In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the X-Men, we’re doing a poll of the greatest X-Family (spin-offs of the X-Men) stories of all-time (Here is our previous list of the 50 Greatest X-Men Stories)! You all voted, now here are the results of what you chose as the 50 Greatest X-Family stories! Here is a master list of every story featured so far.
We’ll do five each day from here on out (until we get towards the end, when it’ll probably get down to 3 a day).
30. “The Sword is Drawn” Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn, Excalibur #1-2
The trade paperback Marvel did of this included Excalibur #1-5, so a bunch of people voted that way. I honestly think “only” the graphic novel should count, but #1-2 of the ongoing series are close enough that I’m willing to count them as a compromise. Anyhow, this is the tale by Chris Claremont, Alan Davis and Paul Neary of how Excalibur was formed. Shadowcat and Nightcrawler are in Muir Isle, fully recovered from their injuries during the Mutant Massacre. Sadly, before they were healed, the X-Men were killed (Surprise! They really weren’t!). Meanwhile, Captain Britain is also super sad that his sister, Psylocke, was killed with the rest of the X-Men (Surprise! She really wasn’t!). His girlfriend, Meggan, is sad as well. The two pairs are drawn together when another former X-Man, Rachel “Phoenix” Summers shows up. Roma (sort of the boss of the Multiverse. She also happens to know that the X-Men aren’t dead but doesn’t tell Captain Britain because…well, she can often be a bit messed up like that) says that Rachel is a threat to the Multiverse. So he and Meggan go to get her. Meanwhile, Nightcrawler and Kitty are also drawn to help their old teammate, who is being hunted down by Mojo’s Warwolves. They all team up and stop the Warwolves and they figure, hell, with the X-Men dead (not really dead), they might as well keep the dream alive and continue on as a new superhero team, Excalibur! In the first two issues of the series, the Warwolves show up again. They capture Kitty, who had disguised herself as Rachel. Excalibur must then rescue her.
29. “Final Execution” Uncanny X-Force #25-35
Rick Remender’s run on Uncanny X-Force (and the series as a whole) come to a close with the Final Execution Saga, drawn by Mike Mckone, Phil Noto, Julian Totino Tedesco and Dave Williams. Wolverine’s son, Daken, essentially puts together an X-Force Revenge Squad made up of some of the baddest villains you’ll ever see, like Sabretooth, Omega Red, Mystique, the Shadow King and the Age of Apocalypse Blob (who killed the wife of the latest member of Uncanny X-Force, the Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler). Part of Daken’s plan is to take young Evan, the Apocalypse clone that the X-Men have been keeping under wraps, and manipulate him into embracing his supposed villainous nature, to prove to Wolverine that basically nothing he has done matters. It’s all rough stuff and the rest of X-Force does not fair much better. In the end, Wolverine must make a terrible decision for the sake of the greater good, which is sort of the principle X-Force was founded on.
28. The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix #1-4
While on their honeymoon, Cyclops and Jean Grey were transported to the future in different bodies. They take the names Redd and Slym (“So your name is Slim?” “No, Slym.” “That’s what I said.” “No, Slym, with a Y.” “Slimy?”) and end up actually raising Nathan Christopher Summers, who is sort of their son (Cyclops’ son with a clone of Jean Grey). Nathan had been sent into the future awhile back and now Cyclops was getting the chance to spent time with his son once again. The rest of the series details their journey raising him from a baby to an adolescent, helping him keep the techno-organic virus he was infected with in the past from killing him. They never tell the boy that they are really his actual parents. In the end, they help stop Apocalypse in the future, although a clone of Nathan named Stryfe (“Strife?” “No, Stryfe, with a Y” “Strifey?”) takes over from Apocalypse. Their duty done, they get sent back to Earth, as the decade they spent in the future was only a moment in the present. Before they get to the past, an older Rachel Summers (who is also in the future) tells Jean Grey that she should call herself Phoenix again. Scott Lobdell wrote it, Gene Ha penciled it and about a gazillion different guys inked it.
27. “The Necrom Saga” Excalibur #42-50
Alan Davis, the original artist and co-plotter on Excalibur returns to draw AND write the series (along with inker Mark Farmer). He returned with a long saga that involved a number of unresolved subplots from the beginning of the Excalibur series. The key issues in the series are #46-50, which revealed the powerful (and evil) sorcerer know as Necrom who was the teacher of the powerful Merlyn (father of Roma, who basically formed Excalibur back in the day). Necrom had left our Earth in fear of the Phoenix Force, which was wielded by one of Necrom’s other students, Feron. Necrom left behind a force before he left that would eventually grow to become the Anti-Phoenix. Necrom spent his time on thie other Earth preparing for when he would return and take care of business. Merlyn spent centuries preparing the defense of our Earth, including creating the Captain Britain Corps. Eventually, Necrom shows up, along with a new mutant named Kylun, who has magical blades that could kill Necrom. Necrom merges with the Anti-Phoenix and basically all of the Multiverse is at risk. Excalibur fights him but it is really down to Rachel to see if she can’t stop him (somewhere far from the Earth, to minimize damage). This was a really enjoyable story with lots of cool subplots (Nightcrawler training Technet to be a superhero team, for one) that culminated in a battle that fully realized all of the machinations and behind the scenes dealings in Excalibur leading up to this point. Great stuff.
26. Generation Next #1-4
Set in the Age of Apocalypse universe (written by Scott Lobdell and drawn by Chris Bachalo and Mark Buckingham), the Generation X of this universe is led by Colossus and his wife, Shadowcat. Colossus is sort of short a screw as his ideas on teamwork are basically “fight each other to the death. Whichever kids are left are therefore the best of the bunch”). Colossus is given the assignment by Magneto (head of the X-Men on this worl) to rescue Colossus’ sister, Illyana, who could serve as a force in fixing the Age of Apocalypse universe (due to her ability to travel through Limbo). So Colossus and the young mutants under his charge try to rescue Illyana, but the adventure goes horrifically wrong and in a chilling final issue, we learn where Colossus’ loyalties really spand. It’s one of the more shocking final issues (a little bit less so since these were all alternate realty characters, so if any of them die it is not exactly a big deal, but still, Colossus has some pretty whacked out priorities).