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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

X-Men - The Early Years #14 - Among Us Stalk the Sentinels

This issue reprints the original X-MEN #14 (1965). Kirby continues the hand-off of art duties to Werner Roth, doing layouts for Roth (working under the Jay Gavin name) to finish. Colletta inks this time around.

Recovering from their battle with the Juggernaut, Professor X gives the X-Men some vacation time. It would prove to be short lived respite, as anthropologist Bolivar Trask starts whipping up the anti-mutant hysteria. My favourite bit of the issue is the newspaper article with artist renditions of Trask's predictions of the mutant overlords.

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The Professor arranges a TV debate with Trask, where Trask unveils his Sentinal robots meant to protect humanity. The robots quickly turn on him, so Professor X sends out a mental alert.

Hank and Bobby at the Coffee A-Go-Go (complete with beatnik poet) are the first to respond, just after most of the Sentinals depart with Trask to create more Sentinals, leaving one guard. They battle him until Cyclops (who ran into an example of the anti-mutant sentiment Trask riled up) arrives, and then the Sentinal mysteriously collapses. Jean and Warren arrive shortly after (with Warren having a brief encounter with the other Sentinals on the way), as Professor X examines the fallen Sentinal and gets an impression of their headquarters, as well as mentioning that the Sentinal said something about "Master Mold" as it collapsed (oddly we're not actually shown that). The X-Men drive up to the location the Professor saw, and find an empty field which suddenly rises to reveal a fortified structure that fires at them.

This is a surprisingly attractive issue. Roth seems to maintain a lot of the Kirby elements from the layouts, and Colletta's inks seem more compatable with his pencils than most. The Sentinals don't look quite as menacing as they should, but are a nice design. More importantly, this run of the book would solidify the themes that would carry the book for decades to come.

By the way, this is one of those annoying instances where Marvel reprinted the story without noting that "Jay Gavin" was a pen-name, so Roth's name doesn't appear at all, despite the fact that newly typeset credits were pasted on the originals.

The original cover is printed as a pin-up in the back, as drawn by Kirby and Wally Wood. I never noticed before, but it seems to be flipped left-to-right (or at least the Sentinal has a backwards "1" on its chest).

Published 1995

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