The Sentry Problem: Void Where Prohibited

We gather outside the lakeside Vermont home of Bob Reynolds, torches and pitchforks held aloft. One man has brought a croquet mallet, which he softly hammers against the palm of his hand. There are no protest signs because we’re not quite sure what to say. We are angry and all we had to eat on the bus were saltines.      

Suddenly a boy breaks from the crowd and rushes the house. He hurls a river rock at the window.    

“You’re hurting comics!” he yelps.  

The glass does not shatter, but a fine crack spider-webs across it. What have you done, Jessie? What have you done?  

Someone peeks through the blinds. The tear-stained cheekbones are unmistakable. It’s him. It’s Reynolds.  

He opens his mouth as if to yawn, but then, as always:

“Nooooooooooooo!!!” 

 



It all started with a lie.  

Bob Reynolds, the man known as The Sentry, was conceptualized as a forgotten creation of Stan Lee. Marvel teamed with Wizard magazine to fabricate a tongue-in-cheek hoax heralding the return of a lost hero who predated the The Fantastic Four. This led to a Marvel Knights mini-series in the fall of 2000 written by Paul Jenkins, with pencils by Jae Lee. He was a character ‘forgotten’ by comics history as well as a hero forgotten within his own universe. Reed Richards and Peter Parker knew the Sentry at one time, but his existence had somehow been erased from all consciousness.   

In terms of ability, The Sentry is nothing less than a Superman of the Marvel Universe, blessed with the power of 1,000,0000 exploding suns. If his Wikipedia page is to be believed, he is capable of destroying just about anything (so long as it exists), hearing the sneezes of butterflies on other continents, mental possession, and resurrecting the dead. He’s gone toe to toe with The Incredible Hulk. He’s the ultimate power, and arguably, his origin as a hero forced to erase himself from the memory of the people he fought to protect and the friends who stood by his side at the brink of annihilation, is really pretty interesting.

So why does he have to suck?  

The Sentry zoomed onto the scene with more than a little baggage. Fans of comics and other serialized entertainment are justifiably leery of revisionist parlor tricks. We don’t like finding out we’ve been following the wall-crawling escapades of Ben Reilly and not Peter Parker. And maybe the names Nikki and Paulo hold a special and sinister significance for you as well. So for a Harlequin Romance cover model to show up and place his tribal tattoo-lookin’ headquarters on the top of Avengers’ mansion as if he’s just gotten back from a European backpacking trip? That might rile some people up. 

Then, of course, you have the parallels to the big blue boy scout across the street. There’s no denying the similarities, and in spite of myself, I’m tempted to see this as a vicarious thrashing of the Superman character or of DC’s proclivity for godlike heroes. The Sentry is depicted as the most powerful man in the universe, but his paranoia is such that he’s often incapable of getting out of bed in the morning. A common criticism of Superman is that, even with godlike power, he still needs a Justice League. He’s crippled by an editorial mandate for suspense, so he’s often diluted with some weakness. But that’s just in concept. I don’t want to believe that writers like Jenkins and Pak and Bendis would use this now mainstream character as an outlet for that kind of mockery. But the concern lingers.    

The real elephant in the room, at the time of this writing, is probably not the Wizard hoax or the costume or even the Superman question. It’s the Void. The original Sentry miniseries is (among other things) a meditation on the fragility of the human mind in spite of physical integrity. I think that’s a perfectly valid pursuit, and it was executed in a satisfying and entertaining way. But this story element has been abused in most of the appearances that followed. When I think of The Sentry, I imagine Bob Reynolds sitting alone on his couch in that Vermont lake house, too afraid to move. He is the Cameron Frye to Tony Stark’s Ferris Bueller. He’s a shut in. He’s everything a super hero is not. Last week I talked about escapism, the idea of a comic hero as a means of breaking our own shackles and soaring off into the heights of fantasy. Bob Reynolds does not have a key for us. He’s inaction, and that is frustrating to read, and maybe it hits a little too close to home. I think it’s good that we’re angry because The Sentry is more or less symbolic of passivity, of apathy. I think people get that. I think that that lesson, valuable as it is, has been drummed in.    

What’s next?  

The Sentry was last seen curled in a fetal position within the cold, quiet womb of outer space. Bob Reynolds, however, has returned to earth as the Void, the personification of the fear and doubt in his own mind. I applaud the move because, if nothing else, it puts the pacing and wailing of Bob Reynolds on hiatus, however temporarily. If there’s anything to be dredged from this character, it is surely his duality.  

But the question remains. Is Bob Reynolds worth saving? Is the character worth fixing? The Marvel Knights mini ends with Bob returning to polite society. It could have ended there. It could have been an isolated examination of a damaged Superman living amongst the street level heroes of the Marvel Universe. It could have, maybe should have, ended with Bob and Lindy buying some chili dogs on the corner. But The Sentry, in some form, continues to haunt the pages of the biggest titles in the Marvel catalog. The writer in me wants to believe that any character can be fixed, that the real Bob wants to come out of that lake house. But that remains to be seen.   

Just answer the phone, Bob.     

 


Paul Montgomery has the power of 1,000,001 exploding suns, but you don’t see him crying. He blogs and podcasts at Fuzzy Typewriter. You can contact him at paul@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. Great article and oh yea, Bob can go to hell.

  2. Trouble is they have wrote the Sentry to such a dead end that unless you betray the character concept or re-boot his continuity; there is no place to take Sentry that makes him interesting or novel.

    The only idea people can toss out is "He’s like Superman…but more badass". 

    On paper that sounds alright. But as history has shown, Superman analogues when not written by Alan Moore, tend to be dire.

    Forgive me, but I have very little faith in a Bendis or Jenkins taking a shot at Supreme Sentry 2008

  3. "He opens his mouth as if to yawn, but then, as always:

    ‘Nooooooooooooo!!!’ "

    Epic.

  4. Sentry IS Superman, and that’s why we hate him.

    WhatI’ve always liked about Marvel is its lack of an all-powerful ubercharacter. The big guns of Marvel still seem human – except for Thor, but I don’t like him either. Now we get this Sentry and whammo, Superman clone ahoy! Feh. And worse, he follows the Gene Roddenberry trope, wherein a being has absolute power, but is 1) an infant; 2) insane, or; 3) both. In this case, #2.

    I’m still holding out hope that the whole character will be written out of the Marvel U in the same, postmodern way he was written in. Perhaps some kind of revelation occurs where we learn that memories of him weren’t erased from Marvel history, but were recently added, as some kind of long-term project, like, say, defeating the Skrulls once and for all. Maybe some weird Kree faction made him just for that purpose. Or something. Then he goes away. Forever. 

    I can dream anyway.  

  5. Never hated a character more! And bear in mind: Gambit exists.

    @RobAbsten has it: the fact that there was no Superman in the Marvel Universe was one of my favorite things about it. But it’s not just that he’s Superman; it’s not just that his super power is "everything"; it’s the fact that there is nothing interesting about him but everyone in the book keeps insisting he’s cool. He’s Reed Richards’ best friend! Only he can calm the Hulk! He told Uncle Ben that ‘great power’ thing! He staged that intervention for Iron Man! Professor X can only walk when he’s in the room! He helped Wolverine move that time, and he didn’t even take any of the thank-you pizza or beer afterwards!

    What have you seen in the Sentry’s "personality" that would make you believe any of those things could happen? 

    Ugh. Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go now?

    I feel like I’ve been set up on a blind date. It is not going well. I will not call the Sentry.

  6. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Writing this piece, I realized that there are far too many facets to this problem than can be griped about it one column. I tried to cover as much as I could, so it probably suffers from being so broad. That said, it’s really interesting that you guys bring up the Superman thing. The not-wanting-a-Superman-in-the-Marvel-U thing.  I’m a DC guy, so my question is…is it that Superman shouldn’t be a part of the Marvel U because of the way it’s set up, or is it a direct criticism of Superman as a character (as referenced in the article)? 

    In other words, do you not like ketchup on your ice cream, or do you not like ketchup in general?  

    I’m just curious as to how that breaks down.  

  7. Paul, while Superman is empirically lame (I have charts) it goes deeper than that for the Sentry.

    I remember a scene in JLA/Avengers where the Marvel heroes visit the DC Universe briefly and are stunned to see that the people have erected statues and museums to their heroes and say, you know, "Hey, Flash! Thanks for doing what you do! Please touch my baby," as he walks down the street. The Marvel heroes look at each other as if to say, "Museums? Last time I tried to walk down the street, some guy threw a beer bottle at my head. One of those big ones, too." That kind of thing just does not fit in the Marvel Universe, and the Sentry’s got it all over him.

    But it’s even worse than that! Say whatever you want about Superman (I certainly do) but DC and Superman earned that $@%#. Superman has been winning people over legitimately for 70 years, both in comic-world terms of saving the day and in real-world terms of creators telling stories with him that people love. The Sentry has earned nothing. No-thing. Yet he is worshipped in these books by the heroes we actually do like. You cannot make him the greatest just by telling me he’s the greatest every chance you get. When people do this to you in person, you come to know these people as a-holes. And rightly so.

  8. "He’s inaction, and that is frustrating to read, and maybe it hits a little too close to home."

     

    bingo! 

  9. I have raised the bounty an additional 25 dollars.

  10. @paul montgomerty I don’t like ketchup on my ice cream. I love Superman. I love the Marvel universe. I don’t think they should ever mix. But the Sentry’s problem isn’t just that he’s too much like a DC character (I’d actually say he feel more like a Wildstorm character), his main problem is that he’s lame. I sort of just accepted the sentry in his first appearence in new avengers. He was kind of like thor, but instead of a god, he was near-god DC level superhero. I could wrap my brain around that. But as soon as we start focusing on his mental problems, his "secret" history in the marvel universe (which is the thing I most hate about him), his power and his ridiculous fragility, that’s when I say enough. Kill the bastard, send him into space, send him to anoter dimension, retcon him into the ground. Just don’t waste too many pages doing it, because I’m already sick of him. (there better not be one of those big universe wide funerals when he dies)

     

  11. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @Jimski – I just want to make it clear here and now. Any defense I may make for the Sentry is a defense of Bendis and whatever it is he’s trying to do.  The conclusion I’ve come to is this:

    The Sentry should not have gone past that Marvel Knights mini, but since he has, let’s hope somebody can figure this shit out.   And for the sake of…storytelling(?) I wish they’d figure out a way to make him work rather than just retcon him out.  I think I’m empathizing too much with the writers and sort of forgetting that I have to read this garbage too. 

  12. Like many, i don’t believe in killing characters unless it provides something more to a story.For instance The Flash in Infinite Crisis or Kitty Pryde in Astonishing. In regards to the Sentry, he shouldn’t be killed. Like Paul mentioned, and quite nicely, Sentry does have aspects in which it can be used to better a story.Like the fragility of the human mind. So don’t kill the character, rather find a writer that can do something with him. Or, retcon certain traits he have out of story. Cause god knows marvel never retconed something drastically before. 

  13. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    oops, the last person who commented had a double post and both got deleted by accident.  Sorry about that.  

    Please post again.

    (especially since it started with "This was a great article" and made a really nice point about the Sentry in cosmic events!!!!) 

  14. In all honesty though I see two major problems with the Sentry:

     1)His Show/Tell ration is way off. The last couple years the Sentry has been all tell and no show. We are told how important he is to certain people, we are told that he has a place in Marvel history…but there isn’t enough actual "showing" of that. The "showing" we have seen has fallen short emotionally as well.

     2)Sentry has a bunch of continuity concerns. I mean that in a sense his place in continuity is kind of a major plot point for the character. You have all this continuity baggage for this guy with NONE of the organic continuity building that the rest of characters around him have. It is one thing to build a universe all at once, but to try and drop a character in like that is tricky business. Part of me think the Sentry would work better without any of that "lost hero" stuff. Focus on his story now…instead of telling us about a story that doesn’t really exist.

  15. I love the Sentry. The two mini’s by Jenkins are wonderful. I think the main problem is that people tend to blame the character for certain writers not knowing what to do with him. The reason he sits at home is because he is agrophobic and paranoid about unleashing the void. He is scared, he is so very terrified that he might lose control for an instant and damn us all. He is Bruce Banner and Calrk Kent combined.

  16. I think if they had never introduced the Sentry with all this retroactive continuity stuff the venom wouldn’t be nearly as bad.  Jimski nailed it – The Sentry hasn’t earned his place in Marvel history, yet we are told to think of him as being among the pantheon.

  17. Thats true Connor but without the retroactive continuity the original mini wouldn’t have had any weight to it at all. And plus as mighty avengers has taught us, no one remembers his past deeds. That was why he was able to confront Ben Grimm in the past and get to Reeds time machine

  18. Let me say this… I just re-read the original "Sentry" mini and the "Sentry" issues of New Avengers… much as I love Bendis (and as many of you know I do love the Bendis) he has misfired with this character, primarily by making what has happened to him recently unclear.  (That second Jenkins mini didn’t help, either.)  The other problem… to me, it’s never been clearly explained just who or what the Void actually is.  I know, The Void is the Sentry!  Great, but… how?  Is it like Magus and the Goddess?  Good and evil?  One must exist for the other to co-exist?  I can’t believe I just referenced the Infinity Trilogy to make a point… point is, I don’t care that there’s a Superman-level hero in the Marvel U.  I’d care if he was a Superman level hero without severe emotional problems; THAT’S what makes The Sentry work in the Marvel U.  The problem is, Bendis has mostly misused him and, again, it’s been unclear as to what is current situation/state of mind actually is.  If the New Avengers issues are to be believed, then White Queen unlocked all of his latent memories, he erased himself from everyone’s memories in the first place because Mastermind psychically tricked him into doing it, but now he remembers everything and nobody else does (except for Reed Richards.)  Hey, I think the character has excellent potential.  That first mini is really an interesting concept with a good execution, and the character was obviously never meant to go beyond that.  Bendis took him, convinced he could run with him, and it just hasn’t worked out as well as he had hoped.  I think there’s a lot of potential in the character.  I can easily see how that character can be handled well and made very interesting.  The problem is you can’t do it in a team book.  He needs his own monthly.  But at this point, who would buy it?

  19. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I think Tom’s got this one.  It’s all about establishing new continuity and character relationships for the Sentry so we can get past the material we were never privy to (and are therefore undeserved).  Don’t fixate on the flaws to pretty them up.  It’s gotta be full steam ahead.  

  20. Paul,

    Ketchup has its place, like when it’s called catsup and is prepared in a non-canonical manner by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.

    And I realllllly don’t want it in my ice cream.

  21. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    The irony here is that I don’t really like ice cream.  

    Haha. 

  22. I think you’ve got to take the differences into account with the Superman/Sentry comparison.  Superman is DC’s founding character.  From him comes all other heroes and the need for these other heroes.  It’s why he works so well within the fabric of the DCU because in every writer’s mind, that character is ever present in that world i.e. Batman does not need to save an airplane full of people (unless essential to his story) because Superman will deal with it. 

    In the Marvel U, they were getting by just fine without a "Superman-ish" hero.  In fact, I would argue that these heroes battled harder and more fiercely because there wasn’t this god-like being to save their butts.  It adds a touch of intensity to fights because none of them are indestructible (except the Hulk…who’s the strongest there is…).  Now, when you throw the Sentry into this mix, it’s got to be done well.  He needs to be given relevance and a reason why he’s there in order to add a level of intensity to the stories.  And it hasn’t been done well.  WWH would have been ten times better if the heroes of the Marvel U found a way to beat him as opposed to the Sentry coming in a beating the crap out of him.  It would make the event more fun.  And many of us have agreed that his presence in Secret Invasion is a mockery of everything he should be.  He’s essentially useless in the Universe that he’s in.  He’s forced and completely dumb. 

    I know the writer in you believes that he can be saved, and maybe he could, but does anyone care enough about the character any more to want to see it?  Personally, I don’t really think so.

  23. I really don’t think the Sentry is like Superman at all beyond vague cosmetic similarities like strength, flight, and a cape.  I can’t even see him as a parody beyond maybe the over-powered thing, which really hasn’t been the case for the character since Curt Swan stopped drawing him.  Superman is about inspiring people to action, to use what they can to make the world better.  The Sentry holds a fear he’s been told is a man-made fabrication and STILL he uses it like a crutch to do nothing.  His inaction smacks in the face of the power and responsibilty equation every hero should have to some degree. If you don’t move, you don’t grow.  If you don’t grow, you don’t have any progression.  If you have no progression, you have no story.  If you have no story, you suck as a character.

    In more ways (and even then it’s a stretch), I find him to be more like Dr. Manhattan, a big super-powered guy who would depart to other celestial bodies to brood for extended periods at a time and really do next to nothing.  The problem is Dr. Manhattan (whom I personally do not like either) was here and gone inside a year whereas the Sentry has been around for three and a half and counting and it’s gone on for far too long.  Like Dr. Manhattan, Bob worked as a one-off character with a finite beginning, middle, and end.  He was interesting enough to hold a single miniseries and be done with it.  Or like Miracleman, a guy who struggles with the fact that he USED to be the world’s greatest hero, forgot, and is now kind of in limbo, but even he only lasted about 25 issues before finishing up.  The "I have powers but do nothing with them" guy CAN be interesting if written well and NOT thrown in anything beyond a finite, isolated story arc  I think we all agree the Sentry should have stayed gone after the Jenkins/Lee mini and are really just debating whether the character still has any juice left.  Can he be turned around?  I suppose, but that doesn’t wash the stain that Bendis held this character in his grasp for almost four years and did nothing but turn him into a gigantic fail monkey.

  24. since when is the void a man-made fabrication?

  25. This was a great article. I personally dont like a charecter being forced on me like ive felt with the sentry, now i never read the mini but everything ive learned about him seems to make me like him less, id say the only thing that did make him interesting is the idea that the "void does the opposite of what the sentry does, so when the sentry flew screaming like a little girl the perviously evil void rushes to the rescue. again this is only one interesting thing among many flaws over all i wish the sentry would just stay in space or become the new hearld of galactus at least then we can get some cool stuff for Silver Surfer, I really enjoyed seeing SS in Nova.

  26. In the secord arc in New Avengers, they reveal "the Void" is just a mental attack set up by Mastermind and the Crazed General inside Bob’s brain to make him think the Void will be unleashed when he does things.  Bob KNOWS it’s a fake, but still chooses to nothing rather than overcome it.

  27. in the second mini its implied that the void is the real personality and the sentry was created to combat that. regardless the fact that the sentry knows he can overcome the void but in your words "chooses not to" is not really whats going on. People who are crazy know they need help, its not that they choose to not seek it, their mental capacity won’t let them seek it. This is why the sentry works for me especially because as someone who has dealt with mental illness personally it rings very true.

  28. i wish we had seen the Sentry in action for a while first and then peeled the onion back to see that he’s nuts giving it more weight.

  29. After reading this artcile I went and ready the Wikipedia entry on The Sentry…wow…I have a headache now.  I think maybe my mind is left in as fragile as state as Bob Reynolds after trying to make sense of all that.

  30. @Roi– But a some point, the character must make some headway, collapse, do something or most people will have just lost interest like they and I both have.  He hasn’t made any progress since he came back.  It took him four issues of World War Hulk to leave the house.  It took a single page to send him flying to Saturn.  I see him take baby steps like taking out Doom, which is good, but there’s an entire issue of Mighty Avengers devoted to how utterly useless he is in a pinch and how Tony Stark practically has to spend half an issue to get him to do something, that drags the plot and the story down.  Any sympathy I have for the character is gone to the point that when the Void gets mentioned, I just roll my eyes.  The Void doesn’t wash for me anymore, not after three and a half years of it.  And when Bendis says right at the beginning that the Void isn’t real and is just an illusion set up by Mastermind, it takes away any nobility or sympathy of the character for what he does for me.  He’s been told straight up that his bogeyman is just a mental trap and he STILL just refuses to leave the house during a Hulk attack until it’s too late or flies to friggin’ Saturn to cry his eyes out when a Skrull calls himself Void.  There MUST be progression beyond this dragged out, reptitive motion of him never moving forward or the character needs to go.

  31. I maintain that there are no bad characters. Just badly written characters. If we gave the Sentry to Peter David or Grant Morrison or Mark Millar they could do something interesting with him.

     The problem is that he was created in a vacuum, and then they expected everyone to just roll with it when they added him into the main continuity as though everything in that vacuum were true. There as no interaction with the main universe, except in his own vacuum book. The problem, in summation, is that fans feel that Marvel is pushing a hero that is far less deserving than our traditional favorites. He hasn’t cut his chops. He doesn’t have the depth to be taken seriously.

  32. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I don’t think there’s any way to deny that Bob’s mental frailty is played for comedy.  So, while I’m no expert on mental illness, I don’t know that this is really the best showcase for realistically rendered mental illness in comics.  

  33. Yeah, I think that second mini was about trying to turn around the character — to show that Bob Reynolds began as a criminal and a degenerate, but that when he was given power and became the Void his subconscious created the Sentry to balance things out. I may have some details wrong about this. The point is, it’s hard to really keep his character straight partly because his story is complicated but also partly because his whole character is defined by his psychosis. There’s nothing really to relate to or dig into to understand who Bob Reynolds is. He’s as abstract a character as he is a superhero. 

    I’m still hopeful. I don’t want him dead, but I don’t want to see him be a pivotal part of any major storyline until his character is fleshed out and makes sense. No more World War Hulks, please!

  34. Of course, the Sentry’s mental state is played as a joke.

    It’s Marvel having a laugh at all it’s readers. 

  35. I agree for the most part with Zombox on bad writing as opposed to bad characters and in this case, I do think the Sentry is certainly a victim of bad writing.  I do think, however, there are characters that designed to be used for a set point of time and then tied up as a character like Garth Ennis’ the Thousand, Stan and Jack’s Kurrgo, Frank Miller’s Spartans, or whoever and Sentry goes on that list.  He was just right for a mini and it ended well enough on its own.  The Sentry didn’t need to come back, but still did.

    Oh, but when Jenkins created Typeface?  Yeah, that was just a bad character.  There’s really just no way around it.  Heh. 

  36. Bendis has been writing the Sentry. You dudes do know that right?

  37. Yeah, and he’s writing him poorly.

  38. I’m not really sure I understand the ‘something must be done with the Sentry’ argument.  There are plenty of other characters that exist that Marvel just doesn’t use.  And I mean, the Sentry’s AGORAPHOBIC, it’s not like it’s hard to buy that he would just hide in a cave somewhere.  It’s apparently working for Wanda Maximoff.

  39. I don’t hate the Sentry nearly as much as some other people do.  My problem with the Sentry is that I believe there are things Bendis could do to make this character interesting that don’t involve him whining in space.  Sentry needs to have an "Uncle Ben tragedy".  Something so awful that it would snap him out of his fun and make him believe in something more than sitting in his house all day.  They could still play with his mental problems but if we have to see him bawled up one more time I’m going to give up.

  40. Let’s just give it up for an awesome title.

    *slow clap* 

  41. I said this in the forums, and I’ll say it again here: Neurosis is the new kryptonite. They’ve taken Bob’s mental state and used it in the same way, replacing the silver age kryptonite stories with much more 21st century mental health concerns.

    Is Bendis having a laugh? Sure, a little bit.

    But: there are bits where the Sentry CAN work.

     

    It’s just REALLY tough. And it doesn’t have anything to do with the retroactive continuity. I don’t care so much about that. What I like about Sentry is that the most powerful man in the Marvel universe is also the weakest. That’s VERY much a Marvel theme. Think about Bruce Banner. Even think about Spider-man. The better a hero he is, the more his personal life falls apart. And vice versa. Marvel heroes have always been bittersweet. The greater the power, the larger the flaw. To me, The Sentry can work because it’s kind of hilarious that Tony Stark is sitting on the most powerful weapon in the universe, but he has to convince him to leave the house they way he’d have to bribe a two-year-old to eat his vegetables. This is what Bendis is playing with. And he has his moments. Other writers have not done this as well, and he falls flat.

    And all of this is separate (in my mind) from the Jenkins/Lee mini-series, which works best as a stand-alone story and uses its false history to tell a very interesting story about an emotionally damaged superman. If the Sentry had only existed in that book and was never seen again, I think people would have a much easier time accepting it. It would feel like a literary experiment.

    My take: he’s a valid character. Just a damn hard one to write and write well. 

     

     

  42. I don’t read 616 Marvel regularly so my view of Sentry is based on what the Ifanbase says and the small amount of what I’ve read.  So far with the first New Avengers arc and Secret Invasion as my material of him I have to say I don’t like him.  Superman is good in theory and Hyperion (Supreme Power) is great but Sentry just seems like 616 Superman and his Kryptonite is his insanity which seems interesting in theory or in his own book but with other characters in risk he ruins things.  I’m hoping this Void thing changes his character so he might become interesting.

  43. Best way to get me to NOT read a book is put Sentry in it. I have no interest whatsoever in seeing him "rehabilitated" or "used the right way."

  44. I know I am in the minority but I really like the Sentry. I think he is being used poorly, but I think he has loads of potential and the inserted continuity also has loads of potential. My biggest complaint is that there is no growth for the character, it seems like instead of showing him dealing with his mental illness and the struggle of that all he ever does is scream and run off panel. 

    When he has his moments where he holds it together, he is great but those moments are rare. I think there are loads of great stories to be told, just like there have been great stories about Tony’s drinking and Speedy’s drugs. The writers need to stop using it as a means of getting him out of the story and start showing him dealing with it.

    Oh and his wife is a skrull… 

  45. The Sentry is a terrible character.   He’s practically invincible, so they gave him a really frustrating character flaw.  What I think people tend to gloss over is that he is visually unappealing.  His costume is both dull and unappealing.  Just looking at him is unpleasant.  I would say change the costume, but that’s not enough.  Kill him off and make sure he stays dead.

  46. I don’t get all this talk of, "He has so much potential. If only we could find him a good writer and an interesting situation…." What is this, the WPA? Am I the Sentry’s guidance counselor? Why are we required to do job placement for Bob? We can just call it a wash and replace him with the B-Sides. And hey, then the world can actually forget him for a decade or so and give him some actual cache for our kids.

  47. gah i HATE you sentry you’re so useless….

  48. Surprise, surprise, I hate Sentry too. In his latest appearance in avengers, I felt like the Skrulls conversing about Bob. "Why does Stark keep him around?" I wonder that too, sleeper skrulls. I hear good things about the miniseries but the current Sentry is this guy who’s supposed to be the greatest living weapon ever, but he seems useless! Couple that with the fact that we’re supposed to take him as some classic hero injected in continuity bugs me. If he was interesting, I wouldn’t mind.

  49. @Jimski — What’s wrong with seeing potential in a character? I feel like there’s something fundamentally interesting about the character. I’d like to see it brought out and used to full effect.

    I guarantee you that our man Paul here could write an excellent Sentry story that used the Superman-like trappings with the modern neuroses. I would totally read that story. I see nothing wrong with the concept — just the execution.

    Would i be heartbroken if they just put him in a locked box and never used him again? Probably not. But… emotionally damaged Superman. I see stories in that. Stories that I’d want to read. 

     

     

  50. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @daccampo – Whoa, whoa, whoa……whoa.  You’re volunteering me to fix the Sentry?  Haha, I dunno, man.  I think I’d rather just tell a good Superman story.  But I do agree that there’s no harm in trying to rehabilitate a wonky character.  

    First thing I’d do is give him a new costume.  Or find a new application for his power.  It’s been mentioned that he does well in cosmic events.  Maybe I’d toss him out into space.

  51. @daccampo, my contention is that the Sentry’s problems are inherently wired into his DNA. His Sentry-ness, and all that April Fool’s manufacted backstory… yeugh. All I hear is, "The Sentry could be great if he just wasn’t the Sentry." 

  52. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @Jimski – I disagree. A lot of characters are leagues away from their starting position.  Take Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, Barbara Gordon, hell…Batman.  It’s just so early in the Sentry’s existence.  I think we’re just super conscious of where he is right now because it’s a modern sensibility, it’s fresh in our memory, and we get to talk about it daily on the internet.  It’s like being born into a firing squad.  I’m not saying he will, but it’s possible that he can make a turnaround.  

  53. I’d be afraid of Grant Morrison taking on Sentry.
    That book would be so meta, it would come to my house and eat all my food and stink up my couch and never leave.

    But,you know who would fix the Sentry?

    Geoff effing Johns. He would somehow adjust all the past continuity and actually make the character COOL. Tell me I’m wrong. I triple dog dares ye!

  54. Interesting article 

    I live and hope for the day that the Sentry becomes a welcome addition to the Mavel Universe.

    I’m a big fan of the character. His appearance in New Avengers sparked my interest to hunt down the original series, and the second mini cemented him in my imagniation.

    My main frustration comes from hearing the same critiscisms on many, less mature sites, with very little constructive critiscism. (and considering the large amounts of dislike for Bob on this site, I salute you all for your handling ot the topic maturely)

    But anyway:

    First, it was "He throws everything into the sun". Twice, he did it twice. 

    Constant freak outs. Ok, this is a fairly major concern. On the one hand, I liek the idea of Tony trying to keep him motivated, but it needs to be handled better. Of course, for every instance of inaction, there’s been at least one or more cases of him hitting stuff. 

    He has so far

    * Ripped Carnage in two

    * Thrown the Void into the Sun

    * Subdued the new Super Adaptoid (great scene, btw)

    * Fought off Terrax

    * Helped defeat The Collective (after a pep talk from Cap)

    * Held his own against the most powerful version of the Hulk to date (until Hulk talked him down)

    * Smacked Female Ultron all over town, and clearly could have taken her out too

    Not bad for a guy who never does anything 😛 

  55. @PaulMontgomery – Yeah, I’m not saying you’d WANT to take the job, just sayin’ that I know you could. IN this article you show a real understanding of the character. And with your interest in Superman, at least conceptually, I think you could come up with something that’s a cool, different take on Sentry as an emotionally damaged Superman.

  56. I want the Sentry to go awwwwwwwwwwwwwwway.  *SOB*

  57. @Jimski – Sure, I getcha. But that’s why I was pointing out that that I LIKED the duality of the character. I see potential. Thus, I don’t think the problems are hardwired. That said: not every character is going to be liked by everyone. Sentry is definitely polarizing.

  58. Great article, Paul. I actually didn’t know about the Wizard tie-in and all that–I started reading the Avengers kinda recently and totally, totally missed it. When I read the story in the trade, I thought it was kind of interesting, in a self-absorbed/important kind of way but now I have a much better idea why he is so polarizing.

     

    I am sure someone has mentioned this before, but perhaps Marvel and DC could do a cross over when Superman kills The Sentry?  Or where they switch places for awhile?

     

    anyway, right on, thanks for the knowledgeness.

     

     

     

     

  59. @conor

    <cough>  aquaman

     

    sorry, low blow 😀

     guess we all have our guilty pleasures

  60. I just thought it was hilarious in the Stan Lee podcast when Ron mentioned the Sentry (a character that was set up to be "a Stan Lee creation," Stan just basically went "Who the f–k is the Sentry?"  I know I laughed.

     And Aquaman lobotimized a White Martian.  That’s the definition of cool, dang it.

  61. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @Tork – Hell, Stan Lee has a multi-page interview and afterword in the trade paperback of the first Sentry mini.  Ghost-written or forgotten?  

  62. Probably ghost-written.  Either way, I laughed.

  63. @FrayedEdges – I have no idea what you mean.

  64. I just finished watching Superman IV "The Quest for Peace" and couldn’t help but notice the strong resemblence between Nuclear Man and Mr, Reynolds. Has anyone ever made mention of this before? Take a look. Notice the blonde hair, the yellow costume, the cape, his connection with the sun and the "N" on his chest – turn it the opposite direction and it looks just like The Sentry’s "S".

    My opinion on the topic: I honestly think Bob’s in a position with promise right now, or atleast the Void is. Seems like the popular thing to do here at IFanboy is to hate him collectively, so much so that we missed our chance not to hate him. But because an entire issue of MA was taken from us for Sentry reasons, when what we really want is some Skrull reveals, we continue to hate him.    

  65. I have a dream….a dream, that one day, Marvel will publish a miniseries entitled "The Marvel Universe Kills The Sentry" in which the entire Marvel Universe, hunts down and kills The Sentry.

     One day……one day……

  66. Totally agree with FACE. I wonder how many people are hating on Sentry b/c its the ifanboy thing to do right now??

  67. @Joshua – It’s not really the "iFanboy thing" to do, the Sentry hate is pretty much pervasive across the entire internet comic book community.  But I do imagine that for some the hate is based on a certain amount of bandwagoness.  Most have good reason, though.

  68. Great artical Pol, the title had me in stiches.

  69. @conor – even the bracelets match.  i have no doubt there’s a connection.

     

  70. i think it’s interesting that this is the only character that i can think of that fanboys just want to die.

    usually it’s all about just getting someone awesome to write the character, but you guys are out for 4color BLOOD.

  71. Seriously, isn’t it fun to have everyone on the same page, with a common cause?  They should redo A Death in the Family, but with Bob Jenkins.  I’d pay $.50 for a 900 call.

  72. I’m a big time Sentry fan.  And for a while I thougt I was one of a small handfull of fans in a sea of hard core Sentry haters; as time has progressed, I’m pleased to see there are more fans than I originally thought.

    It doesn’t bother me at all that the Sentry was supposed to be a big staple hero in the Golden age and then forgotten.  Its a new origin for a basically "new" character and I welcome the idea.  In a world where mutants can disappear if you utter the right 3 words, or the Hulk can innact his own version of Gladiator and everyone loves it, this really gives people pause?  Is he wimpy sometimes?  Sure.  Do you wish you could slap him in the face and tell him to get over the stupid Void?  Oh yeah.  He has a lot of character building to do and overcoming his issues is a progressive thing that won’t take 3 issues to solve.  One of my biggest beefs with Superman is that he can do just about whatever he wants and he only suffers from Kryptonite?  Kinda lame.  Having the power level that the Sentry does, it makes sense that he would be reticent to use it, especially if he things that the Void will do just as much evil as good.  Now as Secret Invasion develops, it starts to make more sense.  How do the Skrulls deal with a guy that you can’t measure his power level?  Just make him so crazy to the point where he doesn’t want to act.  With an invasion this intricate and planned for who knows how long, makes sense that they would build that up. 

    As we see more of the Sentry, I think more people are starting to come over to the side of the Golden Guardian.  Is he ruining comics?  Hardly so.  He’s in some of the biggest Marvel titles and they are selling incredibly well.  Given enough time to really examine the character, I think the Sentry will be not only tolerated, but well liked.

  73. Bob Reynolds! 

    I think I’ve been calling him Jenkins for some time. 

  74. I was just reminiscing with a friend who is rewatching the TV series "Homicide," and we got to that unfortunate point in season 6 where Jon Seda was added to the cast as a brash, young, new detective.  Now, Jon Seda is not a terrible actor (I’ve seen him be pretty good in other things), and the character wasn’t even terribly conceived.  It was just that, on what had for the first five seasons been an ensemble show with storylines fairly evenly distributed among all the characters, suddenly Detective Falsone had the A story in EVERY episode.  And then he would sometimes show up in somebody else’s storyline and solve their cases, too.  Basically, there was this character who had zero history with the audience or with the rest of the ensemble, and it seemed like the show was trying to tell us he was more important than the characters the show’s pretty small and hardcore audience had been following for years.   There was, naturally, Internet-hate.  (Though in fairness, this was the late usenet-era of Internet discussion; there was probably a lot of hate in general because the interface was so bad that if you bothered to figure out how it worked, you were even more irate than you had been to start with).

    Anyway. . .I wonder if the scale of Sentry-hate is related to a similar feeling.  People first picked up New Avengers with the idea it was going to bring back old-school characters they loved.  Even if people were ambivalent about  Spider-Man and Wolverine being on the team, at least those were characters they knew.  "But wait, what’s with this Sentry guy?  Why is there a whole arc about him, when I just want to see Iron Man bringing Captain America his favorite bagels?"*  And then suddenly Sentry’s in another series — and he’s instrumental to another crossover — and a character who might be interesting in a particular niche keeps showing up in everybody else’s storylines.  I’m not saying this is empirically true, but, at least, it’s the perception, and it’s perception that leads to widescale hatering.  

    And now I’m working on the theory that the Sentry is Joe Q’s secret plan to distract fandom from bitching about Wolverine being in every book.   "We throw this guy at them long enough and they’ll be begging for more Wolverine.  Bwahahaha!"

     *Or maybe that’s just me?  Though that’s basically an exact quote from a friend who just read the Sentry trade of NA, so there are at least two of us.

  75. @Conor

     

    yeah, sorry, there seems to be a whole line of txt missing from my previous post.

     I meant to add that surely you can empathise as a fellow fan of someone who hasn’t always been treated the best by writers, but has had his moments.

    and the last line definitely wasn’t supposed to appear in giant size. apologies if it looked like I was shouting at you or anything 

  76. I really hope that the Sentry can be saved.  If not i wouldn’t mind at all if he flew into the sun screaming "NOOOOOOOO!!!!" for one last time as he commits suicide in the most epic way possible. 

    Bob does have some interesting stuff going on, but it’s all been pushed aside for some reason.  I originally really liked the guy in all honesty.  I thought, hmm this void thing and really weird retcon is actually kinda intriguing.  Then it got beaten into the ground and the guy became a flying (sometimes) bag of cry.  I mean, yeah, I hate superman because he’s too strong and perfect, but I figure if he (or the Sentry) is gonna be that strong, at least let him be strong.  Don’t make him completely useless.

     I wish i knew how to fix the guy.  I too believe every character can be good if given the correct writer and story.  Maybe no one that’s currently in the business gels with the Sentry.  Maybe we just have to wait for some young gun to show up and do something cool with him.  I guess the simplest solution is to have the Sentry slowly get less nervous about his powers and the Void (say over the next year or so.) People would complain just as much as they do now if it was an instant change, so I’m gonna say that its gotta be gradual.