Uncanny X-Men, first published as simply The X-Men, is the flagship Marvel Comics comic book series for the X-Men franchise, it features the adventures of the eponymous group of mutant superheroes. While hugely successful now, it took a number of years since the X-Men's first issue (cover dated September 1963) to become even a mild success. The series had been out of production since 1970 until interest was rekindled with 1975's Giant-Size X-Men and the debut of a new, international team. Under the guidance of writer Chris Claremont (whose 16-year stint began with August 1975's Uncanny X-Men #94), the series grew in popularity worldwide, eventually spawning a franchise with numerous spin-off "X-Books", including New Mutants, X-Factor, Excalibur, Wolverine, X-Force, Generation X, the simply titled X-Men, and a number of prefixed titles such as Astonishing X-Men and New X-Men.
Uncanny X-Men remains Marvel Comics' only Silver Age title to retain its consecutive issue numbering since its conception, even during the early 1970s reprint hiatus. Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Avengers, Daredevil, Thor, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, and Captain America have all, at one time or another, revamped their numbering back to #1 or have skipped certain issues (for example, there is no Amazing Spider-Man #471 or Fantastic Four #425) when they returned to their proper numbering. These revamps and renumberings took place in the 1990s (first in 1996 and then again in 1998 for Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Avengers, Thor, and Captain America after the Onslaught and Heroes Reborn storylines, respectively; 1998 for Daredevil; 1999 for Amazing Spider-Man and Incredible Hulk).
Created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the series launched in 1963, introducing in its first issue the original five X-Men (the Angel, the Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, and Jean Grey), as well as their teacher, Professor X, and their arch nemesis, the supervillain Magneto. Initially published bi-monthly, it became a monthly with issue #14 (November 1965).
The series ceased publication with #66 (March 1970), but returned as a bi-monthly reprint magazine nine months later. It continued in this fashion until the team was revived and revamped, with additional new members, in Giant Size X-Men #1 (May 1975). The X-Men again began printing new stories with #94 (August 1975).
From #94 until #112 (August 1978), the title remained bi-monthly. Marvel has also published the title bi-weekly for short periods in 1988-90, 1999, and 2002-06. By the early 1980s, the series had become one of the best-selling American comic books, turning many of the writers and illustrators into industry stars and leading to spin-offs such as The New Mutants, Excalibur and Wolverine, as well as to numerous miniseries.
The series originally focused on the entire team, as it usually consisted of between five and seven members throughout the majority of its run. From 1991 until approximately 1995, and again since 2000, the series has focused on one squad of the team.
Recently, however, it has stopped focusing on any one team, favoring instead to focus on a separate group of characters (mainly former x-men, and other teams) living at the mansion.
X-Men appearances during the "Reprint Years" (1970-1975)
It should be noted that during the five-year "reprint" gap between #66-#94, the X-Men did not remain completely out of the spotlight. They made sporadic appearances and cameos either as a group or solo in the following issues:
- Ka-Zar #2/Ka-Zar #3/Marvel Tales #30 (December 1970/March 1971/April 1971) - Warren Worthington III (Angel) battles his uncle, Burt Worthington (the Dazzler) in three parts.
- Amazing Spider-Man #92 (January 1971) - Bobby Drake (Iceman) does battle with Spider-Man.
- Avengers #88 (May 1971) - Professor Charles Xavier makes a cameo appearance with Reed Richards to discuss a possible solution to contain the Hulk.
- Amazing Adventures #11-17 (March 1972-March 1973) - Hank McCoy (Beast) has his own series; the X-Men make cameo appearances in #11, #12, and #15.
- Incredible Hulk #150 (April 1972) - Alex Summers (Havok) and Lorna Dane (Polaris) confront the Hulk.
- Marvel Team-Up #4 (September 1972) - The X-Men and Spider-Man battle Michael Morbius.
- Incredible Hulk #161 (March 1973) - Hank battles the Hulk and Mimic.
- Avengers #110-111 (April-May 1973) - The X-Men are held captive by Magneto. Apparently, Warren has mysteriously disappeared and remains missing by issue's end.
- Shanna the She-Devil #5 (August 1973) - Professor Xavier makes a cameo appearance on a monitor screen, revealing that he had a previous meeting with Shanna once before (off-panel).
- Adventure into Fear #20 (February 1974) - In a flashback, Michael Morbius escapes the X-Mansion after their battle in Marvel Team-Up #4. Professor Xavier and Scott Summers (Cyclops) make a cameo appearance.
- Incredible Hulk #172 (February 1974) - Professor Xavier, Scott and Jean Grey (Marvel Girl) arrive to take away an unconscious Juggernaut after his battle with the Hulk in a cameo appearance on the last page.
- Captain America #172-175 (April-July 1974) - Professor Xavier, Scott, and Jean are left to find their missing teammates after Bobby, Warren, Hank, Alex, Lorna, and members of the Brotherhood of Evl Mutants are abducted by the Secret Empire. Captain America and the Falcon assist the X-Men in battle.
- Marvel Team-Up #23 (July 1974) - Bobby battles Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four and the Equinox. Scott, Jean, and Warren appear in a brief cameo.
- Defenders #15-16 (September-October 1974) - Professor Xavier and the Defenders battle Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, who are turned into infants.
- Giant-Size Fantastic Four #4 (February 1975) - Professor Xavier meets with the Fantastic Four to find Jamie Madrox (Multiple Man).
X-Men or Uncanny X-Men?
The series was initially titled The X-Men from its inception in 1963 until 1981. The series added the adjective "Uncanny" to its cover treatment with issue #114 (Oct. 1978), and formally changed its title to The Uncanny X-Men with #142 (Feb. 1981) . The "Uncanny" adjective is missing on the covers of #137 to be replaced by the blurb "SPECIAL DOUBLE-SIZE ISSUE!" and #138 where it has been omitted or obscured to accommodate a banner advert.
A new series titled simply X-Men launched in October 1991. From that point on, fans and historians began to designate pre-1981 issues as The X-Men Vol. 1 or, more commonly, The Uncanny X-Men. The article "The" was officially dropped from the title in 2002.
Spin-offs and crossovers
Since the introduction of 1991's X-Men series, the plotlines of the various titles have intermingled to varying degrees. However, they were split into two groups: the Gold Team (featured on The Uncanny X-Men), which consisted of Storm, Bishop, Colossus, Archangel, Iceman, and Jean Grey; and the Blue Team (featured on X-Men), which consisted of Cyclops, Psylocke, Beast, Rogue, Gambit, Wolverine, and Jubilee. From 1991-1995, briefly in 1997, and from 2000 on, The Uncanny X-Men and X-Men featured different battalions of X-Men. Appearances of an Uncanny X-Men character in X-Men or vice versa was common, but major stories featuring the characters were normally featured in their respective monthly title.
From 1995-96, when Scott Lobdell was writing both series, and from 1998-2000, when Alan Davis was writing both, Uncanny X-Men and X-Men were effectively treated as a single bi-weekly series, in which plot lines from Uncanny X-Men led directly into the next issue of X-Men.
Like many popular comic book series, Uncanny X-Men also produced double-sized annuals, doing so in 1970 and 1971, then regularly from 1979-2001. After the success of the Ultimate annuals, Uncanny X-Men resumed annual publication in 2006, rebooting the numeration at #1.