Racism and anti-Semitism were not themes easily or commonly addressed in comic books when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby launched X-Men #1 in September 1963, but the creative duo set the stage for Marvel’s ability to tackle those topics and more with Professor Charles Xavier, his students, and their foes.

Against a backdrop of a human society deeply troubled and frequently torn by the existence of superpowered mutants, the X-Men battled other mutants who didn’t feel as protective toward mainstream society as did Xavier’s team. 

The world into which the X-Men were thrown was a changing terrain. The arrival of Marvel Comics on the scene, their rapidly developing house styles and fan base, and Lee’s hyperbole successfully made readers feel like they were part of something, while at the same time the stories showcased notions of separateness, individuality, and group identity. 

The depth of the messages in X-Men comics have been complimented by beautiful cover art from comic icons like Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Dave Cockrum, Marc Silvestri, Art Adams, and Walt Simonson, among many others. These talented artists have brought the book to life with dramatic moments of battle and the spirit of teamwork, showing off a multitude of interesting characters. Below, are just a few of our favorite covers featuring the X-Men.