Welcome to our new weekly feature – Multiversity Comics Countdown – in which we’ll list some of our favorites, least favorites, and beyond every week for your reading pleasure.
For the first edition, I knew immediately what would be the perfect topic. With Second Coming culminating with the recent X-Men: Second Coming #2, we saw the end of yet another highly successful X-Over that bridged together the main X-Men books into one cohesive whole. As a long time fan of the universe, that started to make me think…what are the best of the X-Overs?
The rules for this are very specific: they must involve multiple books, they must be X-Men centric (sorry House of M), and they are all picked by me. This doesn’t reflect the preferences of other writers (although I did ask Brandon for a few opinions), so everyone throw down your picks for what the best five X-Overs are in the comments.
What Was It?: The first event since Mutant Massacre that really bridged all of the X-Books into one cohesive whole, telling the story of Cameron Hodge and the Genoshan magistrates trying to enslave mutantkind as a brainwashed working class called “mutates.” Combined Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor and New Mutants into one awesome mega story that led to widespread changes in the world of the X-Men.
Why it’s Awesome: There are a LOT of reasons why this is a great story as well as a massively important one. The first reason for me is a simple one however…it was the first X-Men story that hooked me entirely. Combining the talents of writers Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson with the prodigious talent of Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld and a third artist who was somehow worse than Liefeld BLEW my six year old mind. Granted, only Lee really stands up to the test of time, but still, this was a superstar extravaganza at the time.
The story’s end result ended up with two massive changes that shifted the scales of the comic book world at the time: the splitting of the X-Men into two teams which led to the launch of a second X-Men book (only the highest selling comic ever) as well as the launch of X-Force from the ashes of New Mutants.
Throughout the story though, we were given a ton of tasty treats to chew on. The apparent betrayal of Alex Summers (Havok), the death of Warlock, a love scene between a bloodied Wolverine and Jean Grey, Rictor’s complete domination of Cameron Hodge, and the rise and fall of one of the most intense X-Men villains ever.
Perhaps most importantly? This event was the first — it made it possible for all other X-Overs to be crafted.
What Was It?: Magneto and the Acolytes versus all of the X-Men basically. If that doesn’t sell the inner X-Fanboy in all of us I don’t know what will. Long story short though, Magneto goes too far and Charles Xavier can’t take it any more. The sides clash, lots of badness happens, 9 year old David Harper is appalled and elated simultaneously.
Why it’s Awesome: There are about a billion different reasons on this one, even though there were only a few issues for this arc. Let’s start with what everyone thinks of when they think of it: Wolverine losing his adamantium. While this was a hugely controversial moment in X-Men history, it’s hard to deny that it wasn’t executed incredibly well by writer Fabien Nicieza and artist Andy Kubert in X-Men #25. In fact, back in 1993 when this took place, this was perhaps the most devestating thing that had happened to me in my short lifespan. Wolverine was pre-saturation at that point — he was just the ol’ Canucklehead that was impossibly popular with comic fans. When Magneto removed his adamantium, it broke my little comic book loving heart.Continued below
When Xavier wiped Magneto’s mind as the final retribution for all he had done and for going too far, it felt right. It also ended up dovetailing and becoming a far bigger moment than that because of the Onslaught saga and the disappearance of Magneto (the real one) for nearly seven years.
Those two events were perhaps the biggest 90’s X-Men moments, and save the launch of X-Men #1 back in 1991 may have been the biggest period.
Smaller events that also were pretty major for me were the defection of Colossus to Magneto’s side, Illyana Rasputin’s funeral, the introduction of Gil favorite Exodus, Cable dominating faces, and the classic save of Jean Grey by Wolverine (who immediately previous had been unconscious — way to go, guy).
Fatal Attractions also gave us some damn good storytelling that unified the X-Universe in clever ways, never really having the individual books touch but always keeping them on the same path. Props to Nicieza and Scott Lobdell for making that happen (those guys are criminally underrated for their work in the 90’s on the X-books). Throw in both Kubert brothers, Greg Capullo, Joe Quesada, John Romita, Jr., and Ken Lashley, and you have some insane talents involved with this event. No wonder why it turned out to be such a gem.
Oh yeah, and super sweet hologram covers! Sure, they represent everything that is wrong with 90’s comics, but they were SO awesome at the time.
What Was It?: When Charles Xavier’s son Legion goes into the past to kill Magneto to make his Dad’s quest to unify humanity and mutant kind, everything goes awry and he kills his Dad instead of Magneto (whoops!). Much to Bishop’s chagrin, who was there to stop it from happening.
What follows is Apocalypse capitalizing on Professor X’s demise, leading to the “culling” of much of humanity and the subjugation of most of what remained. Magneto, distraught by the death of his best friend, decides to carry on his dream and forms the X-Men with his wife Rogue and a slew of other favorite mutants — much to my enjoyment.
Why it’s Awesome: While the previous two were fantastic in their own right, Age of Apocalypse pretty much made me lose my mind. When I read X-Men: Alpha, showing the new universe in its entirety, my reaction was fairly similar to those first girls who saw Frank Sinatra live. Every first issue, from the flagships of Amazing X-Men and Astonishing X-Men to the smaller books like Weapon X and Factor-X, was like rediscovering the definition of the word awesome.
Not only that, but this was and is the playbook on how to flawlessly execute an event of this sort. Take one-shots, make them super awesome, andput them in as bookends. Replace all existing books with new titles. Make it rain.
When you’re reading events like this, you want to have that feeling of “nothing will ever be the same.” When reading this, you couldn’t even comprehend how things could ever be repaired, and that was an astonishing feeling.
Considering it was handled by creators with names like Lobdell, Waid, Ellis, Loeb, Epting, Bachalo, Madureira, Larocca, both Kubert brothers, Dodson, Pacheco, Tony Daniel…well, you’ve got to expect this to be pretty damn good.
In terms of lasting effect, we were given a Bishop that was forever changed, new characters in Nate Grey, Dark Beast, and Blink (two of whom ended up being in their own highly successful books in X-Man and Exiles), and one of the most haunting final issues of any event (that doubled as one of the best renditions of Magneto we’d ever gotten).
In terms of overall greatness, this is perhaps the best X-Event ever. For a massive fan like me, that is saying something.
What Was It?: Something strong enough to knock Juggernaut from one side of the country to the other and intense enough to scare the crap out of Mystique is after the X-Men. In fact, he isn’t just after the X-Men, but out to destroy all of humanity and mutantkind. When it’s revealed that Onslaught himself is Charles Xavier (infected by the mindwipe he performed on Magneto wayyy back in X-Men #25), the whole of comicdom implodes with one unifying gasp.
Onslaught ends up being such a legit villain (especially after he abducts Nate Grey and Franklin Richards to steal their powers), the whole of the Marvel Universe ends up having to square off against him.
Why it’s Awesome: Did you read that?! The villain is a mega powered Charles Xavier aided by the evil side of Magneto and bolstered by Nate Grey and Franklin Richards’ powers? Seriously? This was perhaps the most popular X-Event from back in the day save Age of Apocalypse, and for the entirety of its length drew spectulation from every self respecting comic fan from around the globe.
Granted, all it really gave us in terms of lasting effects were the fairly bad Heroes Reborn stories from Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee as well as the much maligned Onslaught Reborn story from Jeph Loeb and Liefeld, but the arc itself was very successful at giving us a mega event that entertained thoroughly as well as greatly altering the status quo of both the X-Men universe and the Marvel Universe as a whole. It just happened to be perhaps a bit more awesome in theory than it was in actuality.
What Was It?: After Scarlet Witch dropped her most infamous three word sentence (unless you’re The Vision, in which it’s likely “gimme robot babies!”), mutants stopped being born and almost none of them had powers any more. When one is born in Alaska, the whole of mutantdom as well as all of their opponents square off for control of the child.
Why it’s Awesome: This was the first X-Event in quite some time that bridged all of the books together successfully in the way that the most famous of 90’s events had, and it was a breath of fresh air for the whole of the X-Universe. Refocusing X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, New X-Men and X-Factor in a three month long event that dictated the next four years of X-Books, this was a remarkably important event.
It also was a damn good one, combining the talents of Ed Brubaker, Peter David, Mike Carey, Craig Kyle, Chris Yost, Marc Silvestri, Billy Tan, Humberto Ramos, Chris Bachalo and the criminally underrated Scot Eaton into a well crafted tapestry of kick ass comics. Each issue was a tense piece of a delicious pie, working well as individual issues and even better as a greater whole.
It gave us Bishop as a truly vile villain, Cable as a truly awesome hero, the development of a new X-Force team, Layla Miller trapped in the future, X-Men being renamed X-Men Legacy, and some shocking deaths and near deaths. Most of all, it gave us Hope (in more than one way).
One of the most fun things, to me, will be readers finding out eventually whether Bishop or Cable was right about Hope. Is she a savior? Is she a monster? We’ll find out eventually, and if we ever find out Bishop is right, I’m pretty sure Brandon Burpee will lose his shit and carry his Bishop toy around for a week in celebration.