While the X-Men‘s early years aren’t the most illustrious, their mid-70s comeback put them on the path to be the bestselling comic in the industry well into the ’00s. Before the MCU, the X-Men were Marvel’s big ticket and their success kept the lights on at Marvel even when things were at their most dire. The X-Men have a multitude of fans, but not everyone loves them.

The X-Men’s mythos have long been thought of as rather opaque, which isn’t exactly untrue. However, if millions of fans could get into the X-Men during the pre-Internet age, when it was much harder to catch up, readers in the modern era can get into the X-Men by reading some key stories that require the barest minimum of X-Men knowledge.

RELATED: A Sinister X-Men Villain May Be Trying To Manipulate Exodus

10 House Of X/Powers Of X

By Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz, R.B. Silva, Marte Gracia, and Clayton Cowles

Jonathan Hickman’s revolutionary X-Men run brought the mutant super-team back to the top of the comic industry. Because Disney didn’t own the film rights to the X-Men, Marvel had spent years marginalizing the X-Men and angering the fanbase. All of that changed when Disney purchased 20th Century Fox; Marvel got Hickman to redefine the X-Men, providing the perfect jumping on point for fans.

House of X/Powers of X gave readers an entirely new status quo, one that took them away from the mansion and onto the living mutant island called Krakoa. The two books that are one dropped all kinds of change on the X-Men, surprising everyone who read it. The two books give readers a story that requires the barest knowledge of X-Men lore, which is what made them such a great jumping-on point.

9 Astonishing X-Men: Gifted

By Joss Whedon, John Cassaday, Laura Martin, and Chris Eliopolous

Astonishing X-Men (Vol. 3) became the flagship X-Men book when writer Grant Morrison left New X-Men and Marvel. Whedon and Cassaday were given carte blanche to create a new X-Men book, and they did that by borrowing from the past. Astonishing X-Men has the feel of the old Claremont stories and the book’s first story provides a perfect jumping on point for readers.

Astonishing X-Men: Gifted is the X-Men as superheroes at their finest, as they deal with the revelation of a mutant cure and how it affects the team and students at the Xavier Institute. Of course, there’s more than meets the eye to the situation, as the X-Men find themselves battling a new villain who has a secret surprise for the team.

8 The Brood Saga

By Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, Bob Wiacek, Glynis Wein, and Tom Orzechowski

Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #161-167 take the team that’s known for being Marvel’s civil right allegory and blasts them into space. The X-Men have a long history of sci-fi stories, something non-fans won’t know, and “The Brood Saga” stands head and shoulders above the rest. To begin with, it has the return of artist Dave Cockrum, who had helped bring the X-Men back to prominence in Giant-Size X-Men #1.

The Brood had appeared a scant six issues before and this story sold them as the terrible threat they were. This is basically Aliens with the X-Men, and it came out six whole years before that movie was a glimmer in James Cameron’s eye. The Brood are obviously based on Alien, and this story owes a lot to that horror classic.

RELATED: Every X-Men Comic Currently Running (& Their Most Recent Issue)

7 God Loves, Man Kills

By Chris Claremont, Brad Anderson, Steve Oliff, and Tom Orzechowski

God Loves, Man Kills saw the racist Reverend Stryker and his Purifiers begin targeting mutants, with the X-Men and Magneto team up to battle them and their twisted ideology of hate. It’s the kind of story that Marvel doesn’t really do anymore, a story that resonates with the society that created it and that is unfortunately a powerful reminder of how humanity can twist even the most beautiful things.

There are few books out there that get across the inhumanity of humans to their fellows as God Loves, Man Kills. It’s among the earliest team-ups between the X-Men and Magneto, and is just an amazing and powerful story. With its classic roster and timeless message, this one has it all for non-X-Men fans and then some.

6 The Age Of Apocalypse

The Age of Apocalypse is Marvel’s best multiverse story. This alternate universe epic takes place in a world where Charles Xavier was killed before he could form the X-Men during his days in Israel when he first met Magneto. Apocalypse rises up years before he did in the 616 because of the lack of the X-Men, grabbing the Americas in his iron fist and slaughtering humans by the millions for being weak.

All a non-X-Men fan needs to know for this story to make sense is the barest minimum. It’s a very long story – clocking in at around 40 issues – but it’s an entirely new universe, with familiar characters taking new roles. While not every part is amazing, there are enough amazing comics, by Marvel’s best creators of the ’90s, that will grab new fans and never let go.

5 Days Of Future Past

By Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Terry Austin, Glynis Wein, and Tom Orzechowski

Uncanny X-Men #141-142 took readers into a dark alternate future, one where the Sentinels had taken over the world after the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly caused the passing of the Mutant Registration Act. The Sentinels killed all the superheroes and supervillains, with a ragtag group of X-Men coming up with a desperate plan to stop their terrible future.

Days of Future Past is the first major dystopian future story in comics. It created a trope in the X-Men mythos and comic industry. Days of Future Past is another story that takes very little prior knowledge of the X-Men, but will thrill any reader.

4 The Dark Phoenix Saga

By Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Terry Austin, Bob Sharon, and Tom Orzechowski

Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #129-138 introduced the Hellfire Club and Kitty Pryde, integral characters to the X-Men mythos. It gave readers the culmination of the Phoenix storyline, with Jean Grey finally breaking after mental manipulation by the evil mutant Mastermind. Phoenix became Dark Phoenix and the X-Men had to deal with their friend becoming a nigh-omnipotent destroyer of entire solar systems.

It’s a poetic epic, one that has the exact amount of pathos, mixed with amazing superhero action. It’s the kind of story that has proven to be impossible replicate with the same power in any other medium. The Dark Phoenix Saga is a story that is familiar to every comic fan and unlike anything else they’ve ever experienced.

3 Avengers/X-Men: Utopia

By Matt Fraction, Marc Silvestri, Luke Ross, Terry Dodson, Mike Deodato Jr., Michael Broussard, Eric Basaluda, Tyler Kirkham, Sheldon Mitchell, Frank D’Armata, Chris Eliopolous, Rachel Dodson, Justin Ponsor, Joe Caramagna, Rick Magyar, Mark Pennington, Christina Strain, Rain Beredo, Cory Petit

Avengers/X-Men: Utopia comes from an interesting time for both teams. The X-Men had just moved to San Francisco after the latest destruction of the X-Mansion and the Avengers were Norman Osborn’s villain team. After an anti-mutant riot gets a little hot, Osborn declares martial law and moves his Avengers and HAMMER into town, also bringing a surprise team – his own group of Dark X-Men.

This story pits the X-Men against the Avengers and their allies. It’s a rollicking good time, a book that has all the action a body needs. It’s good for readers who want to see the X-Men and Avengers in different ways than they ever have before, and is a story that works better for having such unique circumstances.

RELATED: X-Men: Fall of X Could Damage the Marvel Universe Worse Than Days of Future Past

2 New X-Men: E Is For Extinction

By Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Ethan Van Sciver, Tim Townsend, Brian Haberlin, Prentiss Rollins, Hi-Fi Design, Richard Starkings, and Comicraft

New X-Men #114 kicked off a new era of X-Men. Superstar writer Grant Morrison came onboard on the book and immediately changed everything. E Is For Extinction introduced a new X-Men team, focusing on rescuing and mutants and bringing them to the school more than fighting supervillains. Unfortunately, new villain Cassandra Nova decides that it’s a good day for genocide.

Morrison’s New X-Men was a revolutionary take on a team that had grown a bit stale by 2001. It’s a tour de force and its opening story arc hits all the right notes. It does things completely different from what came before and after it, and may appeal to fans who have never liked the X-Men before.

1 X-Men (Vol. 2) #1-3

By Chris Claremont, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Joe Rosas, and Tom Orzechowski

Chris Claremont’s X-Men run ended on a high note. X-Men (Vol. 2) was started to give Jim Lee a place to show off his art and plotting skills, and Claremont got one last go with the artist before he went out the door. The story, running through the first three issues of the book, saw both creators at the height of their powers.

Pitting the X-Men against Magneto and his all-new team of servants the Acolytes, this book is full of the beautiful art and deft writing that Claremont and Lee had become known for. It holds up over 30 years later, a showcase of what makes the X-Men Marvel’s most interesting, if not its greatest, superhero team.

 While the X-Men may be one of Marvel’s most successful franchises, readers who aren’t fans could use these comics to jump into their world.  Read More