X-Men readers have been feasting well these past few years. Ever since 2019’s House of X and Powers of X reinvigorated this long-running franchise, the X-Men line has resumed its place as the most dynamic and exciting corner of the Marvel Universe. Case in point, Immortal X-Men recently won IGN’s Best Comic Book Series of 2022 award.
The only catch is that it can be difficult for new readers to know where exactly to dive in with the current X-Men line. Where do you start? Do you really need to follow every single monthly title, or are certain comics more important than others? How can readers prepare for the upcoming Fall of X storyline in Summer 2023?
We hope to answer all of those questions in this guide. Read on to see several options for following Marvel’s current X-Men crop, whether you want to read just the bare minimum or you want to savor every last piece of this ambitious, ongoing saga.
Start Here: House of X & Powers of X
There’s no one, right answer when it comes to which current X-Men comics you need to read, but there is just one place to get started. No matter whether you want to consume every series or just read a few essentials, you really need to begin where the current status quo began in House of X and Powers of X.
These two six-issue series tell an interconnected story about mutantkind making its latest and most ambitious attempt at creating a nation for itself, using the living island of Krakoa as a new home. House of X explores the present-day fallout of Professor Xavier and Magneto’s new alliance, while Powers of X explores the far-reaching ramifications of that act across several points in the Marvel timeline. There are several huge twists along the way, including one that fundamentally transforms a major character and their place in the Marvel Universe.
By the end, Hickman establishes a radically different status quo for mutantkind that pushes the franchise forward. This is the foundation on which every subsequent book in the current X-Men line is built, so it makes no sense to skip these two all-important comics. Fortunately, they’re collected together in a single, orderly graphic novel.
Option 1: Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men
Jonathan Hickman is definitely the architect of the current X-Men line, and the one most responsible for defining the tone and direction of the Krakoan era. In fact, Hickman was crowned “Head of X,” essentially serving as the showrunner of the franchise and guiding the development of the other books under his watch.
It makes sense that Hickman’s post-House of X comics are the most essential, and the ones that do the most to direct the flow of the franchise over the long run. And for those who just want to read a select few X-books while still experiencing the most important stories, sticking to Hickman’s comics isn’t a bad option.
Hickman wrote the 2019-2021 X-Men series, which consists mainly of standalone stories revolving around Cyclops and his family and a select handful of other mutants. These stories help expand the scope of the new mutant status quo and make it clear what threats the X-Men still face from humans and machines alike. That series is collected in a trio of “X-Men by Jonathan Hickman” trade paperbacks, as well as a hardcover Omnibus.
Hickman also oversaw 2020’s X of Swords crossover, a sprawling epic that chronicles the first great challenge to the new mutant nation. Hickman also wrote the limited series Giant-Size X-Men and Inferno, the story where the first real cracks in the Krakoan utopia begin to show.
Unfortunately, there’s one big problem with sticking to Hickman’s X-Men comics. He left the franchise after finishing Inferno in 2021, explaining that the other X-writers preferred to keep exploring the new status quo rather than sticking to his original three-year roadmap. It’s possible Hickman could return to write more stories once the franchise does finally move out of its current phase. But for now, sticking to only Hickman-penned comics only carries you so far.
Every X-Man Ever
Option 2: The Essential X-Men Series
Since following Hickman’s X-books alone only gets you so far, it’s probably worth branching out a little and experiencing what else the current line has to offer. There have been a lot of new X-Men comics to launch in the wake of House of X and Powers of X. It goes without saying that some have been better and more essential than others, so here’s a quick breakdown of a few worth trying:
This series focuses heavily on Kitty Pryde in her new role as a pirate captain in service of Emma Frost’s Hellfire Trading Company. Kitty and her team are charged with finding mutants in hostile nations who are prevented from traveling to Krakoa and giving them safe passage.
One of the last remaining books from the initial “Dawn of X” lineup still running, X-Force focuses on the dark underbelly of the new Krakoan era. This incarnation of X-Force is essentially the CIA/wetworks squad of Krakoa, carrying out assassinations and other missions to ensure the continued survival of the mutant nation. Because X-Force is markedly darker than most current X-books, it may not be for everyone. Beast’s portrayal in particular has proven to be one of the more controversial elements of the new X-Men line.
If you crave an ample dose of humor in your X-Men books, Hellions is where you want to turn. This series features a team of D-List mutants led by Mister Sinister, a character who has been experiencing a real renaissance under Hickman and company. The Hellions are meant to prove that even the criminals of Krakoan society can be reformed, though with Sinister steering this ship, things definitely get weird.
No X-Men lineup is complete without a series focused on the younger generation of mutants. New Mutants features multiple generations of X-Men finding their place in this bold new era. The series reached its peak potential under writer Vita Ayala, with the fallout of the X of Swords crossover opening up even more storytelling potential.
Immortal X-Men launched in the aftermath of Hickman’s final story in Inferno, and in many ways this series could be viewed as the new flagship book of the X-Men line. Immortal X-Men focuses on the Quiet Council, the group of 12 mutants who govern Krakoa, with each issue spotlighting a different member. There’s plenty of backstabbing and betrayal as each member pursues their own agenda and struggles to form alliances, making this series perfect for the Game of Thrones-loving X-Men fan.
Arguably the other “main” book in the X-Men line post-Inferno, X-Men Red focuses on Storm, Magneto and Sunspot as they establish a new base of operations on Mars (hence the “Red” in the title). At this point in the Krakoan era, Mars has been terraformed and transformed into Arrako, a home to the millions of mutants freed during the events of X of Swords. It’s also worth checking out Ewing’s previous series SWORD, which leads into the events of X-Men Red.
The X-Men Movies in (Chronological) Order
Option 3: How to Read Everything
It’s an exciting time to be an X-Men reader, and we certainly don’t blame those who just want to experience everything the franchise has to offer. Fortunately, Marvel makes it very easy to follow every current X-Men comic in chronological order via a system of orderly trade paperbacks.
Thus far, Marvel has divided the Krakoan Age into three main phases – Dawn of X, Reign of X and Trials of X. Dawn of X explores the initial creation and expansion of the mutant nation. Reign of X showcases Krakoa at the height of its power and influence. Trials of X is about the new and growing threats to Krakoa, as storm clouds begin to gather on the horizon.
Marvel is already teasing the next phase, set to begin in Summer 2023 – Fall of X. That certainly sounds ominous.
If you’re looking to read everything, here’s a full breakdown of what’s been collected in these chronological trade paperbacks so far (note that all the X-books are also being collected in their own, dedicated graphic novels as well).
- House of X/Powers of X
- Dawn of X Vols. 1-15
- X of Swords
- Reign of X Vols. 1-14
- Trials of X Vols. 1-ongoing
Option 4: The Non-Krakoa X-Men Books
The new X-Men status quo is bold and exciting, but it’s not necessarily for everyone. What about X-fans who prefer more traditional stories about the X-Men operating out of a school and fighting to promote peace between humans and mutants?
Gerry Duggan’s X-Men series (which replaced Hickman’s X-Men in 2021) is probably the closest thing the current line has to a “traditional” X-book right now. It features Cyclops and Jean Grey leading a team out of their NYC headquarters and acting more like superheroes again. However, it’s still a book very much intertwined in all the events happening on Krakoa.
Another option is X-Men Legends, an anthology series set before the current Krakoan era. Each issue of X-Men Legends flashes back to an earlier period in the franchise’s history, bringing back classic X-Men creators to tell new stories set during those familiar eras. For example, the first issue jumps back to the ‘90s X-Men era to resolve that lingering mystery of Adam-X and the Third Summers Brother. Legends is ideal for those with a heavy deal of nostalgia for the older X-Men comics.
Finally, there’s always the existing X-Men comics. The franchise has been around for 60 years now, and there’s a lot of great material that predates the Krakoan Age. We’d recommend checking out IGN’s Top 25 X-Men graphic novels list for some recommendations.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.