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Uncanny X-Men is an ongoing title starring the X-Men. It was created in September, 1963 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and after a brief hiatus, relaunched in 1975 by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum. It is often regarded as the flagship book of the X-Men line. It is also seen by many as the only Silver Age Marvel comic that will have retained its original numbering through issue #500.
Launched in 1963 as The X-Men by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the title starred five of a new kind of super-hero: mutants born with their abilities rather than having them granted. Led by their paraplegic leader Professor X, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, Angel and Marvel Girl were students in a school formed to teach them how to use their powers. Many of the early issues pitted the team against the villain Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, by the time the creative reins were handed over to Roy Thomas, the X-Men began to branch out throughout the Marvel Universe
Sales of The X-Men remained sub-par, even through an acclaimed run by Thomas and artist Neal Adams and the book ended runs of new stories after issue #66 in March, 1970. Nine months later, the book began re-printing back issues bi-monthly. This proceeded until Marvel began promoting Giant Size versions of many of its titles and it was decided to give the X-Men a whole new look and feel. With 1975's Giant Size X-Men #1, a new team, created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum was rolled out. Characters debuting here included Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and the return of an Incredible Hulk guest-star, Wolverine. Reception was good and with writer Chris Claremont at the helm, new life was breathed into the title with issue #94.
Claremont hit the ground running and didn't look back. He began immediately with an impact in killing off new member Thunderbird and introducing a drastic redesign of Marvel Girl as Phoenix. He quickly took the team through the cosmos, introducing the Shi'ar Empire and just as easily brought them back for down-to-earth stories. He reintroduced new takes on old characters - most notably providing Magneto with his Holocaust-centered origin and removing the more tyrannical aspects of his Silver Age persona.
The title truly hit its stride with the arrival of penciler and co-plotter John Byrne as of issue #108. Together, Claremont and Byrne told numerous memorable stories including the Dark Phoenix Saga, Days of Future Past and Magneto Triumphant!
Launching a franchise
The popularity of Uncanny X-Men caused the launch of numerous spin-off titles including New Mutants, Wolverine, and later X-Factor. Meanwhile, Claremont kept the title fresh by shifting the roster and keeping every character busy. New characters like Rogue and Rachel Summers replaced old ones and new villains and side-characters such as the Morlocks were brought in. By the early-to-mid 80s, Uncanny was hosting its own crossover events like the Mutant Massacre and the Fall of the Mutants. By the end of the 80s, Uncanny had become so popular that it warranted the publishing of a second monthly title, X-Men vol. 2. Just after that was released in 1991, Chris Claremont finally said goodbye to the mutant world he had built after 16 years writing the title.
Initially the two titles divided the X-Men roster, with Uncanny hosting the Gold Strike Force of Storm, Archangel, Jean Grey, Icemanand Colossus - with new character Bishop shortly joining the ranks. However, the title's main creator, Whilce Portacio left Marvel with numerous others shortly after and both X-Men titles, as well as Rob Liefeld's X-Force was left somewhat directionless. New writer Scott Lobdell came on to fill the gap and took the title through an overabundance of crossover events including X-Cutioner's Song and Fatal Attractions. Gradually, the two teams lost their distinction and the two titles played host to the entire expansive X-Men roster.
Following the Legion Quest storyline, the entire X-Men line was renamed for four issues for the Age of Apocalypse mega-event. Uncanny became Astonishing X-Men starring the unusual roster of Rogue, Sabretooth, Sunfire, Blink, Wildchild and Morph. Rather than fighting for Xavier's dream, the Apocalypse title saw the team fighting for their very lives against the ravenous Holocaust. After the event ran its course, Uncanny returned right where it had left off.
New X-Men era
In 2001, Uncanny was separated once more in storylines and rosters from its sister-book. It also lost its title as flagship of the series as Grant Morrison's New X-Men took the spotlight of the X-Men franchise. Uncanny fell into a sort of disarray with forgettable stories coming from Joe Casey then widely-panned ones from fan-hated Chuck Austen. The title didn't see much help in 2004's ReLoad coinciding with the launch of Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men, as Uncanny became a follow-up series to Chris Claremont's X-Treme X-Men. Following the House of M, writer Ed Brubaker took over writing and launched the book back into Shi'ar space for 12 issues with his epic Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire.
Messiah Complex and Divided We Stand
After numerous years of sitting in the background, the lead-up to Uncanny X-Men #500 has restored the title to its flagship status.
Cancellation and Relaunch
The title was cancelled in 2011 and relaunched starting with Issue #1 and a new team of X-Men lead by Cyclops. The first issues were part of the X-Men event known as Regenesis.
The title's second volume ended with Issue 20# following the ending of the Avengers VS. X-Men event, and was relaunched in February 2013 with issue #1 for Volume three of the series.