Comic Book Legends Revealed #236
Welcome to the two-hundred and thirty-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and thirty-five.
Comic Book Legends Revealed is now part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com. I’d especially recommend you check out this installment of Movie Legends Revealed to read about how Luke Skywalker was not always going to be Darth Vader’s son!
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: A significant change occurred between the plotting of Days of Future Past and the publication of Days of Future Past.
Days of Future Past is one of the most popular storylines of the critically acclaimed X-Men creative team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne, where Claremont would script and co-plot the book and Byrne would co-plot and pencil the book.
The storyline appeared on both of our Top 100 Comic Book Storylines Countdowns.
So it’s well remembered by fans.
However, there was a very notable change from the plotting stages to what actually occurred in the published comic.
Reader Bill P. asked me about a rumor he heard that John Byrne did not originally intend for Rachel, the time-traveling character from Days of Future Past, to be the daughter of Scott Summers and Jean Grey.
That’s somewhat true, and it gets down to the “problem” of when one person is coming up with the plots of the comic and the other person is actually writing the finished product.
In the case of Days of Future Past, the story was conceived by John Byrne (who, by the late #120s was contributing a great deal of the general plot of the issues). However, Byrne conceived it before the end of the Dark Phoenix Saga. As you might know (if you don’t, I discuss it in my book!) by now, the original ending of the Dark Phoenix Saga was that Jean Grey was to be stripped of her mutant powers rather than being killed.
So when Byrne was coming up with the plot of Days of Future Past, Jean Grey was going to be alive in the comic, so Byrne came up with the idea of Rachel, the daughter of Scott and Jean.
Well, once the Dark Phoenix Saga instead ended with Jean’s death, it was Byrne’s understanding that Rachel would now just be a random mutant in the future, and not the daughter of Scott and Jean since, well, you know, Jean was now dead.
And do note that in the comic itself, Rachel is never identified AS the daughter of Scott and Jean…
So fair enough, his idea actually was followed there.
But sure enough, once Byrne left the book, that is precisely what Claremont did with the character.
A more notable change in the story, though, happened with the very basis of Byrne’s idea for the story. As he had gotten more involved in the plotting of the book, he was chafing a bit at the fact that, as the scripter of the title, Claremont would effectively have the “last word” in any disagreement the two had in the comic. They could agree on anything beforehand, but when it came down to actually putting it into the book, Claremont was the one who was going to be writing the actual script. And if the editor did not have a problem with it, then anything Claremont wanted was going to go into the book (this is similar to what would happen to Jack Kirby with some of his plot ideas for Fantastic Four – he would come up with various ideas, but until he saw the actual issue, he did not know if Stan Lee had taken his idea or gone in a different direction with the script).
And that’s what happened with the end of the story.
You see, one of the major facets of the story for Byrne was that this was going to be a clean victory for the X-Men. The powerful telepath Rachel would project the older Kitty Pryde’s mind into the body of young Kitty Pryde who would prevent the execution of Senator Kelly, thus preventing the terrible future where mutants are hunted and murdered by Sentinels.
Kitty succeeds in doing so in Uncanny X-Men #142.
This is almost certainly why he had the earlier scene in #142 (that is featured on the famous cover) where Wolverine and Storm are murdered in the future – to really highlight the whole “Thank goodness this future will be averted!” deal.
This does not mean that the future would automatically be great for the X-Men, just that this particularly awful future would NOT happen.
And that’s what Byrne drew on the climactic fight scene in Uncanny X-Men #142…
But Claremont then added the following in the last panel…
“Lets the winds of eternity sweep her home.” (emphasis added)
Her future was not erased!! The main point of Byrne’s plot was negated!
Whether it was Claremont’s idea or a call from editorial, it was still quite distressing for Byrne, who had already quit the title because of a similar problem a few issues earlier where Claremont’s captions altered the intent of Byrne’s plot. Byrne drew one more issue of Uncanny X-Men before moving on to his own book, writing/drawing Fantastic Four.
Thanks to Bill for the question and thanks to John Byrne for being so free about his history in the comics business – the information Byrne shares with fans is staggering, and quite informative.
On the next page, did comic book creator Timothy Truman seriously write the theme song to Melrose Place?