The Complete X-Men Reading Order Guide: Chris Claremont Era

Chris Claremont turned a failing comic about mutants into one of the most successful comic book franchises of all time.  Though, often criticized for being too wordy or having wooden dialogue, Claremont helped create a more literary medium bringing comics into the modern era.  Claremont wrote X-men comics for 16 years!  Those 16 years form one of the greatest epics ever created.  All modern X-men comics use Claremont’s run as a foundation.  You won’t be able to truly understand X-Men: Messiah Complex without reading these books first.  The good news is a lot of these comics hold up pretty well.  In this guide I’ll try to differentiate the *required reading* from the *just for fun*.

Dave’s Ed Note: This Claremont X-Men reading order comes from an (extremely generous!) anonymous donor. It is a work in progress and will be updated frequently, but should be plenty to get you enjoying X-Men comics for now! 

Index:

I) The Phoenix and Dark Phoenix Saga

II) Days of Future Past through the Brood Saga

III) Enter the New Mutants and X-Factor

IV) Mutant Massacre

V) Fall of the Mutants

VI) Inferno

VII) Days of Future Present

VIII) X-Tinction Agenda

IX) Muir Island Saga

X) X-Cutioner’s Song

Before Claremont: Claremont took over in August of 1975 with Uncanny X-men (UXM) No. 94.  Before jumping right into that issue you should read some origin stories….

X-Men Season 1

Recaps some of the early Lee/Kirby issues. Read this for a fun look back at the original Uncanny X-men issues.

X-Men first class Vol. 1. 

Not required reading, but lots of fun.  Just fun adventures before the world of mutants gets super serious.  I just linked to the first volume, but there’s more on Amazon.

Magneto: Testament: Not required reading, but great insight into the super-villain as a young man.  Not much of a super-hero book, more of a World War 2 holocaust survivor’s diary.

Giant-Size X-Men #1: The one that started it all!  You must read this.  Out with the old X-Men & in with the new.  Claremont did not write this, but Claremont’s epic really starts with this issue. You can also read the version found in Classic X-Men #1.

x-men-giant-size
Diversity to the rescue!

16 Years of Claremont: And so the epic begins….

The relevant series include…

Uncanny X-Men (UXM): The X-Men flagship titile.  Claremont writes all of these.  Every issue is a must read.

The New Mutants (NM): Claremont wrote issues 1-54.  These are all must reads.  Louise Simonson takes over with issue 55.  At that point I would stick to the issue involved in the cross-over events.

X-Factor (XF). Louise Simonson starts this one and continues the writing chores for the first 69 issues.  Not my favorite until the great Peter David takes over with issue 70.  Extremely relevant to X-Men continuity, though.  The first appearance of Apocalypse is here and much more I won’t reveal to avoid spoilers.

Excalibur: Claremont wrote the first 34 issues.  With art from the great Alan Davis!

Wolverine:  The original ongoing series by Claremont.

Relevant podcasts: I strongly recommend listening to Jay and Miles explain the x-men. Probably my favorite podcast.  They go through every (and I mean EVERY) issue of UXM starting with Giant-Size X-Men #1.

I. The Phoenix / Dark Phoenix Saga

Before the Phoenix SagaUXM 94-100:  If you can find them, the way to read these is to find Classic X-Men #’s 1-44.  These re-print Giant-Size X-Men #1 through UXM #138.  The first 44 issues of Classic X-Men contain an extra 12 page story by Claremont.  These stories are great!  They are often more personal stories then you get in the main comic and help to fill in character details.  They are also written by a much more seasoned writer (an older Claremont).  I can’t recommend these enough.  Alternatively you can buy the Essential X-Men volumes.  These are in black and white, and don’t contain the 12 page vignettes.  The first volume collects Giant-Size X-Men #1 and UXM 94-119.

The Phoenix SagaUXM 101-108. This is the first part of a two part epic.  This may actually be the greatest story arc in super-hero comics.  Certainly one of the best.  John Byrne joins the team with issue 108.

UXM 109-122, UXM Annual 3, UXM 123-128.  Issues 127 and 128 are the Proteus saga, a fan favorite.

The Dark Phoenix Saga:  UXM 129-138.  Part 2 in our two part epic.

II. Days of Future Past / Brood Saga

UXM Annual 4

UXM 139, 140

Days of Future Past.  UXM 141 and 142.  Fan favorite.  One of my favorites.  They really don’t make comics like this anymore.

UXM 143-150.  Issue 143 is Byrne’s last issue, also a great Kitty Pryde adventure.  Issue 150 is a great Magneto issue.

UXM Annual 5

Avenger’s Annual 10.  Rogues first appearance.  This is a must-read.  You will never understand Rogue if you don’t read this.  Seriously.

UXM 151-160.

Magik limited series.  Another favorite.  The Inferno cross-over event really begins here.  Even modern continuity owes a lot to this series.  Find out why Illyana Rasputin (AKA Magik) is so weird.

The Brood Saga.  UXM 161-166.  My personal favorite X-men arc.  The Brood will never be this scary again.

UXM Annual 6.  More Storm and Dracula.

III. Enter the New Mutants & X-Factor

Marvel Graphic Novel 4: The New Mutants.  The beginning of a legend.  

Marvel Graphic Novel 5: God Loves Man kills.  Technically this story occurs between UXM 167 and 168.  A fan favorite.  Read this for a better understanding of the Messiah War cross-over event.

NM 1-7.  Ya baby!  The first UXM spin off.  Jim Shooter commanded it, Claremont wrote it.  You should read these also.  Starts kind of slow, but by issue 18 (when Bill Sienkiewicz takes over art chores) become legendary.    The early cross-overs include these guys so you should get to know them.  Many of the NMs stay very relevant to modern continuity, especially Cannonball.

UXM 167-171.  Rogue joins the X-Men in 171.

Wolverine limited series.  Chris Claremont and Frank Miller!  Reads like classic Frank Miller, though Claremont is credited for the script.  You really should read this.

UXM 172-175, UXM Annual 7, UXM 176-179.

NM 8-14.

UXM 180 and NM 15.  A Hellfire club arc.

Secret Wars.  Jim shooter wrote this.  The first big cross-over event.  I’m not a fan, but pretty relevant to X-men continuity (Dave’s Ed Note: I love Secret Wars! I’m not ashamed!).  Lockheed is introduced here.  Also relevant to the Colossus / Kitty relationship.

NM 16-17

UXM 181-183.  Issue 183 includes the famous Colossus and Juggernaut bar fight.

Kitty Pryde and Wolverine limited Series.  I’ve heard this called Claremont’s first mis-step.  I liked it, though.  Really expensive on Amazon.

The Demon Bear Saga.  NM 18-20.  Another classic arc.  Who knew Claremont and Sienkiewicz could work so well together.  Issue 18 features the arrival of

Rachel Summers from the future.  Yes, that was her in Days of Future Past.  Very important to 90s continuity, if you like that sort of thing.

UXM 184, UXM Annual 8, UXM 185-194, Alpha flight / x-men limited series

NM 21, NM Annual 1, NM 22-25.  Warlock joins and Cannonball goes punk and falls for Lila Cheney.

NM 26-29.

Nightcrawler limited series (1985).  Dave Cockrum returns to write and draw this limited series.  Mostly just for fun; not a must-read.

Secret Wars II.  Not my cup of tea.  Hard to understand the main NM continuity without reading this, *sigh*.

UXM 195-198.

NM 30-34.

Longshot limited series.  Longshot was created by Ann Nocenti and Art Adams.  Not my favorite character.  Is he supposed to be Ziggy Stardust?  Anyway, the art is great.  He joins the X-Men for awhile.  This series is actually pretty important to X-Men continuity.

NM Special Edition 1, UXM Annual 9 More awesome art by Art Adams!  Watch Danielle Moonstar become a Valkyrie!

UXM 199-209

NM 35-40

Avengers 263 / Fantastic Four 286 .  *spoiler*:  She’s back!  Claremont hated this idea.  But… what the heck…. comics!

XF 1-8 The original X-men are back!  Involves no time-travel, but just a dash of ret-con.  Claremont didn’t write these, though XF is involved heavily in X-men cross-over events.

NM Annual 2, UXM Annual 10

NM 41-45

IV. Mutant Massacre

Mutant Massacre.  The first mutant cross-over event!  Yes!  UXM 210 (prologue), UXM 211, NM 46, UXM 212-213, XF 9 (prologue), XF 10, Thor 373, Power Pack 27, Thor 374, XF 11, Daredevil 238.

Mutant Massacre Reading Order:

Uncanny X-Men #210

X-Factor #9

Uncanny X-Men #211

New Mutants #46

X-Factor #10

Thor #373

Thor #374

Power Pack #27 to #28

X-Factor #11

Uncanny X-Men #212

Daredevil #238

Uncanny X-Men #213

UXM 214-220, UXM Annual 11, UXM 221-224

Fantastic Four vs. X-Men – You could plausibly place these relatively inconsequential cross-team capers after Uncanny X-Men #219.

NM 47, NM 48-51, NM ANNUAL 3, NM 52-54

Fallen Angels limited series.  Joe Duffy provides the story and script.   Not required reading.

XF Annual 1, XF 12-16

NM 55-58.  Marvel has only collected up NM 54 in the Classic New Mutants volumes 1-7.  You can buy the individual issues on Amazon.  Not sure if these are included in Marvel Unlimited.

XF 17-23

V. Fall of The Mutants

Fall of the mutants.  More cross-over fun!  X-Factor #24 to #25, Power Pack #35, Captain America #339, X-Factor #26, Uncanny X-Men #225 to #226, Incredible Hulk #340, Uncanny X-Men #227, New Mutants #59 to #61 – Daredevil 252, Fantastic Four #312

UXM 228, 229-233, UXM Annual 12, 234-238

NM 61-70

XF 26-27XF Annual 3XF 28-32

Excalibur Special Edition 1:  The sword is drawn, Excalibur 1-5:  Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, Rachel Summers and lockheed leave UXM and join Captain Britain and Meggan (?) to form Excalibur in England.  Alan Davis provides great art.

Marvel Comics Presents 1-10:  Contains a Wolverine story by Claremont.

Wolverine V. 2 1-10:  The first ten issues of this series are by Claremont.  This is the first ongoing series featuring Wolverine.  Just to make things confusing this is referred to as v. 2, as v. 1 is considered to be the great mini-series by Claremont and Miller.

 VI. Inferno

Inferno:  XF 33-40, X-Terminators #1-4, UXM 239-243, NM 71-73, and XF Annual #4.  Excalibur 6 and 7 are also part of this event, but across the pond.  Excalibur is fun, but not really essential reading.

X-Men Inferno Reading Order

Uncanny X-Men #239

X-Factor #33 to #35

X-Terminators #1 to #3

New Mutants #71 to #72

X-Terminators #4

Uncanny X-Men #240 to #241

X-Factor #36 to #37

New Mutants #73

Uncanny X-Men #242

X-Factor #38

Uncanny X-Men #243

X-Factor #39

Excalibur 8-11,12-20 21-28, 29-34: These are outside the main continuity and can be read at any time.

UXM 244-246. UXM Annual 13, 247-262:  UXM goes bimonthly!  Lots of issue between events here.

NM 74-92, NM Annual 4, NM Annual 5, NM 93-94

VII. Days of Future Present

Days of Future Present:   A future Franklin Richards is at the center of this cross-over event.  UXM Annual 14, Fantastic Four Annual 23, XF Annual 5, NM Annual 6.

NM Summer Special 1:  Ann Nocenti wrote this. Not essential.

XF 41-50, 51, XF Annual 6, XF 52-59

UXM 263-264, 265-269:  The quality starts to drop a bit, but Jim Lee (that’s right, now co-publisher at DC Comics) steps in with UXM 268 and the quality shoots right up.  These are some of my favorite X-men.  I wish we could of had more from Claremont/Lee. *Sigh*.  268 is a great blast from the past issue starring Captain America, Black Widow and Wolverine in a World War II adventure.

VIII. Xtinction Agenda

Xtinction Agenda:  Awesome art by Jim Lee. The trade paper-back includes some earlier UXM issues that set the stage for this cross-over event concerning the fate of Genosha.  UXM 270, XF 60, NM 95, UXM 271, XF 61, NM 96, UXM 272, XF 62, NM 97.

UXM 273-277

XF 63-68

IX. Muir Island Saga

Muir Island Saga: UXM 278-279, XF 69, UXM 280, XF 70.  This is it!  The conclusion to Claremont’s epic. Claremont actually stopped writing by UXM 280.  Marvel has never collected this into one pretty volume, fortunately Essential X-Men V. 11 contains the entire event.  Essential reading.

X-Factor #71 to #75Peter David’s time writing X-Factor begins, with an all-new all-different lineup of Madrox the Multiple Man, Strong Guy (Guido), Quicksilver, Havok, Wolfsbane, and Lorna Dane!

X-Men 1-3 (Claremont and Lee):  According to Wikipedia this is (as of this writing) the greatest selling comic of all time, with pre-orders at 8.1 million copies.

Stryfe vs Cable

X. X-Cutioner’s Song

We’re now officially in the post-Claremont era of the 1990’s. The guide will focus on recommended reads and events from here on out!

X-Men #4 to #7

X-Factor #76 to #83Introduces Mr. Sinister’s Nasty Boys.

X-Men: Bishop’s CrossingJim Lee’s plotting and art continue across Uncanny X-Men and X-Men, here collecting Uncanny X-Men #281 to #293 and X-Men #8. Uncollected, but you can also read X-Men #9 to #13 prior to X-Cuctioner’s Song.

X-Cutioner’s Song

X-Cutioner’s Song Reading Order:

Cable: Blood & Metal #1 to #2

Uncanny X-Men #294

X-Factor #84

X-Men #14

X-Force #16

Uncanny X-Men #295

X-Factor #85

X-Men #15

X-Force #17

Uncanny X-Men #296

X-Factor #86

X-Men #16

X-Force #18

Uncanny X-Men #297

28 Replies to “The Complete X-Men Reading Order Guide: Chris Claremont Era”

  1. Would X-Men Hidden years overlap somewhat with First Class or does it fit in after First Class if I wanted to read those issues as well before I fully got into Claremont’s run?

    1. They may overlap somewhat, though “First Class” should come first. “First Class” is meant to overlap with the original Lee / Kirby and Thomas / Adams issues. “Hidden Years” occurs after all of that, but before Giant Size X-men #1 rebooted the franchise.

  2. Hey Dave, your site is the best! Thx for it!

    This guide is good, but it seems to be missing UXM 178-179, is it because they are irrelevant? When is it right to read them?

    1. Glad you enjoy CBH!

      Not irrelevant, must have just overlooked those issues. Plopping them in sequence around that spot on the guide. Give me a holler if that seems off as you read through!

  3. I would suggest adding X-Men Forever, New Mutants Forever, and X-Factor Forever, as those series were Claremont and Louise Simonson continuing their arcs from 20 years earlier.
    Claremont’s X-Men: The End and GeNext are also excellent, but I would add them to the modern list as they are really a finale for Morrison’s run.

  4. Hi very nice guide but is there a reason why there’s X-Factor from 1991 starting in the guide at the same time as UXM Annual 10 when they are not released in the same time period ?

  5. Hey Dave, thanks for making this site. Really appreciate it!

    One quick note: X-Men Annual #3 comes after UXM #124, not #122. It says so on the sixth page of the annual.

    Minor, but thought I should mention it.

  6. I cant seem to find xmen season one on marvel unlimited. Was this guide made for marvel unlimited or… Btw I love the site, it really helped me when I started reading marvel comics

  7. I always assumed the Muir Island Saga took place before X-Men 1-3. Story wise, X-Men 1-3 features a united team, while the Muir Island Saga just has a bunch of teams meeting up for the first time. I could be wrong, but wouldn’t Muir Island Saga make more sense before X-Men 1-3?

  8. Thanks for this guide, just started working my way through it last week on Marvel Unlimited, and up to UXM Annual 4. Looking forward, it’s a bit of a bummer that the coverage of X-Factor on both MU and Comixology is so spotty; guess I’ll have to track down second hand copies of the Essential volumes…

  9. Thnx for the list.. I am near the end of it,, reading xmen would not have been possible without you.. Thnx again man

  10. Hey, Dave! I’m currently reading X-tinction Agenda (Pt VIII above) and the X-Factor and New Mutant issues seem to be flip-flopped. Should be UXM, NM, X-F, UXM, NM, etc.

    1. The Magik limited series is placed where it fits into continuity, even though it was published somewhat later. The actual events of the limited series take place in between two pages of UXM #160 (page 21 Belasco pulls child Illyana into Limbo, page 22 teenage Illyana is pulled back out).

  11. The initial ordering of New Mutants and Uncanny X-Men could do with a bit of a tweak. New Mutants #3 is immediately followed by Uncanny #167 (“in a matter of minutes, their predecessors – the uncanny X-Men – are about to make a spectacular return home”), and New Mutants #4 makes direct reference to the events in UXM #167, so should definitely not be read until afterwards.

    God Loves, Man Kills and X-Men Annual #6 should definitely not go between UXM #166 and #167 since that’s unbroken action in the Brood storyline. Maybe put Annual #6 after the Magik limited series, before UXM #161, and move GLMK to its “technical” location after UXM #167.

    New Mutants #5 to #12 is also fairly unbroken action.

    So my suggested order for the end of section II is:

    Magik limited series
    UXM Annual 6
    The Brood Saga UXM 161-166

    And my suggested order for the start of section III is:

    Marvel Graphic Novel 4: The New Mutants
    NM 1-3
    UXM 167
    Marvel Graphic Novel 5: God Loves Man Kills
    UXM 168-171
    Wolverine limited series
    UXM 172-175, UXM Annual 7, UXM 176-179
    NM 4-14

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