X-Men: Days of Future Past
By Alex Irvine
When embarking on a new work based on a beloved IP the creator must have a haunting voice whispering in their ear…. “Fear the fan.” The most ardent supporters of a property can also be the most adamant to tear it all down if something is not to their liking. How many times have you read an uproar over something like a female Doctor Who or a black James Bond? If envelopes are not pushed, we would all still be riding Penny-farthings and reading H G Wells (although does not sound the worst thing you could do). Perhaps you should play it safe and instead offer some fan service such as making a novelisation of a beloved comic arc? What were you thinking….
In the near future most mutants are dead or interned in prison camps that are guarded by gigantic killer robots known as Sentinels. Mutant haters should be rejoicing, but the Sentinels are run by Artificial Intelligence and they have also limited the liberty of those ‘normals’ who have the potential to have mutant offspring. The last hope if Kitty Pride, a mutant who is having her conscience transported from the present into the past. Her job, to convince the X-Men of the past that they have to stop an attack that will lead to hardening of US politics against the ‘mutant menace’. To succeed Kitty will need to survive both in the future and in the past.
The X-Men Universe is ripe with more classic story threads than several other comic creations combined, but Days of Future Past has resonated ever since it was published 1981. It allowed readers to see a ‘What If’ situation where most of their favourite mutants had been killed, imprisoned or forced to rebel. It also allowed both good, bad and chaos neutral mutants to work against a common enemy. The comic run had impact, but could Alex Irvine’s novelisation capture this? In theory, the ability to internalise some of the angst should enrich the story.
Having no real connection with the original comic book run I read Days for what it is; an entertaining take on the X-Men Universe. Having seen all the films and read a few of the comic books I know who is who. However, Kitty Pride is not someone who I know that well. This acts in the book’s interest as she is an introduction to the worlds she finds herself in. At times Days is a complicated book, you are dealing with two interlinking timelines. Kitty offers a solid foundation for the reader to hold onto. It is with these internal thoughts that Irvine shows the benefit of novels over comics. We get a real sense of the fear and determination that Kitty brings to the tale.
Internal anguish is not what most X-Men fans will pick up this book for, but action. There are certainly set pieces to enjoy, both in the future and the past. There is a different feel to the timelines and you get two tales for the price of one. By having alternative timelines, Days also lets you do the impossible – kill your favourite X-Men. Several fan favourites are killed in a gruesome manner. Perhaps the most telling as those deaths that happen quickly. In the future, the mutants are just as vulnerable as we are.
Having not read the original story, but having seen the film version, this novelisation certainly has merit. It has more passion and sense of urgency than the movie. It is also able to keep that 80s feel that the comic would have had on release. You will need to have at least a passing understanding of the X-Men Universe to get the most from the book as there are no real short cuts. The reader is thrown into the story and expected to know who the characters are, what their motives probably are and the relationships they have with one another.
If you do know your Gambit from your Juggernaut, then Days has plenty of fun action sequences to keep you turning the page. The future action is overblown and wild, but the present holds its own with a more contained sequence that lets you get to know the characters. A fun version of a popular comic book run.
Written on 29th August 2019 by Sam Tyler .