Humanity hates and fears the X-Men in the Marvel Universe. In the real world, the genetically superpowered heroes have enjoyed incredible visual interpretations over the last 50 years. Let's take a look at the artists who've done the most iconic versions of the Children of the Atom.
Probably best known for his work on Batman, Adams' stint on X-Men was an important early step on his way to becoming a superstar artist. His run on the teenage mutants made them feel desperate and dynamic in a way that they'd never been rendered before, as well as introducing new characters like Havok and Polaris.
This master artist gave life to an exceptionally great period of X-Men comics, one where Storm become leader of the subterranean Morlocks and Kitty Pryde became best friends with a pet-sized firebreathing dragon. Smith's smooth linework proved to be a perfect match for the soap opera elements of the mutant superhero franchise, which were in full bloom during the 1980s.
If you love X-Men like Colossus, Nightcrawler and Storm, then you have the late Dave Cockrum to thank. The artist created these characters and many more during his run, which started off with the series' first major shake-up. Cockrum helped introduce an international line-up that also included Wolverine, Banshee and Thunderbird. Nowadays, it's hard to imagine X-Men as a title that's ever had a creative slump, but Cockrum was a big part of what helped it find new life.
Classic storylines like the Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past are one of the reasons John Byrne became a comic-book legend. He did more than art, co-plotting the series with longtime writer Chris Claremont and creating characters like Kitty Pryde and Canadian super-team Alpha Flight during his tenure.
There's something simultaneously gritty and high-energy about Silvestri's artwork, which fueled popular arcs like Inferno and Fall of the Mutants. His first tour of duty with the X-Men was in the 1980s and 1990s but he's peroidically returned for high-profile stints.
If mutants are supposed to be the next step in human evolution, Jim Lee's one of the artists that excelled at making them look like advanced, near-perfect lifeforms. His style's change a bit since his 1990s tenure at Xavier's but even his early work shows the strong figurework and dramatic staging that would make him a highly sought-after creator for decades to come.
Most famous for a trippy, psychedelic run on New Mutants—which featured younger, inexperienced heroes at the X-Men's school—Sienkiewicz's unique style looked like nothing else in superhero comics at the time.
Stroman spent time as a portrait artist before his comics career kicked off and his special affinity for capturing the emotions of the human face made a run on X-Factor feel particularly special. During his partnership with writer Peter David, X-Factor felt like a glitzy, quasi-celeb take on what it means to be Homo Superior in the Marvel Universe.
Grant Morrison's bold re-invention of Marvel's mutant franchise in 2001 simply wouldn't have been possible if he hadn't reunited with frequent partner Frank Quitely. Quitely made Charles Xavier, Scott Summers and the other team members at the time feel like true outsiders, creating a cool, aloof and slightly off-center tone that the long-running series hadn't enjoyed for decades.
A fan favorite for more than 20 years, Bachalo's style merges a loopy manga influence with strong inky outlines for an approach that feels funny, manic and threatening all at once. His work on Generation X helped make that series an X-family highlight in the 1990s and he's returned several times since then to work various mutant-centric titles.
Familiar to video game fans as one of the primary creative forces behind the late, lamented Darksiders series, Madueira helped re-invent the visual style of the entire X-Men universe as one of the chief artists during the Age of Apocalypse crossover. His takes of Cyclops, Wolverine, Bishop, and other characters made the twisted alternate universe feel like must-read material.
Mike Del Mundo
Though his work on the X-Men franchise primarily consists of covers for volume 2 of X-Men Legacy, Del Mundo's unique visual approach made that book's brief run stand out from nearly anything else with an X on the front.
Stints on both the mainline X-Men books and the UK-based Excalibur spin-off endeared Davis to comics readers back in the day. His curvy, rounded figurework always looks attractive, no matter what kind of action or emotion he's putting across.
One of the best latter-day runs on Marvel's mutants came in the form of Astonishing X-Men, written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon and drawn by Cassaday. His art made the drama of resurrected characters, evil emergent AI villains and sci-fi adventures feel relatable for people who can't shoot lasers out of their eyes.
The energy found in Adams' version of the X-Men set fans on fire when he first started drawing them in the 1980s. Along with his co-creation of breakout character Longshot, his tight pencils, melodramatic poses and unique body types made Cyclops and crew feel totally re-invented.
Drawing characters who debuted in 1963 for a 21st century audience is a tough job. Having them look and feel like the same teenagers created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby is even tougher. But Stuart Immomen's proven more than capable of doing both, with an excellent, recently ended run on All-New X-Men that brought the original five students of Professor Xavier into the present day.
Copiel's drawn many of Marvel's top characters as a mainstay of the Avengers and X-Men creative stables, bringing a highly-honed European comics approach to American superheroics. You can see some of his best stuff—including excellent costume re-designs— in the recent Avengers vs. X-Men crossover.
Rarely has an artist's style felt so appropriate to a book's tone and subject matter as it did during Clayton Crain's time on X-Force. This version of X-Force was a secret black ops strike team that sometimes used deadly force and Crain made some of these familiar characters feel darker and more lethal than they ever had before.
If you've ever wanted the X-Men to feel like they've stepped out of a glossy, high-end CGI anime movie or video game, then you've probably already seen Mike Choi's art.
He hasn't done as long a run as other artists on this list but Windsor-Smith's draftsmanship and design sense made his early 1980s run on Uncanny X-Men one for the ages. Amongst the best issues are ones featuring a brutal brawl between Sabretooth and Wolverine and the Lifedeath stories which focused on Storm's crisis of faith after losing her powers. Windsor-Smith's closest association with the X-Men was the epic-length Weapon X series which detailed Wolverine's days as a brainwashed killing machine.