September, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Marvel’s X-Men #1, the series that introduced geekdom to the concept of super-powered mutants who were persecuted and attacked by humans who hated and feared them, paralleling the struggle of minorities during the Civil Rights movement at the time. Throughout the next 50 years, Marvel’s merry band of mutant superheroes grew to undreamed up heights of popularity, dominating the sales charts and spawning everything from action figures to a blockbuster film franchise. To celebrate this momentous occasion, here’s 50 great X-Men moments and milestones from 50 years of adventures:[divider]
50. Cyclops and Marvel Girl get married. They’re high school sweethearts. Except that she dies a whole bunch and he was cheating on her before she died for the last time. Well, not really the last time, because she’s back now, but never mind. My point is, it was sweet.
49. Jean uses TK power to dance with Charles Xavier at her wedding. I mean come on. Nerd tearjerker.
48. The Danger Room actually becomes sentient, and we get Danger. Wait, where is Danger now? I have no idea, and I’m the guy who knows this stuff.
47. Wolverine gets melted by a Sentinel in Days of Future Past.
46. Kitty Pryde goes from giggleteen to field commander in Days of Future Past.
45. Cyclops sends baby Nathan to the future with Rachel Summers/Askani.
44. Magneto takes over the school while Charles runs off to outer space with the Shi’ar. Chuck says “see ya guys, I’m going to outer space to get my proper swerve on!”
43. Wolverine ends up pretty much adopting Kitty.
42. Wolverine goes to Japan and kills most of the ninjas.
41. Wolverine and Kitty go back to Japan and kill the rest of the ninjas.
40. Psylocke evolves from fancy British lass to ninja assassin, despite said ninjas being dead.
39. Cable comes back in time because he needs to save everyone and kill Apocalypse. Never mind that this launches the most contradictory time traveling arc in comic history, it started out really well.
38. Bishop comes back in time because he’s awesome and the X-Men need a guy with dreadlocks.
37. Rogue joins the X-Men and jacks up Carol Danvers.
36. Binary blows up a lot of Brood and saves the X-Men.
35. Scott’s not an orphan, his dad is Han Solo with a porn ‘stache, oops, I mean Corsair.
34. Sabretooth has Wolverine convinced they’re related.
33. Inferno, despite being completely ridiculous, substantially widens the tie-in event concept.
32. Dazzler becomes the official first disco superhero.
31. Angel gets his wings ripped off.
30. Angel is turned into Death/Archangel by Apocalypse.
29. Emma Frost goes from hooker to housewife in Utopia.
28. Beast goes blue and furry.
27. Kitty finds Lockheed while hiding from Brood.
26. Nothing, at all, of any sort, of any consequence or interest, ever happens to Bobby Drake, AKA Iceman.
25. Nightcrawler, the most Christian and vocally religious mutant, sacrifices himself willingly to save team members. His dying words to Hope Summers: “I believe in you.”
24. Colossus starts up a relationship with Kitty Pryde.
23. Longshot rocks the mullet. Hard.
22. Gambit takes the dark hero approach like Wolverine, but he’s a dark hero for the ladies, yo.
21. The New Mutants bring the school idea back into play.
20. Northstar marries Kyle, hallmarking the first superhero gay marriage in either Marvel or DC continuity.
19. Mystique and Destiny are clearly a very happy lesbian couple, raising children and running a strike team together.
18. Magik ends her childhood in limbo, and emerges as DarkChylde with the Soulsword.
17. Legion, all-powerful and all-crazy, is Charles Xavier’s son, forcing the Professor to make some tough decisions.
16. Hope Summers, the mutant messiah, is born, and all kinds of chaos reigns around her.
15. Magneto builds Asteroid M.
14. Magneto sinks a Russian submarine, and later pays the consequences.
13. Genosha’s parallels with apartheid, and X-Tinction Agenda.
12. The Brood land on Earth, and the X-Men must revisit their rules on killing in combat.
11. Rogue and Gambit. Forget Scott and Jean, this is the X-couple.
10. Fall of the Mutants, wherein the X-Men sacrifice their lives and disappear for quite a while.
9. X-Cutioner’s Song, Stryfe Vs Cable Vs Apocalypse. Three men enter, one man leaves.
8. Age of Apocalypse – to the best of my knowledge the first universe reboot (see later Ultimate Marvel and 52/New 52), completely pisses everybody off. Then, years later, we’re all ranting that it was the best X-Men crossover ever. Who knew?
7. Cyclops brings everyone to Utopia, and establishes a sovereign nation for mutantkind. This is the high water mark of Charles’ dream.
6. Storm loses her powers and gets in touch with herself in Africa, with a little help from Forge, in Lifedeath.
5. Wolverine gives little Oya ice cream and a doll. It’s not as creepy as it sounds. He wanted her to still have her childhood, despite having just roasted dozens of armed soldiers alive to save the team.
4. The Dark Phoenix Saga. It’s not cliché to keep bringing this up as a definitive moment in comic book history. It’s that good.
3. God Loves, Man Kills somehow sums up religious fanaticism and racism in America.
2. Cyclops is a grandfather. In what other series have the creators allowed their characters to age and procreate? Christ, Franklin Richards hasn’t aged since Power Pack.
1. Giant Size X-Men #1, where we get the worldwide, ethnically diverse X-Men, and Claremont took over and made this series a legend.
Happy birthday, dear X-Men.
Thank you Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Thank you Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri.
Thank you Marvel. I’ve been enjoying this series since #240, January 1989. And I’m still having a blast. Happy 50th!