Days of Future Past is a storyline that appeared in Marvel Comics Uncanny X-Men #141-142. It was collected and reprinted in a graphic novel called X-men: Days of Future Past.

Considered by many to be Chris Claremont's best writing during his run on Uncanny X-Men, the Days of Future Past story presents a nightmarish possible future that it seems the X-Men cannot escape. It takes the reader from the comfortable world of super heroics commonly found in Marvel books and presents them with a wasteland future, the product of hatred and fear. Told though the eyes of a young woman, this future sees almost all members of the team dead and Xavier's dream of coexistence with humans in tatters. The scariest thing is the seeming inability of man to overcome his prejudices that seem to lead the X-Men back to this story time and time again as the definitive future, regardless of what actions they take in the present.

The Ruins of New York City, not long from the Present

Kitty Pryde, also known as Sprite or Shadowcat, walks through the remains a destroyed New York City, trying to reach the mutant concentration camp with a small piece of electronics clutched to her chest. Meeting a gang called the "Rogues", Kitty is aided by a decidedly decrepit and old looking Wolverine, who Kitty addresses as Colonel Logan. Wolverine is shown to be a part of a paramilitary resistance group, operating in the remote regions of Canada, called the Canadian Resistance Army. Wolverine asks some cryptic questions of Kitty, and she confirms that "they would all be ready when he comes". Logan then disappears into the ruins again. In the most decidedly chilling part of the story, Kitty continues her journey to the camp, passing by the simple grey headstone marked graves of many Marvel heroes. The Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the X-Men all dead and buried. Kitty arrives at the camp and is clinically scanned by a massive Sentinel which is standing guard. She is allowed to pass. Rejoined by the last of her living friends, Kitty hurries to give the parts she smuggled in to Franklin Richards, son of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman. Colossus, now Kitty's husband, Rachel Summers and Storm wait and watch Richards work. In this timeline, Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Jean Grey (Marvel Girl) have had a child, Rachel. Magneto also watches, in a wheelchair, revealing himself as a twisted parody of Professor X, acting as a mentor to the remains of the X-Men. Richards puts the mechanism into a hobbled together machine which is used by the telepath Rachel to exchange Kitty's adult mind with the mind of young Kitty Pryde of our time.

Westchester, New York, the Present

The X-Men are training in the Danger Room, a room in Xavier's School where they hone their superpowers. This reality's Kitty Pryde, has just become an active member of the X-Men team. This training session is also her first time in the Danger Room. Just as the session ends, Kitty collapses and blacks out. Fearing that the training has caused her injury, Kitty is rushed to the MedLab. Kitty wakes up, her mind now swapped with the Kitty from the future. Upon convincing the team about who she is, Kitty explains how her horrible future was created: On that day, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants would kill Senator Robert Kelly, in opposition to his proposed Mutant Control Act. Popular human opinion would shift, and the people of the United States elect a president that promises to wipe mutants off the face of the Earth. The Mutant Control Act is created, but it is deemed unconstitutional by Congress. The administration reacted to this ruling by giving complete autonomy to the mutant-hunting Sentinel robots, secretly in mass production, programmed with one task: kill mutants at all costs. The robots analyzed the situation, and concluded that the best way to protect humanity was to rule it. They killed most of the world's super-powered heroes, villains and mutants because they did not conform to the standard template for human. The ones that who survived where sent to concentration camps or used as hounds to hunt the remaining few free mutants. The Canadian Resistance Army had fought a losing guerrilla war against the Sentinels for years, but they were near collapse. The few remaining X-Men devised their final desperate plan to send this message back to the past to warn the X-Men of our time. If they could avoid the murder of Senator Kelly by the Brotherhood, maybe the future would be saved. After hearing Kitty's story, the X-Men rushed to Washington to contact Professor Xavier.

The Ruins of New York City, not long from the Present

Having swapped Kitty's mind into the past, the X-Men, led by Wolverine, began to escape the concentration camp to take one last suicidal mission: Destroy the Sentinel Continental Nerve Center, located in the Baxter Building, the Fantastic Four's old base of operations. Leaving the crippled Magneto behind to die in his wheelchair, they left the camp. Colossus lamented all the friends he had seen die, and was filled with guilt for leaving Magneto behind. Suddenly, a Sentinel tore the roof off the abandoned subway tunnel where the group was hiding, crushing Franklin. The group destroyed the trio of robots that attacked and an enraged Colossus destroyed several more by dropping a building on them. They continued on toward the Baxter Building.

Washington, D.C. , the Present

The X-Men arrive at the Senate building, where Senator Robert Kelly hosting a hearing about the importance of the Mutant Control, in the interests of human safety. Dr. Moira MacTaggert and Charles Xavier (Professor X) were where attending, providing the mutant point of view. When Xavier saw the X-Men, he read Storm and Kitty's minds. Before he could act, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants attacked. The X-Men, concerned for the safety of the public, and on their first mission with Storm as the leader, started losing badly. Mystique knocked Professor X and Dr. MacTaggert unconscious. Destiny, the Brotherhood's precog, told Raven that there was a random factor involved that was changing the future. That random factor was Kitty Pryde

The Ruins of Downtown New York City, not long from the Present

Finally arriving at the Baxter Building, the X-Men begin their assault, destroying the lone Sentinel that was guarding the building. Rachel stayed outside to protect the unconscious Kitty, whose body held the consciousness of her younger self. The X-Men fought up to the floor that housed the nerve center. A Sentinel guarding the floor was alerted. Wolverine leapt to attack it, but he was caught in a plasma blast and burned away down to his adamantium skeleton. All the X-men would die feet from their objective. Storm was impaled through the chest. Colossus raged and screamed vengeance for his lost sister, and was quickly killed. Rachel and Kitty's only hope now rested in the past.

Washington, D.C. , the Present

The tide of battle began to turn in favor of the X-Men. Colossus, Wolverine and Storm defeated the Blob and Pyro, while the Angel saved the civilians from being caught in the fight. Nightcrawler entered in battle with "himself" when Mystique took his shape. Mystique escaped by morphing into a regular human form and fleeing into the crowds. Inside the Senate, the pivotal point of the history was about to happen. Destiny was about to kill Robert Kelly with an arrow, but Kitty, the random factor, phased inside her and pulled her down, making the shot miss. Kelly was saved.

At that very moment, the adolescent Kitty's mind returned from future. The X-Men, worried that they had not stopped the future, asked Xavier if they had been successful. Xavier answered by saying that only time held the answers.

After reading a reprint of this story in Classic X-Men, I began to collect comic books. The powerful storytelling and struggle against impossible odds struck a chord. It is a great example of tragic storytelling, and a prime example of comics as literary art.

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