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The Sentinels(pop culture)
“Destroy all mutants” may sound like the title of a 1950s science-fiction movie, but it is instead the mission of the Sentinels, the robotic giants programmed to apprehend or annihilate the X-Men. As seen in X-Men vol. 1 #14 (1965)—by writer Stan Lee, layout artist/co-plotter Jack Kirby, and penciler Werner Roth (using the pseudonym Jay Gavin)—these towering terrors are designed under the auspices of anthropologist Dr. Bolivar Trask, who regards mutants as a threat to Homo sapiens. Attacking during a televised debate between Trask and X-Men founder Charles Xavier (Professor X), the Sentinels kidnap Xavier and take him before the principal Sentinel called Master Mold. Via their artificially constructed logic the Sentinels elect to protect humankind by dominating it, and upon the intervention of the mutant heroes the X-Men, Trask has a change of heart, sacrificing himself to destroy his killer creations. Mutantdom was not safe for long, however, as the X-Men soon discovered that “The Sentinels Live!” Written by Roy Thomas and penciled by Neal Adams, X-Men #57–#59 (1969) introduced the Sentinels Mach II, under the retaliatory command of Trask's son Larry, against whom the automatons turned once discovering that Larry was actually a mutant. The U.S. government later assumed control of the Sentinels, partnering with the Hellfire Club's Sebastian Shaw on Project Wideawake, a means of regulating mutant population. The Sentinels have consistently attacked the X-Men over the years, but their most dreadful onslaught was their 2001 extermination of the majority of the population of the mutant haven Genosha. Despite the Sentinels' infamy, a twelveissue Sentinel superhero series was published in 2003–2004; its Iron Giant–like storyline featured a boy who reprogrammed a Sentinel to become a force for good, and its success inspired a 2005–2006 follow-up miniseries. The Sentinels have also imperiled the X-Men in alternate realities. In 1981's “Days of Future Past” by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, ultra-sophisticated Omega-Sentinels ruled the United States, and in a grisly scene incinerated Wolverine. The Sentinels have been a formidable force in the alternate version of the X-Men, Ultimate X-Men, since that series' first issue in 2001. Remotely human in their original appearances, the purple-hued Sentinels, often dispatched under the leadership of a Master Mold, have evolved since Trask first rolled them off his assembly line. Outfitted with mutant-tracking sensors, concussive and disintegrator beams (fired from their palms), telescoping snares, and lasers, the Sentinels can smash through reinforced steel walls and rocket through the air. They speak in steely voices, ordering their mutant prey to surrender or to prepare for extermination. Technological upgrades have produced unending variations: X-Sentinels that duplicate the forms and powers of mutants, microscopic nano-Sentinels, transforming Sentinels, mutant-Sentinel amalgamations, and cyber-organic human-Sentinels. Some Sentinel variants are self-adapting, defensively reprogramming themselves after attacks, making it impossible to use the same offensive strike against them more than once. While their forms may vary, their mission remains singular: the eradication of mutants. The Sentinels' menace has not been solely relegated to comic books. They appeared in numerous episodes of the animated series X-Men (1992–1997) and X-Men: Evolution (2000–2003). Computer-generated Sentinels were planned for the live-action film X2: X-Men United (2003) but were scrapped because their inclusion would have added $8 million to the movie's budget; Sentinel design sketches were included as extras in X2's DVD release. The Sentinels are popular adversaries in numerous X-Men video games, and collectible mini-busts and toys have been produced, including 2005's “Sentinels Series” from Toy Biz, seven separate pieces of a single Sentinel sold in seven different Marvel superhero action figures, encouraging consumers to purchase them all to build the Sentinel!
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.