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Hunting Mutie Scum

The sentinelsOK, so the X-Men have this recurring menace to fight called the sentinels, right? And the sentinels are supposed to be these badass giant robots programmed to hunt down mutants and capture or destroy them. sure, that sounds great, but the simple fact of the matter is that the sentinels have never looked all that tough. In fact, they've always looked silly. They look like nothing more than over-sized old-skool generic super-villains in bad helmets and big shoes. For decades we've been asked to just trust that they're as scary as we're told they are.

Thankfully, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely have taken over the reins for the time being, and are delivering a totally chilling update of the sentinels that finally seem as deadly and efficient as they were always meant to be. Instead of being these lumbering anthropomorphic hulks, the new sentinels are these highly specialized Battlebots made out of available spare parts, looking more like insects and sea creatures and stuff. They look like robots, you know? Highly specialized, adapted to various functions, not wasting mass or materials on the trappings of a humanoid form. Totally creepy. In a nice touch, the new, lean, and mean sentinels keep using spare parts from old sentinels, like those goofy helmets, and working them into their unorthodox forms. If you ask me, it's a lot creepier to see a killer robot with a half-dozen pincer arms and a video camera for a face, rather than some 60s-throwback shiny purple mannequin.

It's this kind of radical rethinking of comic-book mainstays that I really like. More than just a flashy update, this approach looks at the basic idea of something that’s been around for a while — in this case, constantly evolving killer robots — and questions how that idea is more likely to manifest itself. so not only does it strike a more realistic note (by itself an irrelevent achievement in the world of superhero comics), but it has a more profound emotional impact because it abandons a hackneyed tradition (giant mannequins) and draws on some more primally menacing associations (faceless creatures, technology run amok). When the sentinels still bore some resemblance to people, fighting them always seemed to be just another brawl. With these newer forms, calling to mind images of industrial accidents and alien autopsies, they finally become these unnatural killing machines that won't stop until their last moving part is prevented from completing its function.

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