The definitive, chronological, and up-to-date guide on collecting Excalibur and Captain Britain comic books via omnibuses, hardcovers, and trade paperback graphic novels. A part of Crushing Krisis’s Collecting X-Men: A Definitive Guide. Last updated April 2016 with titles scheduled for release through December 2016.
Begins in July 2004 concurrent with the X-Men Reloaded event -parallel to X-Men #157 and the launches of the Whedon/Cassidy Astonishing X-Men, Excalibur (vol. 3), and New X-Men: Academy X. Also, it was just two months into the run of Cable & Deadpool.
In the Marvel Universe, House of M occurs halfway through the run.
Writer Chris Claremont made a much-hyped return to Uncanny (along with artist Alan Davis) after largely staying away since his original, unbroken run of Uncanny X-Men #94-280, though he had been scripting spin-off X-Treme X-Men in recent years.
Claremont’s return to the book was part of the “Reload” event, relaunching all of the X-titles at the same time to simplify storylines and continuity for new readers. The first three arcs are unquestionable the best combination of art and script Uncanny had seen in many years – some would say since the 200s!
The team for these issues is far-ranging, but focuses mostly on Storm, Bishop, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Marvel Girl AKA Rachel Summers. X-23 makes frequent appearances, as does a revived Psylocke (a favorite of both Claremont and Davis).
This group of characters is stunningly rendered by Davis, who developed the definitive Nightcrawler and Marvel Girl during his years on Excalibur. It must be said, the coloring is also exemplary. Unsurprisingly, Captain Britain also sneaks in. Chris Bachalo provides art for scattered issues in the run.
#444-449: The New Age Vol. 1: The End of History (ISBN 0785115358)
#450-454: The New Age Vol. 2: The Cruelest Cut (ISBN 0785116451)
Introduces X-23 to X-Men continuity after she debuted in the NYX mini-series.
#455-461: The New Age Vol. 3: On Ice (ISBN 0785116494)
Heavily featuring Storm and Rachel Summers.
#462-465: House of M: Uncanny X-Men (ISBN 078511663X)
Also collects Secrets of the House of M. Occurs entirely in the alternate House of M reality. Primarily stars Captain Britain. See Marvel Universe Events for more information.
#466-471: The New Age Volume 4: End Of Greys (ISBN 0785116648)
If you are a fan of Rachel Summers this storyline is a must-read.
#472-474, Annual 1/2006: The New Age Volume 5: First Foursaken (ISBN 0785123237)
Primarily starring Psylocke.
Begins in July 2006, parallel to X-Men #188, the beginning of the Wolverine Civil War arc in #42, Cable & Deadpool #28, New X-Men (Academy X) #26, X-Factor #7, the launch of Wolverine: Origins, and during the run of Astonishing X-Men #13-18.
In the Marvel Universe, it begins in the midst of Civil War.
Ed Brubaker’s turn at the writer’s seat is a peculiar blend – one massive space blowout (to jettison characters Havok, Polaris, and Rachel Summers, seemingly by editorial mandate), followed by a sweaty sewer braul with the Morlocks.
The following Messiah Complex cross-over sets the stage for a re-launch of Uncanny X-Men as the core of the X-Universe, rather than the fringe.
#475-486: Uncanny X-Men: Rise & Fall of the Shi’ar Empire (ISBN 0785118004)
Prior to reading this collection consider picking up X-Men: Deadly Genesis, as the events of that mini-series have an impact on the Shi’ar storyline, which eventually evolves into the War of Kings crossover. Available in oversize hardcover, as well as in the War of Kings Omnibus.
#487-491: The Extremists (ISBN 0785119825)
X-Men: Endangered Species
Collects a Beast-centric story about trying to find the scientific means of jump-starting the mutant gene from a series of backups from the prior run of issues. While it’s low-key, it’s effectively a prelude to Messiah Complex (and has the same trade dress). Also available in oversize hardcover.
#492-494: X-Men: Messiah Complex (ISBN 0785123202)
The first crossover event in over half a decade! Collects X-Men: Messiah CompleX One-Shot, Uncanny X-Men #492-494, X-Men #205-207, New X-Men #44-46, X-Factor #25-27, and X-Men: Messiah CompleX – Mutant Files. Available in oversize hardcover.
Begins in April 2008, parallel to the transformation of X-Men (vol. 2) into X-Men Legacy and the launch of X-Force (vol. 3) and Cable (vol. 3), as well as Wolverine #63, X-Factor #28, Wolverine: Origins #22, and after the final issues of Cable & Deadpool and New X-Men (Academy X). Warren Ellis’s run on Astonishing X-Men begins sometime after #503.
In the Marvel Universe, it begins just prior to Secret Invasion.
Two years before Marvel could tout their line-wide relaunch with The Heroic Age in 2010, Uncanny X-Men began an impressive new era of storytelling, helmed by Matt Fraction. (Actually, Brubaker continues scripting duties on the first trio of issues, along with Fraction).
Fraction worked with alternating pencilers Greg Land and Terry Dodson, though classic 90s artist Whilce Portacio contributed #522. Longtime fans generally despise the creative team, reviling their decompressed storytelling, focus on Scott and Emma, and generic (frequently traced) females.
All that said, Fraction is a longterm plotter who relaunched Uncanny as the centerpiece of X-Men continuity rather than a obligatory collection of less-popular characters. He also successfully transfered the X-Men to San Francisco (their first major scenery change since Claremont shipped them to Australia), mining the new setting for fresh stories between editorially-mandated arcs.
#495-499: Uncanny X-Men: Divided We Stand (ISBN 0785119833)
#500-511: Uncanny X-Men: The Complete Matt Fraction Collection, Vol. 1 (ISBN 0785165932)
Also includes Annual 2; material from X-Men Unlimited (2004) 9, and X-Men : Divided We Stand 1.
#504-507, Annual 2/2009: Uncanny X-Men: Lovelorn (ISBN 0785129995)
The annual falls at the end of this run.
#508-512: Uncanny X-Men: Sisterhood (ISBN 0785141057)
#512-519: Uncanny X-Men: The Complete Matt Fraction Collection, Vol. 2 (ISBN 0785165940)
Most likely also collects Dark Avengers #7-8 and Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus & Utopia.
#513-514: Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia (ISBN 0785142347)
Marks a huge milestone in the overall plot of the X-Men, and introduces Namor to the team. Collects Dark Avengers #7-8, Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus & Utopia, Dark Reign: The Cabal, Dark X-Men: The Beginning #1-3 & The Confession, Uncanny X-Men #513-514, and X-Men Legacy #226-227. Also available in hardcover.
#515-522: X-Men: Nation X (ISBN 0785141030)
Collects Uncanny X-Men #515-522, Dark Reign: The List – X-Men, and Nation X 1-4. [Ed Note: I endorse the lovely hardcover addition for just a few more dollars.] Material from Nation X #2 also appears in X-Men Origins: Gambit
#520-522: Uncanny X-Men: The Complete Matt Fraction Collection, Vol. 3 (ISBN 0785184503)
Also collects #526-534 and Uncanny X-Men: The Heroic Age.
#523-525: X-Men: Second Coming
Collects Second Coming: Prepare, Second Coming #1-2, Uncanny X-Men #523-525; New Mutants #12-14, X-Men Legacy #235-237, X-Force #26-28. Also available in hardcover. You may also wish to purchase X-Men: Second Coming Revelations, which contains companion stories to Second Coming.
Begins in September 2010 parallel to X-Men Legacy #238, X-Factor #207, and New Mutants #15, and just before the debut of Wolverine, Vol. 4, Daken, X-23, and Uncanny X-Force.
The landscape of X-Men changed significantly with the conclusion of Second Coming – some major characters died, and Hope joined the fold of present-day characters.
Matt Fraction began his transition off of Uncanny with #526, co-plotting and then co-writing with Kieron Gillen. Gillen is a much swifter, more comedic scripter than Fraction – and he’s consistently widening the scope from Emma, Scott, Namor, and Magneto to include Kitty, Colossus, and other regular characters.
#526-534: Uncanny X-Men: The Complete Matt Fraction Collection, Vol. 3 (ISBN 0785184503)
Also collects #520-522 and Uncanny X-Men: The Heroic Age.
#526-529: Uncanny X-Men: The Birth of Generation Hope (ISBN 0785146431)
Introduces the characters launched in the new Generation Hope series. Also collects Uncanny X-Men: The Heroic Age One Shot. This was co-plotted by Kieron Gillen, though he is uncredited. Continued in Generation Hope.
#530-534: Uncanny X-Men: Quarantine (ISBN 0785152253)
Fraction and Gillen share scripting duties on this arc, which features a fairly wide array of characters.
Annual 3/2011: X-Men / Steve Rogers: Journey To the Negative Zone (ISBN 0785155619)
Collects 2011′s Uncanny X-Men, Namor, and Steve Rogers Annuals – but, its star is Hope. (This may fit better after Breaking Point – I need to re-read to see if/how Kitty is referenced.) Also available in oversized hardcover.
#534.1 & 535-539: Breaking Point (ISBN 0785152261)
Issue #534.1 is a special one-shot issue meant to assist newer fans in joining the title. Issues #535-538 is an arc following up on the conclusion of Astonishing X-Men. #539 is a one-shot issue featuring Wolverine and Hope.
#540-544: Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Men (ISBN 078515227X)
Does not require reading the main Fear Itself series to appreciate. Schism occurs between #543 and #544, which is the final issue of Volume 1 of Uncanny X-Men. Also available in hardcover. See Marvel Universe Events for more information.