Operation: Zero Tolerance

X-Men066Back in 1997 some exciting things were happening in the X-Men world. Bastion was making himself known and had released Prime Sentinels into the world. The Prime Sentinels looked like normal people who acted like unknowing sleeper agents. At the right moment they would activate and all hell would break loose. The Uncanny X-Men were off fighting the Phalanx in Shiar space and in issue 65 of X-Men, Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm and Cannonball are all neutralized and captured by Bastion. With all our main characters, save Iceman, either in deep space or in the hands of the enemy, who was left to save the day, especially as Bastion now had access to the mansion and Xavier’s Protocols? Instead of the usual review I’m going to separate this story into sections by Character. Let’s start with the main POV character.

Cecelia Reyes

The X-Men have a history of introducing characters and putting them in immediate peril. Reyes was the first character we’d met who had a full life outside of being a mutant and was so devastated when Prime sentinels invaded her world.

Reyes1Interesting thing about the sequence where she was introduced as being a mutant, was that each small scene that had featured her before this issue had shown her having the vocal opinion that the mutant problem had to be dealt with and that Mutants were going to get what they deserved.  Which made this next panel all the more shocking.

Reyes2Through this five issue  storyline, despite Reyes, hesitation to become an X-man, or accept she was a mutant and now in the mutant world, she was still a hero. Even as she’s diving out of the sentinels way in the first attack, she’s screaming to get others to safety.

This is what made Reyes my favorite new character at the time. There was so much more to her than just her mutant power. She was established, intelligent and had skills outside of being a super hero but brought an attention to the everyday hero. She was the everyday woman thrust into the fantastical world that she’d spent her life trying to avoid.


ice1As it turns out, Iceman has been assigned as Reyes protector should anything crazy happen and he makes his entrance just at the right time.

Previous to saving Reyes, Iceman had been looking after his father who had been beaten by thugs. Iceman had seen the capture of the other X-men on television and had gone to where he felt would do the most good. Iceman had definitely not been planning on being the team lead on his own ad-hoc group of new recruits, who interestingly enough were all women, and all powerful, confident women to boot. Iceman was going to have his hands full and wasn’t going to be able to fall back on team joker in this story line.  Right from the start his actions are questioned by Reyes, even after he had just saved her.

ice2Zero Tolerance showed that Iceman could lead a team and step up when needed.


Mossad agent, Sabra, didn’t join up with the small team of X-men until halfway through the story line but never had someone made such an entrance (except for perhaps Reyes). Here was a woman who we thought was going to be in trouble and didn’t know that she could be surrounded by Prime Sentinels. This all proved to be very wrong. Sabra was indeed aware and fully capable of dealing with Sentinels.

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We’d already met Marrow in a previous issue of Uncanny X-Men, where she and Spider Man had fought Prime Sentinels. That was the issue where Callisto was injured, which actually gives impetus for Marrow’s appearance among the X-men.

Marrow1It was a long time before Marrow would become a fully fledged X-man though and here she was at her most raw and snarky. Right from the start, Marrow and Reyes Butted heads.Marrow2That didn’t stop Marrow being a badass, and when Sabra arrived on the scene, Marrow and Reyes seemed to forget their tiff and gang up on Sabra, which had an interesting outcome.

How did Sabra bypass Reyes’ force field?

At this point in the storyline, The ad-hoc X-team were on the mission to save Charlotte Jones son and investigate whatever secrets Bastion was keeping.

Ice man really surprised me in the conclusion to this. I had no idea he was going to stand up and take things into his own hands like he does. He actually makes a great speech about Why the X-Men do what they do and why he makes his stand. Awesome super hero-ing and Iceman shows us what he’s made of. This arc led to one of my favorite teams, including, Cannonball, Reyes, Marrow, Maggot, and Rogue. There was so much to look forward to in the X-universe. This were fresh. We had new bloods working with the older main stays such as Storm, Beast and Wolverine. I loved what Seagle and Kelly did with the X-Men and this arc was a lovely read to remind me of that era of story telling.

All of these characters had lessons to learn and arcs to live through and I loved each of them. I’ll leave you with Cyclops words to Jean that ended issue 70.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Nice! I loved the potential of the Prime Sentinels – anyone could turn out to be a Prime Sentinel, just anyone! One thing you did miss, though, was that Marrow actually had a much more brutal history. She’d been leader of the mutant terrorist group Gene Nation, who literally slaughtered humans at a whim, and had been believed killed in a duel with Storm (in one of my favourite issues actually!). Her presence was *very* dark indeed!


    1. loz says:

      I love how that was revisited later with Colossus and Mikhail


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