The definitive issue-by-issue comic book collecting guide and trade reading order for Marvel’s Silver Age X-Men and X-Men Hidden Years comic books in omnibus, hardcover, and trade paperback collections. Part of Crushing Krisis’s Crushing Comics. Last updated September 2023 with titles scheduled for release through April 2024.
The Silver Age X-Men
The X-Men debuted in 1963 under the pen of the father of the Silver Age Marvel Universe, Stan Lee, and his frequent collaborator, Jack Kirby.
X-Men (1963) is one of the most important key issues of the Silver Age because the team debuted fully formed with a complete cast of Professor Xavier, Cyclops, Marvel Girl AKA Jean Grey, Angel, Iceman, Beast – and, their signature foe, Magneto!
The “Original Five” were lead by Professor Xavier against foes like Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Namor, Unus The Untouchable, The Blob, Juggernaut, the original Sentinels, and many other classic X-Men enemies that are recalled to this day. Issue #4 introduced Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who would soon migrate to the Avengers to become a part of “Caps Kooky Quartet” along with a third reformed villain, Hawkeye.
The original run of X-Men lasted from issue #1 in September 1963 through issue #66 in March 1970. From there, the title continued exclusively as a bi-monthly reprint book from issues #67-93, republishing prior issues with new cover illustrations.
Those five ears ended in 1975 with the publication of Giant Size X-Men and the relaunch of the title with a new cast in issue #94.
Though no new X-Men material was published from 1970 to 1974, the team was still active at the margins of the Marvel Universe – as seen in occasional guest appearances. That has led this period to be dubbed “The Hidden Years” by both Marvel and fans. Those “Hidden Years” contain contemporaneous Silver and Bronze Age material from the period, as well as later-inserted material.
Since all of that material features the assembled Silver Age team, it is also covered by this guide – distinguished as “Silver & Bronze Hiatus Appearances” and “Modern Age Hidden Years.”
(Making things even more confusing, the “Modern Age Hidden Years” should generally be read first – since it does not include the fuzzy version of Beast!)
Because this era is covered comprehensively by multiple formats, I have not listed the full breadth of single issues collected by story or single issue – there’s no reason to collect this run in that fashion. However, I have included some key issues below to help orient you to major moments in the Silver Age run.
If you want a reading order of every X-Men comic and character in that period (including guest appearances, flashbacks, and retcon stories), see The Definitive X-Men Reading Order, Era #1: Original X-Men.
A note on the title of this series: The official publication name of this title was “X-Men” through the Silver Age and beyond. The title was not formally changed to “Uncanny X-Men” until the indicia of issue #142. However, Marvel routinely refers to the entirety of this 1963 – 2010 volume as “Uncanny X-Men,” as on this Marvel Unlimited entry for issue #1. As a result, my convention on Crushing Comics is to always refer to the entire series as “Uncanny X-Men,” even prior to the indicia change.
- Collecting Silver Age X-Men – Uncanny X-Men (1963) #1-93 & The Hidden Years
- Omnibus – Premium color reprints in oversize hardcovers
- Marvel Masterworks – Premium color reprints in standard-size hardcovers with carefully-restored linework
- Mighty Marvel Masterworks – Affordable digest-size color paperback reprints
- Epic Collections – Comprehensive color paperback collections of an entire title or character
- Marvel Essentials – Black-and-white reprints on newsprint paper
- Licensed Reprints – Standardized reprint formats by companies other than Marvel
- Key Issues – Notable issues in the run of Silver Age X-Men, as well as the “X-Men” Season One” OGN
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Marvel Essentials are phone-book-sized collections of issues printed in black and white on thin, matte newsprint paper. They were a great way to read classic comics on a budget, and to experience the original pencils and inks of revered comic artists! This line was discontinued in 2013 to make way for the Epic Collection line, but not before it completely covered this era of X-Men.
Each volume went through multiple printings with different cover dress.
This series did not collect any Hiatus material other than what is included below, and ended without collecting Hidden Years.
Essential Classic X-Men, Vol. 2
(2006 b&w paperback, ISBN 978-0785121169)
Collects Uncanny X-men (1963) #25-53 and Avengers (1963) #53.
Essential Classic X-Men Vol. 3
(2009 b&w paperback, ISBN 978-0785130604)
Collects Uncanny X-Men #54-66 (and covers from #67-80) Amazing Adventures (1972) #11-17; Marvel Team-Up (1972) #4 (full team); and Incredible Hulk (1968) #150 & 161 (Havok/Polaris & Beast/Mimic).
Starting after 2020, Marvel began to license reprints of their classic Silver Age comics to other publishing companies to product new and different formats aimed specifically at bookstore shoppers rather than the comic book direct market.
Taschen: The Avengers: 1963-1966 (2023 oversize hardcover, ISBN 978-3836594547)
Collects (1963) #1-21. Taschen is a globally-recognized publisher in high-end art reproduction. This is a massive, larger-than-omnibus collection with pages shot with a camera from original printings and digitally restored.
Penguin Classics: The X-Men (2023 hardcover, ISBN 978-0143135760 / 2023 paperback, ISBN 978-0143135777)
Collects (1963) #1 (first X-Men), 3-5 (Brotherhood of Evil Mutants), 7-8 (Cerebro, Unus), 14-16 (Sentinels), 38 (I suspect this could actually be 39, which is the first new costumes), 41-42, & 44-46. A reprint in the style of Penguin’s classroom-oriented reprints of classic literature, including scholarly commentary in the form of a forward (by Rainbow Rowell) and apparatus (AKA text notes).
- #1: The debut of Xavier, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Angel, Beast, Iceman, and Magneto
- #2: Debut of Vanisher
- #3: Debut of Blob
- #4: Debut of Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Toad, and Mastermind
- #6: Namor meets Magneto
- #7: First Cerebro
- #8: Debut of Unus the Untouchable
- #10: Debut of Ka-Zar and Zabu
- #12: Debut of Juggernaut
- #14-16: First Sentinels story; #15 is the debut of Mastermold
- #19: Debut of Mimic
- #20: Roy Thomas takes over writing duties
- #28: Debut of Banshee
- #39: The debut of the team’s individual costumes, including Jean’s little green dress.
- #43: A key Magneto story; continues to Avengers (1963) #50
- #49: Debut of Polaris (as Lorna Dane) and Mesmero
- #50: Jim Steranko pencils
- #54: Debut of Havok (as Alex Summers)
- #56: Neal Adams takes over as penciller
- #60: Debut of Sauron
- #64: Debut of Sunfire
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