In a nutshell
Cyclops uses logic to defeat the Sentinels.
Editor: Stan Lee
Scripter: Roy Thomas
Artist: Neal Adams
Embellisher: Tom Palmer
Letterer: Sam Rosen
Cyclops, Marvel Girl and Beast approach the Sentinel's base by air. They are shot down, but survive, and continue on to the base. Inside, Judge Chalmers explains to Larry that after his mutant power of clairvoyance manifested itself, his father created a medallion that would block his power, and, eventually fearing other mutants would discover his secret, created the Sentinels to hunt them down. The Sentinels insist on following the last order they received from Larry when he was human: kill all mutants. In the meantime, they place Larry alongside the other mutant captives. Meanwhile, the X-Men enter the base and discover a just-arrived and captured Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Toad. The X-Men switch places with the three, allowing them to surprise the Sentinels who prepare to counter Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch's and Toad's powers rather than the X-Men's.
Back in the control room, Larry is able to get Chalmers to deactivate the control device in Havok's costume, but his cell continues to cut him off from cosmic energy. The X-Men reach the control room. Cyclops blasts the captives free, but a Sentinel fires a burst of energy at him. Chalmers intercepts it, and Havok blasts the Sentinel. After harming a human, the Sentinels stand down to re-evaluate their programming, and Cyclops makes them realize that, logically, in order to protect humanity from mutants, they must destroy the source of mutation on Earth: the sun. Just as all the Sentinels blast off for the sun, Havok feels his power building and runs away from the others. He releases a burst of energy and injures himself. Elsewhere, Dr. Karl Lykos receives a phone call from the X-Men, and tells them to bring Alex to him.
Firsts and Other Notables
Future X-Men writer Chris Claremont gets his first credit on the book, retroactively, for plot assist. Apparently, he came up with the "Sentinels fly into the sun" idea.
Larry Trask is revealed to have precognitive abilities (the story refers to him as "clairvoyant", but that doesn't really fit with predicting his mother's death). When he was a child, his father created a medallion that blocked his powers, and according to Chalmers, created the Sentinels to hunt down mutants so no other mutant would learn of and reveal his son's true nature (which is a fairly significant retcon that has gone largely ignored). After Bolivar Trask died, family friend Chalmers continued to protect Larry and supported his Sentinel initiative.
Karl Lykos makes his first appearance in the final panels of the book. More on him next issue.
A Work in Progress
Mastermind, Blob and Unus were all captured by the Sentinels between last issue and this one, and Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Toad are seen being apprehended on a view screen before arriving at the base.
As the X-Men are infiltrating the Sentinel base, much is made, via dialogue, of a disturbance in another part of the base which draws the Sentinels away from the X-Men. No one, including the X-Men, Sentinels and Trask, know what's causing it, and the story never reveals it.
Build up your Vocabulary with Beast
Aphoristic: adj. Of, relating to, or resembling an aphorism.
Aphorism: 1. A tersely phrased statement of a truth or opinion; an adage. 2. A brief statement of a principle.
As in, "in the aphoristic nick, Miss Grey."
The Awesome and Terrible Power of
Havok blasts a Sentinel, saving Cyclops, then proceeds to freak out, run down a hall, explode, and bury himself in rubble.
Man, I wish these were around when I was a kid. Not necessarily for Matchbox cars, but I could have used them for tons of stuff.
Roy Thomas on plotting with Neal Adams
"From the beginning, Neal and I plotted the stories together, and I let him run with a lot of it, since he wanted to and I was writing several other comics each month. My feeling was that, if you get someone who's enthusiastic and has a good story sense, why should I care if it's 'my story' or 'Neal's story' because - in the end - it's our story. If Neal had something he wanted to do or he had an idea, I'd be more likely to try to find a reason to go with that."
DeFalco, Tom. Comic Creators on X-Men. London: Titan Books, 2006. p27
The Sentinel story wraps up with a classic (if dated) resolution, using the Sentinels logical brains against them and sending them off to destroy the source of all mutation. It's not the most intelligent action for the Sentinels to take, and in this day and age, we give our killer robots a lot more credit, but this is very much in the mold of robot stories of the time: undone by their unwavering, logical robot brains.
In addition to all the artistic innovations, something else that is becoming clear in this run is the way each story flows into the next. Chris Claremont will later be known for peppering his stories with ongoing subplots and narrative threads that help make each issue feel like another chapter in an ongoing story, even as more defined two or three-issues stories start and end. We're not quite at a Claremontian level of inner-connectedness yet, but for the first time in the book's history, the stories are flowing nicely from one to the other: the Living Pharaoh story leads into the Sentinels, the Sentinel story comes to a close but Alex gets injured, leading into the next story, etc. In this way, it's not just the improved art that makes these X-Men issues feel ahead of their time.