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5.0 out of 5 stars "Days of Future Past" - or how Kitty Pryde painted the X-Men franchise into a corner, September 8, 2010
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This review is from: X-Men: Days of Future Past (Paperback)
Much of the dark doings in the X-Men books these past thirty years go back to that infamous two-issue arc way back in 1980. "Days of Future Past" was only a few issues removed from the tragic "Dark Phoenix" saga, so you can make a pretty solid case for this stretch of stories as writer Chris Claremont cresting to his absolute peak. His exceptional artist and co-plotter John Byrne, well, his heyday would span plenty of years beyond Claremont's. For those trying to unearth back issues of this classic adventure, you can find it in the trade paperback X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, which collects issues #138-143 as well as X-MEN ANNUAL #4. For X-Men fans, this is a must get.

The trade opens with Jean Grey's friends and family attending her burial and a grief-stricken Cyclops reminiscing about Jean. Along the way, he manages to summarize the entire X-Men run up to that point. Cyclops' abrupt leave of absence would herald Ororo's assuming the leadership role.

The annual (illustrated by John Romita, Jr. and Bob McLeod) tells of how the X-Men and Dr. Strange storm Hell as they attempt to rescue Nightcrawler. This issue also brings to light a very dark secret from Nightcrawler's past (and this on his birthday, too).

Next is a two-issue story featuring Wolverine and Nightcrawler's eventful visit to Canada and their team-up with Alpha Flight as they take on the Wendigo.

This takes us to issues #141-142 which comprise the pivotal, very influential "Days of Future Past," an arc that is as significant as Jim Shooter's "The Adult Legion" story in LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES (issues #354-355, 1967). In the horrifying dystopian future of 2013, where Sentinels run rampant and super-heroes are a thing of the past, anti-mutant hysteria has brought mutants to the brink of extinction. In a last ditch effort to alter the past and thus turn away this future, the consciousness of a middle-aged Katherine Pryde journeys some thirty years back and inhabits the body of her 13-year-old self. Her mission hinges on preventing the assassination of a senator at the hands of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. But first Katherine, in her teenaged form, must convince the X-Men that she isn't delusional, and keep in mind that at this stage Kitty was the team's newest and younger member, and an unproven one, at that. The X-Men save the senator, but was Kitty's mission truly successful? Can the future truly be altered? X-Men writers are still figuring this out.

Inarguably, "Days of Future Past" created road maps and sign posts for future story arcs. It's inspired much of the current X-Men mythology. This story blew my mind when I read it decades ago. The groundbreaking stuff that Claremont got up to in those pages - such as killing off the X-Men in the future - are nowadays pretty commonplace, but back then, it resonated like a mother. It, in fact, was so groundbreaking that, in a lot of ways, it's painted the X-Men franchise into a corner. You'll find that a lot of X-Men stories since then can't seem to get away from this bleak dystopian future. "Days of Future Past" is THE TERMINATOR before THE TERMINATOR came around.

This run of issues also bears added historical weight, and it's not because Angel decided to rejoin the team or even that we note a costume change in Wolverine or hear him being called "Logan" for the very first time. No, what happens is that Kitty Pryde officially becomes the newest X-Man, and her presence immediately re-injects that breath of fresh air. It's appropriate that the last issue in this trade is Kitty-centric, as well. "Demon" is the holiday issue. It finds Kitty alone in the Xavier Mansion on Christmas Eve, a night in which the newest X-Man must outwit and survive the demonic N'garai. It's a hell of a rite of passage and demonstrates the qualities that make Kitty such a strong, endearing character. It's no wonder that she partly inspired Joss Whedon's creation of one Buffy Anne Summers.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 28, 2013 2:04:45 PM PDT
P. Young says:
' "Days of Future Past" isn't a time travel story, as some people have stated, because no time travel happens here. In the horrifying dystopian future of 2013, where Sentinels run rampant and super-heroes are a thing of the past, anti-mutant hysteria has brought mutants to the brink of extinction. In a last ditch effort to alter the past and thus turn away this future, the consciousness of a middle-aged Katherine Pryde journeys some thirty years back and inhabits the body of her 13-year-old self'

Kitty Pryde's mind is sent back into the past so how is it not a time travel story? Or in your opinion, does time travel have to involve a physical body?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 28, 2013 2:31:41 PM PDT
H. Bala says:
You know, that's a good point. And, yeah, I think I'd associated time travel primarily with requiring a physical body, but you're right, one's consciousness traveling back in time does count as time travel. To the edits!
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