Review: “X-Men: Days of Future Past” Trade Paperback

X-Men: Days of Future Past TPB Cover“X-Men: Days of Future Past” Trade Paperback by Marvel Comics – Chris Claremont, John Byrne & Terry Austin
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Overall “Book” Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars 3.5 out of 5 stars
First Published:  Trade Paperback published July 2013, collecting 7 comic book issues originally published in 1981
Read from: Jun 27 to July 12, 2014

Better Than the Movie, But…

I checked this Trade Paperback out from the library after watching the “meh” movie VERY loosely based on in it, (see my review of that movie here,) as I did not recall having read the original comic story “back in the day”. I guess I was expecting more of a graphic novel, or a longer story, so I was initially disappointed when I first started to read this collection of “classic” X-Men… Especially after reading the first story of the bunch, which is pretty darn poor. The actual “Days of Future Past” story line really only takes up 2 of the 7 comics included in this collection. While the “DOFP” story line is fair to good, a few of the other comics in the collection are actually better than this “title” story.

I have rated, reviewed & provided brief synapses of each “issue” included in this trade paperback below. With most of the stories I have provided more details for those who are curious. The spoiler-laden details are hidden in “spoiler tags” so those who want to read the TPB without ruining anything can still read on, as long as they don’t click through to the spoiler contents…

X-Men Vol 1, No.138X-Men Vol.1 #138: “Elegy”
(Oct 1980)
1halfstars 1.5 out of 5 Stars.
At the funeral of Jean Grey (Marvel Girl, Phoenix), Scott Summers (Cyclops) experiences a long flashback on the past history of the X-Men, from its formation until now. At the end of the funeral, as the last of the “old” X-Men, Cyclops leaves the team to the “all new” X-Men.
REVIEW: Nothing new really occurs in this book other than Cyclops departure which is announced on the cover. Most of the issue is the very brief synopsis of the X-Men story to date; which due to the brevity required, makes everything somewhat dull, goofy and laughable. The typical comic book storylines (especially those from the days when the X-Men comics first came into being) become even more stereotypical when stripped to their basics.

X-Men Annual Vol.1X-Men, Annual Vol.1: “Nightcrawler’s Inferno”
(Oct 1980)
3.5 out of 5 Stars 3.5 out of 5 stars
Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler) receives a mysterious birthday present that sends him to a recreation of Dante’s hell, as recounted in Dante Alleghari’s “Inferno”. Trying to save Nightcrawler, the X-Men and Steven Strange (Dr. Strange) are instead pulled in with him. They have to travel and fight their way to the deepest depths of hell to solve the mystery of what is going on, discovering some significant pieces of Nightcrawler’s back story along the way.

Spoiler: Nightcrawler's Inferno Details Show

REVIEW: Much better than the previous, as something actually happens. Contains back-story on one of my all-time favorite X-Men characters, Nightcrawler. The “guest
appearance” of Dr. Strange is kind of cool, and I’ve always been a fan of Dante’s Inferno. That being said, the idea had a lot of potential, but should have been played out over a number of issues, instead of just one issue, albeit a large annual issue. The different levels of Dante’s hell were barely seen, some being skipped entirely, and the encounters there were fairly blazeh. Some of the character’s lines were pretty corny a/o stereotypical canned comic book fodder. Still, the confrontation and reveal of the mystery at the end saved the story some for me.

X-Men Vol.1 No.139X-Men Vol.1 #139: “…Something Wicked This Way Comes!”
(Nov 1980)
3 out of 5 stars 3 out of 5 stars
After some action in the Danger Room, the team gives their newest member, Kitty Pryde, the codename “Sprite”. Ororo (Storm) takes Kitty to dancing lessons in the nearby town, while Logan (Wolverine) and Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler) travel to Canada to patch things up with Wolverine’s previous team, the Canadian superhero group “Alpha Flight”. There they meet half of Wolverine’s old team: James Hudson (Vindicator), Michael Twoyoungmen (Shaman), & Annie MacKenzie (Snowbird), who are investigating brutal murders & disappearances in the wilds of Canada thought to be caused by a mysterious beast.

Spoiler: Something Wicked Details Show

REVIEW: Again I liked it, but not much really happens. Kind of cool seeing the Danger Room and the beginnings of my favorite version of the X-Men practicing in its environs. And neat to see some of Alpha Flight. I actually recall reading as a kid the the old Hulk comic that we see bits of in Wolverine’s flashback (see spoiler) so that bit of nostalgia was fun. In my opinion though this comic needs a *little* more real action to bring it from good, to REALLY good.

X-Men Vol.1 No.140X-Men Vol.1 #140: “Rage!”
(Dec 1980)
4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars
Peter Rasputin (Colossus) “relaxes” at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters by clearing some farmland on the school grounds with his own two steel hands. WarrenWorthington III (Angel) discusses with Charles Xavier (Professor X) his distrust of Wolverine’s bezerker rage tendancies. Professor X restates his mission to help and teach homo sapiens (standard humans) and homo superior (mutants) to live together in peace & harmony… this includes Wolverine. In the nearby town, Ororo (Storm) arrives to pickup Kitty Pryde (Sprite) from her dancing lessons. Storm is on edge, bothered by seemingly unfounded feelings of distrust towards Stevie Hunter, Kitty’s dance teacher. And far to the north, in Canada, Kurt (Nightcrawler), Logan (Wolverine) and three members of Alpha Flight — James (Vindicator), Michael (Shaman) & Anne (Snowbird) — battle Wendigo, the raging mysterious beast from last issue (okay this may be a spoiler, but he’s on the darn cover, so what do I do). In the battle and its aftermath, Wolverine has to make use of, control, and try to come to terms with the “Beserker” rage that is his nature.

Spoiler: Rage Details Show

REVIEW: So much happens in this issue! There is a BUNCH of super-hero action between Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Alpha Flight and Wendigo. So much of it revolves around two of my favorite X-Men (Nightcrawler & Wolverine). And the way Wolverine’s issues with his animal rage are mirrored by another character (see spoiler) is VERY well done. In short, this issue is a perfect example of why I liked the X-Men (and this line up in particular) as a kid.

X-Men Vol.1 No.141X-Men Vol.1 #141: “Days of Future Past”
(Jan 1981)
4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars
In a dystopian future (or alternate universe to the “main” X-Men storyline,) the US government built robot Sentinels to capture or destroy all mutants. In stereotypical sci-fi fashion however, the robots took their mandate farther than the government had intended and ultimately took complete control of the nation. The citizens are forcibly cataloged into 3 classes of people. Mutants & other supers are hunted down then imprisoned or terminated. Normal humans with mutant potentials in their genes live under tight restraints and are not allowed to breed. Only those with no mutant potential are allowed to breed but the nation as a whole is in a shambles due to the single-minded control of the Sentinels. At this point, most of the superheros and villains of the Marvel line (whether or not their powers came from mutations or other sources) are now deceased. Of those who have survived, most are kept in concentration camps with their powers neutralized by Inhibitor Collars they are forced to wear. Having subjugated North America, the Sentinels are now preparing to take their program and apply it to the rest of the world. Having seen what the Sentinels have done to America, the nations of the world are preparing to defend themselves at all costs. The world stands on the brink of a nuclear holocaust. To prevent this, the few remaining mutant superheros have instigated a plan to disable their Inhibitor Collars and escape long enough so that they can send one hero “back in time” (to the “current” time of the X-Men comics at the time of publishing) to stop a key event that they believe ultimately led to the government’s decision to construct the Sentinels to remove the “mutant threat”.

Spoiler: Days of Future Past Details Show

REVIEW: The title story of this TPB. As a whole I was a little underwhelmed, though I DID like it more than the recent movie. I rated this story as high as I did mainly due its PREMISE which I think was cool & unique enough (especially at the time) that it deserves “a little bit more”. But similar to my review of the Annual Vol. 1 issue above, I felt that the writer’s REALLY failed to deliver on a story that had SO much potential. Maybe, yet again, due to trying to tell the story in only two issues.
One of my big problems with this story lies with the motives of the “bad guys” of the “present time line” part of this story. Without going into spoilers, I think it is safe to say that the “bad guys” the X-Men face is a new version of their old enemies “The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants”. I mean REALLY. Who actually calls themselves EVIL. I could see a mutant “terrorist” group calling itself something like the “The Brotherhood for Mutant Rights” or some such. I don’t have a problem with the idea that “normal” humans would feel threatened by the “evolution” of mutants, that some mutants might see themselves as “better” than “normals”, and that these two factions could cause events like those that are the premise of this story. However, the WAY the bad guys and their plan as a whole are represented in this issue really fails to explore those issues, and is instead stereotypical comic-book fodder of the worst kind.

X-Men Vol.1 No.142Uncanny X-Men Vol.1 #142: “Mind Out of Time”
(Feb 1981)
3 out of 5 stars 3 out of 5 stars
This issue is the conclusion to the preceding “Days of Future Past” issue. I won’t go into any details here. It has some entertaining comic book battles (see details in Spoiler below if want). Most are pretty stereotypical, but one confrontation was somewhat unique and interesting. But…
REVIEW: But as mentioned in the issue above, the Days of Future Past storyline really fails to live up to its awesome premise and loads of potential. This issue being the conclusion, this is the issue where those failures to deliver really come out.

Spoiler: Mind Out of Time Details Show

X-Men Vol.1 No.143Uncanny X-Men Vol.1 #143: “Demon”
(Mar 1981)
3.5 out of 5 Stars 3.5 out of 5 stars
The last story in this TPB was a nice little “one off” story featuring Kitty Pryde. Basically the idea is Kitty Pryde is left by herself at the mansion during the Christmas/Hanukkah holiday break. Everyone has left with various holiday plans, and so Kitty is feeling a little homesick & left out. Practicing in the Danger Room, she is suddenly attacked by a horrible creature. The result is a short, fast-paced issue that gives a large nod of the head to the movie “Alien” with Kitty in the role of Ripley, and the empty Xavier’s mansion and X-Men headquarters in the role of Ripley’s ship, the Nastramo. While the story is a rework of other sci-fi/horror stories, I still thought it was pretty well done and pretty entertaining. It certainly is not the best issue in the book, but it is better than a number of the other stories… including the conclusion of this TPB “title” story.


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