US Comic-book series, created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee for Marvel Comics in 1963. Kirby drew the first 11 issues and Lee wrote the first 19. Not as immediately successful as Marvel's other properties, it had an initial 66-issue run, and then ran reprints until #93 (1974). A new team of X-Men was introduced in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (cover dated May 1975, released in February). The success of this issue led to a relaunch of the series with #94 later that year. Many highly regarded artists have worked on the series over the years, notably Neal Adams, John Byrne, Dave Cockrum, Jim Lee, James Steranko and Barry Windsor-Smith; while later writers have been Roy Thomas (#20-#43, #55-#64 and #66), Arnold Drake (#44-#54), Len Wein (#94-#95 and Giant Size #1) and Chris Claremont (#96-#279). After a 16-year unbroken writing run, a record for a Marvel title, Claremont left the series following a dispute; he has since returned to the title and its respective spin-offs.
X-Men, published mostly as The Uncanny X-Men and under several additional titles, differs from apparently similar costumed-Superhero comics in that the X-Men, "feared and hated by the world they have sworn to protect", are all Mutants. Ignorance and fear of mutants was the subtext to the first run, and in the second series much emphasized by Claremont, who saw the comic as showing "racism and prejudice . . . and what it's like to be a victim of it". He most successfully realized this theme in God Loves, Man Kills (1982), an X-Men Graphic Novel in which a fundamentalist televangelist launches a crusade against mutants. X-Men was the best-selling US comic for most of the 1980s, its success spawning numerous miniseries and spin-offs, including but not limited to The New Mutants (1983-1991, 2003-2004, 2009-current), X-Factor (1986-2002, 2006-current), Excalibur (1988-2004), Wolverine (1988-current), X-Force (1991-2002) and a second X-Men (1991-current). Nearly all the traditional sf themes, from Genetic Engineering to Time Travel, have been used in X-Men.
Film adaptations began with the trilogy X-Men (2000), X2 (2003; vt X2: X-Men United, X-Men 2, X-Men 2: X-Men United), and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), followed by a complex slate of spin-off franchises. For discussion of these, see X-Men Films. Having sold film rights to the X-Men franchise, Marvel attempted a second bite of the Mutant Superhero cherry with the lookalike Television series Mutant X (2001-2004); litigation followed. [RH/NL/JP/DRL]
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