Comic of the Sentry

31Dec08

Yeah, yeah, enough with the puns, I got it. But honestly, if you haven’t read this 2006 Marvel Knights trade … you’re missing out on a brilliant book. The Sentry (New Avengers) belongs on any comic book fan’s bookshelf. (Thank you, Kate!) I love it, and I can tell you right now that this one will forever remain one of my favorite comics.

Written by Paul Jenkins, The Sentry is a fantastic story with a concept so simplistically obvious in its brilliance, you have to wonder why no one’s thought about it before. Now, I’ve never even heard of the Sentry before, but I guess this has to be a different take on the little-known character and his origins. Evidently, Marvel discovered that the Sentry was Marvel god Stan Lee’s first creation—stashed away for roughly forty years, forgotten by the Man himself.

Anyway, moving on to the actual comic, which collects Sentry #1-5, Sentry: Fantastic Four, Sentry: X-men, Sentry: Spider-Man, Sentry: Hulk, and Sentry VS. The Void but reads like a graphic novel. The Sentry, as a character, is one of the most complex I’ve ever seen. His name is Bob Reynolds, and our introduction to him is of an overweight, cartoon-watching, agoraphobic (fear of open spaces) alcoholic. On the contrary, as the Sentry, he’s the greatest and most powerful superhero of all time, the Golden Guardian of Good.

The story begins with the Sentry waking up and sensing that his arch-enemy, the Void, has returned. For reasons he cannot recall, he is only just now remembering that he is the Sentry; his allies—the Fantastic Four, the X-men, Spider-Man, the Hulk, as well as the entire world—they’ve all forgotten his existence. But who do we see? We see nothing more than a middle-aged, paranoid man whose secluded and empty life has caused him delusions of grandeur. But like the rest of the world, the reader is meant to distrust the validity of Reynolds’s story; it is only once the conspiracy begins to unfold that we, too, believe in the hero known as the Sentry.

Reynolds, rediscovering his own power of a million exploding suns (and he can fly), embarks on a mission to help others remember who he is—and likewise, who the Void is. It’s the only way to stop the villain, who is already wreaking soul-snatching terror on the world like a living nightmare. Curiously enough, once people start remembering, they also start seeing things again that were right in front of them the whole time. For example, after meeting with Reynolds—who tells him to remember a wedding—Reed Richards (aka Mr. Fantastic) suddenly discovers a unicorn bust (Reynold’s gift to his best man) on a shelf. Spider-Man, who sees nothing but a blank piece of paper when Reynolds shows him the Pulitzer-winning photo he took of the Sentry, finds that many magazines issues are misnumbered; rather, the issues aren’t missing at all, but just that no one could see them before.

As for the Void—the “Shadow Man” as Hulk calls him—once people remember the shining beacon of hope who is the Sentry, they tremble at the memory of the dark fear known as the Void. And we’re talking about heroes like Charles Xavier, and even the Hulk—terrified at the mere thought of the Void’s return.

I won’t spoil the rest for you, but The Sentry is a classic superhero story that demonstrates the good and evil in us all. Jae Lee provides beautiful art, which combines a dreary style that reflects the ominous mood of the overall comic with, at times, memories fashioned like nostalgic old Sentry comics. The Sentry will chill you and keep you guessing till the very end, as the conspiracy finally unravels. While the tale ends with the world saved, it isn’t the happiest conclusion—although our hero does find an ounce of peace and courage, himself. That might sound minor, but after the big reveal, the small achievements carry a much greater weight—not just for Reynolds as a man, but for us and what it means to be human.

I can’t recommend The Sentry enough. You can buy it in paperback form for $19 on Amazon. At the end of the book there are interviews between Stan Lee and editor Joe Quesada that discuss the comic and characters and demystify some of the enigma of the Sentry. Plus, an afterword by Stan Lee.

(While I have my camera out, I’ll show you what I mean about Jae Lee’s art … And no, I’m not taking pictures every time. 😉 )

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2 Responses to “Comic of the Sentry”

  1. I actually picked this trade up a while back but I haven’t been able to read it yet becuase I stay occupied reading so many other things. I might have to dig it out and put it on the top of the stack before I forget about it, again.

  2. Definitely do, and then let me know what you think!


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