Many people who consider themselves X-Men fans have never actually read the comic books — or at least, haven't read them in decades. And that's fine! When I was a kid in the '90s, it seemed like everybody my age watched the X-Men cartoon on Fox, and then in 2000 the original #XMen film became a surprise blockbuster. Even if most viewers weren't familiar with the source material, they still loved the characters.
Personally, the animated series did nothing for me, but the movies got me hooked on X-Men comics, and I have been a devout fan ever since. But at first I was overwhelmed. With decades of X-Men comic issues and countless offshoot titles, where do you start?
The beginning seemed like the logical place — The X-Men #1 (1963) by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby — but I felt I'd never catch up. I eventually found that the best recent place to jump into reading the X-Men comics (without feeling completely lost) is the All-New X-Men series. Here's why:
The Original Mutant Teenagers Are Back
All-New X-Men debuted in November 2012 as part of Marvel NOW! The series focuses on the original X-Men — #Cyclops, #JeanGrey, Beast, #Iceman, and Angel — who are brought from the past to the present by (the modern) Beast to help prevent mutant genocide.
Finding themselves in what appears to them as a dark future timeline, the original team must deal with the current state of Xavier’s dream and learn how to cope with facing their older selves and their fates in the modern world. It's a great way of reintroducing readers to classic characters without decades of convoluted storytelling baggage.
The Series Explores New Sides Of Familiar Heroes
All-New X-Men replaced Uncanny X-Men as the flagship of the franchise while also running parallel to (and crossing over with) it. Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis brings an array of interesting stories that involve our favorite mutants, S.H.I.E.L.D, the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and more.
The series makes brilliant use of its newest (oldest) mutants, allowing Jean Grey and the Phoenix to return to the fold, and enabling Iceman to embrace his true self by coming out as gay. Heck, he even got to ask his older self why he didn't do it sooner.
- The 4 Animated 'X-Men' Series Ranked From Best To Worst
- Will The 'X-Men' TV Show Intertwine With The Films?
- Why Jean Grey is the Cornerstone of Humanity in the 'X-Men' Franchise
- 7 Asian X-Men You Should Know About
You'll Feel Prepared To Read (And Enjoy!) All Those Intimidating Older Issues
While All-New X-Men is a great starting place to jump (back) into reading the X-Men comics, it also gets you up to date with what's been happening — especially since you will be jumping in right after the events of Avengers vs. X-Men.
The AvX crossover had devastating effects on the X-Men community, most notably the death of #ProfessorXavier at the hands of Cyclops. While it is not imperative to read AvX, it will help you feel more informed about the state of the mutant world.
To continue getting the full experience, I’d also recommend reading Uncanny X-Men, which culminates in the 300th issue, leading to Death of X. This last, ominous-sounding title is the event that splits All-New X-Men into two titles, both of which are worth following.
All-New X-Men ran for 41 issues before it broke up into Extraordinary X-Men and a new iteration of All-New X-Men, with the original five X-Men divided up among the two titles. Extraordinary X-Men and All-New X-Men continue to run along and intersect with Uncanny X-Men. Whether you choose to continue following Uncanny X-Men is up to you.
Getting started reading any comic book that has been around as long as the X-Men is no easy feat. As far as entry points into the X-Men comic book universe are concerned, All-New X-Men is the way to go, giving you glimpses and adventures into X-Men past, present, and future.
What is your favorite X-Men comic title? Share in the comments below!