Sentinel Squad O*N*E #4

Issue Date: 
June 2006
Story Title: 
Tin Can Heroes: part 4: A Prehistory of Violence

John Layman (writer), Aaron Lopresti (pencils), Norm Rapmund (inks), Chris Walker (colors), Dave Sharpe (letters), Nick Lowe (associate editor), Sean Ryan (editor), Mike Marts (supervising editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Brainchild has killed Nixon. He has also captured both James Rhodes and Skylark. He explains that he uses advanced telekinesis to give the dinosaurs their enhanced powers, and believes that everyone on the planet, even his hated enemies the X-Men and Ka-Zar, will fall to his might. As he moves closer to Skylark, she quickly gives him a head-butt and knocks him out. Rhodes congratulates Skylark for that, but she admits she kind of had hoped that head-butt would have killed her, because she fears what might happen next. Rhodes tells her not to panic, confident that O*N*E* is probably already alerting the Fantastic Four, the Avengers or the X-Men for help. Outside, Briggs, Lex and Meld use their stealth Sentinel to get closer to the Mutates’ base, and have Slayton, Joni and Winston use their remote Sentinels to distract the dinosaurs long enough for them to get inside. After Lex defeats the other Savage Land Mutates, Meld reveals how he got involved with the base and that he never had a single opportunity of choice in his entire twenty-year old life. Lex promises that’s all going to change when they get out of there. They make it to Rhodes and Skylark and rescue them. However, as they run back outside, Briggs has vanished from sight. Slayton confirms the guy isn’t dead, because his instruments would have confirmed that to him should it have been the case. Joni uses quick thinking, and has herself, Winston, Meld, Lex and Rhodes all work together to build one, giant “Super-Sentinel” from the spare parts of the earlier destroyed Sentinels, so they have enough fire-power to defeat the attacking dinosaurs and to have the chance to get back home again. Later, Briggs arrives back at the O*N*E* base, and explains to Lazer about the casualties and losses of government-property he had to deal with. He also reveals a secret to Lazer, and mentions to him that Lex is a mutant!

Full Summary: 

The Savage Land…

Brainchild holds James Rhodes and Skylark chained as prisoners at his newly installed base. While holding a literally human brain, Brainchild explains that the average adult human brain weighs three pounds and has 100 million neurons, which are capable of transmitting signals in excess of 250 miles per hour. Brainchild’s own brain weighs 27 pounds, with neurons numbering in the billions, traveling at speeds equivalent to Mach 1! It’s a small wonder that he is given the appellation of Brainchild. He reveals to Rhodes and Skylark that the brain he now holds used to belong to one of their comrades, the one called Nixon. He mocks that the brain is a tad on the small side, and figures that’s why Nixon is dead now.

Brainchild sadistically drops the brain, causing it to break into pieces! He wants to go back to topic. He explains that dinosaurs also have very small brains. But science and evolution have shown the world the potential of these tiny Saurian brains, which have potential for both change, manipulation and exploitation. Telekinesis remains an inexact science in hominid brains, but within the primordial lizard brain, the secrets are more easily unlocked. To bioengineer an army of dinosaurs to increase in size, strength and ferocity was the easy part of Brainchild’s job.

He activates a computer screen and demonstrates what he means. He further explains that to design an artificial brain connecting to cybernetic implants within a Saurian cranium, allowing the mental commands to manifest into telekinetic force, that would be an act of unparalleled, incomparable, inconceivable, and almost godlike… genius.

His original plan was to simply use an army of these creatures to overrun the Barbarians and Savages who “pretend” that it is they who rule the Savage Land. But Brainchild feels that the “civilized” world has interfered one too many times with his plans, thus they must be punished. He reveals that it was the Saurids that created his enhanced dinosaur army, but he was the one who perfected it. Very soon, Brainchild believes, all of mankind will fall to his army, becoming slaves to his very whim. Even the X-Men will fall for his power. Brainchild sarcastically looks at Skylark, promising her that every of his whims will be followed up.

Skylark heard enough, and gives Brainchild a powerful head-butt, knocking him out. She calls him an idiot. Rhodes smiles that was a head-butt worth for the record books. Skylark feels a little pain though, confessing that she honestly hoped that head-butt would have cracked her own skull. She’s starting to think that the rest of her squad may have been the lucky ones, since they are dead now. Rhodes warns Skylark not to talk like that, as he is certain that as they speak, O*N*E* is probably alerting some former Avengers members, or the Fantastic Four, or even the X-Men so they can put a stop to this. Skylark wants to know if Rhodes is certain about that. Rhodes confesses that he is, since that’s the only option that makes sense.

Outside Brainchild’s base, Lex has Briggs control his stealth Sentinel, and they approach the base. Meld, who’s also in the robot, wants to get things straight. They are thousands of miles from reinforcements, in the middle of a pre-historic oasis, and now they are marching into the stronghold of the genetically-enhanced telekinetic dinosaurs which have already slaughtered four entire Sentinel squads, all while crammed in the control room of the cloaked stealth Sentinel which gets operated by the team’s unstable resident claustrophobic. He can’t believe that this is Lex’ plan.

Briggs warns Meld not to call him a claustrophobic. Lex admits to Meld that this is the only chance they’ve got. Slayton asks Briggs how they are doing. A sweaty Briggs explains that “these two mutant freaks” have him marching into certain death because he is the only one left alive with training to pilot the stealth unit. He can’t be doing well. Lex explains that their sensors will show Slayton that with an elevated heart rate and increased blood pressure, not to mention vocal modulations, which indicate extreme nervousness, if not outright panic. Lex gently places his hand on an angry Briggs’ shoulder, admitting to Slayton that Briggs is doing just fine. They all just need to keep their cool, move slow, stay focused, and don’t do anything stupid.

However, Briggs makes the mistake of stepping on a small tree below him, and alerts one of the dinosaurs! Though the dinosaur fails to see the Sentinel, it does start to sniff around the area close to it. While Briggs fears that they are going to die and wants to get out of there, Lex warns him to keep quiet and stay still. Briggs believes that this is suicide. Meld uses his powers on the chair Briggs sits on and ties him up, hoping he stays calm now. But Briggs begins to panic even more. Lex promises Briggs that everything is under control. He asks Slayton how they are doing. Slayton, operating from a damaged Sentinel, confirms that phase two is good to go.

Slayton activates the Sentinels nearby him, and has them soaring through the skies, with the dinosaurs following them. Briggs admits that he didn’t even know the Sentinels could be operated by remote. Slayton smiles that is just one of the many fine features of the recon unit. Lex explains that, now with Slayton controlling those Sentinels from a distance, providing them the distraction they needed as the dinosaurs start attacking those Sentinels, Lex and Meld need to go. Lex tells Briggs to hang tight and to stay cloaked. He promises they’ll be back as soon as humanly possible. Briggs finds that hard to believe, hearing the word “human” coming out of the mouth from a mutant, and keeps sweating.

Lex leads the way and tells Meld to follow him. Meld wants to know how much time those unmanned Sentinels will buy them. Lex fears it won’t be much, given the short work the dinosaurs did on the Sentinels before. However, it will be more than enough time to cover their entrance. They make it to the base of the mutates, and Lex uses his powers to destroy the control panel and they get in. Winston and Joni ask Slayton what kind of state their Sentinels are in. Slayton confirms that they are all down now, unfortunately. But he does mention to Joni that her Brawler unit held out the longest. Joni already guessed that.

Meanwhile, Meld and Lex have already entered the base of the mutates. Lex takes the lead, and Meld wants to know if his partner knows where he is going. Lex believes so. They make it to another huge, locked door. Lex explains that their thermal-sonar shows them a lab near the center of the compound. He believes that whatever is giving the dinosaurs their telekinetic enhancements is coming from behind that door. They need to disable that force, and hopefully they won’t run into any complications. Unfortunately, as Lex manages to open the door, they soon get spotted by lots of Savage Land mutates! But, Lex quickly uses his powers on the mutates and takes them all out.

He warns Meld to hurry, and follow him to another room. Meld has an idea. He uses his mutant powers to manipulate any metallic substance, and uses them so he and Lex can hide behind a wall. As the Mutates initiate pursuit, they fail to notice this and keep on running. Once it’s safe to come out, Lex congratulates Meld on the fine job. He laughs a bit too, believing that telekinetic dinosaurs and mutant super-villains in a secret lost world in the Antarctic are probably not the thing he must have expected to face when he joined up for this crew. Meld doesn’t understand what Lex means by that, as he didn’t “sign on” for anything. Lex wants to know what Meld is talking about.

Jeremiah reveals that soldiers found him as a baby on a military base. He was abandoned. The base kept Jeremiah, and was raised by the government. Everybody wanted to keep an eye on him, but nobody really wanted him. So, Meld bounced around a lot, and eventually wound up in the Sentinel Squad Program. Lex understands that Meld isn’t there by choice. Jeremiah sadly confirms that he’s twenty years old, and in that entire time he has never been given a choice. Lex wants to promise Meld something. When they get out of there, that it all going to change.

Meld wants to know for sure if Lex wants them to go to the middle of the building. Well, as they say, Meld jokes, the shortest distance between two points, is a straight line. He uses his mutant powers again, and creates a hole into the walls, giving them the opportunity to get to Rhodes and Skylark faster! Both Rhodes and Lex sure are surprised to see each other, and Rhodes wants to know how Lex got there.

While Meld frees Skylark, Lex admits to Rhodes that it is a long story, and that he is having a hard time believing that the commander is still alive. He sets Rhodes free, and he puts on his battle armor again. Lex notices a big brain hanging into the room, and believes that must be device that gives the dinosaurs their enhanced powers. He wants to destroy it using his powers, but Rhodes tells him not to. This one is his. Once in full armor, Rhodes quickly flies towards the big brain, and smashes it into pieces.

The four run out of the base, and Lex tells Meld to close the holes in the walls they created so the mutates can’t follow them. Meld confirms he can do that, and smiles he also has another idea. Rhodes wants to get out of here. Lex believes that might be problem. He wants to know what happened to Briggs, because he can’t see him anymore. A few moments later, they find Slayton, but he confirms that he lost sight of Briggs. He’s completely off the tracking grid. However, Slayton doesn’t think that Briggs is dead. He would have received an alert if anything had happened to the guy.

Rhodes believes they’ll just have to worry about Briggs later. The telekinetic powers of the dinosaurs may be disabled now, but they are still big, mean and lethal. There is also a few dozen of them standing between them and getting back to civilization in one piece. And unfortunately, only one Sentinel won’t be enough to get them home again. Joni believes that the combined strength of the squad might be just enough. Rhodes wants to know what Joni is talking about, because there is nothing but broken Sentinel parts remaining. It’s nothing but junk! Joni can only see opportunities. Winston is already on it.

Joni explains that Professor Winston has spent the last six months creating design improvements and modifications to the Sentinels. Now is the time to put those designs to use. It’s like Rhodes said: there are plenty of spare parts around, all which they can salvage, and they also have enough munitions left. Meld can fuse the components they need. And once they have it all assembled, Lex can supply an additional power source with his powers. Rhodes wants to know what is going to happen next. Joni laughs that Rhodes even has to ask that question. After that, those dinosaurs will no longer be their problem. They will be history. A few moments later, after enough spare parts have been gathered, Meld uses his powers to create a giant “Super-Sentinel,” which quickly begins to attack all of the dinosaurs.

Epilogue. 9,100 miles away, at the O*N*E* operating base…

Briggs has made it back to the base, and informs Lazer about the very serious situations they are dealing with. Lazer wants to know what the problem is. Briggs believes that his teammates are the problem. He explains that, at Lex’s behest, the rest of the squad defied the sergeant’s orders to engage the enemy. They fled, and almost two dozen of good soldiers, as well as billions of dollars in government-owned hardware are now lost. Lazer finds that troubling. Briggs realizes that, and confesses he has more to say. Lexington has been keeping a secret to the base: he is a mutant!

Characters Involved: 


James Rhodes

Valerie Cooper

Alexander Lexington, Emil Winston, Nathaniel Briggs, Jake Slayton, Meld, Rajani Dhama, Tracy Skylark (all O*N*E* recruits)

Amphibius, Barbarus, Brainchild, Leash, Lupo, Vertigo II (all Savage Land Mutates)

several unnamed Savage Land Mutates

several Savage Land dinosaurs (all unnamed)

Throughout Brainchild’s flashback and fantasies:

Angel, Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Havok, Iceman, Storm, Rogue, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Amphibius, Barbarus, Brainchild (both Savage Land Mutates)

Ka-Zar, Shanna, Zabu (rulers of the Savage Land)

Story Notes: 

There are some new members among the Savage Land Mutates, but none of them are named. It’s also unknown how they managed to get free after the Hauk’Ka imprisoned them, after they last faced the X-Men and Ka-Zar in Uncanny X-Men #459.

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