Take 10

Take 10: Greatest X-Men

The X-Men may be no more, but not on Marvel.com, as the Secret Cabal names their top ten Children of the Atom

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By Ben Morse Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas. This week, with the X-Men disbanded in the wake of "Messiah CompleX," the Cabal looked back on over 40 years of X-citement to select their personal list of the ten mightiest mutants of Marvel. Note to Ed Brubaker: include these ten on your next roster and you should be set—though Cabal member RunawayJ wouldn't mind seeing a certain disco queen also make the cut. So get ready to learn who made the list and why, as well as their personal highlights as X-Men and where you can read more about them on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.
10. KITTY PRYDE First Appearance: X-MEN v1 #129 (1980) Find Out Her Deal… Here Why She Makes The List: Unquestionably, the dynamic of the X-Men shifted entirely when teenage whiz kid Kitty Pryde joined the team in the early '80s. The X-Men had long since moved away from their roots as one of the first teenage super hero teams, but dropping Kitty in among the adults led to charming and explosive results. Though Kitty has since blossomed into a young woman of considerable maturity and power, she remains the access point to the X-Men for countless readers. Finest Moment: Travelling to Japan to rescue her father from the Yakuza, Kitty falls under the mental domination of Ogun, Wolverine's evil former mentor, who plans to

use her as a living weapon against his one-time student. Not only does Kitty overcome Ogun's control with Wolverine's help, when presented with the opportunity to slay the man who dominated her, she declines, settling for besting him in combat and staying true to her own code of honor. (KITTY PRYDE & WOLVERINE #1-6) Spotlight Comic: UNCANNY X-MEN #143 In her first major test solo as an X-Man, Kitty confronts a N'Garai demon

9. EMMA FROST First Appearance: X-MEN v1 #129 (1980) Find Out Her Deal… Here Why She Makes The List: The X-Men's bad girl turned good (?), Emma Frost has turned heads since she first made the scene as the nefarious White Queen of the Hellfire Club. Though we've since learned Emma's motivations have never been as simple as pursuit of money or power, she remains unpredictable and you never know when her ice queen exterior may give way to something more sinister. However, as headmistress of the Xavier Institute and Cyclops' lover, Emma has also shown a softer side—one she'd prefer nobody ever see. Finest Moment: After months of treating X-23 like a leper and attempting to push the feral girl out of the Xavier Institute, Emma shows her true and ruthless colors when the assassin Kimura comes calling for Laura and the rest of the New X-Men.

The former White Queen wipes Kimura's recollection of her grandmother, the one saving grace in her otherwise torturous existence, from the killer's mind, and warns her never to come near her "kids" again or face the wrath of the mother hen from hell. (NEW X-MEN v2 #36) Spotlight Comic: EMMA FROST #1 Emma blossoms into a young woman and discovers her mutant powers, shaping her life for years to come

8. CABLE First Appearance: UNCANNY X-MEN #201 (1986) Find Out His Deal… Here Why He Makes The List: Undoubtedly one of the more complicated mutants in the X-Men Universe, Nathan Christopher Summers has come a long way since his early days. Initially a mysterious and embittered soldier from the future, Cable gained more depth as he formed a parental fond with his X-Force soldiers and later learned of his own parentage as the son of Cyclops. Now with a child of his own to look out for following "Messiah CompleX," Cable's journey becomes even more dangerous—and more crucial to the future of mutantkind. Finest Moment: At the climax of "X-Cutioner's Song," Stryfe stood poised for victory, having shredded Cable to bits, knocked Havok out of the equation, and

was preparing to snuff out Cyclops and Jean Grey once and for all. Despite Stryfe's taunts of him being merely an imperfection, Cable found the resolve to launch himself at his evil twin with his last ounce of strength and detonate a time warp to send them plunging into limbo, saving the life of his father and surrogate mother. (X-FORCE v1 #18) Spotlight Comic: CABLE & DEADPOOL #10 Intent on making his island home of Providence a safe haven for the world, Cable stares down the X-Men, S.H.I.E.L.D. and even the Silver Surfer

7. COLOSSUS First Appearance: GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 (1975) Find Out His Deal… Here Why He Makes The List: One of the strongest X-Men, Peter Rasputin stands out more as one of the gentlest with perhaps the kindest soul on the team. With instant charm as the simple farm boy come to the "real" world in order to do his duty, Colossus has weathered the tragedy of losing each member of his family, including his beloved younger sister Illyana, and emerged stronger each time, his heart as unbreakable as his steel skin. Finest Moment: From the moment the Legacy Virus claimed the life of his sister Illyana, Colossus vowed not to rest until he saw the disease

eradicated. When Beast discovered a cure, Peter Rasputin breathed a sigh of relief, until he learned it could only be operated if a mutant gave their life. In one of the most touching moments in X-Men history, Colossus uttered, "I'm coming snowflake," preparing to greet Illyana as he injected himself to save mutantkind at the cost of his own life. (UNCANNY X-MEN #390) Spotlight Comic: ASTONISHING X-MEN #5 Returning his apparent demise, Colossus rejoins the X-Men to battle his captor, Ord.

6. JEAN GREY First Appearance: X-MEN v1 #1 (1963) Find Out Her Deal… Here Why She Makes The List: Jean Grey's emotional struggle to conquer temptation and overcome the power of a god with her humanity lay at the center of "The Dark Phoenix Saga," to this day arguably the greatest X-Men story of all time. When she's not a star-devouring cosmic nightmare, Jean has been the soul of the team, the surrogate mother many turn to in time of crisis, making her a sentimental favorite for many fans.

Finest Moment: In the end, the X-Men couldn't stop Dark Phoenix, the Imperial Guard couldn't stop Dark Phoenix—only Jean Grey could stop Dark Phoenix. Recognizing that the situation had gotten beyond out of control and that the stakes were too high to keep playing games and waiting for a solution, Jean made the ultimate sacrifice, giving her own life to save the universe. Sure, she came back later, but she couldn't have known that at the time… (X-MEN v1 #137) Spotlight Comic: X-MEN v1 #101 Jean Grey becomes Phoenix for the first time.

5. PROFESSOR X First Appearance: X-MEN v1 #1 (1963) Find Out His Deal… Here Why He Makes The List: Well, without Charles Xavier there would be no X-Men, so that's a start. Xavier's dream of peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants provides the bedrock upon which the entire X-Men mythos takes place, but the man himself has been both an inspirational and divisive figure to his students and to readers. On one side the saintly father figure to a generation and on the other the man willing to endanger the lives of children in service of his dream, Professor X provides contrast and fuel for great stories.

Finest Moment: Returning after years in space to aid his students against the encompassing evil of the Shadow King, Xavier engages his opponent in psychic battle on the astral plane. Despite his oldest foe's considerable power, the Professor's willpower proved enough to save his "children," but not without cost: the mind of his son, Legion, whom the King inhabited, and Xavier's uses of his legs for the second time. (UNCANNY X-MEN #280) Spotlight Comic: X-MEN v1 #117 Charles Xavier encounters and battles his first evil mutant opponent—the Shadow King.

4. NIGHTCRAWLER First Appearance: GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 (1975) Find Out His Deal… Here Why He Makes The List: The first truly inhuman in appearance mutant to join the X-Men, Kurt Wagner has long allowed writers and artists to further explore and expand the X-Men's roles as outsiders. However, far from a character consumed by doom and gloom, Nightcrawler's chivalry, flair for the dramatic and sense of humor have made him one of the most likable X-Men ever, a character you genuinely look forward to seeing leap into action. A study in extremes, Nightcrawler can bring a smile to your face or a tear to your eye.

Finest Moment: In horrific battle with none other Dracula, the X-Men fall one by one before the Lord of the Vampires until Nightcrawler remains. With his teammates lives and the souls of Storm and Kitty on the line, Nightcrawler knows his strength and speed won't be enough and turns to another weapon in his arsenal—his faith. The blue mutant's ardent belief in a higher power and greater good proves to be the monster's undoing. (X-MEN ANNUAL v1 #6) Spotlight Comic: NIGHTCRAWLER #1 Apart from the X-Men, Nightcrawler investigates the mystic, demonic side of the Marvel Universe.

3. STORM First Appearance: GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 (1975) Find Out Her Deal… Here Why She Makes The List: From thief to goddess to warrior to queen, few X-Men have evolved over the years as much as Ororo Munroe. One of the strongest female and strongest black characters not just in the history of the X-Men but in all of comics, Storm's outer beauty and inner nobility have always transcended gender and race and contributed to her tremendous popularity. The X-Men experienced arguably their best years with Storm as team leader, in large

part due to the lady's depth of character and admirable fortitude. Finest Moment: After losing her powers, Storm had to prove to herself she still belonged on the X-Men—following that, she had to prove to her teammates that she deserved her spot. Challenging Cyclops to a duel for leadership, Storm relied on only her natural fighting skills and wits to outmaneuver and defeat the optic-blasting veteran. (UNCANNY X-MEN #201) Spotlight Comic: ORORO: BEFORE THE STORM #1 A tale from Storm's misguided childhood as a thief on the streets of Cairo.

2. CYCLOPS First Appearance: X-MEN v1 #1 (1963) Find Out His Deal… Here Why He Makes The List: From the beginning, Scott Summers has been the hardest working soldier in service to Professor X's dream of peace between mutants and humans, but his growth as a character and slowly but surely gained independence have made Cyclops an increasingly intriguing part of the X-Men mythos. His love affair with Jean Grey has provided some of the most endearing soap opera-esque comic yarns of the past 40 years and his current relationship with Emma Frost has revealed even more undiscovered facets of the once shy "Slim" Summers. Realizing that the survival of mutants as a race falls on his shoulders and that he may need to sacrifice his belief in the dream to ensure that preservation, Cyclops has become the X-Man to watch.

Finest Moment: Attempting to spoil Cyclops' wedding to Madelyne Prior, old X-Men foe Mastermind used his powers of illusion to make the rest of the mutants see their former leader as Dark Phoenix reborn, pitting him against his old teammates. Out of practice, outnumbered and up against the likes of Storm, Wolverine and Colossus to name a few, Cyclops uses his strategic mind to hold his own and rescue his bride from the villain's clutches. (UNCANNY X-MEN #175) Spotlight Comic: UNCANNY X-MEN #201 Cyclops duels Storm for leadership of the X-Men while his wife gives birth to their son

1. WOLVERINE First Appearance: INCREDIBLE HULK v1 #180 (1974) Find Out His Deal… Here Why He Makes The List: The obvious choice? Maybe, but for a reason, bub. A complex and layered character beyond his violent temper and fierce claws, Wolverine gave the X-Men the franchise character it lacked and opened the doors for new types of stories set from the Canadian wilderness to the streets of Madripoor and back alleys of Japan. Whether through his rivalry with Cyclops, close friendship with Nightcrawler, unrequited love for Jean Grey or mentoring of Kitty Pryde and Jubilee, Logan has enriched the characters around him through his relationships with them. The most popular X-Man of all time, we think Wolverine also lays legitimate claim to being the best there is at what he does.

Finest Moment: During the X-Men's first confrontation with the Hellfire Club, the villains managed to incapacitate every member of the team save for Wolverine, who licked his wounds in the Club's sub basement as he prepared to charge to the rescue. The subsequent scenes of Logan running roughshod through the Hellfire Club soldiers unfortunate enough to get in his way by legendary artist John Byrne have become quintessential portraits of indomitable spirit. (X-MEN v1 #133) Spotlight Comic: WOLVERINE #1 Logan's first solo adventure by legendary creators Chris Claremont and Frank Miller sees the Canadian beaten and battered on the streets of Japan.

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