Catching Up with the X-Men: The Hope Era

The X-Men, more than any other group of superheroes, have had an incredibly rich (yet convoluted) history. There are several very distinct eras of X-Men stories. There’s the innocence of the Stan Lee era, the sprawling soap opera of Chris Claremont’s, the heady-yet-grounded Grant Morrison era, and more. I believe that right now the X-Men are nearing the end of the current era, which I like to refer to as the Hope Era.

A common question customers ask is, “If I want to catch up on current X-Men continuity, where do I start?” Being Big Planet Comics resident mutant x-pert (sorry), this question usually gets sent over to me. After repeatedly answering this, I have come up with what I believe to be a comprehensive guide to the Hope Era of X-Men comics. I call it the Hope Era because the last few major X-Men storylines have all centered around a mysterious newcomer named Hope.

1 – Messiah Complex

The birth of Hope in Messiah Complex is the natural starting point. In the story the X-Men investigate the birth of a new mutant, the first mutant birth since the decimation of the mutant population (see: House of M, something I considered putting on this list before deciding it was more of an Avengers story). The X-Men find a massacre surrounding Hope’s birth, as various groups have died fighting to claim possession of the young mutant who is now being protected by Cable. Cable believes Hope to be the messiah of the mutant race, destined to bring them back from the brink. Needless to say, others disagree and a battle for the future erupts. Over the next few years, Hope and her future are at the center of all the X-Men’s struggles.

2 – Messiah War

The war for Hope escalates in this follow up to Messiah Complex as Cyclops sends members of X-Force into the future to find the now-missing Hope. For further information on Hope’s adventures through the timestream you could read the Cable series by Duane Swierczynski, but it’s not very good and most of it is summed up in this and the following book.


3 – Second Coming

After growing up as a teenager, Hope returns to the present, and a new battle erupts when a coalition of the X-Men’s anti-mutant adversaries attempts to kill Hope and the remaining mutants before she can bring about the foretold resurrection of the mutant race. This is also where we get our first hint at Hope’s possible connection to the Phoenix Force.

4 – Schism

As Hope begins bringing about the resurgence of the mutant race the X-Men discuss what their next step is. And by “discuss”, I mean beat the living hell out of each other. It’s not much of a spoiler to say that after this the X-Men are split into two separate teams with opposing ideologies (it is called X-Men: Schism).

5 – Avengers vs. X-Men

The climax to the Hope Era begins as the Avengers discover the Phoenix Force is on a direct path to Earth. The X-Men believe the Phoenix is coming to bond with Hope and help her complete the resurrection of the mutant race. The Avengers believe the Phoenix is coming to bond with Hope to destroy the universe. Thus the two sides square off for the ultimate fate of the mutant race and the universe itself.

There you go, that’s my guide. These books have come out over the course of about five years so there are a few books that bridge some of the gaps between them, but if you really just want to catch up on all the key events of the last few years these five books are all you need.