This is it! We’ve finally come to the end of the countdown!
That’s right. Number five. Four others ahead of him. There wasn’t much to Wolverine when he was recruited to the second team of X-Men in Giant Size X-Men #1. He was a minor character from an issue of Incredible Hulk who had little personality beyond being grumpy. But little by little, things began to change for the pint-size psychopath. He began warming to his teammates, confused about how to express his friendship. His claws, originally written to be a part of his gloves, became an extension of his skeleton, also metal, which opened up a past of government manipulation. He settled down and actually became a beloved member of the X-Men, and even a paternal figure of sorts to Kitty Pryde, the newest and youngest recruit.
Despite his popularity, Wolverine has only been actual leader of the X-Men once, and only for a short span of issues while Storm was away on a personal quest. But during that time he proved his worth by uniting a ragtag group of replacement X-Men into a proper team themselves. He was well aware of his limitations, though, and happily gave the spot up as soon as the team was reunited with Storm. The two became the elders of the team, wholeheartedly engrossed in Professor Xavier’s dream, even with Xavier’s extended absence in space. And that is what ranks Wolverine so highly on the list. He went from joining the X-Men as a free ticket out of service to the Canadian government and became one of the most devout soldiers in Xavier’s forces.
But beyond his personal beliefs, his unique skill sets and talents make him a valued asset to the X-Men. Despite having a healing factor that goes beyond even suspension of disbelief sometimes, it’s Wolverine’s willingness to go over the line to get the job done that has proved, as of late, to be his biggest aide to the team. Leading X-Force (reluctantly), he has taken down numerous threats to the endangered mutant populace, even though he was forced to put those close to him in danger (most notably X-23). But Wolverine understands the needs of the X-Men and doesn’t often disobey the orders of Cyclops, who even from their rocky beginnings have become the best of friends.
In all of the years since Wolverine’s debut, he has most certainly earned his place time and time again as one of the greatest X-Men ever.
Never has ridiculous amounts of spewed exposition worked so well for a character. For every “I…AM…STORM…and MY WILL IS MY OWN!!!!!” you get a moment in which Storm proves herself as one of the greatest X-Men ever. Okay, well, maybe not every one…she did yell that quite a bit.
Introduced with the new team in Giant Size X-Men, Storm had her past fleshed out the quickest and brought the most to the table. Orphaned as a child, she was trained to be the greatest thief/beggar in Cairo until the manifestation of her mutant powers drew her to the Serengeti where she became worshipped as a goddess. The two really didn’t work together (along with the dialogue of her first appearance), but no one took the time to dwell on the point. She was appointed team leader after Cyclops left and though starting out reluctantly, she took to the role and became just as efficient as her predecessor. Even during a period in which she lost her mutant powers, Storm served as the leader of the team just as well, using her natural skills and respect earned from her teammates to carry her forward.
For quite some time, Storm became the most trusted confidant of Professor X, even more so than Cyclops. Despite that, Storm still felt like she couldn’t trust Xavier for whatever reason and left the mansion with her own team of unfortunately named X-Treme X-Men. These X-Men – including Rogue, Beast and Psylocke – trusted Storm enough to leave their home and friends behind for furthering the goals of the X-Men. She even started up a U.N. sanctioned mutant policing group, the XSE, only to abandon it to go hook back up with the Black Panther. Let’s see Cyclops do that.
Despite being the Queen of Wakanda and all that, Storm still finds time to serve the goal that has taken up her entire adult life. And that gives her a high spot on the list.
He’s blue, furry and looks like a cat. He’s internationally renowned scientist and founding X-Man Hank McCoy. Since debuting amongst the original X-Men, Beast has been busier than any of his friends and allies, gaining his doctorate, joining numerous superhero teams, getting de-furred, re-furred, mutating and all that goes with it. And he did it with a smile on his face…for the most part.
Beast was the first mutant hero to really cross the threshold into mainstream super-heroics when he joined the Avengers. And that wasn’t in an age where there are four Avengers teams with Wolverine on half of them. This was the original ‘Avengers Assemble!’ group. Beast took his place amongst the World’s Mightiest Heroes after he had mutated from his rather normal look to his blue/furry look, meaning that he could not (and would not) try to hide what he was. With Beast, the public had to accept that a mutant could be a hero. In that move, he perhaps did more for the image of mutantkind than the X-Men had yet.
Using that gained celebrity, Beast spread his influence as a scientist, geneticist and expert on mutation, giving the mutant race a much needed charismatic voice against the growing opposition. His televised debate against Graydon Creed in which he blew a raspberry at his opponent was noteworthy not only because he did it, but because he got away with it. Beast was also a key factor in establishing a cure for the Legacy Virus, using Moira MacTaggert’s final notes to develop the serum.
Though Cyclops’s direction has caused Beast to quit the X-Men, he still has mutantkind’s interest at heart and is willing to return to his roots when the need arises. In the meantime, he served on SWORD with his girlfriend Abigail Brand, then finally rejoined the Avengers, working directly under Steve Rogers himself. That isn’t too shabby for Edna McCoy’s favorite son, huh?
#2: Phoenix (Jean Grey)
When it comes to sacrificing for the cause, you certainly have to hand it to a woman who has died four times since joining the X-Men. Serving as the mother hen of the original X-Men, Jean overcame the dreadful treatment of women in 60’s comics as well as a pretty terrible miniskirt outfit to push through into the 70’s where she became one of the most powerful beings in the universe as Phoenix. Well, except she didn’t once it was retconned to keep her from having killed billions of asparagus-like creatures. Just go with me.
Upon her return, Jean began rebuilding her life, utterly wrecking Cyclops’s happy marriage in the process. But that’s okay – he was married to a clone of her anyway. She took the ‘heart and soul’ part of X-Factor, as well as the X-Men when the original team rejoined. Jean proposed to Cyclops and married him, yet still took the time to serve with the X-Men through all the ups and downs. When Cyclops was thought lost to Apocalypse, Jean carried on, though unwilling to believe that her husband was dead. She even led a team of nobodies on a successful raid on Magneto’s island of Genosha. How’s that for leadership?
Jean was a major factor in Professor X opening the school for a larger student body and served as his right hand for the duration. In the meantime, her increased psychic abilities led to the reemergence of the Phoenix, though she was able to keep it under control. After the riots, she was set to take over the school as the third ever headmaster, but was killed once again by Magneto (Xorn version). From beyond the grave, she pushed her husband towards Emma Frost in an effort to save the legacy of the X-Men…as well as probably a bit of revenge to stick him with the definition of high maintenance.
It’s almost a certainty that Jean will eventually be back. She may already be – the mutant ‘messiah’ hope sports her signature red hair and green eyes. When Jean does make it back, the X-Men will regain one of their greatest members ever.
When you think ‘X-Men’ you should think ‘Scott Summers’. Cyclops is a man who has dedicated his entire life to the dream of Charles Xavier and has in recent times become the leader of pretty much the entire mutant race. It’s a role he was born to take.
Orphaned at a young age and blinded due to his uncontrollable optic blasts, Cyclops had a pretty traumatic childhood. His only friend ended up being Mr. Sinister, and the whole ordeal was capped with interaction from a terrifyingly hokey villain called the Living Diamond. But from those beginnings came Charles Xavier’s first X-Man, and the man born to lead the team and eventually take over the dream.
There were, of course, some obstacles in the road. His beloved Jean died, came back, then died again, causing him to leave the team. When Storm was named team leader in his absence, he had trouble accepting his replacement and eventually lost a duel with her for the leadership role and left the team. He regained his purpose as the leader of X-Factor and rejoined the X-Men, more accepting of himself and his co-leader. Sacrificing himself to stop Apocalypse seemingly shifted Cyclops’s personality, but it became more of a crutch to lean on when Cyclops was forced to face parts of himself he didn’t like.
When Professor X left the X-Men for Genosha, Cyclops finally stepped up and took the role he had been groomed for. As headmaster of the school, he led the X-Men and trained the next generation of mutants until M-Day brought all that to a crashing halt. From that point, Cyclops went from leader of a school to leader of a race. He moved the X-Men to San Francisco and welcomed all mutants globally to the city as a safe haven. When Norman Osbourne came after them, Cyclops stood up for a united mutant race and moved them to the Utopia island where they could all live in peace. He forged an alliance with Namor and the Atlanteans, and even has both Professor X and Magneto working under him, impressed at what he has done.
Cyclops has become the face of the mutant race. Though the dream of coexistence has been put on hold for the need of survival, mutants have banded behind him as their leader, just as he has served as the leader of the X-Men for so long. Without a doubt, Cyclops is the top X-Men of all.
And that’s it! We’re done! Sorry it got pushed to Monday rather than Friday. I feel terrible. Really, I do.
Check here for the entire list!
And those of you new to Comicdom Wrecks that were here for the countdown, stick around! We’ll have tons more X-Men based stuff as well as nutritious comic goodness!