When The Uncanny X-Men
was first published in 1963, it was not a largely popular title. In fact, after the intial seven years, the series went to reprinted form, until in 1975 when Chris Claremont revamped and reinvigorated the series with new stories and characters. He would go on to write nearly 200 consecutive issues over the next sixteen years, and would be responsible for many of the all-time classic storylines, including "The Dark Phoenix Saga"
and "Days of Future Past."
Originally published as a two-parter in issues #141 - 142, "Days of Future Past"
begins in a grim dystopian future, where the Sentinels have control over the United States, which now lies mostly in ruins. The overwhelming majority of mutants have been slaughtered without mercy, and the remaining ones are imprisoned in internment camps. Only four X-Men are still alive, amongst them are Kitty Pryde, Storm, Colossus, Wolverine, as well as Magneto, Franklin Richards and Rachel Summers.
The remaining mutants have a plan to use Rachel's telepathic ablilites to transport Kitty's future soul into the body of her younger self. The story goes back to 1980 at that point, where a young Kitty is finishing a Danger Room training session, when suddenly the soul of her older self takes over and renders her unconcious.
When she comes to, she begins to warn the X-Men about the assassination of presidential candidate Robert Kelly by Mystique's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and its profound impact on the future. How anti-mutant hysteria causes certain individuals to re-activate the Sentinels program, only for the Sentinels to turn on their creators and inevitably take over all of humanity.
The remaining survivors in the future meanwhile are en route to infiltrate and cripple the Sentinels' continental nerve center located in the Baxter Building. As the X-Men of the past arrive in Washington D.C. and battle the Brotherhood, one of my favorite moments happens when Nightcrawler notices the resemblance between himself and Mystique. It wouldn't be confirmed until years later that they are in fact mother and son.
The future survivors make it inside the Baxter Building, where one of the story's most memorable moments occurs. As Wolverine attempts a "fastball special" towards a supposedly unsuspecting Sentinel, it suddenly turns and proceeds to completely fry Wolverine till all that remains is his adamantium skeleton. Storm is then impaled, and Colossus dies from the devastation of the event.
Kitty succeeds in her mission and her soul returns to the future, as her present-day soul takes back over, though the bleak future still exists as an alternate timeline. "Days of Future Past"
was a story truly ahead of its time, pre-dating works such as the Terminator
films, and providing inspiration for further X-Men storylines such as "Days of Future Present,"
the miniseries "Wolverine: Days of Future Past"
as well as an adaption in the animated X-Men
series in 1993.
The animated series' version was slightly different, as Kitty Pryde was replaced with the newer character Bishop. Also, this time Bishop physically travels through time through a machine constructed by Forge to kill Kelly's assassin, whom he knows to be a member of the X-Men. It's unfortunate that we were unable to see Wolverine's death in this version since it would've been deemed too violent to air on Saturday morning TV, but they still pay homage to it by showing his skeletal remains on display in a tank. Appropriately enough, the story was adapted once again into new comic book form in X-Men Adventures
#13 - 14.
If you've not yet discovered this story, I highly recommend it, as it truly is X-Men
writing at its best. The original comic story can be found in many graphic novels, both self-titled and included in others such as Greatest Battles of the X-Men
and Essential X-Men Vol. 2.
Be sure to check it out.