Marvel’s announcement that they would be rolling out a new Sentry title took me by surprise. There was certainly no groundswell of fan support demanding that the Sentry be given a new solo title. Also, the Sentry is a tough character to handle. The Sentry has a convoluted past and is a bit of a one-note gimmick character. The Sentry’s split personality that he shares with the Void also severely limits what a writer can do with this character going forward.
Having said that, Marvel has tapped Jeff Lemire to helm the Sentry’s new title. Lemire is immensely talented. If anyone can pull off a new Sentry title it would be Lemire. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.
Words: Jeff Lemire
Art: Kim Jacinto
Colors: Rain Beredo
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Bob The Sentry sitting alone. He looks old and haggard. He has a long beard. He recounts how he used to the an iconic Golden Age super hero names the Sentry. However, he was also the villain The Void. That each time he did something good as the Sentry he would then do something equally bad as the Void.
Therefore, Bob has avoided being the Sentry. He stayed inert. Dead. However, now Bob has found a way. That with the help of Dr. Strange, he has created a world all his own. We see Bob staring at a small machine ticking away like a metronome.
We then shift into this made up world in the machine. Here, Bob can be whatever he wants to be. We see Bob as the Sentry. He is in New York City kicking ass on the Void’s shadow creatures. Sentry’s super computer, Cloc, is helping him locate the Void’s hidden location.
Cloc then tells Sentry that the Void is on the moon. The Sentry takes off for the moon while his sidekicks stay in New York to battle the shadow creatures.
Sentry lands on the moon. Cloc then tells him that the Void is in the center of the moon. Sentry punches the moon into pieces and completely explodes it. This reveals the Void. Sentry then rips the Void in half. (This would be a call back to how the Sentry ripped Carnage in half during the New Avengers and later ripped Ares in half during Siege
Sentry arrives back at his headquarters. Scout says that the Sentry just punched the moon in half. The Sentry tells Scout that he does not need to worry. That it is already repairing itself. We see the moon putting itself back together. Sentry says that the beauty of this place is that nothing is ever really broken.
Sentry tells Scout, Sentress, and Watchdog that he has to go. Sentry says that he will be back in just 24 hours. Sentry steps into the Confluctor. Sentry is then teleported away from the scene.
We hop back to Bob in his barren apartment. There is no furntiure except for one table. The Confluctor sits on top of the table. The apartment looks like a wreck. Bob looks at his watch. The watch sets to a time and beings counting down from 24 hours.
Bob gets dressed and has some cereal and then trudges through the city to go to work. We see Bob arrive at a diner. Bob heads to the kitchen. We see tha Bob and Billy (Scout’s secret identity) are both short order cooks at the diner. Jenny is the waitress.
We cut to Billy and Bob outside on a break. Billy only has one arm now. Billy asks Bob to tell him about his latest adventure that he had in the Confluctor. Billy says that he wishes he could go into the Confluctor with Bob. Bob says that they have been through this and that it would be impossible. That Dr. Strange set up the Confluctor for Bob’s mind only. That way Bob could go inside of the Confluctor and the Sentry and the Void would never have to return to the real world. Bob says that this is the only way to keep everyone, including, Billy safe. Billy retorts that he does not want to be safe. That he feels like a damn ghost. He has felt that way since their last adventure when he lost his arm.
Bob says that he understands and that he is sorry. Bob says that they cannot ever exist again. That for the Void to die they must also be dead. Bob says that he gets to live his life here as Bob. And as long as he uses the Confluctor as the Sentry every 24 hours that the Void is kept at bay.
Billy asks if this life is even worth it. That something is missing and it will always be that way. Bob says that he can only ever be Robert Reynolds in real life. With an ex-wife who won’t talk to him and an apartment he can barely afford. Bob says that at least he has his daily adventure in the Confluctor as the Sentry every 24 hours.
Billy retorts, “Great. And what do I have, Bob?” Bob apologizes and says that he wishes he could go in the past and prevent Billy from ever getting mixed up with him. Billy then says that they have spent enough time feeling sorry for themselves. That life could be worse. Billy says that they should go back to work.
They enter into the diner. Billy says that he wonders what Jenny would say if she knew she was part of Bob’s fantasy world in the Confluctor. (So, Jenny is the Sentress in that world.) Bob says that he wishes he never told Billy about that. Billy jokingly says, “Too late for that, pervert.”
We cut to Bob walking home from work. A black van pulls up next to him. Men in black suits step out of the van. Misty Knight then steps out of the van. Misty says that Bob has no checked in with the A.C.D. for the past week. (A.C.D. is short for Aberrant Crimes Division.)
Bob says that he does not need to check in every day. That his watch sends the A.C.D. all the information they need to know about his location all during the day. Bob says that he has been using the Confluctor every 24 hours.
Misty says that she supports Bob and wants to believe him. But, that her bosses see Bob as an imminent threat. That her bosses hate seeing Bob walking around free. Bob says that he knows what is at stake. Bob says that he has lived his damn entire life with this monster inside of him.
Misty says that she does trust Bob. That she vouched for him. That Tony Stark vouched for him. That is the only reason that the Sentry has not been locked up underground for the rest of eternity.
Misty says that Bob needs to work with her. That the next time he misses an appointment that she won’t have any choice. And she will be showing up with a lot more agents. Bob apologizes and says that he is in control. He promises.
Mistry tells Bob to call her if he needs anything. Misty and the agents then drive off.
We see Bob walking up the stairs in his apartment building. Bob thinks how he tells people to trust him. Bob thinks how can he trust anything anymore. Bob thinks how when his thoughts get like this and start to spiral and get the better of him that he has to rely on the one constant in his messed-up life: Time. Bob thinks that as long as he sticks to his schedule that everything will be okay.
Bob thinks that no matter how back things get he can go to that place inside himself and reset everything. Bob thinks that he has to believe that he will eventually find a way to come to peace with this. That he will find a way to bring these two lives together and be whole again. Until then he will stick to the routine. That as long as he has the Confluctor he knows everything will be okay.
We cut to the Confluctor’s imaginary world. Scout and Watchdog are standing in front of the Confluctor’s portal waiting for the Sentry. Scout says that Sentry will be here any minute.
We shift back to Bob walking down the hall to his apartment. He sees that the door to his apartment has been kicked down. Bob enters his apartment and sees that someone has stolen the Confluctor.
We zip back to the imaginary world with Scout and Watchdog in front of the Confluctor portal. The portal comes to life. Scout looks in horror at the person in the transporter. Scout says that this is impossible. The person in the portal says that nothing is impossible in this world. (It is not specifically mentioned, but this is clearly the Void.) The Void blasts Scout and Watchdog and kills both of them.
The Void then says that this is an amazing and wonderful world. End of issue.
The Good: The Sentry #1 is a solid debut issue of this new title. Honestly, I was expecting more from Jeff Lemire with this issue. Lemire is immensely talented and I usually love his work. I had high hopes for this issue and wanted to absolutely love it. Unfortunately, The Sentry #1 did not meet my high hopes. Having said that, this is still an enjoyable issue with plenty of positive aspects to it.
To be fair, bringing back the Sentry is a seriously tough task that Marvel has assigned to Lemire. The Sentry is a difficult character to handle with a muddy and complex continuity. It also does not help that the Sentry’s gimmick of being a Superman character with a split personality as being rather limiting as far as what a writer can do with this character. It also does not help that the Sentry is not a character that a huge percentage of Marvel’s readership were demanding to see again.
Still, credit to Lemire, for taking this challenging task and creating an engaging and interesting issue. The strength of The Sentry #1 is the character work and the dialogue. There is no doubt about it. Lemire delivers engaging and well developed characters who all possess unique and well crafted external voices. I would expect nothing less from Lemire.
Lemire delivers a Sentry that is nicely nuanced. The reader is immediately intrigued by Bob’s character. Lemire takes what was a rather one-dimensional Superman type character and transforms him into a textured character that is heavy with emotional weight. Bob’s broken spirit and tenuous grip on reality is palpable.
Bob lives somewhere in dream state where he is neither alive nor dead. Bob is resolutely on the fringe of society. To see such a mighty character who played pivotal roles in several Marvel big events reduced to a broken man is quite jarring to the reader.
However, even though Bob is broken and barely clinging to sanity, Lemire does not make Bob a doomed character without hope. Bob’s true heroic spirit is still alive deep within him. This inner burning spirit to be the classic “good guy” super hero is what prevents Bob from being just a sad sack character. Lemire wisely has that desire for something greater buried deeply under all of the despair and loss which makes Bob more of a tragic and broken character that the reader wants to see eventually succeed.
Lemire gives Bob a well rounded and engaging personality. This is not simply a white-bread Superman character. I like that Lemire is giving Bob’s character some grit and raggedness. It makes his character more textured and interesting.
Lemire also did a nice job handling Scout’s character. Billy is an even sadder character than Bob. Bob at least has the Confluctor that he can escape into and live out his fantasy as the Sentry. Billy has next to nothing. Lemire has Billy as damaged mentally and spiritually as he is physically. The reader is immediately sympathetic to Billy. I like a tragic character and Billy is about as sad as they come.
The Sentry is a well plotted issue. Lemire has crafted a story that has a pleasant flow. The scenes transition smoothly into each other. Lemire has a clear direction in mind. At no point does the story lose focus or wander.
Lemire also does a good job building the Sentry’s new world. Lemire paints a vivid picture for the reader. The reader gets a wonderful sense of the loneliness and hopelessness that permeates nearly every aspect of Bob’s existence. Lemire creates a realistic world in which a fantastical character like the Sentry has become trapped in.
The Confluctor is a cool concept that plays a pivotal role in the Sentry’s new world that Lemire has constructed in this issue. Having Dr. Strange create something that is a combination of science and tech was a logical idea. The Confluctor definitely reminds me of Kirby tech. Jack Kirby loved to blend tech and magic. And the name “Confluctor” sounds like something Kirby would have come up with, too.
The Confluctor and the concept of creating a world for Bob to live out being the Sentry and the Void in an artificial reality was a fantastic solution for handing the inherent threat of the Sentry’s split personality. This was a creative and logical solution that Lemire whipped up and serves as the spine for the Sentry’s new world setting.
Lemire begins The Sentry #1 with a solid opening one page scene. This scene delivers all of the necessary background information on the Sentry’s character in a concise and clear fashion. This helps make The Sentry #1 new reader friendly. In fact, Lemire should be applauded for taking a character with a weird continuity and making this debut issue extremely new reader friendly.
We then get a fantastic eight page scene in the Sentry’s imaginary world. This scene is where all of the action and excitement in this issue is located. This is the part of the issue designed to make action fans happy. And there is no doubt that the Sentry can deliver some jaw dropping action.
Lemire does a great job introducing the heroic version of the Sentry and his power set. The reader clearly understands that the Sentry is a Superman level character that has few equals in the 616 Universe. This scene also gives the reader a good taste of the Sentry’s Golden Age era personality. This serves as a nice contrast with Bob’s bleak and fractured personality that we see in the remainder of the issue.
Lemire also effectively introduces the Sentry’s supporting cast. Long-time readers already know Scout and Watchdog. However, Lemire then introduces a new supporting character in the Sentress. This is a cool addition to the Sentry’s cast of characters. I also love Lemire’s touch of making the Sentress a fantasy version of the waitress Jenny. This made perfect sense and accentuatedBob’s loneliness and desire for companionship.
Next is a two page scene of Bob at home. This might have been my favorite scene in the entire issue. Lemire uses this scene as a brilliant contrast with the fantastic imaginary world in the preceding scene. This is so well done. I also loved Lemire’s limited use of narration for this two page scene. There are only two lines of narration. That is it.
Lemire uses either silence or effective use of sound effects such as the beeping of Bob’s watch and the crunching of the cereal to paint such a vivid picture. Seriously. The sound effects draped over panels with no dialogue or narration made for a powerful literary technique that effectively highlighted the bleakness and loneliness that is Bob’s life.
We then get a three page scene at diner. Lemire uses this scene to give the reader a look into Bob’s day-to-day life in the real world. This scene is also useful in giving the reader a glimpse into what became of Scout. This scene also has the surprise reveal that Jenny is the Sentress. I am curious to see how Lemire grows Jenny’s character and what role she has in this story going forward.
Lemire then delivers a three page scene with Misty. This scene is easily the worst part of The Sentry #1. This scene is highly repetitious. Lemire simple recycles Bob and Misty’s dialogue over and over. This scene could have easily been delivered in just one page. And it would have been far more effective in just one page, too.
Lemire then ends The Sentry #1 with a three page scene that is absolutely fantastic. This final scene delivers some quality drama and tension. Bob’s panic is palpable. This is an excellent hook ending that gets the reader wanting to come back for more.
The Bad: The Sentry #1 does have its weaknesses. The pacing on The Sentry #1 is slow. The story certainly drags at times. Lemire is certainly not operating with any sense of urgency at all.
The setting for The Sentry is definitely detailed and conveyed effectively. However, the setting feels very small. Now, I do not mind this approach if Lemire is simply doing it to emphasize how much Bob’s life has changed since we last saw him. But, The Sentry is a Superman style character and is a character best served by a setting that is grand and epic in scope.
Lemire’s story is also a bit shallow at this point. Lemire only installs one real plot line. That is the Confluctor and the imaginary world that is now under attack by the Void. The Sentry #1 does not present the reader with multiple short range, mid range and long range plot lines. There is not much depth to this story at this point. Everything feels very much on the surface.
While Lemire did succeed in making the Sentry #1 new reader friendly, he did fail in another important task of a debut issue of a new title. Lemire never told the reader what is the point of this new title. Lemire never let the reader know what they can expect to get on a monthly basis.
Is this going to be an Indie-style super hero title? Are we going to get a realistic and gritty super hero title? Are we going to get a high concept Science Fiction title? Are we going to get a classic Superman style title? Are we going to get an action and adventure super hero title? Who knows? Lemire certainly does not tell the reader this with the Sentry #1.
It is important that a writer clearly convey to the reader what they can expect with a new title on a monthly basis. This helps sell the reader on coming back for more. It also helps to differentiate the new title from all fo the other super hero titles that line the shelves of comic book shops.
As I indicated above, the only scene in The Sentry #1 that was a misfire was the three page scene with Misty Knight. First, the scene was repetitious and full of fluff. It was roughly one page of content stretched out over three pages. On top of that, the character zero chemistry. The result was a tedious scene that dragged down the reading experience.
Second, Misty Knight’s inclusion in The Sentry #1 is odd. Misty Knight seems bizarrely shoved into this story for no logical reason. Misty has zero connection to the Sentry’s character. This complete lack of connection between the two characters helps contribute to the paucity of chemistry between the two characters. This lack of connection between the two characters also prevents the readers from believing that Misty’s interest in Bob has any weight or substance.
If there had been a history between the two characters then Misty’s dialogue would have seemed genuine and believe and would have had impact on the reader. But, since the two characters have no history Misty’s dialogue seems empty. Instead, Misty seems like a dick cop feigning concern over a character she has no relationship with at all.
I am guessing that Misty was included into the story for diversity reasons. But, the fact remains that this scene would have been a far superior read and had more impact on the reader if Lemire had picked a character that actually had some connection to the Sentry.
While, I enjoyed the final scene to The Sentry #1, it was really only Bob’s part of the ending that had any emotion and intensity. The Void killing Scout and Watchdog was false peril since nothing in the Confluctor is real. And nothing is permanent. Seeing imaginary characters get killed is a bit of a cheap moment.
Kim Jacinto’s artwork is a miss with me. This is not a style of art that I prefer on mainstream super hero titles. Jacinto’s artwork is inconsistent from panel to panel. In the big eight page action scene, the Sentry looks buff in one panel and then scrawny in the next panel. Character’s faces are also inconsistent.
In general, Jacinto’s artwork lacks detail. Most of the panels seem bare. The art is sketchy to the point where it begins to look sloppy. Combine this style of art with the muted colors and the result is that the Sentry #1 is a dull looking issue. Lemire is already delivering a small and subdued story. Boring and dreary artwork does not help any at all.
Overall: The Sentry #1 was a solid start to this new title. Lemire did not wow me like I was expecting. However, Lemire certainly delivered a good enough story with The Sentry #1 that I do want to come back for the next issue.
Having said that, the inability of Lemire to sell me on why we needed a Sentry title and the pedestrian art both make it hard for me to recommend people spend their hard earned money on this issue. Keep in mind that The Sentry #1 has a $4.00 cover price. Marvel needs to deliver more in order to justify me spending half of my Netflix monthly fee for just one comic book.