“You're fast, Tony. Very fast. But I'm always going to be two seconds ahead of you. You can set your clock by it.”
— The Sentry
Can The Man With Lost Dogs Save A Lost Soul?
Greetings from the desert fellow CBSI members. In roughly one month from now we will see the return of The Sentry in a new series from Jeff Lemire, the man who has been called “The four-color Stephen King” – half pulp hero, half critical darling.
If there is anyone who can make this next challenge a success, it is Jeff. Yet, this won’t be easy. Within many comic circles it is safe to say Robert Reynolds aka The Sentry is perhaps the most misunderstood, complicated/ intricate miswritten characters within the MU.
You see he really is a damned soul, or souls depending on how you view him all together. Oh the irony in Lemiere leading this project. The once late night short order cook at a cheap Mexican restaurant in Toronto.
All while putting the finishing touches on his 1st published work, Lost Dogs. Mr. Lemiere too has had his own fair share of misunderstandings and early shortcomings – making this new rendition a perfect match.
This piece will will walk thru the history of this character, furthermore to analyze storylines and finally dissect key moments and issues. Time to get moving!
As with previous articles, my goal is to simplify the unnecessary noise and make it easy to digest and understand. This especially rings true with a storyline like this while you are dealing with a multitude of actions occurring at once.
I will break up the overall time arch into the initial Marvel Knights five mini series and One Shot conclusion. Then The Sentry’s introduction within the New Avenger series.
Alight, to start at the beginning we must remind ourselves what Marvel Knights was in terms of the MU. These were a series of self contained publications. The events took place outside of the main universe.
The Sentry was introduced in September of 2000 created by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee. Rick Veitch also has some credit for bringing this hero to life later within the lore of The Sentry.
Part I: Marvel Knights
WARNING THIS DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS!
In researching how to correctly give you the audience the information in its best form, I realized it is easier to go a little panel crazy as it gives a better visual description of what is going on, so be forewarned.
This is a very complex arch, as are most involving Sentry, so words only would not do it justice nor make a whole lot of sense on their own.
The mini series opens with Robert Reynolds awaking from a bad dream. The beauty of this story is we get both an inner dialogue (yellow boxes) within the panels while he also interacts with his environment around him like his wife.
Slowly we start to see that Robert regains his memory of being The Sentry. He has no idea how he got to this point in his life – Being married, dog, etc. The past times begin to become more clear that he was something more than just a human in everyday life.
He starts to speak of this force called “The Void” and that it is coming back to destroy everything and he is the only person who can stop it is him.
Now, Jenkins does a great job of creating this backstory of how Robert became The Sentry. The former meth addict had broken into his professors room and stolen this super serum, kind along the same path as what Steve Rogers had taken to become Captain America.
What we get is a shift of panels from back in this time and current day for Robert. This rather strange origin story begun via a hoax that was perpetuated by Stan Lee himself in stating that there was a golden age superhero whom he just forgot about and wanted to weave into the continuity.
Pay close attention to the art within these as they give a 60s look . You then see the back and forth of real time vs. these old comics which tell the past story.
Please see below for a visual description.
We as a reader start to see the psychosis occurring within Robert as he continues to doubt what was real or not. The panels continue to shift from present day to history.
Then we get our 1st introduction to “The Void”, a ominous force that is pure evil. There is a real power to it as we see it defeat the Avengers single handedly.
After this it starts to delve into just how powerful The Sentry is within the MU. The serum he takes allows the molecules within his body to move ahead a few seconds past the current timeline.
This gives him the power of a million exploding suns, making his powers absolutely limitless. The back and forth of a these panels starts to get the reader to question is this real, or is Robert Reynolds just plain crazy.
Robert starts to realize nobody remembers who The Sentry is at all. That he was a hero at one point. Yet, what has happened to make him and everyone else forget about The Sentry? This back and forth inner dialogue really makes this interesting. Struggling for his sanity Robert puts on a makeshift suit and begins to levitate proving to us the reader he really is The Sentry!
With this conclusion to issue # 1, we spend the majority of the next four issues and one shot conclusion titled The Sentry vs. The Void seeing The Sentry interact with other characters showing supposedly just how long he has been a part of the MU.
He shows him fighting alongside groups like The Fantastic Four, Avengers, etc. Again, we are witness to these told thru old comics within the issue. See the below panel for a better look – filled with fake authors, artists, etc.
Now over these issues other Marvel heroes begin to slowly recollect who he is, but it is all very foggy. Nothing really concrete. They can’t remember all the adventures they shared with him. Here are a few poignant moments with Hulk, Interesting the mean green calls him “Golden Man”.
These panels show close they were at one point. Also, some comedic interactions with Spidey.
This piece right here is crucial. What we are to witness is The Sentry finding this huge building that gives off a force as he is drawn to it. It is named The Watchtower. Memories start flooding Robert as he gets near it.
Within this, he finds his AI assistant CLOC (Centrally Located Organic Computer) What comes to revelation is that there is a transmitter installed within this AI. This coupled with Sentry’s powers have caused everyone to forget his existence.
Further digging within this tower, Robert comes across some old footage of Reed Richards. It is of Robert’s funeral with Reed reading the Eulogy stating that The Sentry was nothing more than a common thief, never was he this hero.
In conclusion, before Robert can confront Reed Richards he must stop The Void which is coming to earth for total destruction. What we are witness here to is the realization of who The Void actually is in the world, and the damage he has done previously. This is told thru Dr. Strange and Reed Richards.
In addition, the steps taken to eradicate any memory of these events in every person of existence. If there is no Sentry, there is no Void! The big reveal is that Robert Reynolds, The Sentry, and The Void are all one person with different personalities. Finally, the destruction that occurred during the fight with The Void was covered up and claimed “due to a natural disaster”.
Yeah, this is a ton to take in for sure. It’s tough to describe thru words, the panels do a better job of telling the story as there is multiple storylines, multiple time points and events happening within each issue. in closure, here is the cliff notes version in bullet points of all six issues:
- Robert Reynolds has flashbacks within his mind slowly revealing he is The Sentry
- In a twist, previous stories are told thru a fictitious comic within each issue looking back at when The Sentry was part of the MU. The art of these previous Sentry escapades were drawn as if they were in the 60s giving longevity that he had been around for a long time
- With these increasing memories that come to the surface, Robert starts to realize no one remembers who The Sentry is, nor does anyone else on the planet and he must find out why
- With investigation Robert realizes he himself, along with Reed Richards have used technology to create the illusion that The Sentry never existed to stop the forces of The Void. This is due to the fact if there is no Void, there is no Sentry as they are one
- You see the sacrifice Robert makes and he returns to his normal life without any indication of who he previously was as The Sentry
Ok, here is where we take our intermission break. The next part delves into years later as The Sentry joins the New Avengers.
Part II The New Avengers
The Sentry disappears within the MU for quite some time until he makes his surprising return in New Avengers #1, # 2 then full arch in New Avengers #7 – #10
Now all we really get in the first few issues is that Robert Reynolds is locked up in a prison with a bunch of other baddies. Electro breaks them out and things go sideways fast. Carnage is wreaking havoc within the prison. Sentry finally has had enough he takes him up to space and while I will let that be a surprise until you see the panel below. Oh and yes this guy is that powerful!
Did he just rip him in half?! This dudes not playing around!
We then pick up a full arch starting at issue #7 – #10
This storyline by Brian Michael Bendis kicks off with the Avengers finding Robert Reynolds within a tunnel in the Nevada desert. He is babbling about The Void coming back and everyone is doomed – sound familiar?
They decide to bring his wife in to try and get to the bottom of what is going on with him. In another cool twist they speak to the Sentry as a comic book character created by Paul Jenkins.
Obviously we know this to be true, but it’s almost as if they are breaking the fourth wall. This is explained more in detail within this last panel.
They are explaining to him the info they have on the Sentry is from these comic books and what does that have to do with him Robert Reynolds? Fascinating…
What we see over the next few issues is the Avengers getting attacked by The Void. With this Emma Frost enters Robert’s mind to try and figure out what the hell is going on with this guy.
What she sees is his memories have indeed been around a long time, much longer than the age of Robert Reynolds. She finds there is a patch in his memory which was blocked so it could not be read or remembered.
When she digs deeper she realizes his mind was manipulated by Jason Wyngarde aka Mastermind. Robert goes ballistic with this discovery also increasing the rage of The Void. She ends up having to tap into another part of his mind when he first met his wife to get him to calm down.
Finally, with peace The Void is gone too. The Avengers realize the power Sentry has and asks him to join them as they would rather have them on their side than not with the power he has within.
Again, a lot to take in as the panels increase in words and dialogue.
Cliff notes for absorption:
- Robert Reynolds is in jail when when Electro frees all the baddies
- Carnage picks a fight that he should not have got involved in for health reasons
- Avengers find Robert with the desert and chaos ensues
- The Void shows up and a massive fight occurs
- Emma Frost gets in Robert’s / Sentry’s mind and finds out part of his memory was taken by the Mastermind
- Upon calming Robert down, The Void disappears and Avengers realize they need to try and help Robert. Only way to do that is to have him join the team
Ok, the only other storyline of notice takes place in 2010s Siege. There is one real part of coolness. This is when Aries picks a fight he can’t finish. His health takes a well, turn for the worse too as one of the most memorable panels of recent memory takes place…I don’t think it’s good to piss this guy off LOL!
Um, did he really just take that big dude and break em in half like a spaghetti stick? Nice Fatality there Sentry!
I know…What about spec books?
Here you go!
First app of Sentry # 1A
Cover 1B 1:25 VARIANT
2000 SDCC JAE LEE VARIANT
2005 NEW AVENGERS# 1 1:20 VARIANT
2nd Print # 1 FINCH COVER
NEW AVENGERS # 1 DIRECTOR'S CUT
NEW AVENGERS # 2 FINCH VARIANT COVER CARNAGE RIPPED IN HALF
NEW AVENGERS # 7 1ST ILLUMINATI & 1ST SENTRY ARCH WITHIN NEW AVENGERS RUN
NEW AVENGERS # 7 1ST ILLUMINATI
SIEGE # 2 1:300 SKETCH VARIANT ARIES RIPPED IN HALF
SIEGE # 2 1:200 QUESADA VARIANT ARIES RIPPED IN HALF
Phew, exhale. Well there you have it. I remember reading sometime that it took so long for Watchmen to get made because it was almost impossible to take that book and turn it into film form.
The same could be said on a much lower level about trying to explain The Sentry to an audience. Hence, the reason as I stated at the beginning for such heavy actual comic usage.
The intricacies of most panels including three way dialogue, trying to figure out who, meaning Robert/Sentry/The Void is speaking or taking action. In addition, it goes back and forth between a fictitious comic within the comic, then back to reality within the story.
Ugh, it’s a lot to digest. If you have any more questions, please reach out and I will try to answer.
In closing up shop I want to stress that even with all the aforementioned complexities, The Sentry is a amazing character. If you need others opinions ask Topher.
He will give you his expertise as well. Oh and speaking about Topher, thank you my friend with editing and your thoughts on this juggernaut piece!
In all actuality as I opened with, Lemiere is the perfect writer to tackle this beast. The problem besides what I spoke to in this article is that a lot of times Marvel has not really known what to do with Sentry.
When he becomes just a background character his presence diminishes greatly. People have called him the Superman of the MU. Hell, there is even fan made fights and what ifs between the two online – full on analysis and breakdowns. If you are interested check them out!
As I was saying Jeff handles the inner workings of characters very well. I am excited to see just what exactly he is going to do with him. The artist working on this with him is Kim Jacinto. Here is a sneak peek that was released not too long ago. Wow! It looks like there is a ton going on up in there!
As always I appreciate those of you who continue to read my columns – Thank you very much. I hope that those new to The Sentry took away something learned from this, and I hope those who are familiar with him feel this did justice to the character. The end of June is right around the corner and it’s exciting to think we are getting the first Sentry solo run in 18 years!