Mutants across the Marvel Universe gained a new lease on life when the Inhuman Terrigen cloud — which granted powers to later Inhumans but was fatally poisonous to mutants — was destroyed in Inhumans vs. X-Men. The time-displaced X-Men of Jean Grey, Cyclops, Iceman, Angel and Beast have a new mission statement, and a new mentor in the form of the Master of Magnetism, Magneto.
For Marvel’s X-Men line of comics, ResurrXion is a callback to an era of flashy suits, a school for gifted youngsters, and familiar threats. X-Men Blue #3 features the return of not one, but two of these threats, and both are slightly different from the last time readers saw them.
The creative team of Cullen Bunn, Jorge Molina, Ray-Anthony Height, Matt Milla and Joe Caramagna do a masterful job of reintroducing the massive, mutant-hunting Sentinels in the issue’s opening pages. The young heroes are unable to withstand the might of the monstrous robots, but just when it seems all is lost, we get our first curveball of the issue when a young woman named Belen implores both sides to stop fighting. In the X-Men’s haste to take out the Sentinels, they never stopped to survey who was causing the destruction they stumbled upon in the first place. In a surprise twist, it’s revealed that Belen’s emerging mutant powers were out of control, and the Sentinels were sent in to assist a “fellow mutant.” This prime directive comes as a rather big surprise, as anyone familiar with the Sentinels’ history knows that hearing the robots refer to themselves as mutants is completely out of character. The question then, is, what, or who, is behind this change in modus operandi?
We discover the “who” fairly quickly, as the issue serves up its second curveball when the Sentinels take the X-Men and Belen to meet their master: Bastion. Created by Scott Lobdell and Pascual Ferry, Bastion began terrorizing mutants in 1997’s “Operation: Zero Tolerance” storyline as a high-ranking official in the United States government. His background remained a mystery until it was revealed that he’s a combination of two of the X-Men’s greatest enemies: the Sentinel-creating Master Mold, and Nimrod, an advanced Sentinel from the future. Bastion last appeared in 2010’s “Second Coming” event, where he hunted the mutant Hope with the goal of stopping the rebirth of the X-gene. “Second Coming” is also famous for the death of longtime X-Man Nightcrawler at the literal hand of Bastion, further indication that this mutant-hunting automaton doesn’t play around when it comes to his primary goal.
The X-Men believed they killed the robotic hybrid, but instead the villain escaped by teleporting himself into the future. Bastion found himself in our present, right around the time when mutants were being poisoned by the Inhuman’s Terrigen cloud. In addition to finding himself in a new time period, he also discovered that his prime directive of terminating mutants was corrupted during the jump. Thus, with the mutant population at an all-time low, Bastion has reprogrammed a collection of Sentinels to save mutants instead of hunting them, flipping the usual dynamics between the groups.
While this new revelation appears to be a positive one, Bunn’s script takes things a step further when Beast brings up the concept of the utility function — a guideline that defines a robot’s every action. If a robot’s utility function is to clean a house and succeeds in this endeavor, it no longer serves a purpose and becomes obsolete. However, if the robot creates a new mess, it can continue doing its job.
IT’s the second half of the function that is at play here — Bastion’s apparent change of robotic heart has less to do with saving mutankind, then, and more to do with maintaining his own relevance. Thus, when Jean Grey asks why he’s helping mutants, Bastion is direct in his answer: he wants to see mutants flourish in order to then destroy them. It’s a clever way to reintroduce Bastion into the X-Men’s rogues gallery without feeling like we’re retreading old territory — he loves killing mutants so much, he’s willing to help them thrive in order to continue his primary mission in perpetuity.