At the beginning of 1968, Gary Friedrich took over as writer (with X-Men Vol. 1 #44), replacing Roy Thomas, with his first issue being based on a plot left over by Thomas. Just three issues later (issue #47), writer Arnold Drake similarly collaborated with Friedrich, then replaced him as the title’s permanent writer. Eight issues later (issue #55), Roy Thomas returned as writer, having only been away for a dozen issues. Thomas’s second tenure would last 10 issues, not including issue #65, written by Denny O’Neil.
One of the most important developments of this era was the addition of Jim Steranko as cover artist. Although he stayed for only a few issues only did a few issues of interiors, he brought a dynamism to the look of the title that it had never previously had.
Steranko helped pave the way for Neal Adams, who took over as head artist.
While this material is widely considered the best of the early X-Men comics, sales of the title didn’t sufficiently improve. Issue #66 was the title’s last new issue. The title continued, although it only featured reprinted previous stories, which it did in their original order, although it skipped through many of the title’s early issues. Reprints continued through issue #93 (for a total of 27 all-reprint issues), before a new team of X-Men debuted in Giant Size X-Men #1 and took over X-Men Vol. 1 with issue #94.