The Marvel Comics History of Bastion, the Main Villain of X-MEN ’97

Spoiler Alert

Promos had us believing the “Big Bad” of X-Men ’97 was going to be Mister Sinister. After episode six of season one, “Bright Eyes,” it turns out Sinister was just working for the Big Bad, who is a somewhat lesser-known X-Men comic book villain named Bastion. He’s voiced by White Lotus star Theo James. The series has dropped hints about Bastion all season, but now we know he’s the principal villain. So just who is this antagonist with a deep hatred of mutants, and what are his ties to some of the most lethal enemies the X-Men have ever faced, the Sentinels? Let’s unpack the bizarre history of this X-Men ’97 bad guy.

Bastion in an early appearance in Uncanny X-Men in 1997.
Marvel Comics

Bastion was a creation of writer Mark Waid and artist Andy Kubert, and debuted in 1996’s X-Men (vol.2) #52. He was the primary villain in the X-Men’s 1997 crossover event “Operation: Zero Tolerance.” In a way, Bastion is a new iteration of two classic X-Men foes: the Sentinel-creating Master Mold, and Nimrod, the advanced Sentinel robot from an alternate future. To explain how these robotic killing machines that target mutants became a (mostly) flesh and blood being named Bastion, we have to get into the powerful magic of the Siege Perilous.

Bastion Is of Both Technological and Mystical Origins

In the 1987 crossover event “The Fall of the Mutants,” the X-Men died saving the city of Dallas from an ancient evil called the Adversary. This is the very same supernatural being that caused Storm so much trouble recently on X-Men ’97. Although the X-Men died heroically, the goddess Roma resurrected them all as a reward for their bravery. Now invisible to all forms of human surveillance, they could strike at their enemies unnoticed. During this era, they lived in the Australian Outback, hiding from the world.

Rogue enters the Siege Perilous along with Nimord and a Master Mold, in Uncanny X-Men #247.
Marvel Comics

Roma gave the X-Men an “out” in the form of an ancient magical device called the Siege Perilous. It could open a portal, allowing anyone to walk through it to get a second chance at life. The Siege would judge you, and if worthy, you kept your memories of your previous life intact. If not, it erased your memory, and you were reborn with a new life. Five X-Men walked through it. One of them was Rogue, who went through during a pitched battle with Master Mold and Nimrod. She took the killer robots through with her. This occurred in 1989’s Uncanny X-Men #247. Rogue was reborn, memory intact, and because the Sentinels were machines, no one thought of them as alive and capable of mystical rebirth. They were wrong.

Part Master Mold, Part Nimrod, Part Human

Bastion gloats over his victory over the X-Men in Operation: Zero Tolerance, from 1997. Art by Carlos Pacheco.
Marvel Comics

The Master Mold/Nimrod hybrid came out of the Siege Perilous, now a total amnesiac. The mystical device had created a humanoid male body for it. Like many who went through before, the hybrid had no memory. A woman by the name of Rose Gilberti took him in. The amnesiac man bonded with the kind-hearted Rose, and she adopted him as a surrogate son, and even gave him her surname. He was now Sebastion Gilberti, or “Bastion” for short. Eventually hearing about the world’s “mutant problem” it triggered the anti-mutant part of his being. Bastion soon fell in with anti-mutant groups, like the hateful Friends of Humanity. Ultimately, this led him to government agencies where he knew he could do some real damage to the mutant community.

Bastion Initiates Operation: Zero Tolerance

Bastion makes a pact with the government for more mutant hunting Sentinels in 1997's Operation: Zero Tolerance.
Marvel Comics

With Bastion’s anti-mutant protocols activated once more, he started to organize an international anti-mutant strike force, named Operation: Zero Tolerance, or OZT for short. Deciding that the old model Sentinels were outdated, no doubt due to his being part “Future Sentinel” himself, he implanted several humans secretly with nano-technology. They were designated Prime Sentinels. These Prime Sentinels were all sleeper agents, programmed with nanotech, becoming mutant-hunting machines when activated by OZT. The X-Men and SHIELD defeat Bastion, but he keeps finding a way to make life miserable for mutants. Bastion is currently dead, but in the world of the X-Men, that is never permanent.

Bastion’s Powers and Abilities

Bastion attacks the X-Men during the Operation: Zero Tolerance event in 1997.
Marvel Comics

Bastion is extremely powerful, especially as an advanced Sentinel given human form by mystical means. He has super strength, speed, flight, and agility. Like more rudimentary Sentinels, he can adapt to the powers of his mutant opponent. He can create mechanical weapons from his own body on a whim, and deploy deadly energy blasts. Much like the Borg on Star Trek, he had access to the Sentinel hive mind. Thanks to the techno-organic virus that creates Prime Sentinels, he can essentially reanimate the dead.

Bastion in the modern era of X-Men comics, reborn once more.
Marvel Comics

Similar to Star Trek’s Borg Queen, he can control all of his Prime Sentinel drones from any distance. Bastion also has the power of technopathy, meaning he can control all mechanical and electronic devices with a thought. When damaged, he can self-repair as well. Through techno-kinetic manipulation, he can alter his appearance. He can even time travel to the alternate future from which his Nimrod half originated. From a powers standpoint, Bastion is one of the deadliest villains the X-Men have ever faced.

Bastion in X-Men ’97

Bastion tortures Magneto in X-Men '97.
Marvel Comics

X-Men ’97 has hinted at Bastion appearing throughout the first season, since the second episode. We saw the distinctive back of his head at a war room meeting with military officials. We also saw him in a partial photo with Forge, in the episode “Lifedeath Pt.I.” This photograph was from Forge’s days as a government operative. You can also see him walking past Magneto at the celebration in Genosha in “Remember It,” before the Sentinel slaughter.

We know he’s promised Sinister something in return for his assistance in the genocide, acquiring Bolivar Trask’s DNA to activate the wild Sentinel. Sinister mentions that he was a villain that the X-Men faced once before. The X-Men battled a Nimrod in the original animated series, and it’s likely that he has evolved into Bastion. Although probably through non-magical means, as the Siege Perilous is not part of X-Men ’97 canon (yet). Whatever Bastion plans to do, he’s already caused horrific damage to the mutant community. We’ll find out how the X-Men plan to take him on in the final episodes of X-Men ’97 season one.

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