Take 10

Take 10: X-Men Lineups

X marks the spot for the Secret Cabal’s top picks for mighty mutant team rosters

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Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas. There's only one constant when it comes to the X-Men: change. Today, Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi launch a new era of ASTONISHING X-MEN with issue #25 of the acclaimed series. Later this month, the power quartet of writers Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction along with artists Terry Dodson and Greg Land reshuffle the deck again for the Children of the Atom in the landmark UNCANNY X-MEN #500. In the midst of all this upheaval, the Secret Cabal gathered to pick out their favorite X-Men team rosters from over 40 years of mutant mayhem. For each team, you also get a special spotlight comic courtesy of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. As always, these picks reflect the personal choices of the Secret Cabal, not the official opinion of Marvel or Marvel.com, and can be considered subjective at best. Enjoy!

10. MIKE CAREY'S X-MEN Approximate Tenure: X-MEN v2 #188 (2006)-X-MEN v2 #200 (2007) Core Roster: Iceman, Rogue, Cannonball, Cable, Mystique, Lady Mastermind & Omega Sentinel Latecomers/Short Termers/Hangers On: Sabretooth Why They Make The List: "Every so often, an X-scribe comes up with a team line-up so different that you wonder if it'll work, but then you read the first issue and realize the group is perfect beyond words. This is what Mike Carey did on X-MEN, with a team of rapscallions and scoundrels so dynamic that you couldn't help but wonder what would happen next! Iceman used to love Rogue. Cable and Cannonball were best friends. Mystique and Sabretooth were once lovers. Mystique is like a mother to Rogue. Mystique and Iceman are attracted to each other. Lady Mastermind and Sentinel are wild cards. And that Sabretooth guy? He's going to kill everyone on his team when the opportunity strikes. Make Mine Mike Carey!" - Secret Cabal member OneManDynasty Spotlight Comic: X-MEN v2 #200—Rogue's team faces the dual challenge of the Marauders and betrayal from within!

9. NEW X-MEN Approximate Tenure: NEW X-MEN v1 #114 (2001)-NEW X-MEN v1 #150 (2003) Core Roster: Professor X, Cyclops, Beast, Jean Grey, Wolverine & Emma Frost Latecomers/Short Termers/Hangers On: Xorn Why They Make The List: "NEW X-MEN provided a breath of fresh air to Professor X's mutant hero squad. Lookin' slick in some new slacks, the X-Men got a make-over. A secondary mutation turned Beast from ape to feline; the puzzling Xorn brought in a mystifying element; and a newly reformed Emma Frost shook the ranks. Focusing a bit more on teaching than in previous years, anything could and did happen during this team's tenure at the X-Mansion." - Secret Cabal member HeartOfOak Spotlight Comic: NEW X-MEN v1 #126—The X-Men take on Cassandra Nova in a war with severe consequences!

8. X-MEN GOLD TEAM Approximate Tenure: UNCANNY X-MEN #281 (1991)-X-MEN v2 #41 (1995) Core Roster: Iceman, Archangel, Jean Grey, Storm, Colossus & Bishop Latecomers/Short Termers/Hangers On: Forge Why They Make The List: "As an impressionable nine-year old, I always just saw the Gold team as the less cool one that didn't have Wolverine and Gambit, but with age has come perspective, and looking back, I can see a lot of value to this line-up. For the one thing, it allowed Storm to continue in the leadership role she had held for the five or so years previous rather than just cede everything back to Cyclops. For another, it gave much needed spotlight to probably the two most neglected original X-Men, Iceman and Archangel, and let them strut their stuff. And, of course, the Gold team gave us Bishop, who has become a vital and rad part of the X-Men Universe. No bad for the 'B-Team.'" – Secret Cabal member Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: X-MEN v2 #3—It's Gold Team vs. Blue Team when the latter falls under the thrall of Magneto!

7. MAGNETO'S X-MEN Approximate Tenure: UNCANNY X-MEN #201 (1986)-UNCANNY X-MEN #227 (1988) Core Roster: Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Kitty Pryde, Rogue, Magneto & Psylocke Latecomers/Short Termers/Hangers On: Rachel Summers, Havok, Dazzler, Longshot Why They Make The List: "Though this team was one of the shortest lived, it had a huge impact on the Marvel Universe. With their founder gone and their greatest enemy seemingly reformed and now leading them, the X-Men found themselves in a state of complete mistrust. A de-powered Storm stepped up to take control as leader of the team, and all seemed like it would be okay. Then the hits came. Lady Deathstrike, Rachel Summers' almost-betrayal, Nimrod, the Hellfire Club. This team was in bad shape when the worst moment in the X-Men's lives to that point happened: the Mutant Massacre. They led the charge and turned back the Marauders, but at a cost they never fully recovered from." – Secret Cabal member RunawayJ Spotlight Comic: UNCANNY X-MEN #201—Storm battles Cyclops for leadership of the X-Men!

6. AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK X-MEN Approximate Tenure: UNCANNY X-MEN #229 (1988)-UNCANNY X-MEN #250 (1989) Core Roster: Havok, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Rogue, Psylocke, Dazzler & Longshot Latecomers/Short Termers/Hangers On: Jubilee Why They Make The List: "First, we start with the obvious: Jim freaking Lee. The man ruled the X-Men here, and his early work still holds up to today's standards. With the X-Men in a completely unique setting, believed to be dead and faced with probably the strangest line-up yet, Lee was able to cut loose and draw some of the most iconic images and stories ever in these pages Now, for the other reasons this team rocked: Longshot's mullet, British Psylocke in an Asian assassin's body and, almost 100 issues since her debut in UNCANNY X-MEN, Dazzler finally joined the team. That's a recipe for success, my friends." – RunawayJ Spotlight Comic: UNCANNY X-MEN #239—A day in the lives of the X-Men on the eve of "Inferno"!

5. ASTONISHING X-MEN Approximate Tenure: ASTONISHING X-MEN #1 (2004)-GIANT-SIZE ASTONISHING X-MEN #1 (2008) Core Roster: Cyclops, Beast, Wolverine, Colossus, Kitty Pryde & Emma Frost Latecomers/Short Termers/Hangers On: Armor Why They Make The List: "This team kept it fresh. Sure, Cyclops was the same stoic leader he's always been and Wolverine was his usual beer-loving self, but you also had the uncertainty of having the unpredictable Emma Frost for a co-leader, a Beast who's not sure he wants that name anymore, Kitty Pryde in the unfamiliar role of mentor and a formerly-presumed-dead Colossus looking quite alive. Plus, there's the new kid, Armor, who must prove herself worthy of being an X-Man. This balance between the reliable and the unpredictable forged this X-team's dynamic. Each character brought something different to the table, but Joss Whedon wrote the team into the cohesive unit that we all know and love as the X-Men." – Secret Cabal member MightyMsM Spotlight Comic: ASTONISHING X-MEN #7—The Astonishing squad teams with the Fantastic Four!

4. X-MEN BLUE TEAM Approximate Tenure: X-MEN v2 #1 (1991)-X-MEN v2 #41 (1995) Core Roster: Cyclops, Beast, Wolverine, Rogue, Psylocke & Gambit Latecomers/Short Termers/Hangers On: Jubilee, Revanche Why They Make The List: "In 1991, nothing in life was more awesome than the X-Men, and nothing was hotter than X-MEN v2 #1, from two of the greatest creators to ever touch the team: Chris Claremont and Jim Lee. Each member of Cyclops' rockin' team of deadly mutants—Psylocke, Gambit, Rogue, Beast and Wolverine—was armed with a slick new costume that made them even more appealing! More than that, the interpersonal relationships were phenomenal. Rogue & Gambit's love story is one for the ages. Wolverine & Cyclops' friendship grew immensely, showing just how far these characters had come under the watchful eye of the legendary Claremont. At the end of the day, this is the team that sold more comics than any other comic book in history. How can you argue with success?" – OneManDynasty Spotlight Comic: X-MEN v2 #4—The Blue Team makes their first contact with the deadly Omega Red!

3. ORIGINAL X-MEN Approximate Tenure: X-MEN v1 #1 (1963)-GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 (1975) Core Roster: Professor X, Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, Beast & Marvel Girl Latecomers/Short Termers/Hangers On: Mimic, Changeling, Polaris, Havok Why They Make The List: "It's a bit crazy to think that the fab five original X-Men—plus their erstwhile mentor, Professor X—couldn't sustain an ongoing series back in the day, since, like fine wine, they've gotten better with age. Unlike a lot of other cookie-cutter team line-ups from the Silver Age, the original X-Men demonstrated a cool and contrasting variety of personalities, with the shy guy, the rich jerk, the brainy jock, the funny kid and the girl all vying for attention and colliding in an explosion of hormones and mutant powers. The awesome X-MEN: FIRST CLASS series has gone a long way in showing the untapped potential in this quirky teen team and continues to do so each and every month." – Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: X-MEN: CHILDREN OF THE ATOM #1—The origin of the X-Men retold with the gorgeous art of Steve Rude!

2. POST-PHOENIX SAGA X-MEN Approximate Tenure: UNCANNY X-MEN #138 (1980)-UNCANNY X-MEN #200 (1985) Core Roster: Professor X, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Kitty Pryde & Rogue Latecomers/Short Termers/Hangers On: Cyclops, Angel, Rachel Summers Why They Make The List: "Seemingly betrayed by one of their founding members, this team had to dust themselves off after Dark Phoenix and welcome new members that were either incredibly green—Kitty—or former foes—Rogue—and face a bold new direction as Cyclops left active duty. This rag-tag group faced love and loss in the romance of Kitty and Colossus as well as Wolverine's near-marriage to Mariko, the deadly Brood and Storm got a mohawk. How can you go wrong? Plus, this team was in the first comic I ever bought, so it's number one in my book." – RunawayJ Spotlight Comic: UNCANNY X-MEN #139—It's Kitty Pryde's first day as an X-Man, and the team will never be the same again!

1. THE ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT X-MEN Approximate Tenure: GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 (1975)-UNCANNY X-MEN #137 (1980) Core Roster: Professor X, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus & Banshee Latecomers/Short Termers/Hangers On: Phoenix, Sunfire, Thunderbird Why They Make The List: "This is the team that changed comic books forever. The personal dynamics, the ethnic diversity and accompanying storytelling are responsible for the comic book industry today. High adventure? Check. Shocking moments in every issue? Check. Deeply nuanced relationships that keep you coming back? Check. New characters who define originality? Check. Smart use of history? Check. To quote another famous Canucklehead, simply put, this team is the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be. Every creator involved with this era changed comics for the better so fundamentally that to read these comics is to experience the purest and most seminal super hero comics of the last 30 years." –OneManDynasty Spotlight Comic: GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1—Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler and more join the X-Men for the very first time!

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