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Wolverine and Cyclops might be fighting on the sun because of one of the X-Men’s weirdest stories

The strange connection between Sentinels and the sun

The Mother Mold, in the form of a massive Sentinel head, hangs in its orbital cradle as it revolves around the sun, in House of X #1, Marvel Comics (2019).
The Mother Mold, in close orbit around the sun.
Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz/Marvel Comics
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

After two weeks of uninterrupted revelations about the potential future of the X-Men and humanity’s robot overlords, House of X #3 has finally returned us to the days of X-Men present, with a good, old fashioned superhero mission in space.

We learned in House of X #1 that a coalition of mutant-fearing humans have built a Mother Mold — a sentient factory that makes Master Molds, which are sentient factories that make Sentinels — in a hidden space station in close orbit around the sun. In Powers of X #2, the X-Men learned about the Mother Mold, and resolved that it must be destroyed before it can fully come online.

[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for House of X #3.]

And so, this week, the X-Men make war on the Sun. Or, at least, on an orbital station close to it. And, unless you’re a dedicated X-Men reader, you might not be aware of the connection between Sentinels — the giant, implacable robots known for seeking to destroy all mutants — and Earth’s star. It’s sort of a footnote in X-Men history, dating all the way back to the first incarnation of the book.

But you can bet that Jonathan Hickman and his collaborators are aware of it, so here’s an explanation.

That time that Sentinels fought the sun

In their first appearance, Sentinel technology was invented by scientist Bolivar Trask, as autonomous mutant eradication fighters, and they pretty much immediately decided that the best way to protect humanity from mutants was to subjugate all humans. Working with a repentant Trask, the X-Men destroyed his Sentinels and the Master Mold that had been built to create them.

Years later, however, Trask’s son built his own army of Sentinels, which were programmed with much more firm rules about not attacking or controlling humanity itself. It seemed as though the X-Men would be powerless to defeat them, until Cyclops remembered the key to solving all disputes with advanced machine intelligences: Out logic them.

Scott Summers/Cyclops argues to a Sentinel that the best way to protect human life is not to kill mutants but to eliminate the source of mutation, in X-Men #59, Marvel Comics (1969).
(Yes, that’s Cyclops, he’s just wearing Quicksilver’s costume, for reasons.)
Roy Thomas, Neal Adams/Marvel Comics

Just before the Sentinels pound the X-Men to pulp, their fearless leader points out that all forms of life — thanks to the principles of evolution — are products of mutation. In order to protect human beings from mutation, the Sentinels should first destroy the cause of mutation itself: Radiation.

To complete the logical loop here, you have to think back to a comic book writer’s understanding of biological mutation in 1969. Genetics was still pretty abstract stuff, as it took scientists two decades to go from discovering the molecular structure of DNA to figuring out how DNA actually forms proteins.

But what was all the rage as a cause of superpowers in Marvel Comics in the 1960s? Radiation, whether gamma, space, or spider-imbued. The idea that Marvel’s mutants owed their powers to an “X-Gene,” or other genetic structure, wouldn’t come around until a bit later.

So, thanks to Cyclops’ clever reasoning, the Sentinels’ programming determines that they must attempt to destroy the largest source of radiation affecting humanity. Which is to say that, in Roy Thomas and Neal Adams’ X-Men #59, an army of Sentinels yeet themselves into the sun.

Dozens of Sentinels rocket off to fight the Sun and are swallowed by its incandescent heat, never to be seen again, in X-Men #59, Marvel Comics (1969).
Roy Thomas, Neal Adams/Marvel Comics

That army was never seen again.

Until now?


If Jonathan Hickman and his collaborators are prepared to turn such concepts as Krakoa, THE ISLAND THAT WALKS LIKE A MAN, into high-concept science fiction, it’s a safe bet that they didn’t put Mother Mold in close orbit around the sun at random.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if we saw that Sentinel legion, lost so long ago, back to menace the X-Men.

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