So I've watched the movie, now I want the comic books..( Xmen)

Is there a compendium of X men comics out there?

I like to start at the beginning of anything, and I don’t know if this is feasible financially or just an impossible.

Can someone direct me to a comic book site ?

Ah Shirley - JOIN US!

You’re looking for graphic novels - basically compilations of comic books. Which are readily available at your local Borders/B&N/BAM. I recommend this because you can look and see which ones seem interesting / etc. There are collections of the earlier volumes which are cheap, but are in black and white. You may or may not be interested in these. That’s why I think holding them in your hand and perusing them in the store would be best.

Alternatively, you can go on amazon, and type in “x-men” then select “Books.” This will list scores of X-men graphic novels.

I’ll leave it to others to tell you their favorite collections. But FYI the Astonishing series was written by Joss Whedon. The Dark Phoenix Saga is vastly different (and better) than the movies. And the early art can be a bit off-putting.

Nevertheless, you are in for a helluva ride.

If you want to start with a fairly unconvoluted continuity, might I suggest reading Ultimate X-Men, rather than any of the other Uncanny or New or Astonishing (which is a very good read but still burdened with history.)

Yes, do join us, Shirley dear. I’ve been waiting for you.

::rubbing hands together evilly::

Nitpick: I’ve always thought of a graphic novel as being a long comic book story originally published as one volume, with higher print quality, of course. A compilation of previously-published material is simply a collection, which may be in trade paperback form, or, very occasionally, hardback. But that’s just me being pedantic.

Yes, I probably should have used trade paperback - more accurate, more precise. Thank you for the correction.

On the other hand, Shirley, when you get to Borders and ask for the “trade paperback section,” and they look at you like you just shat a Darth Vader Mr. Potato Head onto the floor of the children’s section, then ask where the “graphic novels” are located. :slight_smile:


Back to the subject — Max Carnage is entirely correct that the Ultimate line relaunched the X-men franchise. The art is slick and the dialogue is modernized compared with the older stuff. Of course, I think you should X-everything - but that might be a good place to start.

Of course I just thought of THIS!

Yes, that is a computer DVD with 40 years of the X-men on it. So that could be an interesting solution - definitely cost-effective. Any Dopers who own this want to comment on it? Are we forced to rely on the reviews?

I really enjoy the Ultimate series, as others have suggested. It’s a fresh, modern start without intersecting timelines and retcons and the occasional time-travel or resurrection. If you’re looking to start simple, I’d start there.

Have fun!


Save some dough, whydoncha?

Would it scare you off from starting at the beginning if you knew there were over 3,000 X-Men comics? Fortunately, many of these are forgettable spin-offs.

The easiest (legal) way to get early X-Men issues is the Essential X-Men series mentioned above. Less than $10 for 500 pages of B/W reprints. There are 7 of them at the moment, which should be more than enough for you to decide whether or not you like the early X-Men. The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus is another option. It’s more expensive and a hardcover, but includes the first 40 issues of the X-Men that should be read in color. Whedon’s excellent Astonishing series is a homage to these issues. (it should be noted that the first 60 issues of X-Men are pretty forgettable and not included in any compilations that I know of)*.

Ultimate X-Men is easy to find and if you enjoyed the movies, you might like it.
*I guess some are in the overpriced Masterworks…

AIGHHHHH! Yes, that is a very scary thought for a mere plebe like myself.

What would be considered the heart of the Xmen comics?

What is a retcon?


Bosda, you’re a peach.

I am happily and somewhat confusedly surfing ebay and wiki at the same time looking for stuff.

Retcon - Retroactive Continuity - adding, or removing, something to/from existing backstory.

Another suggestion for going with Ultimate X-Men.

  1. It’s shorter (1 series of 72 issues, and a couple crossovers so far).
  2. It’s closer to the movies, in general.
  3. Once you get into the mid-90s, the regular versions begin to suck pretty royallly. I’ve not read more than a couple issues since about 1994, but the ones I’ve read recently don’t suggest that it’s gotten any better.

Just by the Wiki reference for Ultimate Xmen is I think my jump off point.

I found a comic book guy on ebay, looks like a good deal.
I wuffs you comic book guys.


Wonders of wonders is I was just about to buy The Ultimate Xmen #1 The Tomorrow People when my 8 year old was watching me to comment, " I have that one."

We raced upstairs and sure enough, I had bought it for him on clearance at Target for about $2 or so last fall. He doesn’t like it as much as his other comics because it is dark.


Shirley, I will tell you the same thing I tell everyone now who liked the X-Men movies and is curious about getting into the comics.

If you want a history lesson, get the Essentials – the black-and-white reprint trade paperbacks several people have already mentioned. They’re a great value, but I worry that they won’t “turn on” new potential fans because the writing is very dated in some of them.

If you want to be truly impressed with both writing and art, and get into something that gives you all the good to come out of 40+ years of X-Men continuity and very little of the bad, get the two Astonishing X-Men trade paperbacks. These reprint material that was published in 2004 and 2005: the first twelve issues of a new ongoing X-Men series. There is very little in the way of backstory to trip up new readers (and anything you need to know gets explained), the art and coloring is gorgeous, and the stories are written by a tremendous writer who knows his comic book lore but has plenty of experience writing for mainstream audiences: Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Serenity). Astonishing X-Men is the best X-Men comic in decades, and the two TPBs, “Gifted” (reprinting #1-6) and “Dangerous” (reprinting #7-12) will be a great introduction for you.

Yes, and it bugs me no end that the big chains conflate the two. I’ve killed men for less.

Shirley, the first point to note is that Marvel has not typically done a good job of positioning itself to reap the benefit of a new movie-drive comics audiences. In their defense, and as noted above, the volume of pre-existing material is so unwieldy, it’s a herculean task. Also, they don’t want to drive away too much of the core audience, because we’re more likely to still be buying comics a year from now anyway.

But a brief sketch of the history of the X-Men comics might be worthwhile. I’m including some info on when movie characters were created:

1963: X-Men #1, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Introduces Prof. X, Magneto, Cyclops, Iceman, Jean Grey, Beast and Angel. Magneto’s Brotherhood, Toad, and Juggernaut all appear within a year or so. This is during the so-called Marvel Age of Comics (aka, the Silver Age), when Stan and Jack, with Steve Ditko, Don Heck, and a handful of others, also create the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the Hulk, Daredevil, Thor, and, of course, Spider-Man. X-Men is only moderately successful. It lasts 66 issues, with reprints going up to #93.

Mid-'70’s: Giant-Size X-Men #1, by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum, introduces the All-New, All-Different X-Men. This immediately continues with X-Men #94, now written by Chris Claremont, who would continue to write the series for about the next two decades. (This title changed name to The Uncanny X-Men with #143, which is important, because Marvel spun off a second title called “X-Men” in the early '90’s.)

This is the classic, definitive run of X-Men comics, esp. the first 100, 150-ish issues of Claremont’s run. These issues are also where most of the elements from the films comc from. Early issues introduce Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, and Moira MacTaggart, with Rogue, Kitty Pryde, and Mystique all coming along in the next few years (and Sabertooth, Callisto and Arclight after that). Movie plot issues such as Jean Grey/Phoenix’s resurrection and subsequent loss of control, Wolverine’s struggle with his past, Senator Robert Kelly’s Mutant Registration drive, the Scott/Jean/Logan love triangle, and the friendship and occasional alliances between Xavier and Magneto all come out of Claremont’s run.

Somewhere after issue #200 or so, Claremont lost a lot of steam (although some think it happened earlier, some later, and there are well-liked patches of his stuff later on). The unresolved plot points became overwhelming and the soap opera interminable, Claremont’s already turgid prose began to expand even more, while more and more of the main story depended on reader familiarity with comics Claremont had written years before. Also the X-Men spin-offs, which started in the mid-'80s with the excellent New Mutants title, became more and more connected to the main story, so the reader had to buy five or six books a month every summer just to figure out what the hell was going on. Claremont got the ax in 1994 or thereabouts.

I can’t tell you much about what has come after, but 1) most of it isn’t considered very good, 2) it’s typically been more well received when it, like the films, revives and plays around with concepts and characters invented by Claremont.

One exception is Grant Morrison’s sublime (albeit difficult) run on New X-Men (#114-152, IIRC) of several years ago. But I don’t know how anyone who wasn’t intimately familiar with the highlights of Claremont’s classic stuff could have possible followed Morrison’s issues.

So, OK, Uncanny X-Men is somewhere in the 400’s now, and X-Men is climbing towards #200; there are a million spin-offs both past and present, and most people, even us self-declared fans of the X-Men will tell you that most of it sucks.

IMHO, your best bet is the Essentials volumes put out by Marvel. As noted above, there are like 7 out so far, collecting the entirety of Claremont’s best stuff. Each volume is a b&w reprint “phonebook” hovering near 500 pgs for between $15 and $20 bucks. I recommend this highly, because when Claremont was on, he was fucking on. Plus, the X-Men comics published today and tomorrow are always going to be based on stuff Claremont did in the '70’s and '80’s.

There are also Essential volumes for the earlier '60’s issues of the title. “Essential Uncanny X-Men vol. 1” collects the first, uh, 24 issues, and the recently-released “Essential Classic X-Men vol. 2” collects the next third of that run. (Don’t get me started about changing titles in the middle of a reprint series, although I have to say that both those titles are crappy, and confusing to new readers. Yay Marvel!) Anyway, don’t bother with those yet; although they were written earlier, they’re less important to both your knowledge and enjoyment of the X-Men phenomenon than reading the first two or three volumes of the “Essential X-Men” series will be.

[nerdout moment] Welcome to the X-Men, Shirley. Hope you survive the experience. [/nerd]


After watching the movies, I got my wife the Dark Phoenix sagaand theDays of Future Past books to get her up to speed. It worked.

The Ultimate X-Men is certainly an option, but all the Ultimate titles suffer from the same problem: compression. They’re all trying to cram decades of story lines into a handful of comics and the writing suffers as a result.

I’ll add my vote to the Astonishing X-Men. The stories are self contained and very well written. You don’t need to know a lot of continuity to keep up. Should be perfect.