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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

X-amining X-Men #16

"The Supreme Sacrifice"
January 1966

Stan Lee
Layouts: Jack Kirby
Pencilling: Jay Gavin
Delineation: Dick Ayers Lettering: Art Simek

With the X-Men captured, Professor X returns to the television studio to examine the fallen Sentinel hoping to determine what caused it to shut down. He determines that like television sets the Sentinels need to constantly receive a signal (or something) in order to operate (I don't think that's how TVs work, but okay...). He determines that a giant crystal in a nearby building is blocking the signal from the fallen Sentinel (whatever...). Xavier uses a combination of telepathic coercion and his connections within the FBI to fly the crystal out to the Sentinels' base. The X-Men manage to escape from the Sentinels' "heavy-grav globe" only to be overwhelmed by the Sentinels themselves. At which point Xavier arrives with the crystal in tow and the Sentinels collapse. Meanwhile, Bolivar Trask finally realizes that the Sentinels he created are a greater threat than the mutant menace he created them to stop, and sacrifices his life to destroy Master Mold and the Sentinel base. The X-Men escape the exploding base and are reunited with Professor X.

Firsts and Other Notables:
Is anyone surprised that Trask is the sacrifice alluded to in the title?

Master Mold and the Sentinels are destroyed in this issue, though both will be back.

This is the final part of the first three part "X-Men" story, which makes it damn near epic by Silver Age standards.

A Work in Progress:
Marvel Girl uses her telekinesis through a wall for the first time (to unlock a door).

Professor X's alliance with FBI Agent Fred Duncan (from issue #2) is alluded to when the local authorities are told by the FBI to help Xavier however they can.

Ah, the Silver Age:
The captured X-Men are held in a "Heavy-Grav Globe" which keeps them pinned inside it through increased gravity. Stan provides a helpful "how to" note:

Cyclops refers to his teammates as his "pards."

Maybe you shouldn't announce that quite so loudly, Master Mold...

Iceman passes out due to the heat of Master Mold exploding, so Beast has to carry him out of the Sentinel base. But Iceman is slippery, which, for some reason, means Beast has to carry him on his back while walking on his hands.

Thankfully, by the time Beast needs to carry Iceman normally, he's thawed out a bit...

Young Love: Just in case you've forgotten the romantic subplots, even in the midst of a blazing inferno, Jean pines for Scott.

Human/Mutant Relations: Trask's story ends with this heavy-handed message:

For Sale: Having trouble finding a job without that high school diploma? Now you can finish high school at home!

Bullpen Bulletins! Stan pimps some more books and patronizes Jack Kirby.

It's in the Mail: A lesson in latin:

Proof that Cyclops has always been a favorite of nerds:

Teebore's Take: A lackluster finale to the Sentinel story, as the X-Men are given little to do besides escape from the Sentinel base. Xavier discovers that a random giant crystal, of all things, is enough to shutdown the Sentinels and Trask does all the heavy lifting in terms of defeating Master Mold. The journey Trask goes on in the course of the story, finally realizing he's created a threat greater than what it was created to stop, is interesting enough, but there's little beyond that which stands out. Definitely a story that could have been told in two issues instead of three, which is rare for the highly-compressed Silver Age.


  1. ll are 'pards'?
    Also, i like you you can 'win' your diploma at home. is it some sort of contest?


  2. I'm pretty Otto was trying to win a diploma via the Claw game at the bowling alley in one episode of "The Simpsons."

    Also, "pards" is, presumably, short for partners, as in, Cyclops fellow X-Men are his partners.

  3. it looks to me more like beast is carrying iceaman on his ass than his back, but i'll take your word for it.
    "Pards" may be one of the worst things i've ever heard. I don't want to hear/read it again.

  4. Are you saying Beast has a fat ass?

    His pards might take offense to that...


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