Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Days of Future Present: The Summers/Richards family reunion

Days of Future Present is a story told a format less commonly-used these days: it runs through four series's annuals (Fantastic Four, New Mutants, X-Factor and X-Men). Each issue gives prominence its respective titular characters, with a thread linking them.

That thread is Franklin Richards. We've mentioned him in passing before, as the son of Reed and Susan Richards. He's a mutant, one of the prophecised Twelve, whatever that is.  More directly he appeared with Power Pack in the Mutant Massacre issues, with a kind of limited visions power.  This story is about Franklin's two other potentials: as someone killed by the Sentinels in the Days of Future Past, and the ongoing idea that he will develop very strong mutant powers, so dangerous that their early manifestation must be avoided.

The appearance of an adult Franklin from the future is always worrying. Does this Franklin have matters under control, and more to the point, how can we tell? There's not much doubt this time: the first two issues both involve him messing around with timestreams in an attempt to recreate his youth: both at the Fantastic Four Headquarters and at the Xavier School.  So, not a stable Hyperstorm, anyway, even if he's well-meaning.

Reed and Sue have dealt this this sort of thing before and for them this is a runaround. It's the third issue, the X-Factor annual, that things start to develop both X-relevancy and actual interest, as Rachel Summers - fellow time-refugee and indeed Franklin's partner in the future - pops in. Franklin wants to try and fix things so his future can never happen or that it will assuredly happen; the contradiction tears him in two. Rachel keeps saying she's from "the future" but she knows that's a lie. She's from somewhen else's future: the existence of young Baby X (Christopher Summers) proves that. For a while, Franklin looks like he's going to destroy Baby X to make it come true; but our Phoenix can stop that - he's no match for her.

In the end, we get a reset to the status quo: Franklin is revealed to have been a shadow of his future self, leeching from Rachel's powers; Phoenix fixes it. We're all back to normal. Except: the X-Men and the Fantastic Four are on really good terms; and Scott and Jean know who Rachel is exactly and why the fuck she dared to put on the Phoenix powers. Now this has all happened, it's hard to imagine the splintered X-Men storyline going on much longer.

With hindsight one of the funnier parts of this little story is the appearance of Cable. Cable is right there when Franklin says that Baby X will grow up to be more power than any of them, and keeps a straight face. There's surely no concept that Cable is Baby X at this point, no teasing to be had at all.

Further note: Ahab is not possibly a name that inspires confidence in underlings. Also, if you are in Gambit's to-be-retconned-in-position perhaps saying that you "like the name" Mr. Sinister on learning that he ordered the mansion be trashed is not very smart. (Gambit put together the group responsible for the Mutant Massacre, we will find out in some years time, you see.  Again, not even a hint of that here.)

1 comment:

  1. There's surely no concept that Cable is Baby X at this point, no teasing to be had at all.

    Actually, it's entirely possible that the concept that Cable is Baby X was in mind at this point, though there's definitely no hints of that in this storyline.

    Apparently, while Rob Liefeld never intended for Cable to be Baby X (his ideas were that Cable and Stryfe were the same character from different points in their respective timelines, and/or that Cable is the future self of Cannonball), Bob Harras, Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio came up with the idea to make Cable the future self of the baby, and set it up by having the baby sent into the future in X-Factor #68 (which was plotted and drawn by Portacio and scripted by Claremont).

    There's nothing overt in that issue that links the two (aside from some artistic hints), but that story was written at least in part to set up the eventual reveal (and, of course, to write out Cyclops' kid before the big relaunch), and it's entirely possible the idea had been conceived by the time these annuals went to press.

    And the hint that Cable and Ahab might be the same that shows up in this story was apparently just a red herring Harras had thrown in to confuse the mystery of who Cable is - he reportedly came up with the idea and had it written into the book, but never intended it to be anything more than a red herring.