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


(Updated on 2/3/20, with X-Cutioner’s Song and Fatal Attractions)

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.)

Collections listed chronologically:

Recommended – Essential X-Men vol 1
essential-xmen-vol-1 2 inches
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
essential-xmen-vol-2 2 inches
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
dark-phoenix-saga 2 inches
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
days-of-future-past 2 inches
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

EssentialvX-MenvVol 4 2 inch
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
NM Classic 2 inch
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
MM 2W 3H
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*
exf2 3x2
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
fotm 2x3
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*
exf2 3x2
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

Optional – Essential X-Men Vol. 8
The first half of this volume bridges the gap for the team between Fall of the Mutants and Inferno, but there’s nothing critical, while the second half includes part of Inferno (The Uncanny X-Men & X-Factor issues only), and can be found in full color with the entire story in the Inferno trade paperback. Review

Recommended: Inferno
inferno 144W
Long, but very weird and fun! Major events with Madelyne & Cyclops featuring Mr. Sinister and long some long-awaited revelations. Review

Optional: Cable and the New Mutants
If you’re a fan of The New Mutants & Cable (or later, X-Force) you’ll probably want to check these stories out if you haven’t yet. Otherwise, nothing critical is collected here. Review

Recommended* – X-Men Epic Collection: Dissolution & Rebirth
X-Men dissolution
While I didn’t enjoy these stories nearly as much as the others so far, there is a lot that happens that will help the next major story to make sense. Also, a couple of key team members are added. If you’re not worried about activities in between Inferno and X-Tinction Agenda, you could go ahead and skip skip this one, and stick with the major storylines. Review

Recommended – X-Tinction Agenda
X-tinction milestone (2)
Another major event that shouldn’t be missed. The newly released (at the time of this writing) Milestones edition is better quality and includes more issues than older collections, and is also at a great price. Review

Recommended – Essential X-Factor vol 5
Essential X-Factor vol 5
The last black & white collection in my reading order is a must because it contains not only X-Tinction Agenda (which I’d recommend reading in color but still adds to the value here), End Game, and The Muir Island Saga, but a good Proteus story too!

Optional – Bishop’s Crossing
Bishop's Crossing (1)
Spans much of the gap between The Muir Island Saga and the X-Cutioner’s Song and introduces Bishop, who will be a big part of the team from this point on. Besides that, however, nothing that is terribly critical overall. Review

Recommended – X-Cutioner’s Song
X-Cutioner's Song 144
A major crossover event with a bunch of major events which have a long-lasting effect for years to come. Exciting, and highly recommended. Review

Recommended – Fatal Attractions
Milestones Fatal Attractions 144
This one is really exciting, as tensions between the X-Men and Magneto finally come to a head and some crazy stuff happens. One of my childhood favorites. Fun and highly recommended. Review

Now Reading and recently read – reviews & insertion coming soon:

Generation X Classic vol 1 (Includes the Phalanx Covenant storyline)
Reading Next: Age of Apocalypse Prelude (includes Legion Quest storyline)

Upcoming stories and events that I plan to read and list with recommended collections:

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


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

  1. Pingback: blog. episode 57: Classic Review: Essential X-Men vol 6 | Feralia – The official website of the Feralia fantasy novels by Clint Cassa

  2. Pingback: blog. episode 61: Classic Review: Essential X-Factor vol 2 | Feralia – The official website of the Feralia fantasy novels by Clint Cassa

  3. Pingback: blog. episode 62: Classic Review: X-Men: The Fall of the Mutants (vol 1) | Feralia – The official website of the Feralia fantasy novels by Clint Cassa

  4. Pingback: blog. episode 67: Classic Review: Essential X-Men vol. 8 | Feralia – The official website of the Feralia fantasy novels by Clint Cassa

  5. Pingback: blog. episode 69: Classic Review: X-Men: Inferno | Feralia – The official website of the Feralia fantasy novels by Clint Cassa

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  9. Pingback: blog. episode 74: Classic Review: Essential X-Factor vol 5 | Feralia – The official website of the Feralia fantasy novels by Clint Cassa

  10. Pingback: blog. episode 75: Review: X-Men: Bishop’s Crossing | Feralia – The official website of the Feralia fantasy novels by Clint Cassa

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