Since their debut in 1963, the X-Men have sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them. But you know what? Here at AiPT!, we’ve got nothing but love for Marvel’s mighty mutants! To celebrate the long-awaited return of Uncanny X-Men, AiPT! Brings you UNCANNY X-MONTH: 30 days of original X-Men content. Hope you survive the experience…Most comic book fans have a pretty good idea what they’re going to buy every week when they visit their local comic shop. With that said, there’s still a lot of fun to be had just glancing at the week’s new releases and taking a chance on a book that looks promising. That’s where covers come in–a fantastic image can make the difference between trying something new or saying, “Nah, not this week.”
Throughout Uncanny X-Month, we’ll be publishing special editions of Judging by the Cover. This week, we asked our contributors to share their favorite Uncanny X-Men covers of all time, ahead of the flagship X-book’s return. Here’s what Uncanny X-Month Curator Chris Hassan, contributor Trevor Richardson, Manga Editor Eric Cline and Media and Content Manager David Brooke picked out:
Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #136
Cover art by John Byrne
There have been so many great X-Men eras, but for me, it always goes back to those legendary Chris Claremont/John Byrne collaborations. As a fan of Cyclops and Jean Grey, my favorite of these stories was, of course, “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” As each chapter’s cover is iconic in its own right, it was hard to pick a favorite. But if I have to, for the sake of Judging by the Cover, I’ll go with Byrne’s heart-wrenching cover to Uncanny X-Men #136. No image better sums up the epic tragedy that is Jean Grey’s fall from grace. Also, it’s not often you see vibrant, neon pink on covers. Well, actually…
Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #138
Cover art by John Byrne
OK. So maybe neon pink backgrounds were more common than I remember in the early ’80s. As I mentioned before, I’m a Cyclops guy, so covers like that of Uncanny X-Men #138 will always carry more weight for me. While Jean’s nowhere to be seen among the X-Men, this cover’s all about her and the tremendous impact her death has had on a heartbroken Scott Summers. Claremont teased that losing Jean would be the one loss the X-Men’s leader couldn’t take and now we see how right he was. Where will Cyclops go? Can the still-new team of X-Men survive without his leadership? It’s a simple image that says so much. Also, win a Toys “R” Us shopping spree!!!
Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 3) #22
Cover by Chris Bachalo
Again, sorry not sorry for all the Cyclops here. I have more than three favorites but I felt I needed to represent a more recent Uncanny X-Men cover. So, I went to Brian Michael Bendis’ third volume–which I loved quite a bit–and selected #22 by the always phenomenal Chris Bachalo. My, how Scott has changed since the ’80s. What I love the most about this image of Cyclops in full mutant revolutionary mode is just how dangerous and unpredictable he’s become. And what better way to get that point across then by blasting through the logo of the ultimate authority in the Marvel Universe: S.H.I.E.L.D.
Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 3) #7
Cover art by Frazer Irving
My first real exposure to Magik was in Bendis’s run on Uncanny and it was these issues that made me need to know more about her. I loved seeing her go full Diablo on Dormammu and Frazer Irving depicts her here in all her demonic glory. Really sells why all those spikes are on her costume too.
Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 3) #27
Cover art by Chris Bachalo
I love seeing this cover in the context of Bendis’s run. Cyclops’s concussive blasts are broken and out of his control, which is all this cover conveys at first glance, but seeing them bend around the bird almost makes you think he’s willing their shape to preserve the bird’s life. It’s a great cover to convey the Cyclops of the Bendis run. A little broken, arguably a little out of control, but still working to do what’s right.
Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 4) #10
Cover art by Christian Ward
Christian Ward is one of those artists where I will buy a book I’m not even reading if he did the cover. Xorn is one of those characters where even though he’s a continuity trainwreck, his aesthetic and mutation make him one of my favorite X-Men regardless. You can see how I logically came to the conclusion that this cover is one of my favorites. It makes me so thirsty for Christian Ward to do a cosmic X-book with Xorn on the team.
Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 3) #1
Cover art by Chris Bachalo
This is the only X-Men cover I have a t-shirt of. It’s so good. Cyclops’s “I want you…” point and pose, the rest of the team huddled together looking imposing… it’s bold, it’s cool, it’s Bachalo.
Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #17
Cover art by Jack Kirby
I wanted to include a cover from the X-Men’s early days, because there is a lot of underappreciated art from those days. After all, it’s Jack Kirby–and this cover is high drama. Having the entire image cast in red and black is a striking decision, and makes it clear that the team is in peril. The caption is also wonderfully over-the-top: “And none shall survive!”
Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #198
Cover art by Barry Windsor-Smith
I can never get enough of Barry Windsor-Smith. This is just gorgeous, and it captures the sheer awe of Storm as a character. The colors are beautiful, and the clouds behind Ororo are stunningly depicted. All in all, Windsor-Smith conveys the immense power of both nature and everyone’s favorite wind-rider.
Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #135
Art by John Byrne
This is one of the most iconic covers for the X-Men due to it capitalizing on Jean going full Phoenix and ruining everything. I love how large she’s depicted here, revealing she’s so impossible to stop our heroes are basically insects. The insanity in her eyes is impressive too.
Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #122
Cover art by Dave Cockrum
I like a cover that tells a story in itself and here we have a couple things going on. Cyclops’s concern, Wolverine’s shock and Colossus going ham on the Danger Room machine attempting to crush him. He’s having none of this!
Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #251
Cover by Marc Silvestri
How flipping dark is this cover? Silvestri is at the top of his game with this image, which features foreboding skulls at the bottom and Wolverine in a Christ-like position. The use of purple and sickly green is unnerving too.
What are your favorite Uncanny X-Men covers of all time? Let us know in the comment space below!