An Army of O*N*E*: Layman talks "Sentinel Squad: O*N*E*"

Mon, December 12th, 2005 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Dave Richards, Staff Writer

Issue #1, Page 1

The perimeter of the Xavier Institute is surrounded by five of the most fearsome weapons ever developed by man. They are Sentinels, gigantic heavily armed robots designed to combat mutants. Sentinels are normally guided by an artificial intelligence but highly trained human pilots operate the Sentinels that encircle the X-Men's home. Beginning this January, in the five issue Marvel Comics mini-series "Sentinel Squad O*N*E*," by John Layman and Aaron Lopresti, readers will get to know the pilots of these mammoth machines. CBR News spoke with Layman about the series which ties into Marvel's "Decimation" storyline.

"Sentinel Squad" was born out of Layman's love for the mutant hunting machines. "I've always been a huge fan of Sentinels, and Mike [Editor Mike Marts] remembered that when there was finally a Sentinel-related project," Layman told CBR News. "We hammered out a pitch together, which then got approved."

Issue #1, Pages 8-9

The men of "Sentinel Squad: O*N*E" are the military arm of the Office of National Emergency, a government organization with a mandate to preserve and protect the safety of the country and the world. "The Sentinel Squad is set up as a 'government super team,' to protect against all manner of threats, mutant and non-mutant," Layman explained. "That is, one where the teammates can be easily replaced, and repaired, and are, in theory, are more predictable in their actions than, say, the Avengers or the X-Men. Most of the pilots who operate the Sentinels are former military, and they were pretty vigorously trained to follow a military command structure."

"Sentinel Squad O*N*E*" opens with a huge cast of characters. Potential pilots for the machines are recruited from all branches of the military, covert intelligence agencies and even private sector think thanks but by the series end the ranks of the squad will be whittled down. The plot of the series will focus primarily on a core cast of five pilots. "It's the back-story of the team that came to 'guard' the X-Mansion, how they came to be, their relationships with each other, and some of their secrets," Layman said. "It shows this team growing from green and uncertain recruits to more wise, battle-tested, (and in some cases, cynical) soldiers."

Issue #1, Page 16

The pilots of Sentinel Squad have been recruited in an effort to safely utilize Sentinel technology, which has been employed in the past with often-disastrous results. "Human pilots were put into place to give some stability and reliability into Sentinels, who have, as everybody knows, something of a checkered past," Layman stated. "The idea is that humans trained by the military to follow orders will not be unpredictable and dangerous as robotic Sentinels have been in the past."

These Sentinels may be piloted by humans, but they are every bit as formidable as their A.I. controlled predecessors. "Each Sentinel Squad has different Sentinels with different specialties," Layman explained. "There is the Brawler Unit, designed (obviously) for heavy combat. The Stealth Sentinel. The Recon Unit, which supplies logistical support, monitors functions of fellow teammates and other Sentinels, and has an extensive database with resources to identify enemies and their weaknesses. There are other Sentinels, in addition to those I just named (and of course the Standard Units,) and we see a few of them during the course of the series, including a missile- armed Ballistic Unit."

Issue #2, Page 1

The Sentinel Squad is lead by General Lazer, a man every bit as scary as the mechanical behemoths under his command. "He's a tough nut all right. Very mercurial. Very Machiavellian," Layman said. "He could make the toughest, most battle-hardened marine pee their pants just with his icy stare. Word is the character was modeled after 'Sentinel Squad' editor Sean Ryan."

"Sentinel Squad O*N*E*" will be a book for readers looking for huge widescreen style action scenes. "I describe it as 'Band of Brothers' meets 'Voltron' by way of Jerry Bruckheimer," Layman explained. "By the very nature of the heroes --hundred foot tall robots armed to the teeth-- the action has to be big. One of the biggest challenges for me is to find threats to throw up against the Sentinels, menaces worthy of these awesome machines. It's not like I can't have 5 or more Sentinels against Batroc. The bad guys have to be baaaahd, and the action needs to be gonzo, the threats have to be epic."

The mini-series ties into Marvel's "Decimation" storyline but readers don't have to have read other tie-ins to enjoy "Sentinel Squad." The series is a flashback origin tale that actually takes place before the team's debut in the pages of the "House of M: Day After" one-shot.

Layman has loved crafting tales of giant robot action and would jump at the chance to pen more "Sentinel Squad O*N*E*" adventures. "Writing this has been a blast," he said. "And it's been great to work with my old pal Aaron Lopresti. The work he is doing is just stunning, every page, every panel. I keep throwing the craziest s*** at him to try to slow him down, but the man is unstoppable. The first issue hasn't even hit, and I'm working on issue #5 and Aaron is working on issue #4."

Issue #2, Page 5 Issue #3, Page 13

 
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