TPB stands for trade paperback. Many comic publishers will release collected editions of comic story arcs to make it more convenient for readers to assemble their collections. The format in which these collected comics come is called a trade paperback.
Why does this table exist?
As a new reader of X-Men comics, I found it difficult knowing which books to pick up and when to read them. All I was looking for was a simple list of the chronology of collected comics Marvel has released. Upon finding few really useful sources, I decided to make my own list in the form of a table, the result of which is what you see above.
This website sucks, why didn't you make a better one?
With the few website-creating skills I possess, I managed to piece together the information I have in the simplest form. I don't really care about this enough to make a pimped-out webpage, so this is all you get.
Some of the information posted is wrong, what can I do about this?
If you notice a mistake in the table, please leave a comment stating the problem and it will be fixed as soon as possible.
How can I get out-of-print books?
Unfortunately, publishers only produce a certain number of books at a time, and sometimes these go out of print. These are indicated by being written in RED on the table. The books have been checked on multiple online bookstores to verify whether they are in print or not. If a title is not red, it generally means that the book will be available somewhere (i.e. not worldwide). The obvious way to avoid this is to buy books as soon as possible after the date they're released. If you missed your chance, however, let the hunt begin. The easiest place to obtain out-of-print books is Amazon Marketplace or AbeBooks, or any one of the hundreds of other sites like that, as well as eBay. Alternatively, you can wait for a new printing, although that might never happen.
What reading material does this table actually contain? Is it all vital?
My main intention when making this thing was to have a basic skeleton of X-continuity that can be padded out later on. That is it contains basically all the main X-books and crossovers that have had some effect on the X-universe. Some of these books are vital material, others not so much. It's really up to you. The list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it a prescription of what you have to read. It really is just a guide.
Why are there Wolverine books at the side of the table?
This was really more for my own purposes than anything else. As a reader of Wolverine comics, I like to know when abouts in the mainstream X-continuity the events in those books happen. It's just good to know.
Why are books like Avengers Disassembled included? They aren't really X-Men related.
There may be books up there that aren't vital reading but might offer some insight into what's going on in the contunuity. For example, Avengers Disassembled is the precursor to House of M, which had massive effects on the X-continuity we know today. Therefore, it might be in your interest to have this background knowledge. The same goes for a book such as Uncanny Avengers, which is by no means a definitive X-Man book, but nonetheless prominently contains X-Men characters and also sets the tone for a lot of other books in the Marvel Universe.
What do the numbers in brackets mean after some of the comic titles?
Every so often, comic publishers like to spice things up a little and restart the numbering. This might be because it's the dawn of a new comic books era, a new creative team, a special occasion, a relaunch, or they just got bored and like to mess with our heads. Therefore, various comic series have multiple volumes. On the table above, these are indicated by the numbers in brackets, e.g. if you see X-Force(1) #28, it means the 28th issue of the first volume of X-Force (as opposed to the 28th issue of the second volume).
What is the difference between Uncanny X-Men (UXM) and X-Men (XM)?
This is where it gets (even more) complicated. Back in the day there was one X-Men comic book - Uncanny X-Men (actually there's more to it but for the sake of this question, I'll leave it at that). The book eventually became so popular that they decided to release another book in 1991, which they called, just plain-and-simple, X-Men (often referred to as Adjectiveless X-Men or X-Men [2nd series]). The books contained two different teams (Blue and Gold), and interacted at varying levels. The X-Men title would eventually go through some name chages, making the whole thing yet more complex (see next question).
UPDATE: As of September 2010, Marvel released a brand new adjectiveless X-Men book, starting with issue #1. Outside of this reading list, this is known as X-Men volume 3. To avoid confusion, I am referring to this series as XM(2010).
UPDATE: As of October 2011, the long standing Uncanny X-Men book was relaunched with a new #1 issue. Additionally, the team once again split into two, creating another book, Wolverine and the X-Men. Subsequent issues of Uncanny X-Men will be referred to as UXM(2011) to avoid confusion with other books. Wolverine and the X-Men is referred to as WATXM.
UPDATE: Starting in October 2012, Marvel relaunched a number of its titles as well as introducing some new ones. Uncanny X-Men was relaunched with a new #1 and is referred to as UXM(2013). X-Men (2010 series) was also relaunched with a new #1 and this is referrred to as XM(2013). X-Men Legacy also got a new #1 but rather than complicating things even more, I've decided to just call this XML. A new X-Men book, All-New X-Men (ANXM) has also been released, as has Uncanny Avengers (UA).
Why do X-Men, New X-Men, and X-Men Legacy all share the same numbering?
As you now know, the second X-Men book was first published in 1991. In 2001, the name changed to New X-Men, then in 2004 to 2008 it went back to its original X-Men title. As of 2008 it has been published as X-Me: Legacy. Throughout all this crazy name-changing, the series has kept its original numbering. So basically X-Men, New-X-Men and X-Men Legacy are the same book.
What are crossovers?
Crossovers are generally story arcs where characters from different books come together in one continuity (for example Messiah War was a crossover between Cable and X-Force). Crossovers are often large events (such as the Age of Apocalypse crossover) which affect mainstream continuity in a big way (which is why they've been included on this list).
What is Marvel NOW!?
Marvel NOW! is a relaunch of sorts that began in 2012 and involved a number of books being relaunched, as well as new books being introduced to the line up. It's not really a reboot but a kind of re-jigging of the Marvel Universe to simplify the reading process and attract new readers (mostly through an abundance of #1 issues). The Marvel NOW! relaunch issues have been marked on the table for readers who are interested in those books. Marvel NOW! is happening in 'waves', so look out for new developments.
Why don't you update the table more often?
Because I have a life.
Quite honestly I kind of fell off the comic book radar for a lot of last year and for some time before that so I missed out on a lot of great books and stopped keeping track of trades. But I aim to keep more of an eye on comics now and in the future. This doesn't mean that real life won't get in the way, so in the mean time, if you have a trade and don't know where it belongs chronologically, follow this system to get a rough idea:
- Look up the name and issue number of the first and last issues in the trade (for example on marvel.wikia.com).
- Make a note of the release dates of the issues.
- Go back to the table and use the issue dates column to find some other trades that contain issues from around that time.
- Enjoy your trade!
If you have any questions not answered above, please leave a comment.