X-Men (1st series) #58

Issue Date: 
July 1969
Story Title: 
Mission: Murder!

Roy Thomas (scripter), Neal Adams (artist), Tom Palmer (inker), Artie Simek (letterer)

Brief Description: 

In Cyclops’ apartment in New York, Beast and Iceman are attacked by a Sentinel unit. Iceman deliberately distracts the Sentinel long enough to allow Hank to escape the apartment and continue the search for the missing Lorna Dane. Beast later contacts Cyclops, Angel and Marvel Girl, who are still in Egypt, and briefs them on the latest developments. Instead of following Scott and Jean on a plane back home, Angel stubbornly insists on flying with his own wings back to the States. However, his transatlantic flight is cut short when he is captured mid-flight by Sentinels. At the States, Iceman is taken captive in Larry Trask’s secret base, where he also encounters Alex and Lorna. Alex, who has been given the codename “Havok” by Trask, has been made to wear a costume which helps him control his powers, but also places him under Trask’s control. Trask expands on his ambitious plan to capture every mutant on Earth and three more mutants – Living Monolith, Mesmero and Banshee – are soon detained by the Sentinels and delivered to his base. Judge Chalmers visits Larry’s base to appraise their ongoing mutant-hunting project. Impressed with Larry’s achievements, Chalmers nevertheless disapproves of his inhumane methods, unconvinced of the necessity to treat all mutants as menace. Things take an unexpected turn when Larry snaps and orders the Sentinels to execute all mutants in the vicinity. Wishing to prove a point to him, Chalmers removes a medallion from Larry’s neck, which Larry’s father once made him promise never to take off. Suddenly, the Sentinels no longer obey to Larry’s commands and instead prepare to execute him. Their reason for this: Larry Trask is a mutant!

Full Summary: 

In Cyclops’ apartment, a Sentinel suddenly smashes through the wall and grasps Beast with steely tendrils. Aghast, Iceman realizes it’s true; the Sentinels are alive! The talk show, which Hank and Bobby were watching and which announced the return of the Sentinels, is now back on, after an intermission.

While Beast and Iceman are fighting tooth and nail against the Sentinel, Larry Trask takes the floor on the live show. As he was saying, they all know of the strange, uncanny powers, wielded by the evil entities called mutants. But this time, he vouches, those powers will not save them. This time, they battle a foe far stronger than any they have faced before. For, he has improved upon the mammoth androids built by his father, Bolivar Trask – the man whom the X-Men murdered!

Larry explains that he has redesigned his father’s creations; equipped them to adapt instantaneously to whatever force they might encounter, so that they might fight fire with water, speed with endurance, and cold with scalding, shattering steam. (In a devilish coincidence, at that instant, the Sentinel demonstrates exactly that when faced with Iceman’s cold-related abilities). In short, Larry promises to the audience that the Sentinels must and shall prevail!

Pounding at the robot, Beast quips that next time all mutant-haters gather for group therapy, they should kindly inform friend Trask that he’s out of his condominium! The robot suggests he himself informs him that – for he shall be there! Bobby notices that ol’ Hank took the heat from him, but now he’s trussed up worse than ever.

On TV, Judge Chalmers invites Larry to show their viewers how they can be certain that the Sentinels will not rebel against humanity again. Larry sternly clarifies that only the X-Men’s trickery ever made it appear that they did. Still, in the event of any major dysfunction, he can assume personal, remote control of any Sentinel. To illustrate, he puts a helmet on.

In Cyclops’ apartment, the Sentinel notices three forms of Iceman about to lunge at it on its left. Realizing that Bobby is pulling the trick with the images, the shackled Beast tries to deter him: it won’t help them now. “Wise words, captive!” the Sentinel agrees. It needs not determine which of the three forms is the true mutant. It is simpler merely to smash each of them! Indeed, it begins to smash away at the Icemen.

However, the true Bobby Drake is not there, instead slyly snooping around the apartment. Whoever’s running those tin soldiers, it never occurred to him that none of them might be the real McCoy – or rather, the real Bobby Drake. Just then, he comes across a package and discovers the little rascal he wanted.

The Sentinel destroys all three forms of Iceman, immediately realizing they were all fakes. Bobby appears behind it and tosses a bag to Beast: it’s Cyke’s miniature TV-sender which Beast is to use when he gets loose. If I’m ever unfettered, Hank sighs and grabs the bag. “Bite your tongue, Beastie!” Bobby counters – and now for his next miracle. With his powers, he freezes that tendril that keeps Hank captive, rendering it brittle enough for Hank to do his anthropoidal things and smash himself free! Iceman urges him to get out of here now then – on the double! Surprised, Hank wonders what is he…? Bobby stresses they can’t hold out forever. And nobody’s going to find Lorna, if they both get caught. He decides to delay the Sentinel with an ice-igloo – while Hank moves it!

Conceding to Bobby’s plan, Hank remarks there’s no time to debate the point, it appears. He decides to vacate the premises – after the TV medium gets his message! Aggressively, Hank tosses an object against the TV set, breaking the screen. Before he goes, he swears to Bobby that he will find Lorna for him.

Escaping the apartment, Hank feels like a coward, abandoning Bobby this way. Why should he have been the one to sacrifice himself? He was the youngest of the X-Men… and Hank’s the oldest. Life was so much simpler when Professor X was alive, to think of them. Still, maybe Bobby will triumph. Maybe… He then reprimands himself for momentarily giving into false hopes: “Dream on, Macduff!” If ever he saw a snowball in hell… Bobby Drake was it! Out in the terrace of the building now, Hank proceeds to change in civilian clothes immediately. He doesn’t dare delay a second. He can’t let anybody see him in this costume…

Suddenly, he realizes there’s no sound from the apartment; the fighting’s stopped. He sees the Sentinel taking off from the house, carrying Bobby. He guesses capturing one mutant was enough for the robot to fill its murderous quota! Then Bobby’s sacrifice worked; he did the right thing by abandoning him. And doesn’t that make him feel dandy? he ponders with bitter irony.

A few minutes later and half a world away, in the Egyptian desert…

Angel flies down and announces to Cyclops that there’s still no sign of his wandering brother. It’s like Alex just vanished off the face of… Suddenly realizing Scott and Jean are into civilian clothes, he enquires about the civvies. Scott shushes him and tells him to listen to this report from Hank.

Hank is currently reporting what transpired through a TV-sender. He reveals that a reactivated Sentinel captured Bobby at Scott’s place. He doesn’t know how long he can evade those that roam the city. Angel is surprised to hear that somebody gave those witch-hunting weirdos a new lease of life. He is determined to wing it back to the States – and he means, now! Cyclops rigidly tells him not to be a fool; he’s never made a transatlantic flight before. Besides, alone, the Sentinels would make mincemeat of him!

Beast is sorry, but he hasn’t time to referee their altercation. He’s got promises to keep to Iceman. “Cheers!” he signs off, just as Marvel Girl begs him to wait. Warren argues that Hank signed off because he knows where it’s at in this crazy world. He’s got to do unto others – but he’s got to do it first! And that’s just what he intends to do! Seeing Warren rise in the air, Scott tells him to wait; he begs him not to try it! Marvel Girl insists that Warren can jet home with them in a few hours. “Jet home? Sorry, little buddies!” the condescending Angel rebuffs their invitation. That’s not his style! Not for a Joe who used to be called… the Avenging Angel! With that, the stubborn Angel takes off.

Back in the States, a rather upset Judge Chalmers is having a conversation by phone with Larry Trask. He tells Larry that the public still isn’t totally convinced that all mutants are evil. In fact, he’s having second thoughts himself. Even if Larry’s father was one of his closest friends, perhaps he let Larry talk him into interpreting the facts wrongly! And as for that X-Man the Sentinels captured… Larry assures him that the X-Man is perfectly alright. The reporters can talk to him… after he’s rendered him harmless! Then, they’ll see for themselves the true depths of mutant depravity!

After the phone conversation ends, Larry addresses his prisoner, Iceman, who’s contained in a chamber filled with steam. He wonders if the mutant was listening; did he hear? Within a short time, he’ll be on display, as one of the first prisoners in the mutant war. But first, Trask should double-check his calculations. He orders his Sentinel to release the mutant. An understandably infuriated Iceman immediately jumps out of the chamber where he was kept. He doesn’t know why Trask shoved him into that bath steam. But if he expects a vote of thanks for letting him out, he should forget it! ‘Cause here’s where he…

His menaces are caught short by a Sentinel that clutches him tightly in its fist. Bobby realizes he can’t even get up. “Of course, you fool-hardy freak!” Larry loathsomely remarks. That “steam bath” as Iceman so crudely put it, was especially designed to rob him of his mutant powers, for a period of four hours! And what is more, a hidden movie camera just recorded how Iceman attacked him the moment he was released! His own violent actions will condemn him in the eyes of the world! Three years ago, he swore the X-Men would pay for his father’s death – and pay they shall!

Entirely depleted of his strength, Bobby is tossed into a steel-padded cell, barely conscious and mumbling that this joker, Trask, has an answer for everything! “Bobby!” Alex instantly recognizes him and approaches, now clad in a black full-body suit with a strange headgear. When he let Trask put this monkey suit on him, Trask told him he’d let the rest of them alone. It takes a moment for Bobby to recognize Alex behind his costume: “Who in blazes are y… - Alex?!” Alex confirms it’s he, Scott’s baby brother in the flesh. Or to use the corny codename Trask gave him… Havok! While they’re in the subject of names, Alex wonders who the green-haired goddess racked out behind him is.

“Green-haired…?” Bobby mutters for a second, at a loss, before he finally registers Lorna’s presence in the back of the room, apparently passed out on a bed. Iceman instantly rushes to her. “Lorna, baby… what’s that madman done to you?” he cries out in worry. Alex quips that it doesn’t take a Master in interpersonal relationships to figure out he already knows the lady! “Know her? Believe it, buddy!” Iceman rather aggressively snaps back. He wonders about Alex, though: he hopes that zoot-suit doesn’t take away his power!

“No such luck!” Alex surprisingly answers. These concentric circles in his costume just measure his energy output. They let him know when to cool down, so he doesn’t smash these walls like eggshells. He reveals that he’s actually here… because he made a deal with Trask! At the sound of this, Bobby exasperates: a deal?! With that lying mutant-baiter? How could he do it – unless he’s a coward!

Having woken up from all the commotion, Lorna claims that Alex did it for her sake. She was delirious; out of her head. Bobby’s friend gave in, so Trask would let her alone! Bobby insists that’s not how he slices it – Alex could’ve fought! Lowering his head in regret for what he’s done, Alex retorts that fighting is Iceman’s hang-up, not his. Iceman can fully control his powers – Alex can’t. Besides, there are still things Bobby doesn’t know about him. If he’s killed…

Having noiselessly opened the cell door behind them, a Sentinels creeps inside and clasps Lorna. Lorna begins to scream: “No!” “Blast!” Iceman curses. They were so busy arguing, he didn’t even see that creep! Alex demands from the Sentinel to let the girl go. Its leader promised him! Seeing how he fails to deter the Sentinel, Alex realizes that Trask’s word doesn’t mean anything. Well – his does! Bursting with fury, Alex demands it lets her go – and charging up with cosmic rays, zaps the robot!

Larry appears before the seemingly damaged Sentinel. He is amazed: a Neo-Sentinel wrecked by a mutant! He wouldn’t have believed it possible. But that’ll get Havok exactly nowhere. “You half-baked good!” Havok grunts. He’ll…

Before he can make one step forward, Trask blasts the gemstone at the center of Alex’s headgear with some gun rays. Seeing Alex scream with pain, Bobby realizes that somehow Trask’s getting to Alex. Can’t Lorna’s magnetic powers…? Lorna explains that they are blocked by anti-polar armbands. Quite right, Larry confirms that. And as for Summers, he’s now charged to repel the cosmic rays which empower him.

Seeing Alex at all four, struggling to breathe, Lorna advises him not to fight Trask; it would mean Alex’s life. “Hang my life!” Alex puffs. And yet, if he falls, the Living Monolith walks again! “The Living Monolith?” Trask reiterates at the Egyptian’s mention. Did Alex say… the Living Monolith?! Yanking his head back, Larry snickers wolfishly, as he puts his helmet back on.

On the radio, the newscaster wishes his audience a good evening and informs them that the news tonight is… mutants! Since early this morning, the massive robotic creatures called Sentinels have been scouring the entire country, carrying out search-and-capture missions for the newly-created Federal Council for Mutant Activities. Latest rumor is that other nations are calling for Sentinels to help solve their mutant problem. Sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it?

In Egypt, Professor Abdol – the villain known as Living Monolith – sits around a table, along with other officials of the country. Abdol angrily professes that the X-Men are dangerous criminals. Only hours ago, they tried to destroy him. They must be punished by international law…

Suddenly seeing Abdol turning pale, the officials ask him if something’s wrong. Abdol thinks they’re right; he’s feeling as if… Yes! He’s changing once more into the Living Monolith. He’s growing before their very eyes! Fools! he brazenly hisses at them. Can’t they see he no longer needs them? He’ll need no one, when his transformation is complete – no one!

“Then you shall not complete it… mutant!” a Sentinel’s flat voice is heard, as it attacks the Monolith, alongside another unit. Enraged, Monolith argues that even Sentinels couldn’t stop him! Perhaps not, the Sentinel replies – if the change were done. But this liquid adhesive with which they’re spraying him will keep all cosmic rays from him – and they are the only source of the Monolith’s power! Completely smeared in the liquid, Abdol begins to shrink, until he becomes tiny and passes out. The Sentinels note that he is now as helpless as his young counterpart – Havok. Yet, the Sentinels may never rest, while any mutants are still free!

Meanwhile, the radio has a report just in from Kennedy International Airport. Two more Sentinels have just been sighted streaking seaward, presumably in quest of quarry. And so, even as Americans begin to question the wisdom – even the constitutionality – of this modern witch hunt, it would appear that yet another human being is to be added to the lists of those judged guilty of the indescribable “sin” of being a mutant!

Those two Sentinels’ quarry is, in fact, none other than Angel. In mid-flight, Warren quickly realizes he’s in trouble. The robots got behind him and are coming up fast. Having faith in himself, he wonders if they can outmaneuver him. Very abruptly, he nose-dives seaward. Seeing the robots following suit, he tells himself he should’ve knocked on wood; those twin terrors can bank and turn as fast as he can. And he’s dog-tired, been winging it for hours. Unless he can make that heavy cloud bank ahead… “We have him!” one of the Sentinels yammers and snatches Warren in some kind of metallic net. Warren despairs: he was so close… so close…

Minutes later, again above JFK airport, the passengers of an airplane that’s yet to land watch in awe through the plane windows. That’s why they’ve been circling; they spot two Sentinels with a captured mutie! Cyclops and Marvel Girl are among the plane’s passengers. Horrified, Jean discerns the “mutie” is actually Warren! What can they do? Cyclops replies they can do the hardest thing of all – nothing! Another passenger tells everyone to hold it. The robots are scowling down, almost as if…

Outside, unit No 8 halts as it seems to detect more mutant presences, within a narrow radius. Is it logical to investigate? Hearing this, Warren suspects it’s got to be Scott and Jean on that plane. He’s got to put a fight, get their mechanistic minds back on him. Fortunately, Unit A3 reminds its peer that they were only programmed to capture one mutant. They should proceed to Station Alpha!

In a concealed shelter miles away, Mesmero and Magneto are about to be menaced by a single Sentinel. Seeing it break inside their base, Mesmero alerts his master that it’s attacking them! Magneto is confident that the robot is after him. He orders Mesmero to delay him, while he prepares the defense! Mesmero complies, but soon realizes that the Sentinel seems immune to his mental bombardment. It’s still coming! Realizing he can’t hold him back any longer, Mesmero resigns from the effort: he’s done his best, all that any mutant could do! He begs Magneto to save him! Cowering next to Magneto, who’s busy working on a console, the scared Mesmero wonders why his master doesn’t hear him; why does he just stand there so… silent?

The Sentinel wonders why this hapless mutant seeks refuge behind a mere machine – and blasts “Magneto” into smithereens! Seeing him collapsing into a thousand metal fragments, the awestruck Mesmero realizes that his master was only a robot – then the real Magneto was never his ally against the X-Men! All these lonely months, he served a creature of steel and synthetics!

Watching Mesmero’s capture from a monitor in his base, Larry Trask comprehends that Magneto has temporarily eluded him, simply because he had an android doing his dirty work. Never mind! He asks unit 6R what it has to report. The robot reveals they have detected another mutant in the vicinity. But something prevents them from pinpointing the mutant – for the present. Larry theorizes it’s the escaped Beast perhaps, nosing about. Meanwhile, he’s signaled that Judge Chalmers approaches. They should make ready to receive him.

After landing down on his jet, Judge Chalmers exclaims it’s staggering. This base within the mountain… The guidance system in his jet… He had no idea of Larry’s true inventiveness! Larry assures him most of it is the Sentinels’ doing. He’s fast discovering they have their own built-in system of logic. That logic told them that such a base would be useful… so here it is! He enquires how goes the public phase of the war with the mutants.

Somewhat uneasily, Chalmers confesses. Many persons are becoming uncertain of the justice of their cause, including, as he said, Chalmers himself. If only he were positive that all mutants are menaces! Larry promises he has film footage that will prove that. But first, he invites him to come see the facilities he’s prepared for their guests. They’re treated far better than they deserve!

“Good Lord!” Chalmers spontaneously exclaims on seeing Trask’s mutant prisoners. They’re alive… but in some sort of suspended animation. Quite impressive, he admits – but he directed that their treatment be humane! “Humane?” Larry repeats in disbelief. How can one be humane to monsters that aren’t even human?! He is incensed. He knows he agreed to be Judge Chalmers’ assistant, because he’s an unknown, whereas Chalmers is a federal jurist. But if Chalmers goes soft on him and tries to coddle the assassins who killed Larry’s father, his Sentinels will carry on the fight – alone!

Touching his shoulder, Chalmers urges him to calm down. Larry’s father was a strong-willed man, but a fair one. He wouldn’t have condemned anyone without hearing both sides! Larry promises he’ll hear both sides… when all mutants are safely locked away! He points him at the monitor, which shows images of ones who can only be the remaining X-Men, Beast, Cyclops and Marvel Girl. He’s ordered his scout only to observe, not attack. The three X-Men are miles away now, but soon will drop into their awaiting net. He orders the Z2 unit to activate sonic probe.

Sound is instantly added to the silent images projected to the monitor. Beast can be heard saying that the ship and mini-Cerebro are still intact. He waited for Scott; now it’s time for action! Seeing Scott changing his glasses for his visor, Jean tells him to be careful. If he opens his eyes, even a hair’s breadth… Scott assures her no one knows the danger better than he does. But they’ve got to move fast, find not only Bobby, but also Lorna, Angel and Alex.

Tearful, Larry vouches that Cyclops shall indeed find them! That he swears by his medallion, that same medallion which was once his mother’s and which his father hung about on his neck on the day Larry’s mother died! Even Judge Chalmers doesn’t know about that – he never heard the oath his father made him swear upon it.


Hanging the medallion on little Larry’s neck, a grieving Bolivar Trask tells him that his mother wanted him to have this. He wants Larry to promise he’ll never remove it, as long as he lives. Rather strongly, he demands he swears it! Larry hesitantly swears.


So, ever since that day, Larry has… Before he continues with his story, a terrible sound is heard. Larry covers his ears; what is that noise? One of the Sentinels reveals it’s the mutant called Banshee. In his native land, Banshee surrendered to the Sentinel without a fight. But now… Before the Sentinel can continue, Banshee sends it down with a single supersonic wail. Banshee momentarily celebrates his victory, until two other Sentinels assault him with another frequency and leave him stunned.

Clutching his aching ears, Larry congratulates his Sentinels: they have down well; they fought sound with sound. Perhaps Banshee was the mutant presence that 6R detected earlier. He asks Chalmers to look at still another instance of mutant treachery! Banshee surrendered only to gain entrance to his secret base. And yet, he’s glad it happened, for now he knows what he must do. Speaking to his console, he commands his Sentinels to secure all mutants in area – and destroy them! Chalmers is shocked: “No, you young fool!” Larry is wary of Chalmers’ sudden concern – unless he’s a mutant-lover… or perhaps a mutant!

Chalmers insists he doesn’t know what he’s saying – and so, he leaves him no choice! Slapping Larry hard across his face, he snatches the medallion off his neck. The Judge admits he’s sorry… he didn’t want to… Apparently coming to his senses, Larry tells him it’s all right. It was wrong to order even mutants killed. Chalmers realizes, in agony, that Larry still doesn’t understand the true purpose of his action.

“Attention, Sentinels! Prepare to execute all mutants in vicinity!” one of the robots announces. “What?! No, stop!” Larry screams. Undeterred, the No 2 unit continues issuing directives: they should prepare the same fate for the remaining X-Men, when they arrive. Larry wonders if the robot didn’t hear him; he’s countermanding his orders! Why doesn’t the Sentinel listen to him and obey?

Unexpectedly clasping Larry in its fist, the Sentinel explains that Larry Trask is no longer their leader. When the other human removed Trask’s medallion, Trask forfeited the right of leadership… and his life. Terrified, Larry is still at a loss to understand what he’s talking about. He demands the robot let him go; it’s making a fearful mistake! The Sentinel retorts that it was Larry Trask who erred. He did not know that the mutant presence they detected, and which were programmed to destroy, was Trask himself!

Characters Involved: 

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl (all X-Men)

Alex Summers, Lorna Dane (X-Men allies)


Larry Trask

Judge Chalmers


Living Monolith/ Living Pharaoh

Egyptian men


Magneto robotic duplicate

Various newscasters


Bolivar & young Larry Trask

Story Notes: 

First use of the codename “Havok” for Alex Summers. Although here he dismisses it as ridiculous, it will eventually become his permanent nom de guerre. This issue also marks the first appearance of his longest and most iconic costume.

Alex’s flattering remarks to Lorna’s beauty foreshadow their mutual attraction and subsequent romance.

Bolivar Trask died in X-Men (1st series) #16, although contrary to what Larry claims, he wasn’t murdered by the X-Men.

Although Larry isn’t mentioned to have any siblings, he is later retconned into having a younger sister, Tanya aka Madame Sanctity, who is also a mutant. Years before Bolivar launched the first Sentinel program, his teenage daughter Tanya phased out of synch with time and wound up 2000 years into the future, where she became a disciple of Clan Askani. [Uncanny X-Men Annual minus 1]

The battles of Mesmero and the fake Magneto against the X-Men occurred in X-Men (1st series) #49-52.

A “zoot suit” is a type of suit characterized by a long coat. It arose in the 1930s & 40s in some minority communities and became popular during the jazz era.

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