When the X-Men debuted in 1963, no one could have suspected they would go on to develop the most convoluted—and at times, tortured—histories of any characters in the Marvel Universe. In the multiple ongoing series, annuals, limited series, one-shots, and crossover appearances in which they starred, the backstories of just about every character involved in their adventures was explored in detail. Since 1991, and the demise of what I call the Original Marvel Universe, it has only gotten more and more confusing, contradictory, and often downright stupid. But stripping away all of the retcons, bizarre character developments, and parallel universe sagas that followed Chris Claremont’s first departure as main writer makes the task of setting their history into a sensible historical framework less onerous.
Before I began my usual detailed “Year One” timeline, I decided it was worthwhile to devote a post to the major events leading up to Charles Xavier’s decision to start his team of mutant adventurers. It is especially enlightening to see the different generations of characters placed in the same historical context, disregarding the distortions inherent in Marvel’s so-called “sliding time scale.” The list is by no means complete, but contains those characters for whom I could make a determination—or at least a reasonable estimate—of their ages and dates of birth.
For the record, the issues of the major series I consider to be canonical include Uncanny X-Men #1–280, New Mutants #1–100, X-Factor #1–69, Wolverine #1–50, and X-Men #1–3. To avoid confusion with the three canonical issues of the second series, I always refer to the original series as “Uncanny X-Men” even though it didn’t officially gain the adjective until issue #114.
Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.
Here, then, is the prelude to… The True History of the X-Men!
1926 – Logan leaves Canada to sail around the world. In midwinter, his ship barely survives an intense storm as it moves through the Drake Passage beneath the southernmost tip of South America. He will spend the next decade living in Asia.
1929 – Charles Xavier is born in New York City to Brian and Sharon Xavier. Magnus is born in Poland. Moira Kinross is born in Scotland to Lord and Lady Kinross.
1930 – Sean Cassidy is born at Cassidy Keep in Ireland.
1936 – Having completed his training as a ninja, Logan leaves Japan, though he has earned the enmity of a clan of assassins known as the Hand.
1937 – Logan fights in the Spanish Civil War.
1940 – Brian Xavier is killed in an atomic bomb test while working on the Manhattan Project. His colleague, Kurt Marko, marries Brian’s widow Sharon. Marko’s son Cain joins the family at the Xavier mansion in Salem Center, NY.
1941 – Sharon (Xavier) Marko dies. Cain starts a fire in the lab, causing the death of his father. The United States enters World War II.
1942 – John Grey begins teaching at Bard College near Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. He and his wife Elaine have their first child, Sara Grey.
1943 – Henry P. McCoy is born in Dunfee, Illinois to Norton and Edna McCoy. Logan meets Captain America on the island of Madripoor.
1944 – As a paratrooper in the Canadian Army, Logan participates in the Allied invasion of France on D-Day. Afterwards, he joins the commando unit known as the Devil’s Brigade and pushes his healing factor to the limit.
1945 – Magnus meets Magda as they escape from the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in Poland. The atomic bomb is used against Japan, ending World War II.
1946 – Scott Summers is born in Anchorage, Alaska to Christopher and Katherine Anne Summers. Warren Worthington III is born in Centerport, Long Island, to Warren Jr. and Kathryn Worthington. Twins Elizabeth Braddock and Brian Braddock are born in England to James and Elizabeth Braddock.
1947 – Jean Grey is born in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, to John and Elaine Grey. Alex Summers is born in Honolulu, Hawaii to Christopher and Katherine Anne Summers. Shiro Yoshida is born in Agarashima, Japan to Saburo Yoshida and wife. John Proudstar is born at Camp Verde, Arizona to Neal and Maria Proudstar. Charles Xavier graduates from college with a degree in biology. He travels to England to attend Oxford University, where he will fall in love with Moira (Kinross) MacTaggert, an unhappily married student of genetics.
1948 – Bobby Drake is born in Port Jefferson, Long Island to William and Maddie Drake. Kurt Wagner is born in Bavaria, Germany, believed to be the son of Eric Wagner and his wife. Logan first becomes a secret agent.
1949 – Ororo Munro is born in New York City to David and N’Dare Munro. Lorna Dane is born, but weeks later her parents die in an accident and she is adopted by her maternal aunt & her husband. In the Ukrainian city of Vinnitsa, Magnus’s mutant powers begin to manifest themselves, giving him control over magnetic fields. When his daughter Anya is burnt to death in a fire, Magnus lashes out at the crowd, killing them all. Horrified, his wife Magda flees into the night.
1950 – Logan is recruited into a black-ops unit with a handful of other agents, including the man who will become Sabretooth. Wanda and Pietro are born to Magda on Wundagore Mountain in Transia. Time-traveling cyborg Nathan Christopher Summers becomes stranded in this era and soon becomes a soldier-of-fortune called Cable.
1951 – Peter Rasputin is born on the Ust-Ordynski Collective in Siberia to Nikolai and Alexandra Rasputin. Alison Blaire is born in Gardendale, Long Island to Carter and Katherine Blaire. Charles Xavier enlists in the army to fight in the Korean War. He finds himself serving alongside Cain Marko until Marko disappears in a mysterious cave-in. Later, Xavier meets William Lonestar, a Cheyenne Indian. They grow close and eventually become blood brothers. Xavier also meets Air Force intelligence operative Michael Rossi.
1952 – Charles Xavier is wounded in combat, but William Lonestar saves his life. Xavier is sent to a military hospital. During this time, Joe MacTaggert sexually abuses his wife Moira, putting her in the hospital. Learning she is pregnant, Moira breaks off her relationship with Charles Xavier. After recovering from his injuries, the heartbroken Xavier goes to live on the Greek Island of Kirinos. Logan and his black-ops team are sent to Egypt during the Egyptian Revolution, where they work against both the CIA and the KGB. Sean Cassidy becomes a detective with Interpol. Xi’an Coy Manh is born alongside her twin brother Tran in Vietnam.
1953 – In the summer, Logan’s black-ops team is sent on a mission to Cuba, where they discover information about the CIA’s relationship with Fidel Castro that could prove embarrassing to the United States government. Kevin MacTaggert is born to Moira MacTaggert in Scotland.
1954 – Christopher and Katherine Anne Summers are kidnapped by the Shi’ar. Scott and Alex Summers are sent to an orphanage in Omaha, Nebraska, but Alex is soon placed with a foster family. Ororo Munro is also orphaned in Cairo, Egypt. Rogue is born in Mississippi. Sam Guthrie is born in Cumberland, Kentucky to Thomas and Lucinda Guthrie. Danielle Moonstar is born in Boulder, Colorado to William and Peg Lonestar. Charles Xavier is present for her christening, and meets William’s father, the shaman Black Eagle.
1955 – Charles Xavier travels to Cairo and has a run-in with Ororo, now a pickpocket. He battles Amahl Farouk, “The Shadow King,” on the astral plane. Kitty Pryde is born in Deerfield, Illinois to Carmen and Theresa Pryde. Doug Ramsey is born to Phillip and Sheila Ramsey. The CIA initiates the Weapon X program and targets Logan’s black-ops team as potential test-subjects.
1956 – Charles Xavier meets Magnus in Israel, there to assist his old army friend Daniel Shomron. He fathers a child with Gabrielle Haller, whom she names David Haller. Moira MacTaggert receives her doctorate in genetics and establishes her Mutant Research Centre on Muir Isle, off the coast of Scotland. Amara Aquilla is born in Nova Roma within the Amazon jungle to Senator Lucius Antonius Aquilla and his wife.
1957 – Charles Xavier travels to Tibet and encounters an extraterrestrial being calling himself “Lucifer.” Lucifer cripples Xavier and escapes. Defeated, Xavier finally returns home to Salem Center, NY to become a recluse and study genetics, beginning to publish his research again. Jean Grey’s telepathic powers manifest themselves when her friend Annie Richardson is hit by a car and dies in Jean’s arms. As a result, Jean shuns all human contact. Roberto da Costa is born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Emmanuel and Nina da Costa. Rahne Sinclair is born in Scotland and soon orphaned.
1958 – A child psychiatrist refers Jean Grey to Charles Xavier, based on his past success with patients like Gabrielle Haller. He helps Jean suppress her telepathic abilities and begins training her in the use of her telekinetic powers. He encourages her to keep her abilities a secret. The Canadian government forms Department H and hires James MacDonald Hudson. Logan is cashiered out of the intelligence service, then kidnapped for the Weapon X program. After having his memory erased, he receives his adamantium skeleton and claws.
1959 – Charles Xavier begins teaching genetics classes at Columbia University in New York. Then, Xavier attends a genetics conference in Chicago where he meets the veterinarian and biologist Dr. Shanna O’Hara. Tabitha Smith is born in Roanoke, Virginia. Newlyweds James and Heather Hudson discover Logan, now reduced to a feral state, while on their honeymoon in Wood Buffalo National Park. Heather helps Logan begin to regain a more stable mental state while her husband goes for medical help. After returning to civilization, the Hudsons continue to nurse Logan back to health, learning more about his mutant powers and adamantium claws. They work with Logan at Department H, where he receives psychiatric therapy.
1960 – Logan first works with secret agents Nick Fury, Carol Danvers, and Michael Rossi. Jubilation Lee is born in Beverly Hills, California.
1961 – Ororo leaves Cairo and walks to Kenya. The trek takes her about a year. Along the way, she rescues T’Challa, heir to the throne of Wakanda, from a gang of kidnappers. Becoming friends, they travel together for a while until duty calls him back to his own country. Xavier develops a prototype for his mutant-detecting CEREBRO machine, which he demonstrates for Jean Grey and Moira MacTaggert.
1926 – Young Logan’s life on the high seas is based on his comments in Uncanny X-Men #117. His early years in China and Japan are based on evidence found in Wolverine #5 and #26, Marvel Comics Presents #41, Uncanny X-Men #257, the Wolverine limited series, and the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine limited series.
1929 – Charles Xavier’s birthdate is based largely on his academic career and his service in the Korean War, and most of the other dates in this range are extrapolated from that. The life of Magnus is explored in detail in my Magneto chronology.
1937 – Logan was shown to have fought in the Spanish Civil War in Wolverine #35.
1940 – It was never made explicit that Brian Xavier was involved in the Manhattan Project, but the timing is right and it makes sense.
1943 – In Uncanny X-Men #268, Chris Claremont actually set the Captain America / Logan team-up in 1941, but that makes no sense considering Natasha Romanova’s history (see my Black Widow chronology). It fits in nicely here, though.
1944 – Wolverine’s participation in D-Day is revealed in Wolverine #34, and he mentions having been wounded while with the Devil’s Brigade in Alpha Flight #33.
1949 – While Magneto’s daughter Anya may have seemed a little older in Classic X-Men #12, we’re a bit hemmed in by the history of Wanda and Pietro, who can be born no later than 1950 in order to have hit puberty in time for joining the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in Uncanny X-Men #4. More detail is available in my Scarlet Witch chronology.
1955 – The origin of the Weapon X program is described in Wolverine #50.
1957 – Jean’s early years with Professor Xavier are detailed in Bizarre Adventures #27. While I consider Marvel’s line of black & white magazines to be of dubious canonicity, I’m willing to accept this story for its wealth of biographical information.
1958 – Logan’s time with the Weapon X program is chronicled in Marvel Comics Presents #72-84.
1959 – Xavier’s meeting with Dr. O’Hara was mentioned in Shanna the She-Devil #5. The Hudsons’ encounter with Logan is chronicled in Alpha Flight #33 and occurs ten years before Alpha Flight #1.
1960 – Logan and Carol Danvers first mention having spied together in Uncanny X-Men #154
1961 – Ororo’s first encounter with T’Challa is revealed in Marvel Team-Up #100. Xavier’s unveiling of the CEREBRO prototype is shown in flashback in Uncanny X-Men #273.
To view these events in a wider context, see OMU: Ancient History 4.
Next Issue: The Uncanny X-Men -- Year One