Whenever Sentinels show up in the lives of the X-Men, things get bad in a hurry.
Consider that as X-MEN: GOLD writer Marc Guggenheim and artist RB Silva reveal the latest version of the Sentinel this June 21 with issue #6. A Sentinel made of nanites, capable of being whatever size and/or shape it needs to be to get the job of mutant extermination done.
Guggenheim took a few minutes away from his evil scientist’s lab to fill us in on what the Merry Mutants prepare to face head-on.
Marvel.com: I’m curious, as we start, what your history with the Sentinels is and how that informed your use of this iteration in this arc?
Marc Guggenheim: That’s a good question, a really great place to start. I think, as with a lot of fans, my first encounter with the Sentinels is the kind of classic giant purple robot version. But I’ve followed it through all its iterations, whether [it’s] Nimrod, Bastion, the Wild Sentinels or Trask’s Bio-Sentinels. It’s always been interesting to see how the Sentinels change with the times, the eras.
It’s funny, the thing is this story didn’t start as a Sentinel arc. I had this idea I wanted to do about a nanite threat, nanotechnology. Then my editor, Dan Ketchum [saw that] we needed a sort of [AI] to be in control of it and it was [he] that suggested the Sentinels. When he suggested [I thought] that’s a great idea.
Marvel.com: Speaking of your history, is there a particular Sentinel incarnation that you really love.
Marc Guggenheim: Oh, it is definitely the giant purple robots for me. It’s my first connection to them, it’s such the iconic version.
Marvel.com: In doing the research for the book, for this arc, did you encounter any Sentinels that surprised you or you were like, “Oh that’s an interesting take I didn’t know.”?
Marc Guggenheim: Unfortunately, there’s not really much new for me to read. I’ve followed the X-Men close enough that I’ve encountered all the Sentinels in sort of real time as they came into the books.
Marvel.com: I suppose that’s not such a bad thing if you are going to write the X-Men.
Marc Guggenheim: That is probably true.
Marvel.com: Although each of these X-Men have encountered Sentinels, they’ve all had different experiences with different versions of them. How do these various experiences inform the team’s reaction to this newest iteration? What kind of ripples does it cause?
Marc Guggenheim: This arc, in several ways, is about pushing the X-Men as far as they can go; pushing them towards their breaking points. For Gambit, who is sort of responsible for this new Sentinel—not on purpose, just through something that had unintended consequences—this is going to be a hard arc for him.
It’s really especially a Rachel story though. This is just an arc that’s going to really shape her. We get to see some characters from her past—or is it her future? When it comes to Rachel talking in tenses is really hard, but I think you know what I mean.
For instance, there’s a scene with her and Franklin Richards that was really interesting and really a lot of fun to right that I’m excited to have in the book.
Marvel.com: Speaking of Rachel, I know that’s something you said before issue #1 was out, that part of your goal for this book was to give her her own place, her own characterization? Now a few issues in, how is that going? How is she evolving for you?
Marc Guggenheim: I suppose that is really more for the readers to decide. That said, for me, it is going really well. You’re right that has been one of my missions with this book and I am proud of what we are doing with Rachel.
Marvel.com: I know an important theme of X-MEN: GOLD for you was how the X-Men, and more preciously, how mutantkind fits into the Marvel Universe. How does this arc figure into that?
Marc Guggenheim: Definitely one of the things I set out to do in X-MEN: GOLD was explore the idea of the X-Men as this sort of catch-all for any minority that might find themselves targeted for discrimination now.
X-Men: Gold #6 cover by Ardian Syaf
There is a Star Trek episode, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” I think that tells this story about [these] two groups of aliens that are just fighting one another to try to brutally oppress the other. But the only difference between [them] is one group has black on the right sides of their faces and white on the left and the other group has the reverse of that. White on one side, black on the other. I try to use [X-MEN: GOLD] in that same kind of way.
I think it is good and interesting to take those chances to hold up a mirror in fiction and reflect on what is happening around us and [the] X-Men have always been a great way to do that.
That said I want to be clever about it. I don’t want to say too much about how this arc does that, where it goes. Maybe I’ve said too much already.
Marvel.com: With RB Silva coming on as the new artist, how has the collaboration been? How does his work help capture your script ideas?
Marc Guggenheim: RB is just great. And he’s getting better too. The growth you can see from [his first issue to the end of the arc] is so impressive. He started good but some of the stuff he is doing [later on] is just awesome.
In terms of my scripts, he’s a great collaborator. He has a good feel for what I’m trying to accomplish and knows how to do it; sometimes he gives me something a little different than I expected but then I see it and [it] just makes perfect sense.
Marvel.com: Speaking of art, every wave of Sentinels is an opportunity for not just the writer to make their mark, but also the artist to offer up the newest vision of these machines. How did Silva’s design reflect and capture this era’s Sentinel?
Marc Guggenheim: I think he’s done just an excellent job with it. [He] really created this version that is its own thing but also recognizable as being a Sentinel.
And the colorist Frank Martin too. My initial idea was what if Apple made one of these Sentinels so it was just sleek and white. He took that and just added in these slight purple elements that made it clear its legacy and connection to the Sentinels while maintaining the overall design.
Marvel.com: Considering your love of the iconic big purple robot design, what made you decide not just to have this edition sport that look? How did the changes help fit it to the story.
Marc Guggenheim: The size is…well, it isn’t just a robot, right? This is a different kind of thing. But the size is important as well. In the story you will realize because it is made of nanites it can be anything, any shape. So its size is intentional.
In fact, at one point in the story you will see it has gotten smaller and soon you will realize that’s because it is spreading itself throughout the city, covering as much ground as it can.
Marvel.com: What else do you say to readers about why they can’t miss this latest arc of X-MEN: GOLD?
Marc Guggenheim: It’s a few things. First of all, the big return of Gambit who we haven’t seen in the pages of X-Men in a while. He’s just a blast. He’s fun to write and I think he’s fun to read. A lot of the story gets kicked off because of his involvement.
The second is RB Silva is just crushing it. Just doing such a fantastic job. As I said, there’s even growth from the start of the arc to [the conclusion].
That actually really points out the other thing with the book that I’ve been doing which is—because we’re double shipping—I’m trying to keep the arcs of a pretty short length. So the stories are coming at you in a sort of [a more] fast and furious way than we typically see in comic books these days.
We’re certainly not doing an decompression here. I’m going for a narrative pace that is a little more similar to the comics of old.
Witness a new breed of Sentinel in X-MEN: GOLD #6 by Marc Guggenheim and RB Silva, coming your way on June 21!