The X-Men is a team of comic book superheroes in the Marvel Comics universe. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, they debuted in The X-Men #1, published in September 1963.
The X-Men franchise has grown to become one of America's most popular comic books, producing dozens of spin-off series over the years and turning some of its writers and artists into industry stars.
Dreaming of a world in which humans and mutants could live together peacefully, Professor Charles Xavier decided to turn his family mansion into the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters in which he would train mutants to use their powers to benefit mankind. Using his newly developed Cerebro system, he gathered five students: Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, Beast and Marvel Girl (Later called Phoenix.) The five were given school uniforms and dubbed X-Men, after the X-factor gene that grants mutants their powers. With little time together, the X-Men were sent into battle against Magneto. The X-Men regularly battled against Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants with the aid of Professor X until an explosion seemingly cost him his telepathic abilities. Forced to go into battle alone for the first time, the X-Men successfully defeated their foes and Xavier revealed that he had faked his injury to test them as a graduation exam.
While the X-Men were based in Xavier's mansion, Moira was working with four students of her own -, and Darwin - from her facility on . Disagreeing with Xavier's methods of making soldiers out of his students, she preferred the classroom setting to help her students.
Learning of a pending invasion by extraterrestrials known as Z'Nox, Xavier went into hiding to prepare, asking the to take his place amongst his students. Changeling did so as a means of redemption, but sacrificed himself in battle against Grotesk. The X-Men, unaware of the charade, mourned the death of their leader and felt somewhat betrayed when he revealed himself alive and well after the looming threat had passed. Not long after, Havok and Polaris joined the team, but Beast accepted a job at the Brand Corporation and left.
The team's name is a reference to the "X factor", an unknown gene that causes mutant evolution. Co-creator Stan Lee recalled in his book Son of Origins of Marvel Comics that he devised the series' title after Marvel publisher Martin Goodman turned down the initial name which originally referred to "X-tra Powers", "The Mutants." In addition to this "official" explanation, the X-Men are widely regarded, within the Marvel Universe (as well as by the readers of the series), to have been named after Xavier himself. In Uncanny X-Men #309, Xavier claims that the name "X-Men" was never sought out to be a self-tribute. This lends credence to the statement Xavier made in Uncanny X-Men #1, in which Xavier stated he called the team X-Men "for ex-tra power!"
The X-Men were founded by the paraplegic telepath Professor Charles Xavier a.k.a. Professor X. Xavier gathered the X-Men under the cover of Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters at a large country estate at 1407 Graymalkin Lane in Salem Center, a small town in Westchester County, New York. The original X-Men consisted of five teenagers, each of whom the professor taught to control their powers: Angel/Warren Worthington III, Beast/Hank McCoy, Cyclops/Scott Summers, Iceman/Bobby Drake, and Marvel Girl/Jean Grey.
Early X-Men issues introduced the team's nemesis Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants featuring Mastermind, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and the Toad. Ironically, the cast of this comic book series, which would later become a vehicle for stories about prejudice and racism, was originally racially and ethnically homogeneous, seemingly comprised entirely of the WASP-type character that was the de facto model for most comic book heroes at that time. Furthermore, their nemesis was Magneto, a character later portrayed as a Jewish concentration camp survivor. His key followers, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, were Roma (gypsies). Only one new member of the X-Men was added, Mimic/Calvin Rankin, but soon left due to his temporary loss of power.
In 1969, writer Roy Thomas and artist Neal Adams rejuvenated the comic book and gave regular roles to two recently introduced characters: Havok/Alex Summers (who had been introduced by Roy Thomas before Adams began work on the strip) and Lorna Dane, later called Polaris (created by Arnold Drake and Jim Steranko). However, these early X-Men issues failed to attract sales and Marvel stopped producing new stories with issue #66, although a number of the older comics were later reprinted as issues #67-93.
In Giant-Size X-Men #1 (1975), writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum introduced a new team which was featured in new issues of The X-Men beginning with issue #94. This new team, however, differed greatly from the original. The new members were older, each was from a different country with varying cultural and philosophical beliefs, and were already well versed in using their mutant powers in combat situations. The "all-new, all-different X-Men" were led by Cyclops from the original team and consisted of the newly created Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, and Thunderbird, along with three previously introduced characters, Banshee, Sunfire, and most notably, Wolverine, who eventually became the breakout character on the team and the most popular X-Men character. A revamped Jean Grey soon rejoined the X-Men as the popular Phoenix; Angel, Beast, Havok, and Polaris also made significant guest appearances.
The revived series was illustrated by Dave Cockrum, and later John Byrne, and written by Chris Claremont. Claremont became the series' longest-running contributor. The run met great critical acclaim and produced the "Proteus Saga", "Dark Phoenix Saga", and later the early 1980s "Days of Future Past", which are some of the greatest story arcs in Marvel Comics, as well as X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, the basis for the 2003 movie X2. Other characters introduced at time include Amanda Sefton, Kitty Pryde, the Hellfire Club, Multiple Man, Mystique, and Moira MacTaggert along with her genetic research facility on Muir Island.
In the 1980s, the growing popularity of Uncanny X-Men and the rise of comic book specialty stores led to the introduction of several spin-off series nicknamed "X-Books", most notably Alpha Flight, Excalibur, The New Mutants, X-Factor, and a solo Wolverine title. This plethora of X-Men-related titles led to the rise of crossovers (sometimes called "X-Overs"); storylines which would overlap into several X-Books. Notable crossovers of the time included The Fall of the Mutants, Inferno, and the Mutant Massacre.
Notable additions to the X-Men during this time were Dazzler, Forge, Longshot, Psylocke, Rogue, and Rachel Summers. In a controversial move, Professor X relocated to outer space to be with Lilandra, Majestrix of the Shi'ar Empire in 1986. Magneto then joined the X-Men in Xavier's place and became the headmaster of the New Mutants. This period also included the arrival of the mysterious Madelyn Pryor, and the villains Apocalypse, Mister Sinister, and Sabretooth.
In 1991 Marvel revised the entire line-up of X-Books, centered on the launch of a second X-Men series, simply titled X-Men. With the return of Xavier and the original X-Men to the team, the bloated roster was split into two strike forces: Cyclops' "Blue Team" (chronicled in the pages of X-Men) and Storm's "Gold Team" (in Uncanny X-Men). Its first issues were written by long-standing X-Men writer Chris Claremont and drawn and co-plotted by superstar artist Jim Lee This book is the highest selling book in comic book history (selling close to 8 million copies). Another new X-book released at the time was X-Force featuring the characters from the The New Mutants led by Cable, and written by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza. Internal friction soon split the X-Books' creative teams. Claremont left after only three issues of X-Men due to clashes with Lee and the Marvel editors, thus ending his sixteen-year run as X-Men writer. In his void, Lee, Fabian Nicieza and Scott Lobdell would take over the majority of writing duties for the X-Men until Lee's own departure months later when he and several other popular artists (including former X-title artists Liefeld, Marc Silvestri and Whilce Portacio) would leave Marvel to form Image Comics. Their major grievance had been Marvel's heavy merchandising of their work with little compensation. Jim Lee's X-Men became the definitive X-Men for the 90s, and his designs would be the basis for much of the X-Men animated series and action figure line as well as several Capcom video games.
The 1990s saw an even greater number of X-books with numerous ongoing series and miniseries running concurrently. Notable story arcs of this time are the "The X-Tinction Agenda" in 1990, "The Muir Island Saga" in 1991, "X-Cutioner's Song" in 1992, "Fatal Attractions" in 1993, "Phalanx Covenant" in 1994, "Legion Quest"/"Age of Apocalypse" in 1995, "Onslaught" in 1996 and "Operation: Zero Tolerance" in 1997. Some new characters were introduced and became instant hits (Bishop, Cable, Gambit and Jubilee), but many of the later additions to the team came and went (Joseph, Maggott, Marrow, Cecilia Reyes, and a new Thunderbird). Xavier's New Mutants grew up and became X-Force, and the next generation of students began with Generation X, featuring Jubilee and other teenage mutants led and schooled by Banshee and former villainess Emma Frost at her Massachusetts Academy. In 1998 Excalibur and X-Factor ended and the latter was replaced with Mutant X, starring Havok stranded in a parallel universe. Marvel launched a number of solo series, including Bishop, Cable, Deadpool, Gambit, and X-Man, but few of the series would survive the decade.
In the 2000s, Claremont returned to Marvel and was put back on the primary X-Men titles during the Revolution event. He was soon removed from the two flagship titles in early 2001 and created his own spin-off series, X-Treme X-Men, which debuted a few months after his departure.
X-Men had its title changed at this time to New X-Men and new writer Grant Morrison took over. This era is often referred to as the Morrison-era, due to the drastic changes he made to the series, beginning with "E Is for Extinction", where a new villaness, Cassandra Nova, destroys Genosha, killing sixteen million mutants. Morrison also brought reformed ex-villainess Emma Frost into the primary X-Men team, and opened the doors of the school by having Xavier "out" himself to the public about being a mutant. The bright spandex costumes that had become iconic over the previous decades were also gone, replaced by black leather street clothes reminiscent of the uniforms of the X-Men movies. Morrison also added a new character, Xorn, who would figure prominently in the climax of the writer's run. In the meantime, Ultimate X-Men was launched, set in Marvel's revised imprint. Chuck Austen also began his controversial run on Uncanny X-Men.
Notable additions to the X-Men have been Caliban, Chamber, Emma Frost, Husk, Northstar and Warpath. This decade also included former villains becoming X-Men such as: Juggernaut, Lady Mastermind, Mystique, and Sabretooth. Several short-lived spin-offs and miniseries started featuring several X-Men in solo series, such as Emma Frost, Gambit, Mystique, Nightcrawler, and Rogue. Another book, Exiles, started at the same time and concluded in December 2007 but with a new book in January 2008, "New Exiles" written by Chris Claremont. Cable and Deadpool's books were also rolled into one book, called Cable & Deadpool. A third core X-Men title was also introduced called Astonishing X-Men, written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, following Morrison's departure. Another X-Book titled New X-Men: Academy X took its place focusing on the lives of the new young mutants at the Institute.
This period included the resurrections of Colossus and Psylocke, a new death for Jean Grey, who later returned temporarily in the X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong miniseries, as well as the start of a relationship between Cyclops and Emma Frost, who have become the new leaders of the Institute. The Institute formerly ran as a large-scale school, until the depowering of most of the mutant population. It now serves as a safe haven to those mutants who are still powered, and as the home of the X-Men.
The Messiah Complex crossover in 2007 - 2008 saw the destruction of the Xavier Institute and the disbanding of the X-Men. The team later reformed in Uncanny X-Men #500, with the X-Men now operating out a new base in San Francisco under Cyclops's leadership.
The X-Men will also be involved in the upcoming Secret Invasion in Secret Invasion: X-Men.
All-New All-Different X-Men
Professor X received a signal from Cerebro of a new mutant on the Pacific island of Krakoa and sent the X-Men to investigate, but they were ambushed and captured. Panic-stricken, Xavier went to Moira MacTaggert and recruited her students to mount a rescue mission. Hastily trained, the students were outmatched, but managed to free Cyclops and send him back to the school before being taken down. Out of options, Xavier traveled the globe to recruit seven new X-Men: Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm, Wolverine, Banshee, Thunderbird and Sunfire. Led back to Krakoa by Cyclops, the new X-Men succeeded in rescuing the old and defeated the mutant, which was the island of Krakoa itself. Back at the school, Sunfire immediately left the team and was unexpectedly followed by the announcement that the old team, save Cyclops, were also leaving. Distraught but determined, Cyclops began training the new team into a cohesive unit. Their first mission was costly, however, when Thunderbird was killed in battle.
Xavier began having visions from beyond space that tormented his dreams. The visions coincided with new threats to the X-Men that culminated with the team, as well as Marvel Girl, being kidnapped by an anti-mutant zealot, who tried to kill them aboard his satellite. In making their escape back to Earth, Marvel Girl piloted a shuttle through fierce radiation with the others safely shielded in the shuttle's hold. The shuttle crashed into a bay and as the X-Men emerged, a transformed Jean Grey, now calling herself Phoenix rose from the water. As the X-Men regrouped, the Shi'ar Princess Lilandra landed on Earth, seeking help from Professor X. After fighting off Black Tom Cassidy, Juggernaut, Erik the Red and Firelord, the X-Men accompanied Lilandra to Shi'ar space, where they defeated the Emperor D'Ken. Though next in line for the throne, Lilandra had to wait for the legal ramifications of her rebellion to work themselves out, so she remained on Earth with Xavier, who had formed a bond stronger than love.
Just after Xavier and Lilandra left the planet, Beast came looking for the X-Men when they wouldn't return his calls. He found that they had been kidnapped by Mesmero and managed to free them, only to be attacked by Magneto, who took the team to his lair under an Antarctic volcano. As the X-Men battled from his control, Magneto destroyed his own base. Beast and Phoenix were separated from the other X-Men in the volcanic eruption, and both groups believed the other to be dead. While Beast and Phoenix were rescued shortly after and returned to Professor X with grim news, the other X-Men had to travel through the Savage Land, Japan and Canada before finally making it home. However, with the world believing them to be dead, Professor X had left for Shi'ar space and Phoenix had traveled to Muir Island. When Cyclops reunited with Beast, he learned of this and phoned Moira MacTaggert, only to learn that her renegade son had escaped captivity and was leaving a trail of bodies in his wake.