Which X-Men cover is the greatest of all time? It’s a debate with really no answer, but let’s talk it over anyway! Established in 1963, there are hundreds of amazing X-Men covers to choose from. First, here are some ground rules. I ruled out two obvious choices that would be on anyone’s lists: X-Men #1 (1963) and Giant-Size X-Men #1 (1974). We’ll have a more interesting discussion if we look at other covers besides these two. Second, to make this more manageable, I limited myself to the first two volumes of X-Men titles. Third, here are two questions that I considered when making my decision:
- Is the cover iconic? Is it widely recognized? How often has it been homaged?
- Is the cover well-illustrated? I’m no art teacher, but originality, realism, and composition are criteria I thought about.
Without further ado, in my humble opinion, below are the four contenders along with my pick for the GOAT. Please do feel free to disagree with me in the comments below!
Dave Cockrum’s X-Men #101
This issue launched the greatest X-Men storyline ever, in my opinion — the Dark Phoenix saga. Claremont and Cockrum transformed Jean Grey into the most powerful mutant ever and provided her with one of the most tragic storylines of all time. Cockrum’s cover meets the moment. Jean Grey rising from the water in a cross-like shape inspires both a sense of awe and fear — emotions that are captured on Nightcrawler’s, Storm’s, and Cyclop’s faces.
In addition, many artists have homaged Cockrum’s cover, including homages that have appeared on the covers of Avengers West Coast, New Avengers, and even Darkwing Duck.
Art Adams’ Classic X-Men #1
I’ve written about this cover before. Although there’s no inherent value to the issue itself (it’s merely a reprint of Giant-Size X-Men #1), this Art Adam’s cover is just stunning.
It has a beautiful all-white cover with the first two X-Men teams appearing as one, all drawn in Art’s distinctive style.
The detail in Colossus’s metallic skin, Angel’s wings, and Wolverine’s dynamic pose are exquisite.
Still, even though this blog is about covers only, I have a hard time selecting a GOAT that is a mere reprint.
Jim Lee’s X-Men #1
No list of the greatest X-Men covers of all-time would be complete without discussing at least one Jim Lee cover.
He has many great X-Men covers, but X-Men #1 (vol. 2) is likely the most famous. It is, after all, the greatest selling comic of all time. Also, like most Jim Lee artwork, the attention to detail is superb.
Lastly, you have to admire the ambition of this wraparound cover. Still, at the end of the day, this cover is an homage itself to X-Men #1 (vol. 1) and X-Men #104.
John Byrne’s X-Men #141
In my opinion, Days of Future Past is the second greatest X-Men storyline of all time. John Byrne’s cover captures the fear, paranoia, and confusion perfectly.
The cover (and story itself) score high in terms of originality as well. The shock of seeing our heroes being reported as slain or apprehended on an FBI-like “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list immediately captures the viewer’s interest.
Finally, the spotlight on an aged Wolverine and Kitty Pryde completes this perfectly composed portrait.
For me, at the end of the day, the top two are X-Men #101 and #141. It’s a tough call, but I’m going with #141 as the GOAT.
Which is the greatest X-Men cover of all time in your opinion? Remember, X-Men #1 (vol. 1) and Giant-Size X-Men #1 don’t count! Please list your GOAT in the comments section below!