X-Men: The Ultimate Guide

Writer: Peter Sanderson

Published By: DK Publishing

Marvel Comics

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Ah, X-Men – I’ve been a fan of the comic book series for years.  In fact, the X-Men series comprise one of the few comic book series from Marvel that I have kept track of over the years.  So when I saw the X-Men: The Ultimate Guide on a vender’s table at I-CON 25 for an unbelievably low price, I pounced on it.

            Written by comic book critic, historian and lecturer Peter Sanderson, X-Men: The Ultimate Guide gives you the entire history of the X-Men, from the comic book’s inception in 1963 until present (my version of the book ends at 2003, but there are versions out there that delve further into the 2000s).  It features a Foreword by Stan Lee in which the comic book icon reveals how he came to invent the series that has lasted four decades, which characters are his favorites and why he chose the title “X-Men” over his original concept title “The Mutants”.  The rest of the book gives you insight as to the writers, inkers, artists who worked on the series as well as the spin-off spawned by X-Men and the transformations the X-Men comic book series has taken over the years.

            Detailed artwork gives readers comprehensive details about X-Men heroes’ and villains’ headquarters, hideouts, vehicles and more.  Maps allow readers to understand the various locales in the comic book series.  Sanderson provides detailed descriptions of characters who have appeared in the series over the years and artwork depicts certain important story arcs for the characters and changes that may have occurred in the characters during X-Men history.  He also provides parallels between characters that appeared in the comics and in the X-Men movie.  Sanderson also delves into the animated television series and the making of the X-Men movie.

            X-Men: The Ultimate Guide features an Afterward by Chris Claremont, who has been writing X-Men comics for decades.  In his Afterward, Claremont reveals how he came to be a part of the series and why he kept coming back to it over the years.  He offers terrific insight about the direction of the comic book from someone on the inside.

            X-Men: The Ultimate Guide offers readers a great deal of information about the creation of the comic book, the various heroes and villains, and the different paths the comic book has taken over the years.  I, for one, was surprised to learn that the original X-Men comic book was considered a failure and pulled from the stands after only 66 issues.  The comic book was revamped, new heroes were added and, in 1975, a new X-Men comic book was introduced to rave reviews.  The rest is history as X-Men climbed to become one of America’s most read comic book series.

            In this day and age, it is hard to keep track of the various story arcs that take place in comic books.  Often times, one is left extremely confused at all of the changes that take place and all of the alternate universes visited by their comic book heroes.  X-Men: The Ultimate Guide allows the reader to catch up on past story arcs and gives the reader some insight into different changes that have taken place and alternate universe storylines.  Confused about the X-Men 2099 series, the Days of Future Past series, or the different organizations formed by the various members of the X-Men?  This is the book that will answer all of your questions and then some! 

            X-Men: The Ultimate Guide is the perfect addition to any X-Men comic book fan’s collection.  The $25.00 price tag may seem steep, but the artwork and information contained in this large, 180-plus page hardcover book makes the price well worth paying.  Check it out at your local bookstore – you won’t be disappointed.


Read more about the X-Men!  Check out these titles:

Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous

Phoenix: Endsong

Earth X

X-Men: The Last Stand

X-Men Legends II

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