Who are the original X-Men? Marvel superhero team explained

Christopher Baggett
Original X-Men team

The X-Men have had dozens of line-ups and hundreds of members, but none are more iconic than the original five members.

Everyone has their X-Men team. The team that specifically was in operation when they first started reading X-Men comics, and the one they always long to see the titles revisit. 

That can be a rough order. While some titles hearken back to classic line-ups (like the recently announced Uncanny X-Men for the new From the Ashes initiative), some of the more unusual line-ups can be lost to time. 

One of the line-ups that surprisingly doesn’t show up that often would be the original team. The X-Men’s first line-up was a mere six members if you include their mentor, though most refer to them as the original five X-Men. 

Who are the original X-Men? 

The original X-Men debuted in Uncanny X-Men #1 and consists of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Archangel, and The Beast. They’re joined by their mentor and leader, Charles Xavier, otherwise known as Professor X. 

Cover art to Uncanny X-Men #1
The original X-Men make their debut in Uncanny X-Men #1

Professor X is both the father figure and headmaster of the original team, who are students at Xavier’s Institute for Gifted Youth. In reality, Xavier’s is a guise for a mutant academy, where students are discreetly educated away from those who hate and fear them. 

In practice, the X-Men are formed to represent Xavier’s dream of a peaceful world where mutants and humans live together. In reality, they become the defenders of humanity and mutants alike, fighting against forces like Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, who view themselves as superior to the humans who have ostracised them for generations. 

Original X-Men beyond the first five

The original X-Men team stays fairly consistent for the first 60 or so issues. There are a few minor changes over the years, though. The Mimic, a mutate who possessed the powers of all the original X-Men, briefly joins the team before an accident renders him powerless. 

Havok and Polaris from X-Men #65
Havok and Polaris round out the final incarnation of the original X-Men.

Magneto’s daughter, Lorna Dane, joins the team in Uncanny X-Men #60 and eventually takes on the codename Polaris. She forms a romance with Cyclops’ brother, Alex – aka Havok – when he joins the team in Uncanny X-Men #65. 

There’s also The Changeling, a mutant shapeshifter who technically joins the team for a few issues. However, he’s impersonating Xavier, so no one realizes he’s on the team until long after his death. 

Why the original X-Men left the team

After Uncanny X-Men #65, the title ceased publishing new issues and would consist entirely of reprints for the next five years. When the book relaunched with Giant Size X-Men #1 in 1975, the only returning member was Cyclops. 

The original X-Men leave the team
Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman, and Angel leave the X-Men after the Krakoa incident, while Cyclops remains a leader.

It was revealed that the original team had gone to the island of Krakoa in search of a new mutant. The mutant turned out to be the island itself, which was sentient and attacked the team. Only Cyclops manages to escape, with the remaining members held captive by Krakoa. 

Cyclops forms a new team, consisting of Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm, Banshee, and Thunderbird, to launch a rescue mission. Though they’re successful, it marks the end of an era for the X-Men. Beast, Angel, Marvel Girl, and Iceman decide to leave the team after the ordeal and attempt to live normal lives. Cyclops, out of both obligation to the team and anxiety over his inability to control his powers, remains on as the new team’s leader. 

Xavier’s secret X-Men team explained

In addition to the expanded original team, a later retcon revealed Xavier formed a second, secret team before Giant-Size X-Men and hid it from the world. 

Cyclosp meets his brother, Vulcan
A 2005 retcon revealed a secret team of X-Men led by Cyclops’ brother were lost before Giant Size X-Men.

This team, revealed in the event X-Men: Deadly Genesis, consists of Darwin, Petra, Sway, and Vulcan, who is revealed to be another brother to Cyclops and Havok. Xavier gives the team rapid mental training and sends them to rescue the original X-Men. The mission goes terribly, though; they’re only able to rescue Cyclops, and the new team is believed to have been killed by Krakoa. 

The retcon is explained as Xavier having wiped Vulcan’s existence from Cyclops’ mind to protect him from the knowledge his brother had died saving him. In reality, Vulcan and Darwin both manage to survive. Darwin’s powers store his essence in Vulcan’s body as an energy being, while Vulcan himself went into a comatose state until the energy released by the House of M event awoke him. 

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