Uncanny X-Men #14-18
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #14, Uncanny X-Men #15, Uncanny X-Men #16, Uncanny X-Men #17, Uncanny X-Men #18
The X-Men have been recovering from their injuries sustained during their fight with the Juggernaut. Meanwhile, an "eminent anthropologist" has issued a study that declares that mutants will dominate and enslave humanity. Judging from the pictures he released with his study, i think he has been neglecting his research and made up the time by reading Buck Rogers comic strips (see the comments regarding the real origin of this).
Like all good Marvel scientists, specializing in anthropology doesn't stop Trask from being able to create a fleet of highly sophisticated robots, which he unveils during a debate on mutants with Xavier.
Xavier attempts to use his mental powers on the Sentinel's brain but it doesn't work (i wouldn't have even tried, but you have to give Xavier credit for persistency, because eventually it will work).
Like all good robots, however, the Sentinels turn on their creator and the Professor summons his students.
Iceman and the Beast are hanging out at the Coffee A-Go-Go, where the Beast is worried that he is beginning to understand Bernard the Poet.
"Like it's out to be in, and it's square to be hip, I mean dig the scene, a nap isn't a nip!"
And check out how the Beast hides his super feet.
Trask's campaign whips up mutant hysteria, and the word "muties" is used, i think for the first time.
The X-Men manage to defeat the one Sentinel that still remains at the TV studio,and they head out to find the others.
After finding the Sentinel's base, the X-Men get there in the least efficient way possible: Cyclops' Eye Beam-Powered Ice Glider:
The Beast gets captured and is brought to the Master Mold, a giant sentinel who manufactures the others (but he needs Trask to tell him how to do it).
The Master Mold mind probes the Beast, learning his "origin". Meanwhile the other X-Men rush the Sentinels' base, saying "Let's hope it works... if not, the prof better start recruiting a new team, pronto!". Guess they knew his MO from the get-go.
Xavier is able to access the brainwaves of the Master Mold, but he is repelled by micro-electric blasts.
So big, so fast alert: Angel re: the Sentinels - "How does anyone as big as them move so fast???!"
After a big fight...
...which involves the X-Men repeatedly getting captured...
...Professor X defeats the Sentinels by having the army wave a giant crystal around their heads, and Bolivar Trask realizes the error of his ways and sacrifices himself to destroy their base.
Not quite meanwhile, Magneto lurks in the bushes around the X-Mansion.
This was a good arc. The Sentinels are quite appealing in a big headed gawky robot sort of way, and the overall story is one of the first that really establishes the X-Men theme of "Sworn to protect a humanity that hates and fears them".
The next issue begins with the X-Men being taken to the hospital following their big Sentinel fight. A great scene where Professor X telepathically tells the Beast not to give away his secret identity, and then says Hank's name out loud in front of the doctor.
Then they return to the Mansion one by one and are defeated by Magneto. Magneto even hypnotizes Angel's parents with "magnetic attraction".
Finally only Iceman is left. He surprises everyone by standing up to Magneto while the rest of the X-Men free themselves from the Adam West style death trap Magneto put them in. I don't know why. At this point, Iceman seems to be the most powerful member of the group. In the end the Professor summons the Stranger to take Magneto away again (Magneto escaped from the Stranger's minimum security prison planet by stealing a rocketship. In doing so, he abandoned the Toad).
Kind of a weird story that Paul O'Brien (unfortunately he's shut down his old site) speculates was due to the fact that Kirby likely wanted to bring back the arch villain for his final issue.
Magneto's scheme this time had something to do with creating mutant clones using DNA from Angel's parents. This is something he would return to on a number of occasions.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is a long continuous run for the Silver Age. Logically it can be broken into the 3 issue Sentinel arc and the 2 issue Magneto arc but they definitely overlap, with Magneto lurking outside the X-Mansion at the end of #16 and the X-Men being taken directly from the Sentinel base to the hospital at the beginning of #17, where their injuries are the plot point that allows Magneto to pick them off one by one.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: X-Men: The Early Years #14, X-Men: The Early Years #15, X-Men: The Early Years #16, X-Men: The Early Years #17
Inbound References (17): show
Trask is listed twice in the character index as "Bolivar Trask".
Jack Kirby's model sheet for the Sentinels was published in FOOM#10.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 24, 2013 4:04 PM
Fixed that Trask tag; thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 24, 2013 5:27 PM
Kirby's rejected page 3 for #17 was printed in Alter Ego #120.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 6, 2013 4:52 PM
Hey fnord, have you seen professor X making the terrible mistake in #17 page 4, when he calls beast as "McCoy"... What a mess he could have done if people heard that and discovered beast identity!!!
Posted by: Ronaldo Merhaj | November 22, 2013 2:35 PM
Ronaldo, it's ok. Professor X probably just mind-wiped everyone in earshot just as a precaution, like he does in every Silver Age X-Men story. ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | November 22, 2013 2:50 PM
That picture in the newspaper gets referenced by later comics at least twice!
First, look at Menace's hecnhmen from Untold Tales of Spider-Man: http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/untold_tales_of_spider-man_20-.shtml! Seems clear where old Trask got his ideas from! One of them even has the whip!
Also, years later during the Grant Morrison run, Kid Omega has the article, calls it "an insane pop-art masterpiece" and deliberately mimics his posse's costumes on it. Since Uncanny X-Men -1 established that Trask build the Sentinels because of the visions of a horrible future that his son had, I thought it would be cool if this was a stable time loop (Larry Trask sees visions of Kid Omega, Bolivar Trask bases the picture on his son's visions, and Kid Omega bases his look on the picture), but since the UTOS issue turns out to happen way before this issue, it's probably more likely Traks just based his picture on Menace's minions.
Posted by: Berend | December 29, 2013 7:27 AM
Furthermore, interesting to see Iceman is already established as the strongest of the team here. Iceman being immensely powerful but under preforming will be a major theme in the 90's!
Oh, and Paul O'Brien's site is still available in archived form, for those interested! (http://web.archive.org/web/20090206224345/http://www.thexaxis.com/index.html)
Posted by: Berend | December 29, 2013 7:32 AM
I like these early generation Sentinels, these suckers were tough enough to give even the Avengers a hard run.
Though the cheap ones that popped up in the New X-Men were kind of theraputic since they were so easy to trash.
Posted by: david banes | September 27, 2014 12:35 PM
Master Mold is highly reminiscent of Ruler of Earth, a Kirby sci-fi/horror character who has since been brought into continuity (?):
Posted by: cullen | October 13, 2014 12:47 PM
I grew up loving the X-Men but having read hardly any of the old issues other than #1. Having now plowed through the Masterworks, it's easy to see why the series was eventually cancelled.
First of all, as fnord mentions, Xavier is constantly mind-wiping people. It just makes for sloppy writing.
Second, there are all sorts of bizarre ideas (and not necessarily good bizarre). The Sentinels - a great idea. Created by an anthropologist? Stupid idea. That he is the only one who can create more because the Sentinels can't figure that out. Terrible idea. Then there's Magneto's random return and the "magnetic hypnosis" which is just absurd. Magneto ranks up with Doom and Subby for most random powers used and then dropped.
Third, this was where Marvel attempted to be hip, with Bobby and Hank dropping in on the Village and it is always awkward. It just never works and I can see why people looking for a hero comic didn't like it and there's too much sloppy action for people looking for more to like it.
Looking at the great original five X-Men, I never understood why weren't more successful. Now I understand. Too many of these early stories are just too painful to read.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 8, 2015 11:50 AM
The rule of early sixties Marvel is the more involvement Kirby and Ditko have on the book, the better they are. You have the top tier books where Kirby and Ditko are doing most of the plotting (FF, Thor, Spidey, Strange, Cap). You have the mid tier books where they have continued, but sporadic involvement. Don Heck is on some of these (Iron Man, X-Men, Avengers, Hulk). The bottom tier is absolute garbage and is mainly by people other than Kirby/Ditko doing the plotting; even worse if Stan isn't even doing the scripting but Larry Lieber is (Daredevil, Gi/Ant-Man, Torch solo). Mid-tier and bottom-tier books occasionally switched places.
X-Men was a mid tier book with some strong elements, but Kirby is obviously not interested in it and other people keep being brought in. I wonder what would have happened if Ditko took it over? He seemed to have a much better handle on portraying high school kids and their emotional conflicts better than Kirby.
Posted by: Chris | January 8, 2015 8:52 PM
I strongly suspect the Trask article was modelled after an article by Otto Binder that appeared in the Dec., 1953 issue of MECHANIX ILLUSTRATED. The article speculates that an atomic war might create a mutant superior race, and discusses what this could mean for existing humanity.
It could be Lee or Kirby read the article when it came out and kept it, or that X-MEN reminded someone of it who brought it to their attention.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | February 16, 2015 9:20 PM
@Luke: I actually have that magazine and yep it's got to be the inspiration;)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 9, 2015 9:57 AM
Started to write something about the Otto Binder piece, then saw that Luke covered it. Good job Luke :)
Posted by: cullen | April 26, 2015 8:43 PM
Regarding the weirdness of an anthropologist creating killer robots:
The "Conspiracy!" mini series revealed Trask was part of a cabal of people involved in controlling and developing super powers, alongside Thunderbolt Ross, Howard Stark, general Heywerth and some more minor Silver Age military figures. That would explain where he got the funding and materials from. Perhaps his anthropologist persona is just an assumed identity?
Also, in Uncanny X-Men #-1 his time traveling daughter turns up and mucks around with Master Mold. We only see her putting information about The Twelve into it, but perhaps she added something more to the programming? If part of their tech came from the future, that could explain a few things about how advanced the Sentinels are. Although saying they are so advanced they actually have "minds" the Professor could read seems a bit much...
Posted by: Berend | May 3, 2015 10:23 PM
Kurt Busiek had Kang reveal that he had secretly provided Trask with future technology because he wanted to control any anti-superhuman technology developed by the government.
Posted by: Michael | May 11, 2015 8:11 AM
The "Coffee A-Go-Go" was of course the 616 version of the insanely historic Cafe au Go Go. I don't remember if any of the MU characters ever made it to a Fillmore show.
Posted by: Dan H. | January 13, 2016 1:32 PM
@Michael: So Busiek reinforced The Crossing's earlier revelation that Kang had seeded 20th century super-tech via Timely Industries? Why then go on to reveal the whole freakin plot as an Immortus one? Avengers Forever stuffs things up even more than I first thought:o
Posted by: Nathan Adler | January 13, 2016 2:48 PM
Wasn't the set-up for the Timely Industries stuff courtesy of the Citizen Kang crossover rather than The Crossing?
(but, I am just glad to see I'm not the only one who is... let's say "critical"... of Busiek's Avengers Forever retconning)
Posted by: AF | January 13, 2016 2:52 PM
@AF: I'm still trying to work up a fix for The Crossing that doesn't take the path of Avengers Forever. My research has found some absolute pearler story beats Gruenwald wanted unfolded through the series that got completely overlooked by Busiek;)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | January 14, 2016 4:42 AM
I honestly don't see what the real issue with The Crossing was. It's hard to follow and stupid but, like, definitely not worth the careless and malicious retcons from Avengers Forever. Most of the retcons don't make any real sense if you actual read the Crossing. You have scenes with "Space Phantoms" having deep thought or scenes solely between "Space Phantoms" where they torture each other.
Avengers Forever #8 is, no hyperbole, one of the worst issues I've ever read. It's not a comic, it is just a lecture. It's not a story, it's an agenda. It's like an ego trip, showing off how Busiek and Brevoort can "fix" the Avengers/Marvel Universe. And neither were really broken, they were just a bit of a mess. And you really really really don't need to go all the way back to retconning Lee/Kirby stories to basically amputate the Crossing from canon. It'd be so easy to write off Iron Man's turn to evil in a constructive way, but they go for destructive (which is the basic path that every writer under Brevoort will follow). It's easier to tear something down and insist you point and laugh at how lame it was than it is to spend time creating, writing or researching or whatever.
Have you read Darkstar and the Winter Guard? That series sorta removed/ignored some of the Limbo retcons. I took it as a sign that Avengers Forever #8 was mostly all lies. Which is a fitting way to retcon it since that's exactly what Busiek did to everything else.
Posted by: AF | January 14, 2016 5:36 AM
@AF- Plenty of people hated the idea that Tony was Evil All Along. Plus, most readers found the Crossing too confusing, so it's understandable Marvel wanted to get rid of it.
Posted by: Michael | January 14, 2016 8:05 AM
Yeah, but as I said, how easy is that to write off? I mean The Crossing even offered an option: he was under the control of Kang.
What we didn't need was a long-winded mess that replaces Kang with Immortus-in-disguise-as-Kang and every character involved in it being Space Phantoms and then to justify this by going through comics from the 60s all the way to 1998 resetting and retconning things to being Space Phantoms and "lies" to make it work.
Marvel didn't get "rid" of it, they just insulted it and added to it. There's even more confusion now and you really didn't need a whole self-indulgent issue to explain it away.
Posted by: AF | January 14, 2016 8:27 AM
The problem with the Crossing was the same problem as the Clone Saga and Emerald Twilight over at DC: it said this hero you'd been reading your entire life was really a fake/clone/villain. The fans generally don't like being told they've wasted potentially decades of investment in a character.
That said, I agree with you that it would have just been simpler to say Iron Man was under Kang's control for a few months and all his claims of EVIL ALL ALONG were just psychological warfare (and that even fits with Kang's character).
Posted by: Red Comet | January 14, 2016 11:20 AM
Everyone, please take further conversation about the Crossing/Avengers Forever to the forum. Strayed off topic quite a bit for Uncanny X-Men #14-18. :-)
Posted by: fnord12 | January 14, 2016 12:48 PM
@Nathan Adler: What did Gruenwald write that would overturn Busiek's fix for The Crossing?
@AF: Have you forgotten the side-effects we had gotten out of that particular story (The Crossing, not Avengers Forever)?
Posted by: D09 | June 6, 2016 11:45 PM
Dude, fnord is asking nicely. Don't you realize he could delete us all with a few keystrokes?!?!
Posted by: Andrew | June 7, 2016 7:33 PM
@Andrew: Good point, I'll ask again when we actually get to The Crossing.
Posted by: D09 | June 7, 2016 8:02 PM
I love this site!
Posted by: Yogi deadhead | June 8, 2016 9:57 PM
I loved this storyline and the Sentinels are the 3rd best X-men villains after Magneto and the Juggernaut. Again I have say all these comments that these early Marvels were lousy annoy me. If they were so bad, why is Marvel still around and why do we have sites like this devoted to them? (I know this site is devoted to all of Marvel as is my reading list, I'm just saying).
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 1, 2016 10:20 PM
Reading my X-Men Masterworks, it seems that they corrected the original error of Xavier saying McCoy's name in front of the doctor; in the Masterworks edition, he says: "No, BEAST! He is still on the critical list... etc."
Posted by: Mormel | May 17, 2017 12:46 AM
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