The Transparent Fox:
Uncanny X-Men #141-142
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #141, Uncanny X-Men #142
A small group, including Wolverine, Magneto, Colossus, Storm, Kitty (now Kate) Pryde, Franklin Richards, and a new character, a redhead telepath named Rachel, are running a gambit to reverse the history.
That's the plot of this arc, but the overall concept is more powerful, showing that the stakes the modern day X-Men are playing for are higher than we thought. If the X-Men are unable to establish a proper balance between mutant/human relations and fighting for mutant rights, this dystopia awaits them.
Thanks to the efforts of the group in the future, right after Kitty passes her first Danger Room test - which simply requires her to walk across the room phased...
...letting all the death traps pass right through her - Kitty's body is taken over by the older Kate, and she warns the X-Men that an assassination attempt today on Senator and presidential candidate Robert Kelly will set into motion the events that leads to Kate's future.
The X-Men head to Washington DC to find that the assassins are a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. They are led by Mystique, a shapeshifter we have seen (mostly behind the scenes) in Ms. Marvel. With her is Destiny, an old lady with precognitive abilities, and Avalanche and Pyro, who have control over earth and fire, respectively. We've seen these characters in some continuity inserts, but these are their first actual appearances. And rounding out the group is the Blob, presumably to give some cred to the Brotherhood name, although the Blob was only tangentially a member of the original team.
The X-Men stop the assassination after a rough fight with the Brotherhood.
The new Brotherhood is pretty tough, but the X-Men's internal problems also contribute to the fight, especially the conflict between Wolverine and Storm over Wolverine's lethal methods.
There's a scene where Storm orders Wolverine to stop using his claws during the fight, and he nearly turns on her in rage. Storm is now team leader, and she worries in general that she's not the leader that Cyclops was. There's also a noted similarity between Nightcrawler and Mystique that causes hesitation (Claremont has stated that his original intention was that the shape-shifting Mystique was actually Nightcrawler's father and Destiny was his mother, but that isn't the way things actually turned out. Mystique tells Nightcrawler to ask Margarli Szardos, his demon step-mother, about their relationship.).
It's actually Kate who stops Destiny from killing Kelly. Doing so sends her back into the future, although it's not shown what she finds there... scenes from the future so far have shown the remaining members of the team getting killed by Sentinels.
Despite being rescued by the X-Men, Senator Kelly is still convinced by Sebastian Shaw to go forward with a meeting with the US president to enact Project Wideawake, a clandestine government-run Sentinel program. Henry Peter Gyrich, previously the man in charge of the Avengers, will run the project.
As always, great art by Byrne, especially depicting the battle scenes (both the Brotherhood fight and the future scenes with the Sentinels).
And of course the dystopian future introduced here has a lot of significance and adds strength to the mutant rights themes in this book (even if it will be overused in the future). These issues re-establish the theme that was subtext in the early Silver Age stories. The Brotherhood of "Evil" Mutants are well used here as a group that wants to fight humans, not necessarily to take over the world, but to prevent humans from oppressing mutantkind. Destiny rightly believes that Senator Kelly is a key figure that will cause problems for mutants. But the Brotherhood's solution, to kill him, would result in even more draconian measures against mutants. So their actions would have made things worse. By contrast, the X-Men have to fight to save a man that would oppress them, and when it's all over it's not even clear if they've actually made things better. So the fact that these issues have a scary future sequence and a cool fight with a new "supervillain" team are only part of the reason why these issues are great. That future shows the stakes that the X-Men are fighting to prevent, and the present day sequences make a clear distinction between the mutants following Professor Xavier's dream vs. the "evil" mutants who don't believe that integration with humans is possible. This is the core theme of the X-Men, and it's rarely depicted so well.
Here's how this arc was advertised:
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: Days of Future Past TPB
Inbound References (11): show
The title to #141 is taken from the 1967 album by the Moody Blues.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 11, 2011 1:31 PM
Worth noting is that the dystopian future we glimpse in there issues takes place in that far off year of ... 2013.
(Too bad they couldn't have gotten the movie out a year earlier)
Posted by: Gary Himes | August 24, 2013 11:38 PM
"Mystique tells Nightcrawler to ask Margarli Szardos, his demon step-mother, about their relationship.)"
Margali Szardos isn't a demon, she's a sorceress.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 26, 2013 4:54 PM
She's green and has ram's horns!
Posted by: fnord12 | August 26, 2013 6:09 PM
Was there any other tension between Wolverine and Storm after this issue? Wolverine says the conversation isn't other by a longshot, but I don't recall it ever being addressed again.
I always found Wolverine's attitude toward leadership odd. He was extraordinarily hostile towards Cyclops, although he often praised him when he wasn't there. Yet he became fairly supine about anyone else being the leader. One could argue it was a sign of Wolverine maturing, but I always took it that Wolverine simply personally disliked Cyclops for whatever reason (perhaps because Scott had the girl Logan had a crush on).
Posted by: Chris | August 26, 2013 10:00 PM
Cyclops became the de-facto leader after issue #150. I noticed a similar moment to the one you mentioned during the whole Brood saga, except he actually apologized to Cyclops. In any case he had his miniseries after that, and I recall he became more pleasant and a team-player. However Cyclops retired shortly after only to come back briefly, but he and Wolvie had little interaction even during Inferno.
Posted by: AbeLincoln1865 | August 26, 2013 10:21 PM
"She's green and has ram's horns!"
lol! You mean from Uncanny X-Men Annual #4? The ram's horns are a headdress. As for the green, that was probably just part of the spell to scare the hell out of Nightcrawler & company. In later appearances she has normal coloured skin.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 27, 2013 3:05 AM
Margali is also demonic looking in Man-Thing #11, and then we learn in Doctor Strange #57-58 that she was possessed by a demonic source through her wand. And then i admit to not having read any of her appearances in Excalibur, beginning in #76 (1994). But i'm sticking with demonic as a descriptor at this point in time! ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | August 27, 2013 7:33 AM
Hm. I remember seeing her with normal skin. Probably was Excalibur then. It seems she turns green when she's using her magic.
Posted by: Jay | August 27, 2013 3:30 PM
The first title of the arc everyone knows, but just realized that "Mind Out of Time" is probably a Steely Dan reference to their song "Time Out of Mind", off their 1980 album "Gaucho". (good album BTW)
Posted by: Ataru320 | October 25, 2013 12:53 PM
Was this the first time that the X-Men mentioned Wolverine's healing power? I am reading the series chronologically and haven't seen them mention this earlier...
Posted by: Ryan | January 24, 2014 9:58 PM
I tracked an earlier mention in Uncanny X-Men #116.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 24, 2014 10:05 PM
The movie is a bit different from this, but if you're watching X-Men movies to match the comics then you're long beaten. Very much alternate universe.
One thing that matches is that the movie and these Sentinels are quite brutal.
Posted by: david banes | June 15, 2014 1:25 AM
Claremont stated in Amazing Heroes #134 that he wanted to do Nightcrawler's origin around this time, but decided it was a "dud" and skipped it.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 8, 2014 4:28 PM
"Storm is now team leader, and she worries in general that she's not the leader that Cyclops was."
Posted by: clyde | February 21, 2015 11:13 PM
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 22, 2015 12:11 AM
As SPECTACULAR as this site is, this particular review doesn't do Days of Future Past justice. Throughout the plot lives the conflict that the x-men face. They need to save the life of the politician who wants to take away their freedom in order to prevent an even worse future. It's stunningly deep and complex for comics at the time.
THIS is a story to tell your friends to read to get interested in comics. I own every issue of x-men (until I gave up comics in the late 90s). This two-issue story is the best.
Posted by: Tabe8 | February 22, 2015 10:03 AM
I was always intrigued by why Havok was noted on the cover of Uncanny X-Men #141 as "Apprehended," but never appeared in the story.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 10, 2015 7:30 PM
Maybe him being merely apprehended inspired future writers to come up with the Summers Rebellion?
What I always found interesting is that the dystopian future really needs Franklin to age and since he never does, what is everyone so worried about? Keep Franklin a kid and bob's your uncle, right?
Posted by: BeastCharming | April 11, 2015 6:54 AM
I deliberately skipped this while going through because it's one of the few comics I still have and I wanted to read it again carefully and now that I have, several things stand out to me.
1 - I have this as the 1989 reprint which Marvel did rather than reprint it in Classic X-Men (ironically, Classic X-Men changed names right at the point, just as X-Men became Uncanny X-Men at this same point). The Gyrich panels are not present in the reprint. Also, on the cover of #141, the "Apprehended" that Nathan Adler mentions is no longer there - Havok is there but the banner across his face has no writing on it.
2 - I had though that perhaps Franklin isn't given his full name, but it is there, just once, listed him as the last surviving member of the Fantastic Four. The panel clearly states that Franklin, Rachel and Magneto were never X-Men.
3 - There is a lot of talk about the gradual redemption of Magneto beginning in #150, but in a sense, it really starts here with his partnership with the X-Men (and his willingness to sacrifice himself).
4 - Havok is not on a gravestone, though Lorna is. Nor is here among the pictures of heroes shown as killed, though neither is Lorna. The biggest absence there I would say is Thor - what would have happened to him? Returned to Asgard, perhaps?
5 - While it's clear in the Dark Phoenix Saga that Kitty thinks Peter is cute, their romance is clearly given a long-term approval here with their marriage, before we see anything real between them in the present.
6 - While Rachel has been living in a concentration camp and is understandably mal-nourished and beaten down, there is nothing in the original version of her as drawn by Byrne to suggest she will one day be one of the premier Marvel hotties. She, like Rogue, has continually been drawn to be better and better looking as the years go by, as if you can't have ordinary looking female heroes.
7 - Rachel, of course, isn't mentioned as a Summers here. But, more importantly, the future is changed at the end of this book. Anything post #141 isn't her timeline because the Kelly assassination is stopped, so in theory she never should have ended up in the X-Men's timeline, nor should have Nimrod. I'm not certain that Marvel ever adequately explained that. If they had gone back prior to #141, that would have made sense, but we see them both arrive after that.
8 - Fnord, you should put in the panel of the X-Men's reactions to Kitty walking through - Wolverine's laughter is especially nice to see since it happens so rarely.
9 - Comics.org correctly points out a Lois and Jimmy cameo in #141 (fourth panel, second to last page). It's interesting to look at how Byrne drew Lois here, as opposed to in 1986 when he took on Superman. But what isn't pointed out is the Doonesbury cameo - in the middle of #142, the couple running away, based on their dialogue, are clearly Rick Redfern and Joanie Caucus.
10 - I have never been a huge fan of Storm and always have been a huge fan of Cyclops. But that said, Storm clearly develops as a leader quite well. Contrast this to what happened to poor Captain Marvel when she took over the Avengers. Storm learns well on the job and her stand-off against Wolverine here is quite impressive - it's a sign of her leadership and his understanding of being on the team that has grown in both of them that allows for this scene to work.
11 - The art truly is fantastic, especially the death scenes in the future.
12 - The future itself is what makes these two issues so important. I know that various futures have come into play in the past, but this is one that Marvel keeps coming back to and the big one to try and avoid. Truly important, important issues.
13 - So important that they provided the plot for an entire X-Men film and some basics for the first X-Men film.
14 - And a sign of how truly great this was, perhaps the greatest run on any comic ever - Claremont and Byrne on X-Men, with the battle against Magneto, the stuff in Japan, Alpha Flight, Proteus, the Dark Phoenix Saga, more (even better) Alpha Flight, and then to send them off in style, Days of Future Past. Truly amazing work.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 29, 2015 7:55 PM
I have a perfectly good scan of Wolverine laughing right here.
No, i added the scan. Thanks for the other thoughts and observations, Erik.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 29, 2015 9:18 PM
I looked at that Ross Andru scan you linked to. Then I threw up in my mouth. :)
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 29, 2015 9:46 PM
Regarding 3: I think it was deliberate. Just look at the way he's introduced, with the wheelchair coming in. There's no way that wasn't a conscious parallel with Xavier on Byrne and Claremont's part. Certainly Claremont ran with it. [Then again, why was Magneto even alive at that point? You'd think the Sentinels would have made sure to kill him first.]
Posted by: ChrisW | April 30, 2015 6:21 AM
@ChrisW: What was even more obvious was that Claremont's intended battle with Xavier and Magneto against the Shadow King around #300 would not only have Charles killed, but would leave Magneto in a wheelchair as a hint history was running toward this timeline again.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 30, 2015 8:53 AM
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