The Top 10 X-Men Covers
I am going to publish this and immediately remember another ten that should have been on the list. Maybe I’ll do a follow up. But I did a quick scan of galleries and jotted down the first ones that stood out. When I checked back, I’d immediately gotten ten on a first pass. So we’re sticking with it.
GIANT SIZE X-MEN #1
Gil Kane and Dave Cockrum, 1975
This is an easy pick, as it kicked off the golden age of X-Men comics and introduced some of the most iconic characters in the series. The new crew featuring Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler and more burst out of the original line-up and look. It’s an eye-catching look and it’s little wonder it sparked interest in the series for the first time…well, ever. The motif gets reused time and time again, but it never landed and well has it did the first time.
Jim Lee, 1991
Again, an easy pick. It’s the biggest selling comic issue in history, a record unlikely to be challenged in the changing market. It’s so eye-catching that a record number of people, including me, picked up a comic for the first time. It’s a perfect gatefold landscape of now classic character designs.
UNCANNY X-MEN #493
David Finch, 2007
Cable has always been a pretty ridiculous character, waving around giant cartoon guns and grizzling about being a noble warrior. He usually worked best as straight man to Deadpool. This cover represents not only a strong X-Men story, but the first time they really found something that did something interesting and not insane with Cable.
Bret Blevins, 1984
This is a mini-series that took the X-Men down a strange tangent. Colossus’ has been tagging around his kid sister, Illyana. Her mutant powers manifest, dropping her into a demon dimension where multiverse versions of her brother and his friends have been slaughtered, and she is forced to learn dark magic to survive. By the time the heroes reach her, years have passed for her and, well, look at it.
UNCANNY X-MEN #137
John Byrne, 1980
There’s a number of amazing images representing the Dark Phoenix Saga, with Jean being reborn as Phoenix or crushing the title of the book itself. For our pick, and in part due to association with the rad podcast ‘Jay and Miles Xplain the X-Men’, we’re going with Scott and Jean at their most desperate point.
CLASSIC X-MEN VOL. 1
Art Adams, 1986
In a perfect encapsulation of the proceeding two decades of comics, legendary artist Art Adams brings together a dynamic portrait of the main characters. It’s little wonder that it gets reused to represent the X-Men.
Ryan Sook, 2005
X-Factor has gone through a couple of reboots, turning from a home for the original five X-Men to a government agency to that weird period headed by Forge. The best incarnation was Jamie ‘Multiple Man’ Maddrox was largely rewritten and decided to live out his love for Film Noir by opening a detective agency with Siryn, Wolfsbane, M, Strong Guy and Rictor. The new direction for the characters is fantastically represented here.
UNCANNY X-MEN #251
Marc Silvestri, 1989
Crucifixion is a motif that has been brought out a few times in X-Men, usually when they want to drop all the subtlety entirely. It worked well in this case because the X-Men has been devastated over the course of months, with characters being left dead, lost or…reset by some cosmic mirror thing. Wolverine was the last man standing, and facing down the psychotic Reavers. Silvestri captures the weight of this defeat in a spectacular and understated fashion.
X-MEN ALPHA #1
Joe Madureira, 1995
The sudden shift through the timelines into the ‘Age of Apocalypse’ saga must have been a hard sell. We’d be leaving behind all our on-going stories and new team ‘Generation X’ for some complete reset of the X-books. Fortunately the detailed first appearance of the new look helped shift issues with new faces and changed faces, raising plenty of questions in our heads about what they’d been through. It’s evocative of Jim Lee’s reboot issue, and introducing Blink is a bonus.
UNCANNY X-MEN #141
John Byrne, 1981
Coming after the Dark Phoenix was the (personally preferred) story of ‘Days of Future Past’. The cover art by Byrne tells the story entirely on its own. We know who is dead, and who is left and how dire their situation was. What we open the cover to find out is how this happened, and if they survive. Perfect.