X-Men #16 (1966, January)
And now, the thrilling conclusion of the three-part Sentinel story. By Lee, Kirby, Roth, Ayers and Simek, “The Supreme Sacrifice!”
Xavier crawls back to the road and forces a car to stop and pick him up. Back in the Sentinel base, the X-Men are all being held prisoner. They try to escape.
Master Mold tells Trask to build more Sentinels, and he decides to go along with it to buy time.
Xavier’s back at the studio, and he figures out that the Sentinel laying there went down when a giant crystal interfered with his transmission beam.
The Sentinels open the heavy gravity globe the X-Men are held in in order to deposit the Beast, and the X-Men break free.
They’re running away, and get hit by stun beams. But before the Sentinels can finish them off, they all topple over. Outside, three helicopters are flying over the base with a giant crystal hung between them. The X-Men rush towards Master Mold. They tell Angel to slow down, and then the lights go off and he runs into a wall. Way to contribute, Angel. Trask has set the Master Mold to creating the Sentinels, when he realizes he has to stop it. He smashes the power source, killing himself and the Master Mold. The X-Men rush out, barely escaping in time before the base is completely destroyed.
Once again, the Sentinels lack a certain menace. When the X-Men are breaking free, a bunch of them trip over each other. It was kinda stupid. Master Mold was a little more threatening. But I have to wonder why Trask gave it enough weapons to destroy a city. Not to mention how he did that. He’s an anthropologist. What does he know about weaponry? It’s also interesting to note that Trask actually succeeded far beyond his expectations in the programming. A computer capable of independent thought and decision-making? I don’t think we’ve accomplished that yet. He didn’t fail with them, he succeeded too well.
The Sentinels, of course, would have sort of a rocky history after this. At times, they would be treated as legitimate threats. At other times, they would be so much cannon fodder for the X-Men to tear through. This is unfortunate, because now, whenever anyone has trouble beating a Sentinel, people whine about it being plot-induced stupidity, even though Sentinels are supposed to be tough to beat. This first appearance of them doesn’t really lend support to either side. As with most things in the ’60s, they’re exactly as dangerous as the plot requires them to be at any given moment. They can go from almost unbeatable one moment, to being taken down with ease the next. That sort of inconsistency ends up hurting the story.