The Sentinels Wreak Havok

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Getting back to the X-Men and their impending doom, issues 58 and 59 are going to up the ante. There are more villains, more heroes, more danger, and more action than anything we’ve seen up to this point. It’s an epic story with high stakes, resulting in both triumph and tragedy. There will be secrets revealed and plots set in motion, as the events of these issues will shape a large part of the X-Men universe in the decades that follow. Get ready for the mutant genocide, finally put into motion by a revengeful, grieving son. Trask Industries is back online.

 

We left off with Hank and Bobby watching the current events unfold on television in the comfort of a New York apartment. Larry Trask, son of the late Bolivar Trask, creator of mutant killing robots The Sentinels, is on a talk show spouting rhetoric of the ‘mutant threat’ and how all mutants must be apprehended. It’s the same racist propaganda that his father used to shout about. And just like his dad, Larry has something to sell. There is a new and improved Sentinel that can adapt to mutant powers, fighting heat with cold, speed with endurance, and so forth. It reminds me a lot of the future Sentinels that we saw in the film X-Men: Days of Future Past, if not nearly as complex. Mutants all over the planet watch in fear and wonder as these death machines are introduced, unaware that they are being let loose all over the world. It is also revealed that the strange character that was secretly watching the X-Men in the last issue is indeed Larry Trask.

If you aren’t familiar with Bolivar Trask, his work, or his past dealings with the X-Men, you can read up on him here. I’ll just mention that after his Sentinels turned on mankind, he realized the errors of his ways and sacrificed himself to save the X-Men, mankind, and mutantkind. Larry has no idea, and believes that his father was murdered by the X-Men, a martyr to the cause of mutant extinction. Poor Larry.

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The fear that Hank and Bobby feel as they watch the events unfold on television is nothing compared to the jolt of adrenaline they’re given when a Sentinel bursts through their window. They fight valiantly, but this new model is more than they can handle. In order to avoid them both being captured, Bobby goes toe to toe with the Sentinel, allowing Hank to escape. Guilt ridden but out of options, Hank runs. Iceman tries his best, but the Sentinels are well prepared, distinguishing his flames and neutralizing the threat. Looking back, Hank sees Bobby being rocketed away in shackles. These are dark days.

Hank radios to Scott and tells him what happened, which in turn sends Warren into a rage. He storms off, declaring that once again he is the Avenging Angel. Scott and Jean try to talk some sense into him, but there is no talking him down. The Angel soars off into certain doom.

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Bobby wakes up a captive in the Sentinel base. Alex Summers and Lorna Dane are there as well, and Lorna seems injured. Alex explains that he was forced to accept a deal with Trask in order to spare Lorna’s life. Alex was given a new costume, one equipped with special rings that help him channel and control his mutant power. He was also given a new codename, Havok. It even has a fancy headpiece for no perceivable reason. To Bobby it appears that Alex has sold out his friends and his kind, but Alex and Lorna plead with him that it was necessary.

Before they know what’s going on, a Sentinel approaches, reaching for Lorna and Bobby. Havok destroys it with his awesome power, but Larry isn’t worried. That fancy headpiece is actually some sort of stun device, invented to keep Alex in line, following orders. He is left fatigued and defeated, unable to fight back.

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Scott and Jean are still watching the events unfold on television, horrified and stunned, when they see Warren apprehended live. He is plucked from the sky without much effort, a grim display of the awesome power these Sentinels possess. The same scenario is playing our all over the world, as mutants are being hunted and kidnapped. Sentinels are acting without prejudice or mercy, regardless of any mutant’s ability, history, or alignment. Young and old, hero or foe, they fall at the hands of the Sentinels.

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With Alex weakened, Professor Abdol starts to transform back into the Living Monolith. Sentinels pounce on him before he can complete the transformation, rendering him powerless.

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Sentinels burst into the secret headquarters of Magneto and his faithful sidekick Mesmero.

Magneto has no problem letting Mesmero sacrifice his life so that he can make his escape. What a jerk.

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Banshee is soon overcome by the Sentinels.

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As are Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.

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The former members of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are also apprehended,

as Toad, Unus, Mastermind, and the Blob are all taken into custody.

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During all this, another evil plan is revealed, as Magneto suddenly collapses into a pile of metal parts. He was a robot! The Magneto who last fought the X-Men, the Magneto who Mesmero has been loyally serving, is nothing but a machine. Who is controlling him? Magneto? Someone else? From the way he collapsed, it does seem that he was held together by some force and not mechanically attached parts. Perhaps it was magnetism. Maybe Magneto is up on Asteroid M, laughing at us and getting drunk.

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As this nightmare unfolds all around the globe, the man responsible reacts with disturbing glee. He greets Judge Chalmers, a liaison from some branch of our government, and is eager to tout his brilliance. Chalmers, however, is no pushover, having been a personal friend and peer of Larry’s Father. There are many who disagree with what Trask is doing, and Judge Chalmers is among them. He has come to question Larry’s methods and motives. Chalmers notices that the mutants are being kept alive and conscious in suspended animation. It equates to psychological torture, and almost immediately the two are shouting at each other. Trask feels that mutants aren’t worthy of humane treatment, and threatens that his Sentinels will carry on their work alone if need be. Indeed they will Mr. Trask. Indeed they will.

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Once Chalmers mentions Larry’s father, we get some back story into their relationship, and the origin of that epic chunk of solid bling that larry is wearing. It is a medallion that his father gave to him after his mother died. He made Larry promise that he would never take it off. The 70s are about to kick off so he should be good for a while, but by the 80s that’s going to be a tough promise to keep.

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Back to the problem at hand, Chalmers is forced to get serious. It’s getting clearer by the minute that Trask is a lunatic, hellbent on the genocide of an entire race. I feel like someone should have noticed sooner though, considering all his talk about genocide of an entire race. Trask gives a final order to the Sentinels the order to locate and destroy any and all mutant threats. Upon hearing this, Chalmers realizes just how much of a dogmatic lunatic Trask has become. He throws some fists, and in the commotion Trask’s medallion is ripped off of him.

 

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Without his medallion, a major surprise is revealed. The Sentinels locate a mutant threat right within their own compound, and it’s Larry Trask himself! Larry is a mutant! Suck it Larry! I bet you feel like a horse’s ass now. Your father was a turd but by the end he was at least a polished turd. You’re just a big steaming mess.

We discover that Larry’s mutant ability is to predict the future. As a child he accurately predicted his mother’s death. The medallion is designed to suppress this ability, and therefore Larry never realized his true potential. Trask is a clairvoyant. His father wanted to suppress this ability so that Larry could lead a normal life. Bolivar felt that he needed to eradicate the mutant race in order to protect his son.

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Yet as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Bolivar and Larry Trask have sealed our doom. The work they accomplished with Trask Industries has damned us all to annihilation, sparking a war against machines. Way to fuck up Larry.  Now the Sentinels won’t rest until their work is played out, and there is no one left to stop them.

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Oh but that’s right, there are the X-Men! Scott, Jean, and Hank show up ready to do battle. They know that the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been, and they are pissed off. Scott rips through Sentinels as they make their way in, desperate to find his brother and their teammates.

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Toad, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver are rescued as they arrive at the base, and a plan is set in motion. They lend their costumes to Scott, Jean, and Bobby, and then wait behind while the disguised X-Men venture further. The Sentinels they run up against are easily fooled by their costumes. They compensate for the wrong mutant power, and are caught completely off guard. It’s a resourceful, inventive move, and it works. Way to lead, Scott.

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Just as the reach the control room, Chalmers also manages to free Havok of his mind control headpiece. No longer frozen, he sends an energy blasts into these robotic monsters. Alex and Scott are blasting everything and it’s awesome. SKAM! Once Judge Chalmers is injured in the scuffle, the Sentinels refrain from their attack. Their programming holds them to the protection of humans above all else. They go into recovery mode and huddle around Chalmers like EMTs.

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This gives Scott a moment to try and reason with them, and somehow he does. He argues that the only way to protect humans from mutation is to attack mutation at its source. For some reason that source is the sun. I don’t know why. I think they figure that it is the solar system’s local and primary energy source, and so that somehow makes it responsible.

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 Suddenly all of the Sentinels are flying straight into the sun. That’s right, go get that sun. Stupid robots.

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At that same time, Alex had a backup plan. Losing control of his powers, he threw himself into the control panel, destroying what was left of their instillation. The day is saved, but Alex is in rough shape.

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The last set of panels delivers one of the most shocking and suspenseful endings that any of these comics have had so far. It’s creepy and it raises some serious questions. The X-Men call a talented Manhattan doctor, Dr. Lykos, a former colleague of Charles Xavier, to help them get Alex back on his feet. He tells them to bring Alex to his office immediately. Meanwhile, a scene plays out on the other end of the phone, with a man fettered to a wall. Some sort of science contraption is attached to his head and shoulders, and he seems to be in a lot of pain. Then he collapses, lifeless and defeated. It’s unclear if he’s deceased, but it sure gets the point across. This Dr. Lykos is evil, sadistic, and not to be trusted. So lets trust him with Alex. I’m excited to see where this is going.

Also, what the hell is up with Magneto? How long has he been a robot? What was his plan, and what did he have in store for Mesmero? Let’s hope we get to see the real Magneto sometime soon.

I can honestly say that these two issues are the best two that I have read so far. They are packed full of characters, plots, surprises, and action. The storytelling is maturing, shedding the monster-of-the-month approach for longer stories, layered and more nuanced, woven across several issues and into each other. These past few story arcs don’t have a clear beginning and end, as a trip to Scott’s brother’s graduation lead to Egypt, a pharaoh, a stone giant, killer robots, genocide, and impending extinction. For the safety of every man, woman, and child on this planet, please guys… stop taking vacations!

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Posted on September 10, 2014, in Banshee, Blob, Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Ed Posts, Havok, Magneto, Mastermind, Mesmero, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Sentinels, The Living Monolith, Toad, Unus. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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