Avengers Academy #32: Sentinel Salvage

Can one boy's pet robot survive the purging power of the Phoenix Five's Emma Frost?

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Avengers Academy #32

When Juston Seyfert and his pet/friend Sentinel showed up in the pages of Avengers Academy after Fear Itself, fans of the late, lamented series Sentinel: Salvage were eager to see an issue focusing on the pair. In the last arc which featured a conflict with X-kids thanks to Avengers vs. X-Men, the fact that a former mutant-hunting death machine is a casual campus presence became an issue. In Avengers Academy #32, that issue comes to a head.

X-23, who's kind of becoming the book's main character for the duration of AvX, at least, tells Seyfert his machine must be destroyed, but the young man makes a compelling argument against it, although he admits he wasn't completely able to wipe out its anti-mutant programming. Instead, he just buried that mission under plenty of other, contradictory directives of a higher priority. Thus, the fact that it occasionally blurts out "Destroy all mutants!" is a cute glitch rather than an actual threat. "Just like a parrot saying a bad word it overheard," he explains. Like the racist parrot from Happy Endings.

Of course, this is another AvX tie-in, and the fact that over in AvX #6, the Scotty Jive and the Phoenix Five are transforming the entire planet into Pax Utopia includes Emma Frost ridding the world of Sentinels, and her last stop is Avengers Academy to smelt our adorable giant robot friend. Any arguments to the contrary are not helped by A.) Emma Frost being an all-powerful being who doesn't have to listen to anybody or B.) the fact that the Sentinel flips out in the presence of an Omega Level Mutant threat and goes into attack mode (after making sure to get the students out of harm's way first). Seyfert virulently protests the notion of erasing his pet-bot's mind in order to eliminate that pesky anti-mutant programming, and that winds up putting the entire student body in conflict with the former White Queen's New World Order.

Writer Christos Gage does an admirable job making us find a big purple murder-bot cuddly and lovable, and reminding us that the AA is a place run by Hank Pym, and thus it's a place where artificial intelligence is given a lot more credence as legitimate life than most other places would. New artist Timothy Green II, however, is very hit and miss. He manages to score with a few slickly rendered panels, but he most definitely suffers a bit from Liefeld-Mouth and some icky distended faces, which is not a good sign. However, he's solid enough that we can assume he'll get better and not stagnate like the man for whom that disease is named.

WIth Avengers vs. X-Men taking an interesting turn, Avengers Academy #32 takes a step back from lightly satirizing the entire concept and brings us a small-scale personal conflict that certainly serves to illustrate the much larger issue about the Phoenix Five being the absolute arbiters of right and wrong for the entire world. Gage has proven wonderful at this sort of thing, and as always, we look forward to the next issue.