Bento Review: X-Men: Days Of Future Past

X-Men:  Days of Future Past is one the best known X-Men stories of all time.  Complete with iconic cover images of an older Wolverine and Kitty Pryde standing in front of a wanted poster listing most the X-characters dead or incarcerated, the story inspired probably the best X-Men movie as well as became a memorable part of X-Men lore.

It was also, originally, just a pair of stories in the regular X-Men comics, coming in at only 44 pages of story.  Comic Bento sent that trade as the last of its “rewriting history” box, and naturally Marvel padded out the book with a few other X-Men issues.  How was it?

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This book was when writer Chris Claremont and artist and co-plotter John Byrne were both probably at the height of their respective powers.  Claremont’s writing, while always full of overwrought description and pathos, had not reached the black hole suction of never-ending subplots yet, and Byrne hadn’t disappeared down his own ass as he seems to have done today.  The issues here include Wolverine changing to his brown costume and actually giving out his name for the first time.  It also includes as the first issue reprinted Cyclops recounting the history of the X-Men while attending Jean Grey’s funeral.

This was one of those moments where I sat back and wondered something.  Namely, I wondered who Cyclops was recounting that history for.  The whole thing was his own thoughts.  He wasn’t talking to anybody but the reader, and breaking the fourth wall isn’t one of Scott Summers’ usual powers.  And that is one thorough history, since he covers the entire issue just telling the reader who the X-Men were in rather fine detail until the last couple pages.  Though Scott remembering the first time the original team of boys saw Jean shows Iceman being particularly dismissive of a girl showing up does seem like a good opening to show the whole thing where Bendis revealed Bobby Drake was gay more recently.

I’d actually read all these issues before in a black-and-white reprint, though, so it was fun seeing this stuff in color.  Besides the funeral and the title story, there was an annual drawn by John Romita Jr. where Nightcrawler is sucked down to hell (sort of) for a crime he committed before joining the X-Men, and the remaining X-Men team up with Dr. Strange to rescue Nightcrawler from said Hell that looks exactly like Dante’s Inferno.  That issue started with Kurt’s surprise birthday party, and I couldn’t help but notice one of the first gifts he unwrapped was a framed portrait of Wolverine in costume.  That was almost as weird as the whole Dante’s Inferno thing.  Also weird was Colossus looking at Hell and being glad he’s an atheist.  How can anyone see the afterlife and still be an atheist I don’t know, but there you have it.

That story was followed up with Wolverine and Nightcrawler going to Canada to fix Logan’s resignation from Alpha Flight.  There they and half the Canadian heroes teamed up to stop the Wendigo.

And then after the title story was a single issue where Kitty, left alone in the X-Mansion, has to fight off a demon invader on Christmas.  And during that one, I was wondering why a 13 year old girl was left alone in a giant mansion on Christmas Eve.  Even though Kitty’s Jewish and doesn’t celebrate Christmas, that still seemed like a weird thing to do just to show how much she’d learned since she joined the team.

Actually, aside from those weird moments when I thought too much about it, this was a fine series of high quality X-Men stories.  Claremont’s gift for characterizing these people, particularly the women in the forms of Storm and Kitty, was on great display, and Byrne’s artwork was smooth and crisp.  Longtime fans can see future relationships and stories forming, and the “Days of Future Past” is still a pretty powerful story in its own right, especially given the fate of the future X-Men.  I’m giving this one nine out of ten fastball specials.

NEXT BOX:  That does it for “rewriting history”.  The next box theme is listed as “fan power”.  Maybe it’ll include that Batman story where the fans voted by phone to kill Robin.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

2 thoughts on “Bento Review: X-Men: Days Of Future Past

  1. For a book entitled “Days of Future Past” it didn’t seem to have a lot of “Days of Future Past” material in it. I know the original story was only two issues, but was there any significance to the “padding” that Marvel added? Sounds like it is just a bunch of random stories.

    1. Well, they were the issues that came before and after. I think it was, like, a trade of a handful of Claremont/Byrne stories (plus the Romita Jr. annual) with the best known storyline being used as the cover and title for the book. I wouldn’t be surprised if the way “Days” caught the readers’ collective imagination was something of a shock to Marvel as it is. There was not necessarily an implied sequel involved since the X-Men appeared to save the day for the time being. If anything, the issues included do show the growth of Kitty Pryde’s character.

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