With the release of the movie X-Men: Days of Future Past, I felt the need to take a look back at the epic comic book storyline which inspired the Summer Blockbuster. The year was 1980, and the X-Men (later titled The Uncanny X-Men with #114) comic book title had already grown in popularity thanks to the creative team of writer Chris Claremont, artist John Byrne and inker Terry Austin. With the recent death of Phoenix/Jean Grey, the comic introduced a new, young character to the X-Men: Kitty Pryde (aka Sprite/Shadowcat), in Uncanny X-Men #129 (January 1980), she had grown in popularity with readers as well as was featured in prominence in the comic. In earlier issues she was always the “kid” or “little sister” as literary foil, always to be kept out of trouble but usually managing to find ways to get into trouble. In the comics she had particularly become enamored with Colossus, Wolverine and later Nightcrawler, whom she had always been afraid of. In January 1981, Marvel Comics published The Uncanny X-Men #141, beginning the two-part storyline which would change the fate and future of The X-Men forever! In “Days of Future Past” the year is 2013, and the world is a very different place. New York City, now crumbling and abandoned, dominated by violent street gangs. We see a much older Kate “Kitty” Pryde trudging through the remnants of Park Avenue on her way to a secret rendezvous with Wolverine (aka Logan) when she runs into a gang of 'Rogues' but saved by Wolverine in the nick of time. Col. Logan, now part of the Canadian Resistance Army, helps Kate smuggle a “jammer” into the internment camp past the Sentinels, giant robot soldiers programmed to hunt down and kill mutants. In this dystopian future, there are three classes of people: “H” for human, “A” for Anomalous Human and “M” for Mutant. Many mutants have been killed or put in internment camps by the government, aided by the Sentinels. Many mutant and non-mutant heroes now lie in rows upon rows of gravestones surrounding the camps. All that remain are Kate Pryde, Logan, Colossus (now married to Kate), Storm, Franklin Richards, Magneto and Rachel Summers (daughter of the alternate future Cyclops and Jean Grey). With the aid of the jammer to neutralize the inhibitor collars which prevent the mutants from using their powers, Rachel uses her power to send Kitty Pryde’s mind back in time into her younger self. Back in the present, October 31st, 1980, Kitty Pryde appears in the X-Men’s Danger Room interrupting a training session involving Storm (now team leader), Angel, Colossus, Wolverine and Nightcrawler. As Kitty tries to convince the X-Men that she is actually her future self, she relates the story of the plot by the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to assassinate Presidential Candidate Senator Robert Kelly along with Professor Charles Xavier and Dr. Moira MacTaggert. With the death of Kelly, it sets in motion a sequence of events that eventually leads to the terrible future from whence she comes from. Meanwhile, In Washington D.C., The Pentagon, the shape-shifting mutant Mystique (aka Raven Darkholme has infiltrated the offices of the Assistant Secretary of Defense. Along with her motley crew of mutants including Destiny, Avalanche, Pyro and The Blob, the Brotherhood has planned to strike at a U.S. Senate hearing on mutants. With the death of Kelly, the Brotherhood hope to teach humanity to fear and respect the power of Homo-Superior, but according to Kitty, the plan will backfire causing hysterical paranoia, hate and fear. With the oncoming battle between The X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in issue #142 (Feb. 1981), meanwhile in 2013, Wolverine, Colossus and Storm infiltrate the old Baxter Building, former home of The Fantastic Four, searching for a device known as the “Timeswitch” leaving Rachel and Kitty behind. Back in 1980, the X-Men have defeated the Brotherhood except for Destiny and let Mystique get away. In 2013, while the remaining X-Men find the innermost sanctum of the Sentinel’s base but it’s a trap and both Wolverine and Storm are killed, leaving Colossus to fight on his own. Back in 1980, the blind-mutant Destiny has a crossbow aimed at Senator Kelly but Kitty Pryde intervenes and phases through her creating a temporal anomaly and Destiny fails. With Senator Kelly safe, and the X-Men victorious, the horrible future that might have been, will never happen…“only time will tell.” “Days of Future Past” gave X-Men fans a vision of a bleak, apocalyptic future where mutants are hunted down and slaughtered like animals or placed in concentration camps. According to, then editor Louise Simonson, “Chris and John have strong personal-sometimes disparate-visions and their synthesis on the X-Men produced some of their finest work.” (from the Afterword of the “Days of Future Past” collected edition) Soon after the original publication of “Days of Future Past,” they dissolved their long partnership, and while Chris continued to write The Uncanny X-Men, John began to both write and draw The Fantastic Four. As Simonson continued, “But their dual vision, their “future history” remains. Its seeds are in the past. Its reality flavors the present. And its future is almost upon us.” X-Men: Days of Future Past currently stands at #1 in the box office, having earned $111 million in only its second week of release. This is the fourth X-Men film to be “loosely” based on a Chris Claremont "X-Men" comic including “God Loves, Man Kills” (X2), “The Dark Phoenix Saga” (X3), and Wolverine Limited Series (The Wolverine).
May 29, 2014