In the world of Marvel Comics, mutants have traditionally represented the next step of human evolution. While decades of stories have seen their numbers rise and fall dramatically, a staggering number of them have found their way onto an incarnation of the X-Men or one of their affiliate groups. Since titles like “Uncanny X-Men” usually focus on Marvel’s marquee mutant team, it’s easy for lesser-known X-teams to become footnotes in comics history after a few adventures.
Now, CBR is giving some of these forgotten X-Men teams another moment in the spotlight. For this list, we’ll be looking at more obscure mutant teams and minor incarnations of major teams like X-Men and X-Force. In addition to the main Marvel Universe, we’ll also be looking at teams from some of the X-Men’s many alternate realities and possible futures.
16 X-MEN 2099
In 1992, Marvel launched Marvel 2099, a new imprint that followed the heroes of a cyberpunk-influenced dystopian future. Although the X-Men were absent from the imprint’s initial line-up, Marvel’s merry mutants joined the “world of tomorrow” with 1993’s “X-Men 2099" #1, by John Francis Moore, Ron Lim and Adam Kubert.
While the world of 2099 was very different from the contemporary Marvel Universe, mutants were still a persecuted minority. Inspired by the dream of the long-dead Charles Xavier, the matter-manipulating mutant Xi’an formed a new generation of X-Men. While this group really didn’t have any connections to familiar X-Men, it had an extensive roster that included the energy-redirecting Skullfire, the psychic Cerebra, the speedster Meanstreak and the psychic vampire La Lunatica. Moore and Lim stayed on the title for most of its 35 issue run, which sold fairly well and garnered an action figure line. Despite their relative popularity, the X-Men vanished with the rest of the 2099 universe when the line folded in 1998. After the better part of two decades, the 2099 X-Men reappeared twice last year in “X-Men ‘92” and “Spider-Man 2099.”
15 WOLVERINE SQUAD
With the reality-hopping series “Exiles,” Marvel gave readers an extended tour of the multiverse for most of the 2000s. With a “Quantum Leap”-esque premise, the title followed an ever-changing group of alternate reality characters as they traveled to other alternate realities to right various wrongs. While the Exiles were the title’s main focus, their inter-dimensional bosses, the Timebreakers, had a few other squads for more violent missions.
One of these other teams was the Wolverine Squad. Created by Tony Bedard, Paul Pelletier and Rick Magyar in 2006’s “Exiles” #85, this team gathered several versions of Wolverine that were collectively the best at what they do. The Wolverine team was assembled to take down Brother Mutant, a powerful amalgamation of Wolverine, Magneto, Mesmero and Quicksilver. After the first several teams failed, a final team was assembled including a “Days of Future Past” Wolverine, a Zombie Wolverine and an adolescent James Howlett. With the help of the Exiles, the Wolverine Squad was finally able to put down Brother Mutant and his army of even more alternate reality Wolverines in their first and only adventure.
14 "EVE OF DESTRUCTION" X-MEN
After a brief return in 2000, legendary writer Chris Claremont left “X-Men” and “Uncanny X-Men” to launch “X-Treme X-Men” and make way for an incoming relaunch led by Grant Morrison and Joe Casey, respectively. Between those runs, writer Scott Lobdell returned for a brief stint to tie up some loose ends. With pencils from Leinil Yu, Salvador Larroca and Tom Raney, Lobdell took the X-Men out of their 1990’s aesthetic with the abbreviated but underrated 2001 crossover “Eve of Destruction.”
After Colossus sacrificed his life to release a cure for the mutant-killing Legacy Virus, Magneto kidnapped Professor X and prepared his army of Genoshan mutants for a final war against humanity. With only a skeleton crew of active duty X-Men, Jean Grey hastily assembled a motley crew of mutants. Along with former member Dazzler and longtime ally Northstar, this new X-Men team included Magneto’s former Acolyte Frenzy, the super-strong Omerta, the translucent Wraith and Sunfire’s sister Sunpyre. After successfully defeating Magneto, the team members declined full membership with the X-Men and went their separate ways.
13 CLAN ASKANI/CLAN CHOSEN
Even for the most devoted X-Men fans, Cable’s history can be headache-inducing. After being born in the modern era, Nathan Summers, the infant son of Cyclops and Jean Grey’s clone Madelyne Pryor, was sent into the far future after being infected with a techno-organic virus. In that future, the young Cable was taken in by Clan Askani, a religious order created by Rachel Summers, his half-sister from another alternate timeline. After being raised in the Askani tradition by a time-traveling present day Cyclops and Jean Grey, the teenage Cable defeated the immortal villain Apocalypse, the ruler of that dystopian future.
After the Askani were corrupted, the now-adult Cable formed a splinter group called the Clan Chosen. Created by Fabian Nicieza and Art Thibert in 1993’s “Cable” #1, this team included futuristic freedom fighters like Dawnsilk and Tetherblood along with the time-traveling cybernetic mercenary Kane. Along with Cable’s wife Jenskot and son Tyler, the team fought time-traveling Cable’s evil clone Styrfe and the remnants of Apocalypse’s regime. Cable and Kane eventually returned to the modern era, and the Clan Chosen destroyed the future’s last time machine, thankfully.
12 FALLEN ANGELS
In the 1980s, “The New Mutants” was the first long-running secondary title that really opened up the word of the "X-Men" franchise. In a 1987 spinoff from the teen team’s main title, the solar-powered Sunspot and the alien Warlock briefly left the group for a bizarre adventure in the miniseries “Fallen Angels.” While out on the streets, the duo encountered the teleporter Ariel, the power-enhancing Chance, the cybernetic telekinetic Gomi and the explosive Boom-Boom. The young X-associates Multiple Man and Siryn were sent after the young kids, who had fallen in with the teleporting Vanisher, an early X-Men foe who ran a small group of young thieves.
In a story by Mary Jo Duffy, Kerry Gammill, Marie Severin and Joe Staton, the eclectic group was tricked into going to the alien Ariel’s homeworld, Coconut Grove. With the help of Devil Dinosaur, Moon Boy and two psychic lobsters named Bill and Don, the group left the planet and disbanded after getting back to Earth. Duffy and Colleen Doran largely completed a follow-up miniseries in 1989, but it was never published.
After Jean Grey returned from her greatly exaggerated demise, the original five X-Men reunited to form a new team called X-Factor in 1986. While X-Factor posed as a mutant-hunting team that secretly took in young mutants, they operated as a group of superheroes called the X-Terminators. Although the old X-Men didn’t keep that name for long, their young wards eventually took the name X-Terminators for themselves. This young group included Boom-Boom, the geokinetic Rictor, the force field-generating Skids, the pyrokinetic Rusty Collins, and the Morlocks Artie and Leech.
In the 1988 miniseries “X-Terminators,” Louise Simonson, Jon Bogdanove and Al Milgrom threw the young team into the crossover “Inferno,” where the Jean clone Madelyne Pryor led a demonic invasion in Manhattan. Along with the technology-controlling Wiz Kid and the New Mutants, the team helped save several infant mutants and fought the demon N’Astirh. Shortly after this adventure, the group split up and most of the team joined the New Mutants.
10 NEW EXCALIBUR
For most of the 2000s, Chris Claremont followed minor characters and alternate reality squads in various secondary X-titles. After the Scarlet Witch depowered most of the world’s mutants at the end of 2005’s “House of M” crossover, Claremont brought together a ragtag group of active mutants in the 2006 series “New Excalibur.” With a solid roster of artists including Michael Ryan, Scott Eaton and Pat Olliffe, the title followed a London-based X-team for two years before.
Like its predecessor “Excalibur,” the team included Captain Britain and the British spy Pete Wisdom. The veteran X-Men Dazzler, Sage and, eventually, Psylocke joined the team too, along with the semi-reformed villain Juggernaut. The group was rounded out by former Exile Nocturne, the daughter of Nightcrawler and Scarlet Witch from another universe. During their brief tenure, New Excalibur fought the villains Black Tom and the Shadow King, visited Camelot and fought an alternate reality Captain Britain. After a team-up with the Exiles, the group disbanded at the conclusion of the 2007 miniseries “X-Men: Die By The Sword.”
9 SIX PACK
Before Cable turned the New Mutants into the paramilitary squad X-Force, he operated in the modern age with a group of mercenaries called the Six Pack. This group, which was also briefly known as the Wild Pack, debuted in full in 1992’s “X-Force” #8, by Fabian Nicieza, Rob Liefeld and Mike Mignola. Along with the present-day version of Kane, the squad included the luck-bringing Domino, the beastly Grizzly, tech-genius Hammer and future S.H.I.E.L.D. agent G.W. Bridge.
After a particularly brutal mission, Kane was given cybernetic enhancements by the Weapon X program. After a mission against Stryfe failed spectacularly, the group split up when they thought their Cable had intentionally left them behind. Most of the team eventually made peace with Cable, and Kane temporarily traveled to the future in Fabian Nicieza and John Romita Jr.'s "Cable: Blood and Metal" miniseries. After joining S.H.I.E.L.D., Bridge assembled another Six Pack that included mercenaries like Solo, Anaconda and eventually Deadpool. This group disbanded after a failed attempt to take down Cable, who was ruling the fictional country Rumekistan at the time.
In 1998, Marvel gave readers an optimistic take on the future of the Marvel Universe with the MC2 imprint. Shepherded by Tom DeFalco, the line focused on the children of the current generation of Marvel heroes. While “Spider-Girl” was that line’s signature success, the imprint also produced the X-Men-related solo titles “J2,” starring the Juggernaut’s son, and “Wild Thing,” starring the daughter of Wolverine and Elektra. While they shockingly never had their own title, some of this era’s mutants banded together to form the X-People.
Created by DeFalco and Ron Frenz in “J2” #1, this group was led by an adult Jubilee after a lifetime of service in the X-Men and the Avengers. The new group was made up of young mutants like the flying Angry Eagle, the bestial Simian, the speedster Torque and the elastic Spanner. Although J2 and Wild Thing both declined membership, they remained honorary members and allies of the team. Nancy Lu, a supporting character from “Spider-Girl,” eventually joined the team as the telekinetic Push. While the X-People only ever appeared irregularly, the MC2 line is well-regarded and still occasionally referenced today.
After the death of longtime X-Men ally Moira MacTaggert and the dissolution of the teen group Generation X, the veteran X-Man Banshee started the paramilitary X-Corps to police mutants around the world. Created by Joe Casey, Ron Garney and Mark Morales in 2002’s “Uncanny X-Men” #401, the group included some past and future X-Men like Jubilee, M, Husk and Multiple Man, as well as mind-controlled villains like the Blob and Avalanche. After an attack by Mystique freed its more villainous members, the organization disbanded and its remnants were absorbed into the X-Corporation.
Unlike the X-Corps, the X-Corporation was founded by Charles Xavier in order to help civilian mutants around the world. Created by Grant Morrison and Igor Kordey in 2002’s “New X-Men” #128, this group had offices in major cities all around the world that were staffed by former X-Men or secondary X-team members. After the events of M-Day de-powered the majority of the world’s mutants, the organization’s offices were abandoned under the orders of Cyclops.
6 X-NATION 2099
In the waning days of the 2099 publishing line, Marvel tried to boost sales with a second X-title, “X-Nation 2099.” This team was assembled by the X-Men 2099’s Cerebra under the orders of Doctor Doom, who was the President of the United States and believed that a powerful new mutant was about to emerge. The young team’s roster included mutants like the energy-blasting Clarion, the cold-producing December and the technology-controlling Nostromo.
After debuting in the 1996 one-shot “2099 A.D. Genesis” #1, the group graduated to their own title, “X-Nation 2099.” With work from a handful of creators including Tom Peyer, Ben Raab and Humberto Ramos, the title only lasted for six issues before being folded into the anthology title “2099: World of Tomorrow” in late 1996. Despite their brief existence, several members of the team were killed during an invasion by the alien Phalanx and Nostromo was eventually given sovereignty over Latveria after Doom’s death.
5 MUIR ISLAND X-MEN
Throughout the 1980s, a number of X-Men associates and former members had gathered over time on Muir Island, the basis for Moira MacTaggert’s ongoing mutant research. In the wake of the “Mutant Massacre,” a handful of the sewer-dwelling Morlocks went to the island to recover. When the X-Men were thought dead because of the events of an internationally televised battle, this motley crew of mutants and human formed a makeshift new X-Men team to protect the island from the cybernetic villains the Reavers.
Created by Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri in 1989’s “Uncanny X-Men” #254, the group included the Morlock Sunder, the sorceress Amanda Sefton, Multiple Man, Banshee, Polaris and eventually Forge, among others. With the help of the government-sponsored mutant team Freedom Force, the Muir Island X-Men were eventually able to defeat the Reavers. One of Legion’s evil multiple personalities took control of his body and killed Sunder and the precognitive mutant Destiny. Banshee and Forge eventually rejoined the X-Men, and several members of this team formed the basis of a new government-sponsored incarnation of X-Factor.
4 THE SIX
After a lengthy stint leading the government-sponsored X-Factor, Havok was thrown into a dark alternate reality in the underrated 1998 series “Mutant X.” While the title was originally only supposed to last for 12 issues, it was an unexpected commercial success and became an ongoing series that ran until 2001. In tales from a host of creators including Howard Mackie, Tom Raney and Cary Nord, Havok took the place of his counterpart in that world as the leader of a mutant superhero squad called the Six.
Each member of the Six was a dark reflection of one of the classic X-Men. Bloodstorm was a vampiric version of Storm. Beast lost his intellect and continued to transform into the child-like Brute, while Iceman lost control of his powers after an encounter with Loki. Angel’s deal with Apocalypse transformed him into the demonic-looking Fallen, and Havok's wife Madelyne Pryor made a deal with the demons of Limbo. The Six haven’t been seen since Havok returned to the main Marvel Universe after the end of “Mutant X.”
3 XAVIER’S SECURITY ENFORCERS
In a late 21st-century dystopia, Xavier’s Security Enforcers were tasked with bringing mutant criminals to justice. Created by Whilce Portacio, John Byrne and Art Thibert in 1991’s “Uncanny X-Men” #282, the team was formed by the mutant Hecate in the wake of the Summers Rebellion, where humans and mutants united to defeat an oppressive Sentinel regime. Like their most famous member Bishop, the officers of the X.S.E. all had an “M” for mutant tattooed on the side of their faces.
In addition to the time-traveling Bishop, the organization’s other members included Bishop’s sister Shard and his former partners Malcolm and Randall. When the former X.S.E. officer Trevor Fitzroy broke bad, Bishop chased the time-traveling villain to the modern age. While a sentient hologram of Shard eventually joined X-Factor, the adventures of Bishop and the X.S.E. were chronicled in a few miniseries in the late 1990s. As both Bishop and the prospect of a mutant-filled future have become increasingly less relevant, the X.S.E. have faded into the future history of the X-Men.
2 REALITY TV'S X-FORCE
In 2001, “X-Force” went in a bold new direction that proudly proclaimed its lack of approval from the content-regulating Comics Code Authority on its front cover. After starting in “X-Force” #116, this reinvention eventually morphed into the modern classic “X-Statix.” In this debut issue, Peter Milligan and Mike Allred created a world where a new batch of mutants found acceptance, success and celebrity with a hit reality TV show, filmed by the mysterious Doop.
This previously unseen X-Force was led by the acid-spewing Zeitgeist and included the teleporter U-Go Girl, the super-strong Battering Ram and the liquid Plazm, among others. After the death of the tentacle-faced Sluk, the Anarchist, who could produce acidic sweat, took his spot on the team. In an event called the "Boyz R Us massacre," most of the group was butchered while trying to save a boy band at the end of their first adventure in a twist ending. U-Go Girl, Anarchist and Doop survived and formed the basis of the team that became the X-Statix.
1 “DEADLY GENESIS” X-MEN
Most of the teams on this list faded into the background by happenstance or the natural flow of stories, but the “Deadly Genesis” X-Men were forgotten by design. Originally created to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the “All-New, All-Different X-Men,” the existence of this previously unseen team of X-Men was revealed in the 2005 miniseries “X-Men: Deadly Genesis,” by Ed Brubaker and Trevor Hairsine. This team was put together by Professor X and Moira MacTaggert in an effort to save the original X-Men from the mutant island Krakoa.
In their first and only adventure, the evolving Darwin, geokinetic Petra, time-manipulating Sway and Vulcan, the third Summers brother, were all thought-dead. While Petra and Sway were brutally killed, Darwin and Vulcan survived in a fused state for years. After resurfacing in the modern era, Vulcan fought the X-Men before becoming the Emperor of the Shi’ar Empire and battled the Inhumans in the 2009 crossover “War of Kings.” Darwin eventually joined a later incarnation of X-Factor and appeared in the 2011 film “X-Men: First Class.” Somewhat ironically, neither character has appeared in years, and both are increasingly in danger of being forgotten by both Marvel Universe residents and real-world readers.
Stay tuned to CBR for all the latest x-citing X-Men news. And be sure to let us know what you favorite X-team is in the comments below!