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X-Men #15 (last issue | next issue)

"Prisoners of the Mysterious Master Mold!"

Writer: Stan Lee
Layouts: Jack Kirby
Penciller: Jay Gavin (A pseudonym for artist Werner Roth taken from the first names of his sons. He would be credited under his real name starting with X-Men #23)
Inker: Dick Ayers
Letterer: Artie Simek
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Cover date: December 1965
Cover price: 12 cents

Last issue, the X-Men fought the robot Sentinels, which were created by Dr. Bolivar Trask to fight what he saw as a mutant menace. But the robots turned against Trask, kidnapping him to force him to build new Sentinels. The robots plan to conquer the human race to "protect" it from mutants. At the end of last issue, the X-Men tracked the robot Sentinels to their base, and the fortress opened fire on them.

The X-Men make a desperate struggle for high ground and finally make it out of range of the fortress' weapony, which includes something called "nature activator rays" because they make the ground shift and lurch. The X-Men initiate "Plan G", which calls for Iceman to create an ice "glider" which doesn't look too aerodynamic. After Iceman and the Beast climb aboard and Cyclops launches it into the air, it turns out to be quite wobbly, but it only has to make it the short distance to the fortress. And it does, but mechanical tentacles snatch Beast and Iceman out of the air and yank them into the fortress as prisoners before Angel can retrieve them. So much for Plan G.

Inside the fortress, Trask is brought before Master Mold, the leader of the Sentinels and about three times the size of a normal Sentinel, which is already twice the size of a human. The Master Mold demands that its creator Trask build even more robots, but Trask refuses to turn against humanity. Outside, the Professor realizes that while the Sentinels do not possess human brains, he can still affect them in a limited way, though it requires a great deal of uninterrupted concentration. The Professor manages to make the gunners keel over and since the Sentinels were not programmed for this eventuality, the gunners can't be replaced without orders from their section leader.

The Master Mold orders Dr. Trask to use a "psycho-probe" to examine the Beast. It intends to study its prisoners before it orders them killed. Dr. Trask reluctantly complies since the Master Mold has threatened to destroy the nearest city if he does not. Outside, the rest of the X-Men have stormed the now defenseless fortress. They encounter a Sentinel, but it has no instructions to attack, so it orders the X-Men to follow him while it reports to its leader. The X-Men comply as the robot unwitting leads them exactly where they want to go.

The psycho-probe forces the Beast to reveal his background. His father was a laborer at an "atomic project" and the Beast speculates that this is why he was born a mutant. After moving to a new city, he was attacked by bullies, which is how he discovered his crazy acrobatic powers. The Beast's interrogation is interrupted by a Sentinel asking what to do about the incapacitated gunners. The higher ranking Sentinel, unlike the others, is no dummy, and correctly concludes that the X-Men have infiltrated the base.

Those X-Men are led right past Iceman, held prisoner in a glass cubicle sleeping off the effects of knock out gas. The X-Men promptly kick the stupid Sentinel's ass and free Iceman, which sets off alarms. The Master Mold doesn't sweat the alarms and continues the interrogation. The Beast won a scholarship to college and became an academic and athletic success. But after winning the conference championship, he gets a little too excited and starts swinging upside down from the goalpost by his feet. "'Beast' flees football field! Refuses to answer newsmen's questions about his alleged 'powers'!" reads the headline in the "Alumni News" the Professor is reading. Professor X visits Mr. and Mrs. McCoy and recruits him for his school.

The Professor himself witnesses the interrogation in his astral form. He performs some mental mojo on the Beast to make him temporarily immune to the psycho-probe, so he won't reveal the location of the X-Men's headquarters. (Since all of the X-Men are currently in the Sentinel fortress, I don't see how useful that information would be.) The Professor then tries to probe the Master Mold, but the big Sentinel disrupts his astral form with "micro-electric blasts" and the Professor struggles to make it back to his body before he becomes a vegetable. The other four X-Men are attacked by a bunch of Sentinels, who disable them with a "heavy gravity ray". And the Master Mold repeats his order to Dr. Trask: construct an army of thousands of Sentinels which will conquer the world. It looks bad for our heroes, True Believers.

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