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Colossus

X-Men: Days Of Future Past

I consider Chris Claremont’s God Loves, Man Kills an outstanding and definitive X-Men story, but had never picked up another classic by the same author, Days of Future Past, despite a 2014 movie being based off it. Reading through this 1980 story was both wonderful and a bit cringy as it was so very dated, as it is now considered part of the Bronze Era of comics, before a more modern way of storytelling began in the mid 80s.

There are actually five stories found in the graphic novel- stories are added at the beginning and end to pad the book. The first story is narrated by Cyclops after Jean’s death, and he gives a very thorough retelling of the X-Men’s story as he prepares to leave the team. The second story has Storm take over as team leader and features Dr. Strange who helps when an enemy wants revenge against Nightcrawler. We are introduced to Kitty Pryde at this time, only thirteen, and brand new to Professor X’s school. The third story has Wolverine heading to Canada and helping the Alpha Flight team battle Wendigo. The last story is a strange little tale about Kitty fighting some demons the night before Christmas when she is alone at the school.

And now back to the main attraction-Days of Future Past! The story opens in a devastated NYC in 2013 (I love when we pass the future imagined years ago, such as in the book 1984 or even the movie Back to the Future) and Kitty is now a woman in her 40s secretly meeting Wolverine for a power jammer, to combat the power-dampening collar she and other mutants are forced to wear. We find out most mutants and Avengers are long dead because of a political assassination years ago that led to anti-mutant sentiment and the Sentinels being activated. The plan is to send Kitty’s soul back in time to 1980 to her young body to warn the X-Men and prevent the sequence of events that led to the current apocalypse. Of course it works, and without too much trouble she convinces her team to fight the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants led by Mystique. An all-out war entails but Senator Kelly is saved, whose new fate should pivot the timeline, although a new threat is hinted at. Going back in time to right a wrong is a popular plot device, but it works here. The 2014 movie changed the person going back in time to Wolverine, but in this comic Kitty was a good choice, and she was incorporated into all the stories in some way in this novel so I enjoyed a more in-depth look at a character I wasn’t as familiar with.

The artwork by John Byrne was classic Marvel of that era, with great costumes and fight scenes. The modern day clothing and hairdos that the X-Men wear around town are so deliciously dated, but hey, it was high fashion then. Kitty’s eyes were extremely large and odd looking to me. Kitty crushs hard on Peter/Colossus at way too young of an age and it came off as quite creepy, although there is mention that they marry in the future in the chapters of DOFP. (Aside- why then did they call off their wedding at the very last moment in a recent storyline, when they have been established for years as a couple??) This was a fun blast from the past, as this and God Loves, Man Kills are must reads for Marvel fans!

-Nancy

Look at these (now) retro costumes! 😉

X-Men: Origins

This graphic novel gives us the origins of six X-Men: Colossus, Jean Grey, Beast, Sabretooth, Wolverine and Gambit. Each story is told by different authors and illustrators, thus there was some inconsistency in how each story unfolds.

Colossus by Chris Yost and Trevor Hairsine

Pioter is a young Siberian teen who is devastated when his older brother Mikhail is killed in the line of duty and during his grief turns into Colossus for the first time. A friend of Mikhail witnesses it but keeps the secret, but the Russian secret police suspect something. A baby sister Illyana is born and Pioter finds it harder to hide his powers so this gentle giant leaves his home and joins the X-Men to keep her safe. This story was my favorite, for despite its short length told a cohesive story that gave you enough details on his origins. The art was well done, especially a splash page of Pioter saving Illyana’s life. 

Jean Grey by Sean McKeever and Mike Mayhew

The story introduces Jean Grey as a teen who is so overwhelmed by her psychic abilities that she has become a recluse so her parents reach out to Professor X to help her learn how to control her abilities. He gets her past her trauma of feeling a friend’s death and teachers her to harness her gifts. But as a teen, she is still unpredictable and leaves the academy alone where she needs to use her powers to help when a crisis occurs. While chastised at the end by the Professor, you see Jean is healing. The art in this story was the best of the six, with a photo-realism style similar to Alex Ross. 

Beast by Mike Carey and J.K. Woodward

We are introduced to Beast as a burly high school genius named Hank who is mocked for his appearance but then heralded as a hero when he helps the football team win State. A bit of an explanation of his origins is given when it is revealed that his Dad was exposed to a high amount of radiation before he was born, thus genetically passing it on to him. Then there is a villain who wants to use Hank as his pawn and Professor X gets involved. Without Hank’s consent, he wipes the memory of Hank from his parents and the community and enlists him to join the X-Men. I hated the Professor for doing that, how cruel to rip Hank away from his family without warning. The art was hideous in this story- the artist was aiming for a photo-realism style found in the Jean Grey story, but it was muddy and distorted. 

Sabretooth by Kieron Gillen and Dan Panosian

Long-lived Sabretooth is seen as a child in the rural late 1800s who kills his older brother over a piece of pie on his brother’s birthday. Horrified, his parents lock him away but he grows into a feral and cruel teen who eventually escapes and kills them. As an adult, he meets Logan who he befriends but then betrays and begins a tradition of finding him every year to fight on his birthday (or perhaps his brother’s birthday?). I was quite put-off when Logan’s lady love is a sexy Native American with the name of Silver Fox. It was a racist and inaccurate depiction of Native women of that era and took me out of the story.

Wolverine by Chris Yost and Mark Texeira

This story draws from the 2001 story Wolverine: Origin and how Logan’s power came to him as a child in Canada when he witnessed his parents being killed. The story then deals with later years and how Professor X tries to show him that he is more than a killing machine and that he needs to tap into his morality and become an X-Men. The art is solid with good depictions of Logan throughout the years along with his iconic yellow costume. 

Gambit by Mike Carey, David Yardin and Ibraim Roberson 

I love me some Gambit, so I was willing to overlook that the story didn’t truly show his origins. Instead, it begins with his marriage to Bella Donna. The whole idea of them marrying didn’t make sense, as they were from feuding clans – the Thieves Guild vs the Assassin’s Guild. It was supposed to have a Romeo and Juliet vibe but I think the marriage would have been stopped before the ceremony, not immediately afterward. But…the rest of the story shows while Remy briefly works for bad people, his goodness wins out at the end. The art was decent, but sometimes facial features were oddly puffy looking.

This wasn’t the strongest collection of stories, as the shift in writing and art styles kept it from being consistent. I felt the Colossus and Jean Grey stories were the strongest, both in writing and art. The X-Men were one of my first comic loves, and even though I haven’t been reading a lot about them in recent years, I noticed inconsistencies in the stories. It was an interesting early look at some X-Men heroes and villains but not what I would consider canon. 

-Nancy

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