Why do I even do lists like this on the Internet? Someone is just gonna leave the rude comment “invalid” or “stupid list” on our Facebook page, which is perfectly fair, as lists like this are entirely subjective.
Yet it will hurt my feelings and I’ll need to use my powers in a vengeful manner and I’ll invite my friends to back me up and we’ll call ourselves the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, which will force the X-Men to battle us. At that point we’ll need to study up on the X-Men so we don’t get our butts handed to us, and to do that we’ll want to focus on the 7 Best X-Men Teams of All Time, which are below.
The 7 Best X-Men Teams of All Time
Lineup: Cyclops, Jean, Beast, Iceman, and Angel (1986)
It would be criminal not to include the Original Five somewhere on this list. But while the O5 have had a significant appearance in 3 different eras, the 1960s era X-Men never really grew past two dimensional characters and the All-New, All-Different contrivance that brought the O5 from the past to the future was a victim of Bendis-speak and ultimately unsatisfying beyond the initial gimmick.
But the 1986 X-Factor series that brought the O5 back together for a series that ran adjacent to the Uncanny X-Men was a fantastic team comic.
Not only were the original X-Men fully together again but this was a era when the characters grew in their personalities and interacted in bold new ways. Further, the X-Factor run had the melodrama that Claremont-era comics were known, yet 80s comics had not yet drifted into the modern comic trend of extreme decompression where nothing ultimately happens over the course of an issue.
Instead, it had some great action-filled villains and storylines like the Marauders, Four Horsemen and more, while also including engaging character dynamics like the Jean-Cyclops-Madelyn Pryor love triangle.
Lineup: Captain Britain, Meggan, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, Rachel Summers (1987)
X-Men stalwarts like Kurt and Kitty went across the pond to join up with Captain Britain in the UK and the results were amazing. Excalibur could be both gonzo and tender, sometimes in the span of the same issue.
The Cross Time Caper was as entertaining a comic story as you’ll see, having the team warp across alternate universes as they tried to figure out a way home. Stories like that are now commonplace (Spider-Verse is a recent example) but Excalibur helped to establish the trope, and did it wonderfully.
The team was built up with quirky characters and it rippled out from there, with the side characters like Widget, the little floating robot, being even quirkier. And the villains were great as well, featuring the Crazy Gang, Sat-YR-9, and Technet.
3 Blue and Gold
Lineup: (Blue) Cyclops, Beast, Wolverine, Rogue, Psylocke, Gambit, and Jubliee. (1991)
Lineup: (Gold) Storm, Iceman, Archangel, Jean Grey, Colossus, Bishop and Forge. (1991)
By the early 90s, the roster of X-Men had grown to the point that it was split into two teams. Sadly, it was around this era that the Chris Claremont golden era was winding down, but Blue and Gold still produced some wonderful moments, largely because the team mixes were among the best of all time.
In some ways this was the beginning of the end of the golden age of the X-Men. While several titles were already on the newsstands, Gold and Blue blew the idea of several teams wide open and the team hasn’t had a strong sense of cohesion since. Plus, Claremont’s voice was waning, the most tragic thing of all. Yet, despite that, the two strong teams also marked a watershed moment of fans getting to see two incredible lineups at once.
4 New X-Men
Lineup: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Emma Frost, Beast, Wolverine, Xorn, and a bunch of oddball new students. (2001)
A decade later, Grant Morrison did something entirely different with the core X-Men team. With the golden age over, Morrison didn’t even try to reinvent that. Instead, he chose to get creative and make things weird.
Sure, New X-Men featured fan-favorite characters like Jean, Cyke, and Wolvie, but the addition of Emma Frost created for wonderfully dramatic moments when she interacted with Jean. Plus, Xorn was added, as was an entirely school full of strange and oddball young mutant students.
Sadly, most of Morrison’s plot points were retconned, but reading them in the moment was a real treat. And the character work he did lasted decades.
5 New Mutants
Lineup: Cannonball, Mirage, Wolfsbane, Sunspot, Magma, Magick, Warlock and Doug Ramsey. (1983)
Given the absurd popularity of early 80s X-Men, it was inevitable that the team would expand. Bringing in a team of teenaged mutant to serve as the next class of Xavier students was wonderful and brilliant.
Oddly heavy and grim for a teenage book, New Mutants nevertheless became nearly as beloved as Uncanny. It featured iconic storylines such as the Demon Bear Saga and multiple trips to Limbo, as well as much beloved characters who were learning to become adults.
By the time the titles was effectively rebooted with the appearance of Cable and Deadpool, the original team was already one of the most iconic teams in X-Men history.
Lineup: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Sunfire, Thunderbird, and Banshee. (1975)
Marvel stopped creating X-Men stories after issue 66 due to low sales and simply reprinted old stories to keep the title alive on life support. So Giant-Size X-Men was the first new X-Men story in several years and introduced characters you may have heard of: Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, and Nightcrawler.
Chris Claremont then took over these characters in Uncanny X-Men #94, kicking off a 16 year run on the title that would go down in history.
This core team of characters served on various teams over the years and are as beloved as any characters in any media or genre property.
7 Australian Era
Lineup: Storm, Wolverine, Havok, Colossus, Rogue, Psylocke, Dazzler, Longshot, Jubilee, Gambit, and Gateway. (1988)
I’ve written about this era before, as it is undoubtedly my favorite. I also think it is the best.
The team was stripped of everything at this point–their home, their family, their resources–this team had to solely rely on each other, scrapping by as they continued their role as heroes underground and in the shadows.
There were also wonderful character moments during this era, as Claremont really leaned into the situation, the environment, and the particular mix of X-Men. It was a great X-Men team, the best if you ask me.