Chris Claremont and John Byrne introduced the readers to the alternate timeline called “Days of Future Past” in 1981. In this bleak, apocalyptic future, first illustrated in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #141-142, mutants are pursued by robot Sentinels and psychic hounds, interned in concentration camps and, one by one, killed.
Since then, this future has been revisited many times and Rachel Summers, the future daughter of Scott and Jean, even crossed over to the main Marvel Universe to become a member of both X-Men and Excalibur. The original storyline proved so popular, it even received a movie adaptation, becoming the most successful X-Men movie of all time.
Brief timeline of key events
Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #141-142 was originally published in 1981 and all the date markers within the universe were based off this point. The Marvel Universe’s sliding timescale makes the exact dates unrealistic now, however the general spacing and order of events still stands. The dates listed below are based off information given in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #141 and Excalibur (1st series) #66.
Senator Robert Kelly, who preaches anti-mutant views, is killed by Mystique‘s Brotherhood.
Another rabid anti-mutant politician is elected president.
Considered unconstitutional, the first “Mutant Control Act” is rejected by the Supreme Court.
The Sentinels program is reactivated.
The “Mutant Control Act” is accepted, resulting in mutants being stripped of their rights.
The “Genetic Purity Act” is passed and, whilst the content is unknown, it probably regulates humans and mutant reproduction rights.
Citizens were divided into three different groups. Those labeled “H” are the baseline human, whilst “A” are baseline humans with genetic potential for mutation and as such forbidden to produce offspring. Mutants were designated M and had their rights removed as per the Mutant Control Act.
By now the Sentinels have taken over the USA and most super-beings (mutant or not) have been killed or incarcerated.
Kate Pryde is arrested among other X-Men. One month later, she is found guilty of various acts of terrorism and violating the “Genetic Purity Act.” Her punishment is life sentence in the South Bronx Mutant Internment Center.
The X-Men break out of the camp and try to alter the timeline by sending Kate to the past. Whilst she succeeds in stopping the event that created the timeline, they do not erase it altogether. Instead, the timeline now exists as a branch of the main reality. The X-Men try to destroy the Nimrod base and Rachel is transported to the mainstream Marvel Universe.
Rachel and her teammates Excalibur return to the future and help some local hero team to change the Sentinels Prime Directive.
At an unknown date, Rachel was born as the daughter of Jean Grey and Scott Summers and she led a happy life amongst the X-Men in Xavier’s mansion. Public view of mutants had taken a turn to the worse when the Brotherhood assassinated Senator Robert Kelly. Following his death, other politicians picked up his ideas and now had the support of most citizens. The Sentinels program was restarted, and the first anti-mutant president was elected.
When Rachel was still a little girl, her mother died near Pittsburgh when a nuclear device was detonated by Mastermind. The government used this disaster to finally introduce a series of laws restricting the movements and breeding of mutants, effectively making being a mutant illegal. [Excalibur (1st series) #52, Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #141]
For quite some time, the X-Men, whose identities were still secret, could maintain their cover of running a school for gifted youngsters, but one day the military found out and attacked. Nightcrawler and Amanda Sefton were escorting Illyana to her school bus at the time and all three were killed when the authorities opened fire. Xavier was killed shortly after when the mansion was destroyed with a missile attack. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #188, New Mutants (1st series) #18]
The troops searched the debris and found one sole survivor in the teenage Rachel. She was taken to the labs and, over the course of many months, had to endure drugging, painful tests and attempts to hypnotize and brainwash her. Finally, she gave in and became the prototype of a so-called hound. Ahab, the leading scientist, turned mutants into these mindless slaves, whose sole purpose it was to detect more mutants and lead the military to them. When not needed, the hounds were held in pens. [Excalibur (1st series) #52, Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #189]
In the meantime, the Sentinels had concluded that the best way to protect humanity was by ruling it. Those mutants that weren’t killed or turned into hounds were transported by so-called Cattle Cars into concentration camps to await further genetic experimentation. It wasn’t just mutants who were imprisoned, but any person with superhuman abilities. Bruce Banner was forced to work as a doctor in the Queens Internment Camp, with an inhibitor collar around his neck to stop him turning into the Hulk. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) Annual #17, Excalibur (1st series) #52, Hulk: Broken Worlds #2]
With her inherited telepathy, Rachel was one of the best hounds but, unnoticed by Ahab, Rachel stayed in a mindlock with each target when they were killed. With each death, she fueled her shame, grief and anger to the point where she was able to resist her programming and attack Ahab. Even though she was quickly defeated by the Sentinels, she had managed to scar Ahab’s face forever. In the following months, Rachel was able to resist all attempts of re-programming her into a hound and finally she was sent to the containment camp, where she met the remaining X-Men consisting of Franklin Richards, Storm, Colossus and Kate Pryde. There Rachel learned that, during her time as a hound, most other super-beings (mutants or otherwise) had either been killed or imprisoned. [Excalibur (1st series) #52]
Other members of the X-teams managed to avoid capture. Jubilee, Leech and Synch heard of the X-Men‘s incarceration but had to keep a low profile. Magneto asked their help to locate Logan, who had been left amnesiac after a telepathic attack by the Hellfire Club's Red Queen, Psylocke. Jubilee and Magneto found him, after which his mind was restored by Emma Frost. Soon thereafter, they freed the Scarlet Witch, who had been chained to a cataclysmic engine which had been using her powers to alter probabilities around the world on behalf of the Hellfire Club. During the rescue attempt, Magneto’s legs were shattered by falling debris during a fight with Shinobi Shaw. Logan managed to pull him out, where he subsequently held his daughter in his arms as she died. Magneto promised Wanda to help the X-Men free the rest of the world. [Wolverine: Days of Future Past #1-3]
At some point, a group consisting of Cannonball, Boom Boom, Domino and Warpath were operating together to protect mutants and take down the Sentinels. They were betrayed by Sunspot and Gideon, who had been captured and were now working for Ahab as his hounds. The group encountered a time-travelling Cable, but even he wasn’t enough to save them when they were all killed by Sentinels. [Cable (1st series) #71]
Shortly afterwards, Magneto too was imprisoned, though it is possible he let himself get arrested to establish a contact between Wolverine and the detained X-Men. In the camp, the X-Men came up with a plan; they wanted to use Rachel’s mutant power of timely astral projection to alter the past. As Kate was sometimes forced to work and gather supplies outside of the walls, she was able to maintain contact with Wolverine. Doing this allowed her to smuggle components into the camp, which when assembled would negate the power-cancelling collars they were all forced to wear. She met up with Magneto, Storm, her husband Colossus, Franklin and Rachel and they secretly put together the jammer that gave them free use of their powers. Once rid of the cancelling collars, the plan went into its crucial phase.
Rachel used her powers on Kate to exchange her psyche with that of young Kitty Pryde in the past, shortly before Senator Kelly’s assassination to prevent this initial event. Kate was chosen for this plan, since young Kitty was the only one whose psychic defenses were not yet properly trained.
With the main plan working, the future X-Men tried to use their returned powers to their advantage. With Magneto remaining behind to cover their escape, the others broke out of the camp and Colossus carried Kate’s unconscious body. They met with Wolverine and planned a suicide run against the Sentinels headquarter in the Baxter Building. For them, it no longer mattered if they were killed, since they believed that the timeline would be erased if Kate succeeded in the past. They used the subway tunnels to get close to their destination but, without warning, the roof of the tunnel was ripped open and Franklin was killed by a blast before anyone could react.
The X-Men fought their way through and reached the Baxter Building. Rachel remained behind to protect Kate’s body while Storm, Wolverine and Colossus entered the building. Inside, however, they were outnumbered by the giant robots who expected the attack and Rachel telepathically felt the X-Men dying one by one.
In the past, as Kate’s mind arrived in her past-self’s body, it took her some time to convince the team of her cause, since they at first believe it to be a fairy tale. Yet Logan’s instincts told him that she moved and smelled different – like a grown woman instead of a teenager. The X-Men travelled to Washington and witnessed as Kelly’s hearing was interrupted by Mystique’s Brotherhood. As the two teams engaged each other in a fight, Kate tried to keep a track of the Senator in the confusion. Finding him cornered by a crossbow-wielding Destiny, Kate was able to knock the woman’s arm enough so that the crossbow bolt missed Kelly and saved his life. With her goal achieved, the time-displaced consciousnesses switched back. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #141-142]
Around the same time, the British superhero team Excalibur were also suffering under similar anti-mutant laws in the UK. As in America, the situation was dire and many heroes had fallen to the Sentinel threat. Captain Britain was aided by Psylocke, Wolfsbane and Meggan amongst others and they squared off against the shady organization Black Air. Whilst on a mission to take down Black Air’s main base, the team discovered that their former teammate Douglock had been captured by them and was now used as an operating system for the organization. [Excalibur (1st series) #94]
[Note: Excalibur’s appearance comes as part of a dream sequence that Captain Britain was having. However, it is implied that the events he saw were the real events for his team during that timeline.]
Even though Kate and the X-Men had succeeded in the past, the future was left unchanged. In a safe hideout, Rachel projected her astral self into the past to investigate why they had failed. Floating over New York, she discovered that, by accident, she had sent Kate cross-time into another reality’s past. As she prepared to return to the future, she attracted the attention of the Phoenix Force, who was just passing by. At first mistaking her for Jean, it soon discovered that this was the future daughter of Jean, with a similar psychic resonance.
Amazed by this timely anomaly, the Force probed deeper and found out about the life of pain and misery that Rachel had led, yet she had never given up. Impressed by another such passionate creature, it decided to follow Rachel into her timeline.
Back in the future, Rachel passed out from the strain of the journey and the Force revealed itself to Kate. She herself had nothing left to live for, but she asked the Force to give Rachel the chance for a fresh start. The next day, Rachel and Kate disguised themselves as Colonel Carol Danvers and a hound to gain access to the facilities of Project Nimrod, where a new Super Sentinel was being built. It was a suicide mission as, once inside, they planted a nuclear bomb. Shortly before the explosion went off, Kate said the codeword “Dark Phoenix,” which was the sign for the Force to supercharge Rachel’s power to send her back in time - physically. Rachel was unaware that she hosted the Force’s essence, and her memory was suppressed by it. These conditions were part of the deal and Kate had wanted to give Rachel a new life, without the ghosts of her past haunting her. The prototype of the new Nimrod Sentinels picked up the frequency and followed Rachel into the present. [Excalibur (1st series) #52, #66, Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #192]
[Note: Rachel arrived in the main Marvel Universe in New Mutants (1st series) #18 and Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #184. Eventually, she joined the X-Men and later becomes a founding member of Excalibur. For the most part, her memory remained scrambled, though sometimes she caught a few glimpses of her former life. The untested Nimrod Sentinel that followed Rachel first appeared in the present in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #194. The X-Men fought it a few times but, in the end, it merged with the Master Mold and was sucked into the Siege Perilous.]
After the explosion, only the near dead body of Kate was found. She was examined and diagnosed of dying of radioactive poisoning from the bomb. Unfortunately, a video camera had recorded the minutes before the explosion and, on the recording, Rachel was seen being sucked into a time-hole and the new Nimrod Sentinel following her. Ahab used the Sentinel technology to try to scan Kate Pryde for residue of the time-anomaly that caused Rachel to disappear. The probing interfered with Kate's phasing power’s side-effect of disrupting electricity, right as the Sentinel found the right timewave frequency. Both the probing Sentinel and his captive were sucked into a similar time-hole. [Excalibur (1st series) #66]
[Note: Kate and the robot merged into Widget and landed straight into Excalibur (1st series) #1 having been scrambled and without means of real communication. Over time, Widget would evolve and its true nature was revealed.]
Some years later, in the main Marvel Universe, an adult Franklin Richards suddenly appeared in New York. He was the mental self of the Franklin that had died in Rachel’s timeline, who in the instant of his death wished himself to a time when he felt safe. This Franklin was tracked and followed by Ahab. It took the combined might of X-Factor, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the New Mutants and Rachel to defeat the future mutant hunter, who briefly turned Cyclops and Invisible Woman into his hounds too. He returned to the future, but now he knew that Rachel was still alive, just as he had always suspected. After he left, Franklin, who subconsciously was feeding of Rachel’s energy, had to accept his death or otherwise he would have permanently injured Rachel and young Franklin. [Days of Future Present crossover]
Much later, after Rachel‘s memory was restored, she decided to go back to the future timeline, since she felt responsible and wanted to deal with Ahab’s crimes. Of course, her teammates opted to help her and they made a time-jump to a point two years after Rachel had escaped. The appearance of Widget in the same examination chamber two years after Kate vanished alerted Ahab to a possible return of Rachel. However, together with a team of future super-beings (Grace, Killpower, Tangerine, Dark Angel, Arthur), Excalibur managed to change the directives of the Sentinels of the era to preserve all life, thereby ending the genocide that had prevailed for years. Unfortunately, Ahab escaped once again. [Excalibur (1st series) #66-67]
The dystopian future hasn’t been visited since, although Rachel often has flashbacks to her time as a hound, and the timeline is often used in danger room scenarios.
Prestige (Rachel Grey / Summers)
1st appearance: Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #141
Notes: Born in the Days of Future Past timeline, her mother is Jean Grey and her father is apparently Cyclops, although there is some evidence to suggest otherwise. Rachel would travel to the main Marvel Universe where she would join the X-Men and Excalibur, as well as other teams. She would travel back to her original timeline on a few occasions. For full details of Rachel read her spotlight https://uncannyxmen.net/characters/prestige
Katherine “Kate” Pryde-Rasputin
1st appearance: Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #141
Notes: Kate was married to Colossus and had children with him, although they never lived to adulthood. One of the only survivors of the X-Men’s suicide run on the Sentinel Headquarters, Kate was eventually captured and examined by the Sentinels. In an accident, she would travel to the main universe along with a sentinel, where they merged together to create Widget. Her true nature was eventually discovered, but now she resides on Otherworld where she aids the Braddock family
1st appearance: Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #141
Last Appearance: Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #142
Notes: There is evidence to suggest Logan might be the biological father of Rachel but this theory has never been proven, despite extensive genetic tests done on Rachel. Wolverine was one of the only X-Men to remain free, though he was later incinerated by a Sentinel during an attack on their base. A version of him was seen in Exiles (1st series) #87 when the Timekeeper plucked dozens of alternate Wolverines from their realities. This version is not the same one, as the one seen in Exiles was also killed.
Franklin “Scrapper” Richards
1st appearance: Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #141
Last Appearance: Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #142/Uncanny X-Men (1st series) Annual #14
Notes: Romantically linked with Rachel, Franklin was one of the first ones to be killed by the Sentinels during the team’s escape from the camps. His consciousness found its way into the main universe during the Days of Future Present crossover, but he eventually allowed his mind to die when he saw the harm his existence was causing.
Ahab (Rory Campbell)
1st appearance: Fantastic Four (1st series) Annual #23
Notes: Rory worked as a scientist for the Sentinels when they took control and eventually took on the name Ahab. As leader of the Hound Program, Ahab brainwashed mutants and forced them to track down others for extermination or imprisonment. Multiple versions of Ahab have appeared over the years, many of which share very similar backstories. The last known issue that this version appeared in was Excalibur (1st series) #67, after which Ahab escaped to locations unknown.
Last seen alive in 2013 around the time the prison breakout and attack on the Sentinel Headquarters occurred
- Captain Britain, Karma, Meggan, Psylocke, Wolfsbane, Pete Wisdom (Excalibur)
- Jubilee, Leech, Synch (Generation X)
- Charlotte Jones (X-Men ally)
- James MacDonald Hudson
- Amiko (Wolverine’s foster daughter)
- Shinobi Shaw (Hellfire Club)
- Emma Frost
Still alive as of 2015 when Excalibur visited the timeline
- Grace, Killpower, Tangerine, Dark Angel, Arthur (superhero team that helps Excalibur to change the Sentinel’s Prime Directive)
Died on Panel
- Colossus, Nightcrawler, Professor Xavier, Storm (X-Men)
- Scarlet Witch
- Domino (X-Force)
- Albion, Stacy Arnheim, Breeze, Death's Head, Liger Motormouth, Ultra-Marine, Union Jack (Darkguard / Knights of Pendragon)
Mentioned or implied as having died
- Angel, Beast, Havok, Jean Grey, Polaris (X-Men)
- Magneto (X-Men ally)
- Captain Britain, Meggan (Excalibur)
- Boom Boom, Cannonball, Warpath (X-Force)
- Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Thing (Fantastic Four)
- Black Panther, Captain America, Iron Man, Quicksilver, Vision (Avengers)
- Eric Masterson
- Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Hulk, Spiderman (other Marvel Heroes)
- Dr. Doom
- Sebastian Shaw
- Betty Ross-Banner
Other Characters of unknown fate at unknown times
- Siena Blaze – seen in a “cattle cart”
- Sunspot, Gideon – working for Ahab as hounds in Cable (1st series) #71
Was Jean Grey of this reality also “replaced“ by the Phoenix Force ?
There are contradicting answers. Excalibur (1st series) #52 says that the X-Men never encountered Phoenix but, in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #199, Rachel thinks about her timeline and reveals that, as in the mainstream universe, Jean became Phoenix and saved the universe.
The Excalibur quote could be explained as the X-Men having never FOUGHT Phoenix.
Two scenarios are possible:
- In DOFP, the Phoenix Force too impersonated Jean, but she never lost control and was never discovered. This would imply that the real Jean might still be at the bottom of Jamaica Bay.
- There is no Phoenix Force in the DOFP. Jean merely received a power-up by passing cosmic radiation during the fateful spaceflight. Jean chose to rename herself to Phoenix, because of having survived the impossible odds.
Whatever the case, Rachel’s mother died when Mastermind detonated a nuclear device in Pittsburgh.
Who is Rachel’s father?
Rachel herself believes to be the daughter of Cyclops, but there have been some hints that Logan might actually be her dad. The strongest hint that Scott is not blood-related to her was seen in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) Annual #14. While Cyclops was turned into a hound, he couldn’t locate her. Ahab thought that this was impossible, considering a blood relative. Also, it is clearly stated that, even if she telepathically masqueraded her presence, he should be able to locate her.
Wolverine being her father would explain Rachel’s success as a hound, due to latent tracking abilities inherited from Logan. The villain Tullamore Voge added more oil to the flame as he attacked Jean and Logan on the astral plane in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #384. Both were shown in hound costumes as Tullamore made a comment of mixing their genes just right and the offspring having limitless potential. The subject hasn’t been mentioned since and, considering Rachel would have likely been subjected to numerous genetic tests over the years, her real parentage would have been identified. Rachel still commonly refers to Jean and Cyclops being her parents.
Isn’t there an inconsistency between the two Psylocke sightings?
In Wolverine: DOFP, she is portrayed as the Hellfire Club’s Red Queen. This storyline is set clearly before Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #141-142. In Captain Britain’s dream sequence of Excalibur (1st series) #94 (which happens around the same time), she is among Excalibur.
There is no problem to get these appearances in order. In Wolverine: DOFP #3, Betsy gets fried by Jubilee’s fireworks and Emma Frost states at the end of the issue that she has contacted Brian Braddock, who will take Betsy to England once her rehabilitation is complete.
What has become of Ahab?
In Excalibur (1st series) #67, he teleported away to an unknown location and it was years before he resurfaced (possibly). Multiple versions of him exist across the multiverse and even in the main universe, making it hard to identify which one, if any, hailed from the DOFP. Most versions have very similar backstories and appearances, making it hard to know for sure if the DOFP version is amongst them. During the Extermination event, a version was seen trying to force a number of time-displaced mutants back to their original timelines. This version of Ahab seems to recognize Rachel and bears all the characteristics of the DOFP version. He was eventually killed when X-Force went looking for revenge.
How does the Years of Future Past and Days of Future Now connect to the timeline?
Simply, they don’t.
During the Secret Wars event of 2015, one of the regions on Battleworld was the Sentinel Territories. Shown in the series Years of Future Past, the region was a dystopian future looking very similar to the one seen in DOFP. Mutants were in internment camps; many were dead or barely surviving. The series used many of the same characters such as Kate Pryde, Colossus, Wolverine etc, only it introduced two new characters of Chrissie (the daughter of Kate/Colossus) and Cameron (adopted son of Wolverine). Robert Kelly was still alive, only now he was president and he was planning to manipulate events to show mutants were still a threat. Other characters such as the Brotherhood and Angel were also shown to be alive, differentiating the reality from DOFP even more. The series used the DOFP reality as a template but quickly established a new status quo early on.
In the Days of Future Now, the same premise applied where the original DOFP template was used to show a dystopian future where mutants were in camps and many were dead. In the miniseries Weapon X: Days of Future Now, the reality was again explored and it was said that Malcom Colcord was behind the rise of the Sentinels, as he wanted to see the mutant race wiped out.