The latest movie in the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Days of Future Past, will be released this Friday! If you’re like me, superhero movies are inspiration to delve further into the comics to seek out character backstories and classic story lines. But sometimes it’s not as simple as just picking up the latest issuefrom the library or comic book store, especially in the case of the X-Men. Marvel’s X-Men is a notoriously complicated universe to delve in to without a little guidance. There are a number of different timelines; a multitude of story arcs that may or may not connect with each other; and, like, a bajillion characters that at one time have belonged to the X-Men. Buzzfeed has even created a list ranking 95 members of the X-Men (I don’t necessarily agree with their ranking, but you get the point; if a Marvel character has mutant powers, chances are they have been or will be a member of the X-men).
With this in mind, here is a list of X-Men titles to get you started on your mutant-filled comic odyssey. Of course, these can all be requested from the library!
1) Days of Future Past: Chris Claremont, Walter Simonson; artist John Byrne.
Let’s start with the story that inspired the upcoming movie. Fans of time travel, dystopian futures and giant death-robots will enjoy this title.
2) The Dark Phoenix Saga: Chris Claremont, Jo Duffy; artist John Byrne.
The Dark Phoenix Saga is arguably the one of the most famous X-Men story arcs. What happens when dark powers corrupt one of the original X-Men? How does it affect the rest of the team? This is a good one to read before Days of Future Past.
3) God Loves Man Kills: Chris Claremont; artist Brent Anderson
Seriously, any X-Men book written by Chris Claremont is worth a read. God Loves, Man Kills is often recommended to readers new to the X-Men. Magneto teams up with the X-Men to fight a group set on brutally killing anyone with mutant abilities. If you only read one classic X-Men story arc, read this one!
4) All New X-Men: Brian Michael Bendis; artist Stuart Immonen.
All New X-Men is an ongoing title that has brought the original five X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast, and Angel) into the present. One of the main themes of this series is how these characters deal with suddenly getting a glimpse of their futures (and pasts).
4) X-Men: Primer: Brian Wood; artists Olivier Coipel, David Lopez.
X-Men: Primer collects the first issues in the latest run of the X-Men title. This time around, Storm heads up an all female team to fight an old adversary.
5) X-Men: Age of Apocalypse: Scott Lodell, et al.
This is about as epic as it gets in terms of X-Men stories. Age of Apocalypse presents readers with an alternate timeline that starts after the accidental death of Charles Xavier. It was recently announced that the next film in the X-Men franchise will be called X-Men: Apocalypse and will feature Apocalypse, the powerful antagonist from the comics.
6) X-Men (The Animated Series)
Ok, so this is not a comic, but it is a great way to wade in to the X-Men world. Produced in the 90s, this series covers most of the major stories like the Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past. It looks a tad dated now, but its still pretty epic. Just look at theme song! LOOK AT IT!!!
This is in no way a comprehensive list. There are so many great titles that I didn’t cover here, like Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon, House of M, or Avengers Vs. X-men. If you’re still having difficulty deciding where to start, don’t hesitate to ask your friendly neighborhood librarian! (I know, I know…wrong character to reference. Come to the library; no one here has Wolverine claws!)