The X-Men franchise has had a few animated series, and is on their way to a sixth live action movie. But how would you put together a ten season live action show with continuity and including the best stories from the various X-books over the years?
Season one introduced us to Claremont’s X-Men, a couple of whom were killed off, and introduced us to a slew of villains, but there wasn’t a Buffy The Vampire Slayer “Big Bad”. Well, welcome to season two, you’re about to get to know Mr. Sinister and The Marauders.
Season Two: Fall Of The Mutants
(showrunners: Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson)
Serial 1: X-Men Mutant Massacre
(written by Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson, art by John Romita Jr, Rick Leonardi, Alan Davis, and Barry Windsor-Smith)
Because Claremont’s writing is so dense, and he was on the Uncanny X-Men book for so long, it’s tough to skip a chunk of continuity, but that’s what I’m doing. Luckily, Claremont waxes backstory that you’ll hardly notice the forty missing issues. Cough. So we start Season Two with Magneto as the headmaster at Xavier’s school. Storm has been depowered, there’s a new generation of X-Men called The New Mutants, and, as we learned in the interseason special, the original X-Men have started their own team called X-Factor which claims to be out hunting mutants, when, actually, they’re rescuing them. Well, all those teams, plus Thor and a group of kids called The Power Pack have to deal with The Marauders, a group of villains who have invaded The Morlock Tunnels and are killing mutants. All the heroes work (not necessarily together) to stop the threat, but there’s great costs (of course), and new X-Men join the team.
Morlock Massacre. 4 episodes
Episode 5: Fantastic Four Versus The X-Men
(written by Chris Claremont, art by John Bogdanove)
It really only takes one episode to tackle this mini-crossover where The FF and She-Hulk fly off to Muir Island to try and help The X-Men recover from Mutant Massacre, which has put four long time team members out of commission. The current lineup is initially excited that Reed Richards has come to help but when he experiences moment of self-doubt, Dr. Doom steps in to offer his assistance. This was the series that got me into X-Men comics, and I think it still very much holds up as one of their best stories.
Out Of Phase. 1 episode
Serial 2: Fall Of The Mutants Volume 1 & Fall Of The Mutants Volume 2
(written by Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson, art by Marc Silvestri, Walt Simonson, and Bret Blevins)
This is a giant, non-intersecting, crossover where full-on madness takes place. Forge and Storm enter a realm of magic, X-Factor battles old friends and Apocalypse, the X-Men just might die, The New Mutants lose a team member on the island of…Bird Brain? Even The Hulk, Captain America, Daredevil, and The Power Pack are involved in yet another Everything Will Change storyline.
Fall Of The Mutants. 6 episodes
Serial 3: Excalibur Classic Volume 1
(written by Chris Claremont, art by Alan Davis)
We’re not going to get invested in Excalibur continuity because it was a beautifully weird book that is a fun read but isn’t essential to X-Men continuity. But the first book shows what happens when the X-Men who weren’t involved in Fall Of The Mutants (most of them were put out of commission during Mutant Massacre) .
Excalibur. 2 episodes
Serial 4: Inferno
(written by Chris Claremont, Louise Simonson, and many more, art by many)
Another storyline that pulls in Daredevil, The New Mutants, X-Factor, Excalibur, The Fantastic Four, and more. Madelyne Pryor is a teensy bit upset that her husband abandoned her, and, oh yea, sent their child into the future to save him from a virus that he probably got because his dad is a superputz. So she accepts demon powers and transforms New York into a Hell On Earth, even more so that it usually is. In the end, we learn Madelyne’s relation to Jean, and yadda yadda, not so happily ever after. Plus more Sinister & Marauders.
Inferno. 4 episodes
Serial 5: The X-Tinction Agenda
(written by Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson, art by Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, John Bogdanove, and Guang Yap)
Eventually, we’ll pare down the amount of teams in a book, but here’s another All Mutant crossover. It turns out that X-Factor has been working for an evil dude this whole time. There’s an island where mutants are slaves and they’re hella mad at the X teams because of the events of a super complex (don’t read it if you don’t have to) storyline called Days Of Future Present. So the leader of Genosha kidnaps The New Mutants and Storm (who was de-aged….don’t worry about it) and all the X teams go to rescue them. This is the Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld era of X-Men so expect big guns and big muscles.
X-Tinction Agenda. 3 episodes
This puts season two at 20 episodes.
Interseason Special: The Muir Island Saga
(written by Chris Claremont, Fabien Nicenza, and Peter David, art by Paul Smith, Andy Kubert, Whilce Portacio, Kirk Jarvinen, and Steven Butler)
I’m going to stray from my Collections-Only policy, and tell you to track down five issues. They’ll be cheap, probably cheaper than new comic issues. Uncanny X-Men #278 & #279, X-Factor #69, Uncanny X-Men #280, and then X-Factor #70 make up The Muir Island Saga. Since the end of Fall of The Mutants, the X-Men have been less a team and more a series of former teammates on their own adventures. In these books, all the mutants are put back on the board and arranged into new teams. Professor X battling The Shadow King is the focus of this story but the purpose was to set up X-Men #1. the biggest selling comic of all-time.