Marvel's X-Men comics appear to be setting up the dystopian Days of Future Past reality all over again. In 1981, Chris Claremont and John Byrne launched a comic book storyline that would redefine the entire X-Men franchise. The two-part "Days of Future Past" story revealed an apocalyptic timeline in which man and mutant have gone to war against one another, and Sentinels have taken over the planet.
In that twisted alternate future, only a handful of mutants survive, trapped within concentration camps. Mutants with the right skill-sets are subjected to brainwashing in order to transform them into Hounds--powerful hunters tasked with capturing and killing their own kind. Rachel Grey, the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey in this timeline, is one of them. By the end of the story, Rachel is able to avert her timeline by casting Kitty Pryde's mind back in time, rewriting history, and now lives in the mainstream Marvel's modern era instead.
The shadow of "Days of Future Past" has always loomed over the X-Men, as they desperately attempt to create a future where man and mutant can coexist peacefully. Right now, that looks less likely than ever before, with the X-Men missing and believed dead; the havoc wreaked by their final battle with Nate Gray having pushed humanity too far, and essentially declared war on mutants. An anti-mutant vaccination has been put into immediate circulation, and laws have been passed to ensure no family will ever have to suffer their child growing up a mutant again. But, disturbingly, Uncanny X-Men #12 hints that things are about to get even worse...
In Uncanny X-Men #12, Cyclops and Wolverine break into a camp that's holding a small number of mutants prisoner. They're horrified to learn that the Office of National Emergencies has transformed a couple of these into Transmode-infected Sentinels, a horrific twist on a classic idea. These Sentinels aren't particularly successful; they're easily freed by the two surviving X-Men, although the prison break has a cost; Strong Guy is killed by a bomb, his body unable to cope with both the explosion and the Transmode virus. Crucially, though, Karma tells Cyclops that the Sentinel project is only one of several. "They're trying to weaponize mutants for their own goals," she explains. "They want to find a way to use us against each other."
That single comment will sound very familiar to X-Men fans. It's a description of the Hounds, the hunter-killers in the "Days of Future Past" timeline. What's more, there have been other hints that this timeline is becoming disturbingly near at hand for the X-Men as well. Rachel Grey has found herself struggling with her Hound persona, unsure why that's the case; and a time traveler from the "Days of Future Past" timeline was the main villain of the recent "Extermination" event. It really does look as though history is moving down a very dangerous path for the mutant race once again, and that the threat of "Days of Future Past" is about to become very real indeed.
Uncanny X-Men #12 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.