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Sentinel Squad O*N*E #1: Review

Jan 2006
John Layman, Aaron Lopresti

Story Name:

Tin can heroes, part 1: Machine-manned

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Sentinel Squad O*N*E #1 Review by (October 22, 2014)
Sentinels have usually been controlled by individuals outside the government (from Bolivar Trask on), except when they took control for themselves (from Bolivar Trask on). They have previously been officially under government control in Project Wideawake and Operation Zero Tolerance, but in both cases villains were really using them for their own purposes. This time there's no villain involved (you think?). The demonstration actually undermines Val Cooper's point. Jim Rhodes had no qualms about smashing the Hulk because he knew it was a robot. If the Sentinels knew this, they would have destroyed it too. Val further weakens her point by saying that the robot Sentinels would have chosen stopping Hulk over endangering the lives of individual humans, as opposed to the future possible benefit of lots of humans. James Rhodes is of course ex-Iron Man and ex-War Machine. He lost the War Machine armour during time-travel in the 1st War Machine series, and temporarily replaced it with an alien armour. But he lost *that* in Tales of the Marvel Universe while Iron Man and others were off in the Heroes Reborn universe. He continued in a civilian role when IM came back from there. A villain found parts of the WM armour that had been lost in time, and built his own War Machine suit in IM(1998)#11-12,18-20. But Rhodey continued his unarmoured career in The Crew mini-series. Now he's back in another armour.

This mini-series is a prequel to the O*N*E Sentinels' 1st appearance in Decimation: House of M - The Day After. This is chronologically the 1st appearance of the Office of National Emergency, Gen'l Lazer and all the recruits. Some of them have already been seen in post-HoM X-issues so we know they'll survive. The same couldn't at the time be said of Meld, Randall Nixon and Emil Winston. Mutant-hating Jennings makes his only appearance here. Valerie Cooper has been seen regularly working for the US Government on superhuman matters, most often in the Commission on Superhuman Activities. She's spent a lot of time in X-titles (her original home), but her CSA work has involved her in many corners of the Marvel universe, recently spending a lot of time with the Thunderbolts. Now O*N*E is her new base of operations. It says here the Avengers are disbanded during the Hulk-bot opening scene. Paul Bourcier's Calendar in the Marvel Continuity Project reflects that. (Mind you he doesn't have the Fantastic Four away anywhere at the time.) The rest of the series is obviously just before House of M.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Sentinel Squad O*N*E #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Valerie Cooper shows some US Senators 3 large Sentinels fighting the Hulk. They have been despatched by the Office of National Emergency because the Avengers are disbanded and the Fantastic Four are away somewhere. The Government would also like to use them instead of relying on superheroes, but this demonstration will show why they don't.

The Sentinels are sent information that Hulk's alter-ego Bruce Banner is about to cure cancer. This confuses the robots, who stop beating up on the Hulk. (Along the way this Hulk has been revealed as a robot too, but the Sentinels don't seem to have noticed.) Hulk-bot quickly destroys the trio and leaps off.

Cooper has lied about how near the action is (just next door), and Hulk's leap brings him crashing through the roof of the bunker from where the Senators have been watching the action. But an even bigger (than the bunker) Sentinel smashes the Hulk-bot to pieces before it can harm anyone.

Then Val introduces the Sentinel of the future - the power of a Sentinel controlled by the decision-making abilities of a human pilot, in this case James Rhodes. The Senators sign off on her budget proposal for a team like this, called Sentinel Squad O*N*E.

5 months later the giant-size Sentinel Squad is up and running as a bunch of new recruits arrives. They've all been selected for their aptitude for the job, but otherwise they're very different. We initially concentrate on 2 of them:- Nathaniel 'Bulletproof' Briggs is ambitious, Alexander 'Lex' Lexington is cocky.

Val Cooper is there, but only as Deputy Director. She introduces Jim Rhodes (in a man-sized cross between a Sentinel and Iron Man armour) as their combat instructor and Direct Commanding Officer.

Another recruit Jennings is miffed that a 4th guy is an obvious mutant (called Meld). Rhodes fires him, saying that the only way they'll all survive is if they all work together no matter who they are.

Rhodey then introduces them to an earlier recruit Skylark who is fully trained in the use of a Stealth Sentinel. But Tony Stark has provided many kinds of armour, and she is now going to occupy a Brawler Sentinel. A hover-platform lifts her up to climb through the back of the Sentinel into a compartment in its chest. The heavy-duty machine is big enough for her to pluck some radio-controlled fighter planes out of the air. But she is also faced with a whole load of tanks.

As dust obscures the battle scene the new recruits fear that Skylark won't survive. Commander Rhodes agrees that she has no chance alone. But when the dust clears they see 5 Brawler Sentinels standing triumphant. Jim repeats that teamwork is what it's all about.

That evening in the Mess Hall the mutant sits by himself. 2 more recruits Jake Slayton and Randall Nixon compare notes on women. Randall fancies Skylark, but Jake is more interested in fellow newbie Rajani Dhama, a computer-scenarios expert. She doesn't return his attention. But she's more annoyed by his peeved comment about typical tech support from India, and punches him.

After the meal Lex's keycard fails to open his room door. He's secretly another mutant, and uses some sort of electric power to open the door. Meld sees this, but Alex intimidates him into promising not to tell anyone.

Meanwhile Val Cooper is studying files on the new recruits. Corporal Briggs is a decorated Afghanistan war hero. Randall Nixon was a fighter pilot who escaped after being shot down over Latveria. Another guy, Emil 'Professor' Winston, is a cybernetics and AI whiz kid.

Her boss Gen'l Lazer tells her not to bother memorising all that - there'll be many more recruits to replace casualties after he sends a team on a mission to the Savage Land. His operation file includes a picture of a dinoaur with an electronic device on its head.


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> Sentinel Squad O*N*E: Book info and issue index

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Aaron Lopresti
Norm Rapmund
Chris Walker
Pascual Ferry (Cover Penciler)
Pascual Ferry (Cover Inker)
Pascual Ferry (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Dave Sharpe.
Editor: Sean Ryan.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Hulk
Hulk

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
James Rhodes
James Rhodes

(Rhodey)

Plus: Alexander Lexington, Emil Winston, General Lazer, Jake Slayton, Meld, Nathaniel Briggs, Rajani Dhama, Randall Nixon, Tracy Skylark, Valerie Cooper.