Forever: An alternate continuity diverging from X-Men (vol. 2) #3, continuing as though writer Chris Claremont had never left writing the series.
The conflict between mutants and normal humans is often compared to conflicts experienced by minority groups in America such as Jews, African Americans, Communists, LGBT characters, etc. Also on an individual level, a number of X-Men serve a metaphorical function as their powers illustrate points about the nature of the outsider.
§ Anti-Semitism: Explicitly referenced in recent decades is the comparison between anti-mutant sentiment and anti-Semitism. Magneto, a Holocaust survivor, sees the situation of mutants as similar to those of Jews in Nazi Germany. At one point he even utters the words "never again" in a 1992 episode of the X-Men animated series. The mutant slave labor camps on the island of Genosha, in which numbers were burned into mutant's foreheads, show much in common with Nazi concentration camps, as do the internment camps of the classic "Days of Future Past" storyline. Another notable reference is in the third X-Men film, when asked by Callisto: "If you're so proud of being a mutant, then where's your mark?" Magneto shows his concentration camp tattoo, while mentioning that he will never let another needle touch his skin.
§ Diversity: Characters within the X-Men mythos hail from a wide variety of nationalities. These characters also reflect religious, ethnic or sexual minorities. Examples include Shadowcat, Sabra and Magneto who are Jewish, Dust who is a devout Muslim, Nightcrawler who is a devout Catholic, and Neal Shaara/Thunderbird who is Hindu. Storm (Ororo Munroe) represents two aspects of the African diaspora as her father was African American and her mother was Kenyan. Karma was portrayed as a devout Catholic from Vietnam, who regularly attended Mass and confession when she was introduced as a founding member of the New Mutants. This team also included Wolfsbane (a devout Scots Presbyterian), Danielle Moonstar (a Cheyenne Native American) and Cannonball, and was later joined by Magma (a devout Greco-Roman classical religionist). Different nationalities included Wolverine as a Canadian, Colossus from Russia, Banshee from Ireland, Gambit who is a Cajun, the original Thunderbird who was an Apache Native American, Psylocke from the U.K., Armor from Japan, Nightcrawler from Germany, etc.
§ LGBT Rights: Another metaphor that has been applied to the X-Men is that of LGBT rights. Comparisons have been made between the mutants' situation, including concealment of their powers and the age they realize these powers, and homosexuality. Several scenes in the X-Men films, two of which were directed by openly gay director Bryan Singer, illustrate this theme. The first film featured a scene in which Senator Robert Kelly questioned whether mutants should be allowed to teach children in school, mirroring such debates as that over Section 28, in which Sir Ian McKellen (who played Magneto in the film, and who is also openly gay) was involved. Bobby Drake "comes out" as a mutant to his parents in X2. In response, Bobby's mother condescendingly asks him, "Have you tried not being a mutant?" referencing the belief that homosexuality is not inherent but rather a lifestyle choice. Also in X2, Nightcrawler has a conversation with Mystique in which he asks her why she doesn't use her shapeshifting ability to blend in among non-mutant humans all the time (an option Nightcrawler evidently wishes he had). Mystique replies simply, "Because we shouldn't have to." In the comics series, gay and bisexual characters include Anole, Destiny, Karma, Mystique, Northstar, Graymalkin, Rictor, Shatterstar and the Ultimate version of Colossus. Transgender issues have also been explored in mutants' ability to "pass" as non-mutants—in the origin of Angel, he binds his wings. Shapechangers like Mystique can change gender at will. The comic books delved into the AIDS epidemic during the early 1990s with a long-running plot line about the Legacy Virus, a seemingly incurable disease similarly thought at first to attack only mutants. Ironically, while the X-Men had the Legacy Virus, they are incapable of getting AIDS due to their genetic mutation being able to combat the disease. A similar storyline appeared in the X-Men animated series that aired in the 1990s.
§ Racism: Professor X has come to be compared to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and Magneto to the more militant Malcolm X. The X-Men’s purpose is sometimes referred to as achieving "Xavier’s dream," perhaps a reference to King’s historic "I Have a Dream" speech. Magneto, in the first film, quotes Malcolm X with the line "By any means necessary." X-Men comic books have often portrayed mutants as victims of mob violence, evoking images of the lynching of African Americans in the age before the American civil rights movement. Sentinels and anti-mutant hate groups such as Friends of Humanity, Humanity's Last Stand, the Church of Humanity and Stryker's Purifiers are thought to often represent oppressive forces like the KKK giving a form to denial of civil rights and amendments. In the 1980s, the comic featured a plot involving the fictional island nation of Genosha, where mutants were segregated and enslaved by anapartheid state. This is widely interpreted as having been a reference to the situation in South Africa at the time.
§ Red Scare: Occasionally, undercurrents of the "Red Scare" are present. Senator Robert Kelly's proposal of a Mutant Registration Act is similar to the efforts of United States Congress to try and ban Communism in the United States. In the 2000 X-Men film Kelly exclaims, 'We must know who these mutants are and what they can do,' even brandishing a "list" of known mutants (a reference to Senator Joseph McCarthy's list of Communist Party USA members who were working in the government).
§ Subculture: In some cases, the mutants of the X-Men universe sought to create a subculture of the typical mutant society portrayed. The X-Men comics first introduced a band of mutants called the Morlocks. This group, though mutants like those attending Xavier's school, sought to hide away from society within the tunnels of New York. These Morlock tunnels served as the backdrop for several X-Men stories, most notably The Mutant Massacre crossover. This band of mutants illustrates another dimension to the comic, that of a group that further needs to isolate itself because society won't accept it. In Grant Morrison’s stories of the early 2000s, mutants are portrayed as a distinct subculture with “mutant bands,” mutant use of code-names as their primary form of self identity (rather than their given birth names), and a popular mutant fashion designer who created outfits tailored to mutant physiology. The series District X takes place in an area of New York City called "Mutant Town." These instances can also serve as analogies for the way that minority groups establish specific subcultures and neighborhoods of their own that distinguish them from the broader general culture. Director Bryan Singer has remarked that the X-Men franchise has served as a metaphor for acceptance of all people for their special and unique gifts. The mutant condition that is often kept secret from the world can be analogous to feelings of difference and fear usually developed in everyone during adolescence.
§ Religion: Religion is an integral part of several X-Men storylines. It is presented as both a positive and negative force, sometimes in the same story. The comics explore religious fundamentalism through the person of William Stryker and his Purifiers, an anti-mutant group that emerged in the 1982 graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills. The Purifiers believe that mutants are not human beings but children of the devil, and have attempted to exterminate them several times, most recently in the "Childhood's End" storyline. By contrast, religion is also central to the lives of several X-Men, such as Nightcrawler, a devout Catholic, and Dust, a devout Sunni Muslim who observes Islamic Hijab. This recalls the religious roots of social activists like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, as well as their opponents such as the Ku Klux Klan or Nathuram Godse (the Hindu radical who assassinated Gandhi).
The insecurity and anxieties in Marvel's early 1960s comic books such as The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, and X-Men ushered in a new type of superhero, very different from the certain and all-powerful superheroes before them, and changed the public's perception of them.