byzantine's The X-Men #15 - Prisoners of the Mysterious Master Mold! review

The Siege of Sentinel Headquarters

The plot of this issue is simple but effective. The X-Men have discovered the Headquarters of the Sentinels on the outskirts of New York City. Now they orchestrate a regular siege, attempting to penetrate its defenses. With several Sentinels manning said defenses and using anything from flamethrowers to mechanical tentacles.  
 
The X-Men get to showcase both their powers and their level of determination. Particularly Xavier: "I've spent years drumming into you-- Nothing is Impossible!" He seems to prove it within the issue by telepathically shutting down the mechanical minds of three Sentinels.  
 
Jean also gets to shine with her powers. When the X-Men climb a hill, the Beast slows down and offers to give her a lift. Calling her a "damsel in distress" in the process. She resents that and levitates herself ahead of her. "Have you forgotten why I'm called Marvel Girl". She later manages to topple a Sentinel by telekinetically manipulating its feet. 
 
Beast arguably gets the spotlight of the issue. When captured by the Sentinels, Trask subjects him to a psycho-probe which gets him to reveal his origins. It last a few pages and helps establish his background. Henry reveals himself to be the son of a common laborer at an atomic process. His mutation suspected to be the result of the radiation said father had absorbed. When his father lost his job, the McCoys had to move to a new city. As the new kid, Henry found himself targeted by bullies.  His agility allowed him to evade most punches. But one did connect and accidentaly sent right in front of a speeding car. His agility saved him again. But at a price. The kids were no longer making fun of him, they feared him. "I became loneliar than ever". 
 
The flashback shifts to a few years later. Henry was an excellent scholar and athlete at school, earning himself a college scholarship. But during an American football game, he kicked of his shoes and leaped for the goal post. Hanging up-side down by his toes, he was outed as a mutant. The scene is actually ridiculous and rather out of a place in an otherwise sober story. But this is how Xavier managed to locate and recruit him. By reading reports on a "Beast" from the newspapers' front lines. It must have been a slow news day. For now this stort shocks Trask, who finds mutants are more human than he expected. The origin story would be contradicted and partly retconned away by a more elaborate origin story in "X-Men" vol. 1 #49-52. 
 
The Sentinels are both a strength and a weakness of this issue. Master Mold is your typical would-be world conqueror. The others act as members of a military organization. But for emotionless robots with no individuality, they seem to have varying skill sets and even levels of intellect. Sentinel L, for example,  demonstrates a tendency to form plans in emergency situations, but its partner T ignores them. Choosing to wait instructions from Section Leader 1., who is attending to duties at another area of the base. Sentinel 17 on the other hand fails to recognize Angel, Cyclops and Marvel Girl as invaders within the base. It identifies them only as "additional humans" and politely asks them to follow it in seeking new orders from its superiors. They look alike, they act different and with little explanation so far.

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