My X-Men reading order (WIP) ( blog. episode 53)

(Updated on 11/15/19, with Essential X-Factor vol 2 and The Fall of the Mutants.)

The goal with this list is to share my project of quickly catching up on all of the major X-Men storylines at reasonable prices, with the main focus on enjoying the stories. The Essential collections are all reprinted in black & white. This is disappointing (and sometimes a bit hard to read), but I picked up quite a few of them where full colored collections of major story arcs were out of print, super hard to find and/or ridiculously expensive. The Essential collections can be found for far below their already low cover prices if you shop around, which is a big plus, allowing you to catch up on huge chunks of stories (normally over 500 pages each) at really great values. When available at reasonable prices, the full color collections are recommended instead, for a much more enjoyable experience.

From all of the research I did, I found that the preferred place to start among most fans is at the beginning of the Chris Claremont Era and Giant Sized X-Men #1, and I would have to agree. I have collected some of the earlier material, but I’m not planning on reading it until I’m completely caught up.

There are an overwhelming amount of different titles and issues in the X-Men timeline, often times crossing over with one another, making it difficult to know where to start. It’s quite a daunting task, but I hope this guide will make it a bit easier.  It’ll likely be a work in progress for some time, but I’ll add to and alter it as I go. (I’ll also add the cover art for each collection as I read it.)

Recommended – Essential X-Men vol 1
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Beginning of the Chris Claremont era, starting with Giant Sized X-Men #1. Features the Professor X’s formation of the “All New X-Men” to rescue the original team, and their ensuing adventures. Includes the first appearances of Colossus, Storm and Nightcrawler (while Wolverine, Banshee and a couple of others are recruited as well). Widely considered to be where the series became truly great. Review

Recommended – Essential X-Men vol 2
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Recommended mainly for the Proteus Saga and continuing adventures from Essential X-Men vol 1. The Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past are also included in this amazing collection, but I highly recommend reading their full color collections. (I’d advise reading the issues leading up to them, jumping over to the full color trade paperbacks, then moving back to Essential X-Men vol 2 for the remainder of this amazing collection). Also includes the first appearance of Kitty Pryde. Review

Recommended – The Dark Phoenix Saga
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Still widely available at a very reasonable cover price at the time of this writing. This story is a must. Review

Recommended – Days of Future Past
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Another must read story. Like The Dark Phoenix Saga, it’s still widely available at a reasonable cover price at the time of this writing. Review

Optional  – Essential X-Men vol 3
Essential X-Men vol 3 2 inches
Good stories, though not as amazing as those before. I grabbed this collection mainly because it sets up the next major story: The Brood Saga. It includes Avengers Annual #10, which features Rogue’s first appearance, but the black & white presentation of that issue in particular leaves a lot to be desired. Definitely worth reading, especially for some parts with Colossus’ sister, Illyana, but I wouldn’t consider this volume to be critical as far as catching up on the major stories. Review

Recommended – Essential X-Men vol 4
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Like vol 2, vol 4 contains awesome stories that make picking up this collection up easily worth it, despite the black & white presentation. Included are The Brood Saga and God Loves Man Kills (both are amazing) and also the introductions of Madelyne Pryor and the Morlocks. Like the other Essential collections, it can be found for far below the $19.99 cover price. Review

Optional – New Mutants Classic vol 1
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A nice collection featuring the introduction of Professor X’s new students. It’s a good read, but I wouldn’t consider it critical to the overall stories if you’re just trying to catch up on major events like I am. Review

Optional – Essential X-Men vol 5
Essential X-Men vol 5 2 inch
Fun to read, but not critical. There are some other stories that go on during this time that I’d like to come back to and possibly add to this list (Secret Wars I & II and the Wolverine Kitty Pryde Limited Series). Review

Recommended – Essential X-Men vol 6
Essential X-Men vol 6 2 inch
This volume can be found for pretty cheap and not only includes the Trial of Magneto, the early part of his stint leading the X-Men, stories with Rachel and early Nimrod stories, but includes most of the Mutant Massacre! You may want to do like I did, however, and read the Mutant Massacre in its full color trade paperback collection (it’s affordable and much more enjoyable in color). Review

Recommended – Essential X-Factor vol 1
Essential X-Factor vol 1 2inH
Highly recommended for the return of Jean Grey, the reunion of the original 5 X-men as X-Factor, the beginning of Angel’s transformation as well as the first appearance of the long-time and very important villain Apocalypse! Much of the Mutant Massacre is included in this collection, but I’d recommend jumping over to the full color trade paperback collection, then returning to the remainder of this collection. Review 

Recommended – The Mutant Massacre
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Another must read. One of the darker stories, and has ramifications for lots of later storylines. Review

Recommended – Essential X-Factor vol 2 *First Part*
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More great and really important stories for the 5 original X-Men! I’d recommend reading from the beginning of this great collection through X-Factor #29, then jumping over to read the rest of The Fall of the Mutants, then coming back and finishing this volume, just to keep things in a good order (see below). Review

Recommended – The Fall of the Mutants
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While I personally didn’t enjoy this one as much as previous stories, I’d still recommend it for the sake of completion, and there are a few key moments. Review

– Essential X-Factor vol 2 *Remainder*
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As mentioned above, I’d recommend reading the first part of this great collection, jumping over to The Fall of the Mutants, then back to this collection to finish these important stories which lead up to the next big story, Inferno. One other quick note: the last issue in this collection (X-Factor #35) is also included in the Inferno collection (recommended to read next), so you could skip it here and read it in color there. Review

Now Reading:

Upcoming stories and events that I plan to read and list with recommended collections:
Xtinction Agenda
Muir Island Saga
Bishop’s Crossing*

Xcutioner’s Song
Fatal Attractions
Phalanx Covenant
Age of Apocalypse

Road to Onslaught*
Operation Zero Tolerance
Magneto: Rogue Nation
X-Men vs. Apocalypse: The Twelve
X-Men vs. Apocalypse: Ages of Apocalypse
Legacy Virus Cure
New X-Men
Astonishing X-Men
House of M
Messiah Complex
Divided We Stand
Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia
Nation X
Second Coming
Avengers vs. X-Men
X-Men Gold*
X-Men Blue*
X-Men Red*
Uncanny X-Men (2018-2019)*

House of X
Powers of X

* indicates that I’m not sure yet how critical the story is and may skip it depending on what I learn
indicates stories that I read and collected as a kid but will revisit


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