Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Brent Anderson

There are countless X-Men titles we could have included on this list, but if you’re looking for one that encapsulates everything that this franchise is about, you can’t do any better than God Loves, Man Kills. The story centers on a reverend named William Stryker who attempts to start a holy war against the entire mutant race, no matter how much blood he gets on his hands.

This book is the perfect marriage of social commentary and superhero action, and it’s still the highpoint of Claremont’s legendary X-Men run. In 2003 the book was immortalized when the movie X2: X-Men United recreated many of its plot points. But the source material here presents a much deeper and more satisfying narrative.

It’s impossible not to feel a visceral reaction to the opening scene of the book when some of Stryker’s fanatics gun down two young mutants and hang their corpses in a school yard. Brutal imagery like that puts God Loves, Man Kills on this list over other, more famous, entries like “The Dark Phoenix Saga” and “Days of Future Past.” Those stories are great reads for longtime comic book fans, but this is the perfect entry point for everyone else.