Review of Uncanny X-Men Issue #59

Uncanny X-Men Issue #59 (August 10, 1969)

Story By: Roy Thomas                                                                                                

Art By: Neal Adams

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Brief Description: This new Sentinel saga comes to an end, but who will come out of the final battle alive?

Characters Introduced in This Issue: None

Recurring Characters in This issue: Larry Trask, Quicksilver, The Scarlet Witch, Toad, Blob, Unus the Untouchable, Mastermind, Havok, Sentinels, Cylops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel, Iceman

Synopsis:

This issue begins with Jean, Beast, and Cyclops (Angel and Iceman were captured in Issue 58) getting shot out of the sky by a Sentinel.

 The X-Men are able to survive the explosion and they make their way into the Sentinels’ base. In the base, Larry Trask has been captured by the Sentinels because it has been revealed that Larry is actually a mutant. Larry’s judge friend reveals how his mutation was a secret for so long.

In the next few panels, we see that the Sentinels have captured even more of the mutants of the Marvel Universe. (They captured even more mutants in Issue 58)

Meanwhile, Jean, Cyclops, and Beast fight a Sentinel, but it takes everything they’ve got to defeat one of them. When the three remaining X-Men encounter Toad, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver, Cylcops has a plan to stop the Sentinels.

The X-Men switch costumes with their sometimes foes to confuse the Sentinels. The Sentinels now have the ability to adapt to different power sets (Just like the newest X-men movie, Days of Future Past), but they use the wrong counter measures against the X-Men because they don’t realize who they are actually fighting.

The X-Men are temporarily winning, but they know that this strategy will not work forever. Realizing that he needs to help, Trask’s judge friend frees Havok and then tells Cyclops that the only way he can defeat the Sentinels is with logic.

Cyclops then convinces the Sentinels that the only way to defeat the mutants is to destroy the Earth. The Sentinels then all leave Earth and fly directly into the sun.

The issue ends with a couple panels foreshadowing the next villain the X-men will face.

Review:

Just like the last issue, I absolutely loved this issue. It was action packed and hysterical. It was completely ridiculous that the X-Men switched costumes with their sometimes foes. I guess it was smart because it tricked the Sentinels, but how come the other mutants couldn’t help fight the Sentinels? Toad may be weak, but Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch totally could’ve helped.

It was also unbelievably ridiculous and awesome when Cyclops convinced the Sentinels to fly into the sun. It is the crazy type of story that was very frequent in the silver age of comics and I loved it.

It was great to see Sauron make a very brief appearance at the end of the issue. Although they have not told us who he is yet, those of us who are familiar with the X-Men know that Dr. Lykos is Sauron. The dinosaur-vampire like villain is one of the X-Men’s coolest villains and I can’t wait to see him in the next issue. 

All in all, there wasn’t really anything I disliked about this issue. This issue is awesome in every way. It is the perfect example of a really crazy silver age story.

A few final notes:

1. The Sentinels really freak out when they accidentally hurt humans.

2. Havok’s powers continue to look awesome.

3. Quicksilver always seem much weaker in X-Men comics then they do in Avengers comics. I wish they didn’t always seem like pushovers in early X-Men comics.

4. I always enjoy when the X-Men fall through the air (See the panel earlier in the review). 

On a different note, I am still in Florida on vacation so I probably won’t have another post in the next few days, but I had a couple of hours to kill today so I thought I would post another review! I will be back to posting reviews more regularly next week.

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14 thoughts on “Review of Uncanny X-Men Issue #59

  1. I really liked the Sentinels’ scheme when Roy Thomas did a sequel to this story in Avengers: To get around the problem of perpetual mutation, they intend to sterilize humans (which apparently doesn’t count as hurting us) with solar flares, then use cloning to grow a perpetually mutation-free human race they will watch over forever.

      • Yes, the late Isaac Asimov wrote robots stories based on the Three Laws of Robotics. The First Law was not to hurt humans or even through inaction allow humans to come to harm. The Sentinels must be programmed with a variant of that; to not hurt humans, by their own definition of that, but all bets are off when it comes to mutants. In theory it seems a good idea to instill the a First Law on all our robots, but we don’t do that now. For one thing, our robots are not yet good enough to understand the concept of “human” and “harm”. People have already been hurt by robots, just like by any other kind of machinery that we make.

  2. Yeah, this was a great issue. Neal Adams brought a lot to the book. A power and energy that it had lacked before. As an aside, Chris Claremont provided an (uncredited) plot assist. I don’t know exactly what he suggested, but still, it’s pretty cool.

  3. Brilliant issue, a real classic, the Sentinels are at their very best here and the story serves them really well. Great to revisit this classic story featuring the original X-Men, still my fave team!

  4. Quicksilver has long suffered from bad writing and comics people not really liking him much. Consequently, he suffers a much worse reputation than DC’s Flash, or the many Flashes. In theory he should be capable of much more, but only very rarely does anyone show him doing that. One time that comes to mind was how he wanted to get into a Kree base on one of the Poles. He took some kind of stick or lance and proceeded to quickly (of course!) dig a hole through the armored metal of the base!

    It was a curious decision of Marvel to name Lykos’ alter-ego Sauron; it continues to cause much confusion. It’s somewhat defensible, because This Sauron is a flying dinosaur, but obviously, the more famous Sauron is the Dark Lord from LOTR. But these were still early days; LOTR was getting to be well-known among college campuses, but they first knew the book from the semi-bootleg Ace paperback copies of the books, not authorized by Tolkien. It was not then illegal; the reciprocal copyright process between the UK and US had not been worked out. Tolkien made a deal with Ballantine Books, and on each copy he wrote something like only this version has his approval and those who believe in courtesy, at least, to a living author will buy this version and none other. So Marvel’s use of the name Sauron was a bit sketchy, but not illegal also.

    • In Sauron’s first official issue, Sauron actually mentions that he chose his villain name based on the fact that he is a fan of the Sauron of Lord of the Rings fame. Roy Thomas was definitely a LOTR fan. I think Thomas’ use of Sauron as a name was more of a tip of the hat and a sign of admiration to Tolkien then trying to steal from him.

      • Whether the original creator will regard the copy as a homage or as plagiarism depends on that creator, or his/her estate or lawyers. I have no idea how Tolkien felt about Lykos/Sauron; possibly, he never heard about him.

        In 1974, the first Dungeons and Dragons book about how to play the game came out. The first time, they specifically referred to “Ents”, but later editions called them “treants”, to avoid infringement. There was a similar thing about hobbits, which D&D called “halflings.”

  5. Cyclops confusing the Sentinels into destroying themselves reminds me of the many times Captain Kirk caused robots or computers to destroy themselves in TOS of Star Trek. Again, our present computers are not intelligent enough to confuse in that way ( and incidentally, they don’t have the explosive materials to destroy themselves as in TOS!) if we ever do get such intelligent computers, I’ll bet that it will be quite difficult to trick them in this way; the computer scientists will likely try to guard against that. Given that the Sentinels are otherwise so well designed, it’s surprising the Marvel Universe computer scientists didn’t guard against that; but I guess you can’t think of everything!

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