Here we are!! The definitive (actually highly subjective Dave Shevlin opinion) ranking of every X-Men Crossover Event. I’m factoring in heavily my own taste, impact, overall quality and how much filler each one has. I’m mainly going off of this list located at the wonderful Uncannyxmen.net with a few cuts. I struggled with what to rank because some of these are straight X-Overs where the story is in the ongoing issues and each feeds into another in order, while others are events having different self contained stories under one banner. I decided to throw them all in under the term “Crossover Event” so they all fit. (NOTE: I did not rank House of X/Powers of X as I don’t think it hits the crossover OR event handle accurately. Honestly it’s just one sole story.) So without further ado let’s count down from worst to best:
Eve of Destruction: Known abuser and shitty dude Scotty Lobdell returns to the X-Men books for an “Oh shit! We need to wrap things up and clear the deck for Grant Morrison” crossover. We get the typical dudebro shallow bullshit latter era Lobdell is known for as a ragtag group of mutants ranging from the walking nightmare – sexist asshole ethnic stereotype Paulie Provenzano, to throwaway character Wraith. It was yet another Magneto is the baddie story that is so mindless and regressive that it could be forgotten as soon as it finished.
Reckoning: An extremely forgettable Dark Wolverine/Wolverine: Origins crossover that revolves around the character Romulus. Marjorie Liu can’t even save this. I don’t think anything else really needs to be said. Fuck that shit.
Black Vortex: Black Vortex is what happens when a writer like Brian Bendis has a little too much pull and when an editor should usually shut it down they give him the go ahead. Black Vortex is so fat and padded it’s an absolute slog to get through. It’s a crossover of some ALLTIME horrible comics like Legendary Star-Lord and Bendis’ crime against comics, Guardians of the Galaxy run. It also includes some books that take GREAT feats of persuasion to argue that they are anywhere even near good, like All New X-Men, Guardians Team-Up and Captain Marvel. The sole good title involved is Gerry Duggan’s Nova and it’s honestly just more sad to see him drug into this. This story mostly throws together characters who shouldn’t be anywhere near each other, does some of the worst material ever in Marvel Cosmic, gives contrived power-ups which are either forgotten about immediately after(Kitty) or quickly gotten rid of(Gamora & eventually young Angel). There are no true ramifications and the whole bloated thing ceased to matter instantly. There is nothing to like here.
Shattershot: Shattershot is the “Cats” of X-Men comics. Clearly there are an awful lot of talented people and tons of money put into it, but the end product is an absolutely incomprehensible fever dream of a madman that you’d have to be crazy to actually enjoy as a whole. I think the only thing I actually like about this story is the Greg Capullo art in X-Force Annual #1, specifically the Magik that he draws.
Magneto War: Another plot that exists solely to wrap things up, rather than being its own story. Magneto War is just “We can’t have Joseph ACTUALLY be Magneto. Now what do we do with him?” What they do is introduce Astra, a villain who only really can matter in this one story as Joseph’s creator, kill Joseph off and then give Magneto Genosha to rule. It has no true value beyond just getting rid of new toys that have lost their fun new luster while putting old ones in a new playset.
The Twelve: Lord how I loathe the event The Twelve. The actual IDEA of The Twelve is awesome. Introduced suring Louise Simonson’s X-Factor run, the supreme Sentinel, Master Mold reveals The Twelve as 12 pivotal mutants who will one day rise up and lead all of mutantkind in war against the humans. Franklin Richards, Apocalypse, Jean Grey and Storm are identified as key members. Through the years Cannonball, Dani Moonstar, Xavier and Psylocke are added to the mythical list and then…………..nothing for many years. It was just an intriguing little thing they put in the books, most likely as a future plot point for the abandoned “Mutant Wars” crossover and it mostly was forgotten until Alan Davis decided to make it a huge crossover during his lackluster X-Men era. Davis retcons it to be a myth created by Apocalypse himself in a ploy to gain more power with a 12 mutant ritual. Gone is the previous half assembled list. In its place stands: Magneto, Polaris, Storm, Iceman, Sunfire, Cyclops, Phoenix, Cable, Charles Xavier, Bishop, Mikhail Rasputin and the Living Monolith. MIKHAIL RASPUTIN?! THE LIVING MONOLITH?!?! No thanks! The long hinted at Twelve arc turns into a big, stupid thing where Apocalypse grabs them all together along with Nate Grey who will serve as the power conduit and new body for Apocalypse. But before that happens, Cyclops saves Nate and is fused together with Apocalypse. It is parody levels bad. I hate it. Sometimes fun little future hints should be left for diehard fans to treasure and obsess over, OR if they must be brought up again, at least try to follow what it was all about in the first place. In conclusion, the Twelve SUUUUUCKS.
Ages of Apocalypse: Barely even a crossover, this lame follow up to The Twelve gives us a series of alternate reality time changing hijinks that are contrived and mostly bad. The only redeeming part is Wolverine #148 in which we get a reality where “The New Fantastic Four” replaced the real team and continued on together. Even I, a lifelong New Fantastic Four Superfan, don’t love this particular issue. It’s best to forget this whole thing.
Dream’s End: Dream’s End FEELS like it should be way more important as a story but it really is a “Read the wiki” type story where you can get what you need from a paragraph summary. X-Men #108 is pretty solid stuff and this is now more in the spotlight with the Moira retcons but yeah it is just kinda there.
Schism: Schism is a big, dumb nothing of an event. It just didnt need to exist. Jason Aaron creates the Hellfire Kids in this series. The Hellfire Kids, much like King Thor and the Prehistoric Avengers, are one off ideas with no real weight to them that Aaron crams down your throat over and over again. I’m having a hard time not rocketing this to the end of the list for that sin alone. Luckily, in the one GOOD continuing trend of Jason Aaron’s career, he resurrects a forgotten Grant Morrison character in Quentin Quire. That and the art are about the only noteworthy things that happen in here and save it from the bottom spot.
Operation: Zero Tolerance: Ooooph! This thing is a mess. It’s so long but barely anything of note happens. The only parts I fondly remember are the pretty much unrelated Uncanny #346 where Joe Mad draws a Marrow/Spider-Man teamup and Chris Bachalo’s art in Generation X. The X-Line and Scott Lobdell’s trend of making it up as they go along is never more apparent than it is here as they try unsuccessfully to just throw whatever is in the fridge into a soup and serve it to us as a sort of capstone to the 1990’s X-Men books. I really never want to revisit this one again and that is super rare for me and X-Men stories. I will say the books coming out of this event start really strong, so that’s one positive. Maybe. Kinda. Sorta.
Battle of the Atom: This should be good but it isnt. It follows the typical Brian Bendis pattern of containing GREAT ideas and a couple charming character moments, but the execution and overall story fall extremely flat. It is way too long. The Future Brotherhood is retconned about 3 more times by Bendis during his time on the X-Books, and they as well as the Future X-Men seem to have no thought behind them besides looking neat. It all leads to a huge bunch of characters and ideas that SHOULD be amazing, but they end up being throw away ideas that fall apart immediately. This event commits the cardinal sin no crossover should ever commit in that it does not matter at all. There are some good Kitty moments in here though and the art all around is SPECTACULAR. Hey, remember known piece of shit Brian Wood’s X-Men book? I applaud you if you do, because that makes up some of this crossover and it’s all the worse for it. Fuck that guy, fuck that series. Sadly, this one will always live on as a very pretty, forgettable mess that disappoints at every turn.
Kings of Pain: An Annual crossover between X-Factor, the almost X-Force New Mutants, the New Warriors and the Muir Island X-Men. This one is just really weird and always seems like its a transcription of some kid playing with his box of action figures. Harness and Piecemeal are just dreadfully bad characters and the plot is all over the place. I still don’t quite get the need for the New Warriors to join in. In the end it’s revealed fucking Gideon and Toad of all characters were the REAL men behind the entire thing and they clink their drinks together over a game of chess declaring themselves “The Kings of Pain”. Hahaha a laughably, harmlessly dumb story.
House of M: OK, let me get this out of the way first: House of M is not good. The only reason it goes this high is because of the Olivier Coipel artwork and some good bits done with characters like Spider-Man and Carol Danvers. The fantasy world where everyone is living their dream life seems to only apply to a few select characters and is, like most Bendis books, poorly thought out, if thought about at all. The actual universe is pretty cool. I do enjoy a lot of stuff that was done with the follow up series and some designs and backstories. As an X-Men event though, this thing is extremely harmful and limiting and fails to understand the mutant characters or their place in the Marvel Universe. It’s a big, dumb gimmick that fucked up the books for about a decade afterwards. Some tie-ins are creative and entertaining while some are offensive and mindless. It’s a mess. I can’t sum it up better than that.
Original Sin: You can tell somebody at Marvel felt this needed to happen and was going to be a huge deal but this story really fell flat. This is a crossover of Mike Carey’s X-Men Legacy and Daniel Way’s Wolverine: Origins. Honestly, the pitch and idea make sense. A retrospection series about Xavier’s past and mind and secrets SHOULD crossover with the concurrent Wolverine series that explores Logan’s past and mind and secrets. The only problem is Daniel Way is not a good writer and Wolverine: Origins is one of the most abysmal wastes of space a comic company has ever published. Nothing works here. Not one bit. They try to cram even more “Xavier is kind of a dick” things into his and Wolverine’s origin and every part of it is unnecessary and frustrating. The wild thing is Carey is so damn good he actually makes this turd of a thing start to float with some solid work done on Daken, Miss Sinister and the Hellfire Club. Even then, it’s probably the worst stuff Carey ever did for the X-Men. Just seeing that cover again makes me groan.
Daken/X-23: Collision: A forgotten to time crossover of Wolverine’s “kids”. Marjorie Liu’s X-23 book was pretty much the ideal material for Laura and Daniel Way’s Daken material is the best stuff he has ever written. The end result of this one is that it is just OK. A solid if unspectacular pairing of characters that needed to get together.
The Hunt for Xavier: I’m a big fan of Joe Kelly and Steve Seagle’s X-Men era. We now know it was marred by editorial continuously telling them no or making them change their stories and I’ll never not be mad at that. Throughout their time on the books you get some galaxy brain level ideas with some head scratching execution and that continues into The Hunt for Xavier. Basically this story is Cerebro becoming a sentient being like Danger in Whedon’s X-Men. I was shocked when I read this well after I had read Astonishing. It’s not exactly a 1:1 story swipe, but it’s damn close. That in itself is a really intriguing idea which makes a very solid, imperfect book. It includes some fun bits like a powerless post Onslaught Xavier teamed up with a form of The Brotherhood to fight the new Cerebrite threat and I just think that’s neat. This is nobody’s favorite X-Men event, but it’s far from the worst.
X-Termination: One of the most forgotten X-Men crossover events. This one was a mix of Marjorie Liu’s fantastic Astonishing X-Men run, the bizarre and gritty yet solid return series Age of Apocalypse by David Lapham, and the quirky and delightful Exiles-esque X-Treme X-Men by Greg Pak. Three books no one ever really mentions but three books that hold a very special comfort food place in my heart. That being said, this one never really exceeds the OK quality level. It’s huge stakes and a wonderful mix of extremely different personalities but doesn’t really have the big money, support or good art put into it to make it something even more special.
Exiled: Abnett & Lanning’s New Mutants and Kieron Gillen’s alltimer Journey Into Mystery crossing over in a spiritual sequel to the Asgardian Wars!!! On paper that sounds like a slam dunk but unfortunately this one just never seemed to click. It never really gives you what you want in getting all these characters together and homaging a former classic crossover. Instead you get a very ho-hum story all about Sigurd while all the other characters just sort of stand around him. Overall, it’s still pretty solid because of that creative team but it’s never SPECIAL, which is an enormous shame. It’s just another stop on the way for both titles.
Dark Avengers/X-Men: Utopia: This was an incredibly smart crossover to actually do but like most of Matt Fraction’s time on the X-Books, it’s a big mess of half baked ideas, jarring mischaracterizations and a writer struggling to write characters he only gets on a surface level. Fraction had a tendency to bring back a TON of old mutants we had rarely seen in awhile and give them whatever voice and motivation he made up on the fly and it was always felt very offputting and wrong. Most of this story is doing just that to start a conflict that prompts the formation of the Dark X-Men, another REALLY good idea with a great roster that is used to ill effect here. Fraction’s time on the books was so damn frustrating because he is so talented but he could never crack the way to write our merry mutants. Overall though, he gets the job done here. The real draw in this one are the X-Men Legacy issues by Mike Carey and Dustin Weaver. They make this event really work so well for Carey’s ongoing story and actually give you what you want here.
Age of X-Man: What is good about Age of X-Man – The Alpha & Omega issues, The X-Tremists Issue #5, Soft Fred and Psylocke, and Apocalypse saying that Xavier knew “the raw power of eroticism!”. Everything else? Fine to a severe placeholding waste of time. Looking back on it now I’m just as disgusted that each mini got FIVE whole issues. Literally all of them could’ve told the stories they told in about two issues, tops. The Marvelous X-Men was solid because it was Nadler & Thompson but even that was a slow moving “When are they going to get to the fireworks factory?” series. Prisoner X had some amazing moments but again suffered from being too long and a plodding pace. Nice art though. NextGen might as well just be a Glob miniseries and that can go directly into the trash. The Amazing Nightcrawler was a mindboggling waste of everyone’s time. Apocalypse and the X-Tracts didn’t even have the best Apocalypse content of the event forming yet another grand waste of time. And lastly, The X-Tremists had good bits in yet another slow moving series with some of the worst art I’ve ever seen BUT it had that phenomenal last issue, which in fairness seemed to throw away any of the plots that came before to just have fun and celebrate some great character work finally. It’s a big time killer of an event with some CHOICE little bits and not much else.
Bloodties: The 90’s Avengers/X-Men crossover that is probably my favorite team-up of the two teams. The problem with this one is they don’t quite do enough. It’s actually a solid story revolving around absolute shitbag Fabian Cortez starting a Mutate rebellion on Genosha which prompts the involvement of Professor X to help quell the fighting. Cortez eventually kidnaps Magneto’s granddaughter Luna, which forces Luna’s Dad, Quicksilver and the X-Men to come save her as well as the jacket era Avengers who Luna’s Mom, Crystal, is a part of. Eventually, the self proclaimed “Heir of Magneto” Exodus also joins the fray. It’s actually an extremely tight plot that brings in all the players in a logical and organic fashion. I know Bob Harras is a piece of shit but I love the 90’s Avengers run he does with Steve Epting & Tom Palmer. That it gets to be blended with my beloved X-Men is such a treat. IS this thing a masterpiece? No, not in the slightest but you get some incredible art and a fun mashup of very distinct eras for these teams.
Child’s Play: This is just a great crossover between X-Force and the New Warriors which is such a genius, perfect pairing I’m still wowed by it. The Upstarts play a game of murdering any remaining New Mutants and Hellions which draws Firestar into play and forces the two teams to join up and deal with everything. I’m always a huge sucker for when Firestar’s Massachusetts Academy origins get brought up. You get some wonderful interactions between them all and some real lasting repercussions. Magma dumps Empath and her racist as hell origin are retconned out. Moonstar finally unmasks and reveals she is the real Dani to X-Force. Karma has her first interactions with her former classmates in years. The awful Upstarts and Gamesmaster all disband and are rarely heard from again after this. And the amazing bow on top of all of this is that Paige “The Rage” Guthrie sneaks into the story in her first substantial defined appearance and when both collective teams straight up lose, she ultimately saves the day by telling Gamesmaster his games are dumb and he should do a different kind of challenge in being a better Xavier. (Sadly we never really get more of that plot). Overall though, this thing is solid as hell.
Legion Quest: Legion Quest is actually quite solid. I love the story idea of troubled ol David waking up and realizing he’s so damn powerful he should just zap back in time and make his and his family’s life better. Sadly, he’s just a kid, a deeply troubled kid, and his solution is to just kill Magneto and everything will be fine. It’s some good character work. The downside is it barely stands as its own story. It is essentially just the opening prologue to the massive Age of Apocalypse. It loses value and significance that way. Instead of being its own powerful story, its a McGuffin. A GOOD McGuffin, but ultimately still a McGuffin.
The Muir Island Saga: BARELY a crossover as its Uncanny with one X-Factor part and an X-Factor Epilogue issue by PAD. I love the Muir Island Saga as it wraps up one of my alltime fave eras of X-Men, the Dissasembled Jim Lee times. Sadly this is where Chris Claremont quits his long run on Uncanny X-Men, 12 pages into #279 and gives up on his 17 year journey of dangling plotlines that usually contained the Shadow King. This story, as fun as it can be, is a consolation prize. An abrupt change of plans to wrap things up against Claremont’s will, mainly his Shadow King obsession. We know he had WAY different plans (like this informative interview – let the webpage translate) many of which I outlined in a Twitter thread, so as much as I can sit down and enjoy these issues, it is EXTREMELY bittersweet. It’s still of high quality, it’s just not the presumptive masterpiece we COULD’VE had.
Escape From The Negative Zone: James Asmus gives us an Annual team-up of Cyclops and Hope with Steve Rogers in his Super Soldier persona days and Namor during his mutant time. Asmus was a writer I pretty much enjoyed every single thing he wrote and I feel he never got a fair shake. This story is short and sweet, has some great art, and just FEELS like Marvel Comics. A quiet yet stellar crossover.
Fatal Attractions: A fairly lackluster crossover where certain individual parts of it are so so much better than the overall throughline story. X-Force #25 is my second favorite issue of that series ever as we get some wonderful character work with the bond between Magneto and the former New Mutants with some exceptional Cannonball development. Wolverine #75 is clearly a top Wolvie story as he teeters on the edge of death. And Uncanny #304’s Jam Issue is a feast for the eyes. The main plot however of the world gunning for Magneto as he further cements his disastrous 90’s heel turn and rips the adamantium from Wolverine’s skeleton is so yawn worthy. Those standout chapters make an otherwise forgettable story so much more than the sum of its parts.
Onslaught: Onslaught is a tremendous idea that if they committed to it actually being Xavier gone evil and put better, more talented writers on it with a well laid out plan, we’d all be continuously hailing it as one of the best Marvel U crossovers. Instead it’s a jumbled mess of uncoordinated writers contributing, leaving or not even trying to make this whole thing work along with Marvel chickening out and making Onslaught a sentient Magneto/Xavier nasty energy being. I deeply wish Scott “make it up as I go in between being awful” Lobdell hasn’t been the one to spearhead the whole thing. For years, I only knew the whole Onslaught story as a myth cobbled together from wikis, random issues, the final boss fight of Marvel VS Capcom and more. When I FINALLY read it all, I was so sorely let down. It was…………….fine?? The parts that work, work well in a very surface level “cool factor” way. The inclusion of the whole Marvel Universe seems very forced and it greatly suffers from being so bloated. It starts as an extremely intriguing core X-Men story then morphs and changes into a linewide publishing event to make Heroes Reborn happen. It’s neat but it’s mostly a letdown.
Phalanx Covenant: Ok, so the main story, the origin of Generation X that is told in X-Men & Uncanny is still to this day blisteringly great. It repurposes characters that were just sitting there, waiting to be played with again, while also expertfully introducing an entire new cast of characters, all done in a story that’s Night of the Living Dead meets The Thing. Oh and it’s all drawn by Joe Madureira and Andy Kubert. It’s good. It’s damn good!! Unfortunately it has all of those extraneous tie ins which range from mind numbing to rage inducing. They’re bad. Really damn bad!! IF this story was just the main one it would rocket up the list. Phalanx Covenant is a wonderful example of “Less is more”.
Mutant Massacre: I LIKE the Mutant Massacre but I don’t LOVE it. The fact that I remember the Thor and Power Pack and followup Nocenti Sabretooth vs Daredevil story more than I do the main books really shows you where it sits in my head. The Thor issues are absolutely fantastic as Walter Simonson brings Thor into the action and he ends up affecting the event in a real “shocking” way and lasting effects of his battle against the Marauders continues into his own book. Seeing little kiddies The Pack go up against a group of slaughtering psychopaths is equally delightful. But the mutant books are a different story. Were still in early “slog to get through” X-Factor and I don’t really care for their issues here. The New Mutants issue is just them sort of reacting to the chaos. The X-Men are only mainly involved in one issue, Uncanny #211, and it is a good one but it shows that there isn’t much meat on the bones of this event. Uncanny #212 is a really great Rick Leonardi drawn slugfest between Wolvie and Sabretooth but it’s more of an epilogue to the whole thing. The event does do a good job transforming the X-Men team andfunctions as a wonderful launchpad into a fresh status quo, but as a whole event, it’s thin.
Messiah War: I have a soft spot for this one. Is it the greatest thing ever made? No, absolutely not but it’s solid and clever and delivers extremely good character interactions. I love the overall plot idea of Cyclops sending X-Force to the future to bring his son and Hope home. Things go wrong and they end up teaming up with Cable to figure everything out. That they find Deadpool there alive because he was sealed in a container for 800 years is delightful and he adds a lot to the story. This also turns into a Stryfe story and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed him more than I do here. I LOVE seeing the rarely glimpsed future where Stryfe takes over from Apocalypse as a despotic tyrant and they really serve me well with that. Like most of Duane Swierczynski’s solid Cable series,one of the major problems of this one is Bishop as a full villain teaming up with Stryfe. Villain Bishop is never good. A lot of this one is better on paper than in execution but it really tries. I especially love the plot point of including Kiden Nixon for time barrier villain schemes and devastating X-23 character drama. Not everything always works here, but when it does it’s great.
Fall of the Mutants: A crossover in the very loosest sense of the word, each story stands on its own. So with that, we have 2 stunners and one absolute stinker in this event. First off, the Fall of the Mutants X-Factor story is the BEST X-Factor story ever done. Full stop. Louise and Walt Simonson just making the sweetest, married music together, operating at the height of their grand powers giving us the Archangel/Death & Apocalypse story they had been building towards. Every reread I appreciate how damn good this is. It’s some of the highest art this medium has ever produced. Over in Uncanny we get a bizarre but great story by Claremont and my favorite X-Men artist of alltime, Marc Silvestri. I’m STILL not sure if I actually like the insane story of the X-Men vs The Adversary, one of Claremont’s strangest indulgent plots, but he does such tear inducing character work within, I can’t help but fall for it. And lastly, we have Louise Simonson and Bret Blevins’ Animator story which results in the death of Doug Ramsey. I hate this story. Bird Brain and the Animator feel like some awful thing plucked from a dark 80’s Don Bluth VHS cartoon(most of the Blevins era feels this way sadly.) The art and absurd characters are so tonally at odds with the dark plot that it completely erases any emotional feelings I should have when the soft boy is gunned down. Instead, I’m jealous of Doug and want to jump in front of that bullet myself to escape from this horrid story.
X-Tinction Agenda: This is a tough one because X-Tinction Agenda simultaneously is one of the coolest things ever while also being an editorially controlled mess. The main plot beats are fantastic as all of the mutant teams that were in their disassembled era come back together in a brutal story mirroring real world racial atrocities and it MATTERS as the story becomes extremely transformative for each team. The bad part is that SO MUCH of shithead editor Bob Harras’ influence guides things. He’s in the letter columns in the first issue saying he is going to make sure Claremont wraps things up. This story takes place roughly around the same time that the aborted “Mutant Wars” crossover was to take place and solicit previews for it mention human Sentinels which never quite appear. This whole thing is a rushed consolation X-Over in the same vein as the dreadful Eve of Destruction. The things that work here, ONLY work because of the writing team. Parts of this story were reported to be conceived by and rewritten by Harras on the fly right before print and it really shows. The deeply emotional racial parallels, the character relationship interplay, and the balls to the wall 1990 VHS action movie fun shine through hard due to Claremont and Simonson, BUT the rather abrupt reunion of all the characters, Warlock’s death, Rictor’s decision to leave the team, Storm’s aging back up and more are very clear Harras mandates. The art in this crossover is also superb. Jim Lee gives us some of his career best work, particularly in Uncanny #270. Rob Liefeld gives us his still humbled, charmingly bad pencils that receive a team of assists by other artists, mainly by inker Josef Rubinstein, which gives his work such a unique feel here that I like. And lastly, The Bog, Jon Bogdanove. As a teen I thought his art was so bad and so out of place amongst the Image juggernauts Lee & Liefeld, but as an adult his X-Factor issues are now my favorite chapters. I can always clearly picture Jean and Logan kissing and a bald mutate Cyclops bear hugging his brother Alex into submission. He gives everyone such cartoony, exaggerated physiques in these issues and I just adore it.
Days of Future Present: A big ol’ Annual crossover between Chris Claremont and the Simonsons!! Comics don’t get much better! Walt Simonson is currently writing the best Fantastic Four run of alltime so his title crosses over with his wife Louise’s New Mutants and X-Factor, as well as Claremont’s Uncanny. This is one of my favorite X-Men crossovers of alltime. The whole thing is just bringing the two teams together because of Franklin Richards and Rachel Summers, who were shown to be together in Days of Future Past. All manner of future shenanigans happen with a ton of standout moments. The future Franklin as a member of a new class of mysterious X-Men who we only get a glimpse at is so so cool. The same future shows Banshee and Forge as the long lasting third Xavier School Headmaster after Charles and Magneto. The dissassembled era of X-Men where Claremont was clearly making that odd couple the future stewards of the team and school is so fascinating and smart and I love seeing more of it here. The mysterious teases of Rachel’s parentage and who Ahab is are great little nuggets for fans to obsess over. The relationship drama between Jean Grey and Rachel is so real and powerful. This also serves as the kinda sorta first reunion of all the characters before X-Tinction Agenda. And lastly, the art!! We get not only Jon “The Bog” Bogdanove KILLING it on the X-Factor annual but we also get the amazing treasure of Art Adams giving us another Uncanny Annual. That page of Rachel in her stylin hat about to chomp down on a cheeseburger is SEARED into my brain. There just so so much to enjoy here in a really interesting choice for a story. Oh and all the backup stories rule too.
Age Of X: Mike Carey’s brilliant take on the Age of Apocalypse new universe swerve. Looking back on this one now, it’s STRIKING how much this acts as a sort of unrefined ore of what would eventually be the refined Jonathan Hickman X-Men. Think about it. We know Hickman has read Carey’s run and enjoys it. The influence of this underrated event really shows in the current era. Hickman has the mysterious Moira X as the big retcon plot point that is the center of his new era. Age of X has the mysterious Moira who is eventually revealed to be “X” and she is the plot point at the center of this story. The X-Men end up on an island where friend is foe and foe is now friend with huge new status quo changes and resurrections. It’s essentially the whole House of X/Powers of X but in an era where Marvel editorial will not allow it to be done in the main continuity. Beyond that impact it’s just a really great story of a whole universe we never even get all the history for(Literally as Carey shared great backstory nuggets solely in an old CBR preview column). There is just so much here to love with my favorite bits being Cannonball as the de factor leader of the X-Men, as he should be, and Rogue being the Reaper, taking dying comrades’ essences into herself as a living repository of all the fallen. Sure the Steve Kurth art hurts a lot and the forced New Mutants crossover story angle didnt help, but overall it’s criminally undervalued.
Necrosha: Necrosha is amazing and another one of the alltime best X-Men events that is super underrated. Selene gathers up an army of undead mutant characters from throughout X-Men history to wreak havoc while she plans to resurrect the decimated population of Genosha and subsequently suck all of their essence out as she becomes a God. The best part of Necrosha is you have 3 separate stories you can all read alone and each one hits so well. First is the main storyline that had been building in Chris Yost and Craig Kyle’s terrific X-Force run, which all deals with Selene’s dark plans and delivers such a satisfying, epic story even if the conclusion kind of trips up. In New Mutants, Zeb Wells the GOAT gives us an incredibly emotional story dealing with the deceased Cypher, the Hellions and more as they relate personally to the team. And lastly, in Mike Carey’s X-Men Legacy we get an alltime story that should be talked about WAY more often that seamlessly blends the return of Proteus and Destiny, Blindfold and her familial connections and our main protagonist Rogue backed by an amazing team of Rogue, Magneto, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Husk, Psylocke and Trance. Oh, and it’s drawn gorgeously by Clay Mann. This is an X-Men event where every single part swings and hits a whopper of a home run. Necrosha is Fall of the Mutants done right. It’s incredible.
Second Coming: Much like it’s sister crossover, Messiah Complex, Second Coming takes years worth of continuing plotlines and stellar creative teams and funnels them all into a big grand payoff of a story that shocks, delights and stands on its own as a wonderful isolated read. That the X-Books had been growing towards this event for so many years and it didnt disappoint will always amaze me. But it isnt perfect. Some of the huge drawbacks in this one are that Greg Land is the artist for the X-Men Legacy issues and the deus ex machina conclusion. I also didn’t connect to this one as emotionally and personally as I have with so many others on the list. To make up for those stumbles however, this one does have some wonderful tie-ins like the excellent X-Men: Hellbound and Blind Science. All in all, it’s one of the best X-Men events of alltime.
X-Cutioner’s Song: Don’t believe the people out for a quick joke, X-Cutioner’s Song is a GENUINE work of art. It takes all the stupid, insane excess of the 90’s X-Men era and EMBRACES it, weaving all the mindless, disparate Liefeldian pieces into a logical, entertaining masterpiece. I fully believe the creators are “in on the joke” for this one. I mean, you have to be with that Cable panel of him carrying a mountain of gear and saying “Quite literally face to face”. X-Cutioner’s Song is like if Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast as the lead on soap opera “General Hospital”. It has all the soap opera strength of the best X-Men stories funneled through a 90’s action blockbuster. This story is so damn awesome from writing all the way to lettering, which is actually the strongest part of the entire thing. Chris Eliopoulos does most of the lettering and he is the undisputed MVP here as he matches the bombastic tone of the story with big chunky letters when a name pops in or someone shouts to a quiet whimpering balloon when someone is devastated to everything in between. It’s some of the most memorable lettering work I’ve ever experienced. Greg Capullo, Jae Lee, Brandon Peterson & Andy Kubert make up the allstar lineup on art, all of whom channel that typical 90’s style but in such fascinating, distinctly different ways of doing it. It’s an extremely fast paced twist after twist whodunnit that feeds you more and more each issue and you can’t wait to engorge further on it. The Stryfe/Cable dynamic is put to genius use and few things compare to the Summers Family drama that ensues on the moon. It’s a bold, captivating, flashy tour de force with a style all its own that does whatever it wants, while apologizing for nothing.. I think it’s the absolute highlight of the early 90’s X-Men era. The only downside for me is the fact that it is entirely set up as the event to finally fully explain what the deal is with Cable & Stryfe, but they don’t actually tell you definitively which is the real Nathan Christopher Charles Summers.
Inferno: Inferno is damn good, but it isn’t the best. The main story that crosses over between hall of fame duos Claremont/Silvestri Uncanny and Simonson/Simonson X-Factor is really everything you could want in comics. The main plot of the ongoing Limbo troubles in New Mutants intersecting with the unfortunate turn of Madelyne Pryor into the Goblyn Queen is a pure chef’s kiss. Tie ins like Jason Macendale making a deal with N’astirh to not be a joke anymore and getting stuck bonded to a demon and Daredevil fighting a possessed vacuum cleaner while Typhoid Mary plots in the background are superb. The Excalibur tie-in can be read by itself and is a delightfully kinky fetish filled romp. X-Terminators is a Don Bluth animated cartoon that is better than any Don Bluth animated cartoon. The things I dislike about Inferno are the fact that Maddy ever had to become a villain and get killed off so that we can still publish Cyclops comics and the very mediocre New Mutants part where they take the best member, Ilyana and effectively remove her from comics for almost 20 years. Neither is a thing I ever wanted to happen but they get them done. I can’t really say they do them WELL, but you’re at least entertained along the way. Inferno is just SO BIG and each part gives you something OK to fantastic and the sheer cumulative quality pushes it towards the top of the list.
X of Swords: A 22 part event that I’d like another 22 parts of!! I love the massive X-Men Shonen tournament arc. I know it just finished but I am in a deep, deep awe at this whole event. Of everything on this list it has BY FAR the most technical skill and craft put into it. Nothing is as creative or smart or well written on this list as X of Swords is. So why isn’t it in the top spot?? Well, it’s not 100% perfect, although it’s so very close. I could have used more sword fighting. I did not need fan favorite Pogg Ur-Pogg to actually be a Boglin. But does any of this really matter?? No. This event is the most additive event I’ve ever seen in comics. It takes the fresh new bits of Dawn of X, mainly by Hickman and Tini Howard, puts them into a blender and pulls out an entire five course meal. You don’t know how they did it and frankly you don’t care. You just EAT WELL. It establishes a countless number of plot launchpads and intriguing nuggets to watch as the books continue. It re-establishes Otherworld from scratch and brings back many of the characters related to it in an easy to understand and transformative way. It establishes an entire new world and history of mutants, full of hundreds of new characters just waiting to be explored that could fill AN ENTIRE PUBLISHING LINE. It is the de facto best Apocalypse story of all time, adding gravitas, motivation and emotion the character has never had before. It firmly establishes the Braddock twins in their new roles continuing the new, fresh direction of the franchise. Even my complaints with not enough sword fights was a wonderful subversion of expectations as we got a greatest hits of silly manga battles instead. The ending chapter is full of Kobe to Shaq alley-oop jump out of your damn chair and scream at the top of your lungs moments EVERY OTHER PAGE!! Everything is NEW NEW NEW. This isn’t a grand culmination of years, the inevitable story you always knew was coming, this was the explode your life, franchise altering masterpiece that exceeds any expectation or guessed plot point. It not only does everything a crossover event SHOULD do but it actually changes the mold and establishes NEW standards for every single one that comes after.
Messiah Complex: Probably my favorite grand X-Over of all time. This serves as a culmination of one of the strongest overall quality levels for the X-Line. Ed Brubaker gives us his best X-Men work here. Mike Carey’s run leading into this is my second favorite X-Men material ever and his story beats inform this entire crossover. Chris Yost and Craig Kyle give us their final, shocking New X-Men issues. PAD gives us, well he gives us the weakest chapters of the story, but he does solid work segueing his characters into the larger narrative when they had been mostly off to the side. From Marc Silvestri in the opening issue to some of Chris Bachalo’s greatest work, the art is on another level. This is one of the best X-Overs because the books for about two years had all been leading to this. They had a very clear plan and they execute it magnificently. That’s a beautiful thing to see happen successfully. Everything just works and blends together so organically. There is no chaffe, no filler. It’s constant action with shocking twists and turns for every single chapter. It gives you everything it should while never overstaying its welcome. It exists as its own satisfying story while ALSO transforming the entire line with books ending, new ones forming and huge shifts for the status quo and all the characters. It’s everything a crossover strives to be. Messiah Complex is one of the all time highs for the entire X-Franchise.
Age of Apocalypse: To this day AoA remains one of the most creative and bold decisions a major publisher has ever done. To cancel every single book in an era where that was unheard of and the following month debut an entire new reality and line of books is just like the coolest idea ever. The fact that mostly every single miniseries and connecting story thread turned out to work amazingly well and produce some alltime work like Joe Mad’s Astonishing X-Men and Chris Bachalo’s career best Generation NeXt is awe inspiring. The premise is simple yet stunning: Xavier is dead, mutants reign supreme as Apocalypse has taken over the world and the only thing standing in his way is Magneto’s all new all different X-Men. We get an entire reality recontextualized and redone in fan favorite endearing ways that hit the elusive cool factor as well as nailing an objective high quality in both design and story. This story includes some of the alltime best visuals, designs and alternate versions of beloved comic characters. The story is long without overstaying its welcome and mainly delivers you everything you could ever want. I love that, while it does go on to impact the main books in some small ways, stands alone as its own big story you can read and love in isolation. I have read it a countless number of times now and I only enjoy it MORE every reread. It quite honestly, NEVER gets old. It isn’t perfect but it’s about as close as you can POSSIBLY get with such an intense, grand scope of planning and hard work. Age of Apocalypse is a comics miracle.
Asgardian Wars: The Asgardian Wars, specifically JUST New Mutants Special Edition #1 & Uncanny X-Men Annual #9 by Chris Claremont and Art Adams is a Top 3 alltime X-Men story. Inarguable fact. Pound for pound, it may very well be the best X-Men story ever published. That you also have the magnificent prequel X-Men/Alpha Flight drawn by the master Paul Smith to add to it, securely locks the whole Asgardian Wars event as THE BEST X-Men crossover event of alltime. Both have some of the greatest art ever to grace comics. Both use the completely bonkers premise of getting some Asgard mixed up in our mutant stories and rather than just being a silly novelty, use it to fundamentally change and alter the characters forever in what I consider to be the best character work Claremont does in his entire run (with Uncanny X-Men #233’s Maddy dream slotting in right after these). And it’s not just one character, it’s all of them. Ol’ CC is on another level when it comes to these stories. He goes OFF! Paul Smith and Art Adams, legendary artists whose entire careers have produced S-tier art from start to finish, arguably put out their career highs here. It’s three masters of the medium taking something that should be stupid and making it elite. It’s a stunningly deep, extremely emotional and heartbreaking set of stories that are also extraordinarily profound, inspiring and most of all, INTENSELY fun. It is THE story that represents what makes the X-Men so endearing and amazing. I could not live without this one.