Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Wherever Blink is...
Re: Getting Started
If you're interested in what's going on in the X-universe nowadays, there are some incredibly good stories that are easy to find and self-contained to set up everything that's happening.
Honestly, without a shadow of a doubt, I would start with Grant Morrison's "New X-Men" run. INCREDIBLE. But the omnibus collects about 50 comics so it's a pretty penny. It features Wolverine, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Jean Grey, Beast, and Professor Xavier. With an incredibly expansive less-known supporting cast.
After that, Joss Whedon's entire "Astonishing X-Men" is essential. One of the best, tightest stories/arcs, just like Morrison's run. This title involved Wolverine, Cyclops, Shadowcat, Emma Frost, Beast, and Colossus.
One of (I think) the coolest books that created and grew some AMAZING characters was "New X-Men: Academy X" by Phillips & Weir, that eventually morphed into just "New X-Men" by Kyle & Yost. Elixir, Anole, Pixie, X23, Surge, Hellion, Mercury, Dust, and Rockslide were put through hell and back (literally) and the great thing about this title was that it ACTUALLY felt dangerous. Characters died, and it showed that being a young mutant is not easy at all. I'd say they went rhough more S***t than the X-Men did during that time.
The last year of New X-Men actually lead into the huge event Messiah CompleX incredibly well. Messiah CompleX was a 13 issue crossover that introduced Hope, a character who has been fundamental in further stories, such as (in order) Second Coming, Schism, and Avengers vs X-Men. I would say these events are the best way to understand what's currently happening in the X-Men universe. And it's really cool to read how Cyclops treated the entire Messiah CompleX events, now knowing where he is after the events of AvsX, it's felt like his "derailment/rise/whateveryouwanttocallit" has been slowly happening over the last few years in a really concrete way. Other major players in all these series included Rogue, Nightcrawler, Angel, Psylocke, Jamie Madrox, Layla Miller, Beast, and even some of my favorites from the young X-Men cast.
Lastly, there are great books that don't tie too heavily into the main continuity, like X-Factor (Jamie Madrox, Layla Miller, M "Monet", Siryn, and many others) - this title though has been going on for a VERY long time. Other good books were Kyle & Yost's "X-Force" (X23, Elixir, Warpath, Wolfsbane, Archangel, Wolverine) and Remender's "Uncanny X-Force" (Wolverine, Fantomex, Psylocke, Nightcrawler, Archangel, Deadpool). Neither is needed to understand the other, and each is a clear and cohesive unit.
In summation, for anyone wanting to get into CURRENT X-Men comics / get up to speed (yes, there are MANY good stories from the 70s/80s/90s but thats not what I'm talking about here), these should be good places to start.
If you want to know why Cyclops/Magneto/Wolverine is the way he is lately, read Messiah CompleX, Second Coming, and Avengers vs X-Men.
If you want an incredible expansive and self-concluding story, read Morrisons New X-Men or Whedons Astonishing.
If you like books like New Mutants or Generation X, read New X-Men Academy X (which turns simply into Kyle & Yost's New X-Men). Kyle & Yost also were heavily responsible for Avengers: EMH and Wolverine & the X-Men, so if you liked those series, you might like this. And be ready to cry and throw things.
If you want darker, grittier stories, read either recent X-Force (Kyle & Yosts has been collected nicely into two large omnibus versions - we're still waiting on that for Uncanny).
Hope that helps!!!