Monday, 13 August 2012

X-Men #57-#59: Larry Trask and the Sentinels

I started covering X-Men #57 last post, but it segues away from the Living Pharaoh and into a Sentinels storyline mid-issue, and they warrant being different posts.

The United States federal government has set up an anti-mutant agency called the "Federal Council of Mutant Activities", led by Judge Chalmers, with special assistant Larry Trask. Larry's father, Bolivar Trask, built giant robots called Sentinels to destroy all mutants. Larry has now vowed to carry on the mission, and has built improved Sentinels (this time with adaptive anti-power technology). These are then unleashed, and capture as many mutants as they can. They already have taken Alex and Lorna, but quickly add Bobby, then gradually the Living Monolith, Warren (who has managed to fly over the Atlantic to arrive at the same time as Scott, Jean and Hank on an airliner), Mesmero, Magneto (who turns out to have been a robot in #49-#52, unbeknownst to Mesmero), Banshee, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Toad, Unus, Mastermind, and Blob...

It seems hard to see Trask's activities as a rogue completely unauthorised by the US government, but certainly he goes beyond the bounds that Chalmers is comfortable with, and when the Judge tells him to shut the operation down he defies him and openly accuses him of being a mutant-lover and possibly a mutant himself. But this is rather misplaced, as it turns out that Larry himself is the secret mutant, whose precognitive powers have been suppressed by a medallion he was given by his father when he was very little.

The concept here implied - of a parent of a mutant trying to destroy all other mutants but seeking to protect their child - will be re-used in Claremont's 1982 graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills, and would make its way into the second X-Men movie.

Taking the medallion off immediately allows the Sentinels to detect Larry as a mutant. They then carry on their standing order and detain him in preparation for an execution. They have nobody to take orders from any more, and reject Chalmer's authority.

The three free X-Men get inside the base, and find Pietro, Wanda and Toad being brought in for processing. They swap costumes, which confuses the Sentinels anti-powers technology enough for them to get a jump on them. Really, this ought to be the moment where the new kids, Lorna and especially Alex, get a chance to shine and blow stuff up. That opportunity is missed, and instead the Sentinels are defeated in a Kirk-like display of tricking the computer with logic. The Sentinels are persuaded by Scott that the real problem is the source of mutation: solar radiation, and they are best deployed trying to defeat the sun. Huh.

We're left with Alex pretty injured, and a cliffhanger for the next issue, where it appears they are about to take him to a Doctor Lykos, who is holding someone captive...


  1. I seem to remember this arc involving a massively powerful mutant signature near the Sentinel base that was never actually explained. I wonder if Xavier had some small hand in saving his charges, presumably whilst the Z'Nox were taking a planet-wide toilet break.

    1. Maybe it's whoever that built that robot Magneto...