The Uncanny X-Men #141-142: Days of Future Past

250px-X-Men_v1_141

One of the most iconic comic covers of all time.

Who knew that a two-issue story arc that ran in The Uncanny X-Men  #141-142 would be such a profound moment in the series.  Before we talk about the movie that comes out on Friday, let’s talk about the story that started it all.

“Days Of Future Past” is fairly straightforward. In the year 2013 (doesn’t that seem like yesterday?), it completely sucks for man and mutant alike. The robotic Sentinels that were deployed to stop mutants (as a result of the assassination of super mutant-hater Robert Kelly) have taken it one step further, turning their robotic eyes to super powered humans alike.

Things are getting rough and it seems like humanity is approaching a nuclear fallout. What’s left of the X-Men have a plan to go back in time to prevent this future, by finding a way for the Kitty Pryde of 2013 to communicate with the younger version of her in 1980 to prevent Kelly’s assassination at the hands of Mystique’s latest group of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

The fall out of this story leaves a huge impact on the X-books for years to come. It introduces Rachel Summers (Cyclops and Jean Grey’s daughter from the future), as an extremely powerful telepath who was responsible for connecting the Kitty’s of the future and path. She later becomes a very important character in her own right.

It also introduces a plot point that sticks through future X-Men stories, as they are now aware of there being a “worst case scenario” that someday there will be a Mutant Registration Act that leads to the attempt at exterminating the mutant population of the world.

And this is purely conjecture at my point, but it really establishes Kitty Pryde as being one of the top level characters in the X-Pantheon. Before, she was just kind of a sidekick or follower of the rest of the team. But from this point forward she really came into her own and became a focal character.

At the very least, it gives us that awesome John Byrne cover of Uncanny X-Men  #141 which has been parodied and influenced thousands of other comic book covers over the years. Maybe not tou

Fifty Greatest X-Men Characters #42: Colossus

colossus-x-menColossus might be one of the strongest in the X-Men pantheon but he isn’t necessarily the most complex  Don’t let his shiny silver exterior fool you: this Russian mutant has a heart of gold.

At his heart, Peter Rasputin is a fairly simple man. He is incredibly loyal to his family, willing to forgive his brother Mikhail for forcefully trying to take over the Morlocks or even going to painstaking lengths he went to try to find a cure for the Legacy Virus that was killing his sister Ilyanna. He extends this to his friends, whether it be standing up for Nightcrawler and Wolverine in a bar fight or even to his on-again, off-again girlfriend Kitty Pryde.

Sometimes his selflessness is a detriment, as he sacrificed himself to find a cure to the Legacy Virus which lead to his demise. But this is comics so he was eventually reincarnated. He sacrificed himself to become the Juggernaut in an attempt to save San Francisco.

Colossus is a great supporting character because he is so generous. He is extremely likable and just a nice guy. You can just tell that he would much rather be home in Russia farming and being with his family instead of being a super hero. That makes him cool in my book.

Magik #1-4

magik-4The Magik mini-series has a simple purpose: it’s to flesh out what happened to poor Illyana Rasputin when she was pulled into the other dimension known as limbo.

In story-line, Illyana was missing for only seconds. But while in Limbo, she experienced the events of several years of her life. She was a small child at the beginning of the story but returned as a teenager. What had happened was the evil  sorcerer Belasco pulled her into his dimension in an attempt to make her his dark apprentice. Fortunately for Illyana, that dimension’s version of Storm (who is an elderly sorceress in this reality) and Kitty Pryde attempt to keep her safe from Belasco. The villain’s plan is to use her teleportation powers so he can leave limbo and conquer the Marvel Universe.

And as much as Storm and Kitty want to save Illyana from Belasco, it is up to the young girl to save herself. There is an extra element of difficulty, as if Belasco dies, his soul will wind up possessing Illyana’s body.

Magik is a lot of fun. The story is filled with swords and sorcery, and it makes it pretty different from a lot of the Marvel comics at the time. It’s kind of like the X-Men are hanging out in the He-Man or Thundercats universes. While this isn’t “required reading”, it’s worth reading.

It was written by Chris Claremont, who pretty much did most everything involving any X-Men related character during that time. The art is fine; it’s by John Buscema and Ron Frenz, but what makes it sticks out is all the detailing that inker Tom Palmer put into it. There are all kinds of Easter eggs hidden in the pages that don’t affect the plot, but add nice touches.

X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men

It’s always amazing what you find when you clean up. I recently unearthed my VHS copy of the 1989 X-Men animated series pilot Pryde of the X-Men. When I rediscovered I owned this, I did the only natural thing: watched it.

I really liked the 1990s X-Men cartoon, but this was much better as far as animation and voice acting was concerned. The plot is pretty straight forward; Professor X has recruited Kitty Pryde to join the academy and unfortunately she winds up being a distraction that lets Magneto steal the mutant finding computer Cerebro. This really upsets Wolverine, who for some reason has an Australian accent. It’s up to the X-Men to stop Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

As a longtime Dazzler fan, I was super happy to see her in this cartoon. They actually did a good job introducing all the primary X-Men and most of the villains, even finding a way to stick in Kitty’s dragon pet/friend Lockheed into the story. Ultimately, this pilot didn’t get picked up. But it was adapted by Konami into an arcade game that is pretty sweet.

Pryde of the X-Men gets a pretty mixed response online for being light on both story and action, and for its weird hodge-podging of characters. So is it worth watching? I guess so, especially if you are an X-Men fan or you enjoy the Marvel/Sunbow style of animation from the 1980s.

Kicking It Old School With The X-Men Arcade Game

I remember seeing the X-Men arcade game in the movie theater as a kid and never got to play it. Nineteen years later, I now own it.

Well, not the original cabinet version of the downloadable one for X-Box . So how does this arcade game from 1992 hold up in the modern era? It’s a standard side scroller and the graphics are pretty much what you would expect from a game of that era, but it’s still a lot of fun.

The plot is simple and loosely based on the 1989 cartoon pilot X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men. Magneto has captured Kitty Pryde and Professor X, and it’s up to the X-Men to save them.  You get to pick from Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, and Dazzler to play with.

That’s right, Dazzler.

We all know that Dazzler is one of my favorite characters, but it is kind of alarming that she was included in the game. Dazzler was featured prominently in her post-disco duds in Uncanny X-Men in the late 1980s, but I’m surprised that she was in the game. By this point in the comics, she was largely forgotten. Craziness aside, I can accept this, since this is probably the only time that she will be featured prominently in a video game.

You lead the X-Men through several levels, beating up thousands of monsters, robots and Sentinels (a plot point that wasn’t resolved in this was how the mutant hunting robots fell under control of Magneto), and even the half man, half hank hybrid Bonebreaker from the Reavers! At the end of each level, you get to fight more distinguished X-villains like White Queen and Juggernaut, who inexplicably is firing a bazooka at you. Apparently he’s tired of being only taken as a super strong monster and wants to show off his marksmanship.

At the end of the game you rescue Kitty and Professor X and defeat Magneto, leaving him in Asteroid M to seemingly die as it explodes. I thought they were supposed to be the good guys!

The best part of this game is that you can play it with five of your friends, whether they are over at your place or you join an online session.  This game, like many arcade classics, is much more fun when playing with a group.

Download this game now. It’s a lot of fun, and the perfect way to start an evening of Big Bang Theory styled debauchery with your friends.