I vaguely remember reading this story years ago, and upon rereading it I thought Days of Future Past was an entire story arc. Instead, it’s just two i...moreI vaguely remember reading this story years ago, and upon rereading it I thought Days of Future Past was an entire story arc. Instead, it’s just two issues (Uncanny X-Men #141-142) and the rest of the trade consists of surrounding Uncanny issues. In a dystopian 2013 (ha), the world is overrun by the massive robotic Sentinels; they’ve carried out mutant genocide as well as those humans carrying mutant genes. One of the few survivors of the X-Men, Kitty (now Kate) Pryde sends her mind back in time (with the help of another surviving mutant) to 1980, when she first arrived on the team, to stop the Mutant Brotherhood’s assassination of Senator Kelly (does that name sound familiar?) that started it all.
First off, this is 80′s Chris Claremont, and for anyone who’s read his stuff before, you know what to expect: lots of exposition to the point that characters basically think out everything they do, speaking with cheesy and flowery dialogue. Many will knock the entire comic for this reason, but give him a break–it was the 80′s, nearly all comic book writers used this style, and Claremont is responsible for some of the greatest X-Men stories of all time, creating Kitty, and giving Magneto his Holocaust backstory. Even so, I found myself skimming over large paragraphs and rolling my eyes at many a sentence.
Unfortunately, this exposition is what really holds back the story. Had Claremont really stayed true to the adage “show, don’t tell,” he could have easily fleshed out the terror of the Sentinel future, the fate of both deceased and surviving X-Men, and Kate’s journey to the past, in which she perhaps encounters more obstacles than simply telling the X-Men of the future, who confirm it when Xavier reads her mind. It would have become a fuller, more gripping story that made more of an impact on Kitty and the team. Instead it feels more like a one shot that quickly returns to the status quo.
That being said, Days of Future Past takes a much darker turn from the campy nature of most other 80′s Claremont stories, which was a nice and appropriate change. Claremont blatantly reveals those who have died, and we graphically witness those who do die protecting an unconscious Kate in the future. Moreover, she and Peter have married (mirroring Kitty’s burgeoning crush on him in present day), but their children were killed. Also one of the characters mentions towards the end that if Kitty changes the past, she might only create an “alternate timeline” instead of changing the future–and the comic never reveals which happens. On the whole, we don’t spend enough time in this dark future to really become invested in changing the past. Moreover, Rachel, who can send others back in time, seems only a convenient add-on to get Kate to the past; the 80′s were filled with conveniences and easy outs that don’t hold up so well thirty years later.
Please see the rest of the review, which includes some comparison between the comic and the new film, at my blog, Reading Art!(less)
The third arc of Snyder and Capullo's run on Batman continues as the Dark Knight faces his greatest opponent after Joker went missing for one year. Wh...moreThe third arc of Snyder and Capullo's run on Batman continues as the Dark Knight faces his greatest opponent after Joker went missing for one year. While the core of Death of a Family occurred within these pages of Batman, Joker's return was felt throughout the Bat-family's other issues (and even other characters such as Harley Quinn and Catwoman), so I would recommend an omnibus if you want to read them all (this review is just regarding the Batman issues)
If you're a fan of The Killing Joke you will absolutely love this story, because this is Joker at his most bone chilling and grotesque, and gets at the core of Batman and Joker's relationship. For reasons not particularly explained in the issue, Joker had his face taken off and...he found it and...reattached it... and it's completely terrifying, as you would expect. During his first appearance at Gotham's Police HQ, kills police officers in the dark while telling a joke to Gordon; he then kidnaps Alfred, the weakest but most beloved link of the Wayne family. For the next plot of his terrible scheme, Joker tells Batman he knows his identity and those of his family and threatens to kill them all -- and even though Batman is adamant that the Joker doesn't know he's Bruce, plants the seeds of doubt so those in his family (the Robins (sans Stephanie) and Batgirl) begin to doubt him.
This was a story I read in one sitting, as the tension quickly built as Bruce's most trusted family ties unravel before him and Joker's seeming absence over the past year has only made him stronger and more dangerous. Snyder does Joker's legacy proud; horrific, unpredictable and disturbing is as the Joker should be; like any good Joker story, it returns to his origins as well as the bond between the caped crusader and the madman: why Joker keeps coming back and torturing Batman and why Batman can never quite bring himself to kill him. Bringing in the rest of the Bat-family as both Batman's distraction and his greatest asset only adds to the texture of this most recent Bat story, though I would have liked to see each of their personalities more distinctly in these pages (but I suppose some would argue this was not meant to be a standalone, and that's what the other surrounding issues are for.)
Spoilers! (view spoiler)[For all that though it doesn't feel like much is new in this story. We come to expect that grotesqueness not only from Joker, but from Snyder himself; and for it to end with only a few scrapes and bruises, and Joker falling off a cliff, perhaps the most cliche non-death in the book--just as Batman finally reaches his breaking point and is willing to end it, once and for all--felt immensely dissatisfying. I would much rather have seen Bruce face this dark demon of needing to kill his worst enemy, doing it, and living with those consequences. While we're in the spoilers paragraph, I was very surprised that each member of the so-called "family" decided to have some alone time rather than come to Alfred's bedside; Alfred Pennyworth who stitched them up on how many occasions? Perhaps this was the "death of the family" the title was actually describing (but more on the other reason later), but it seemed rather harsh. (hide spoiler)]
As you may have read in my earlier posts, I have a love-hate relationship with Greg Capullo's art. On the one hand, it's very consistent and not at all over-exaggerated (no muscles upon muscles here), and the way he draws Joker is appropriately haunting. But as in other issues, it seems that he draws "stock" faces with bland expressions even when they are at the height of emotional turmoil. Dick, Tim, Barbara and the others are in the Batcave are angrily challenging Bruce if Joker actually knows their identity--at least, according to the dialogue--but they do so with wistful smiles on their faces! Barbara has doe eyes and pursed lips, not at all communicating her intelligence and strength; and Dick, Tim, Damian and Bruce have exactly the same face, even though only two of them are biologically related. See some examples at my blog, Reading Art
[spoilers again, but only if you've been living under a rock for the last year or so] (view spoiler)[ I will admit that, as I am catching up on Batman's latest arcs, I have not yet read the issue in which Damian dies. I was surprised, considering the title of this story (as a parallel to "Death of the Family" in which Jason Todd meets his end, also by Joker's hands), that it doesn't happen here. Either the "death" of the family was meant to be the death of trust and unquestionable faith in Bruce, which was not very emotionally conveyed, or it is the impetus for Damian's death, which you have to buy something else to read. Not that surprising. (hide spoiler)]
I cannot promise that this shouts "instant classic"; to be fair, Killing Joke was one of my least favorite stories for a long time (as a resolute Barbara Gordon fan, she was treated horribly). But if you are looking for a good Joker story or catching up on Scott Snyder's Batman run, I recommend it.
See the review (with pictures! yay!) at my blog, Reading Art and I would love to hear your thoughts there as well!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)