Oh, so it’s only a thousand exploding suns now?

Did the Jim Beamed thing scare people off? It’s a song title, nothing more, honest! Here, new rule, song titles for general posts, related titles for posts that stick to a subject.

So! 125 today. The stomach exercises are definitely working now to the extent that I haven’t gotten the horrible pain under my hernia mesh stuff, but whether or not it’s actually flattening the stomach, hard to tell.

And with that out of the way, the rest of this is about the Sentry. If you’re curious about the character or like the character, you might find the rest of this post interesting. If you don’t like the character or don’t care or whathaveyou, well, dunno what to tell you.

I couldn’t wait any longer for Dark Avengers #13, and looked up the spoilers online. See, the Sentry is my favorite Marvel Comics character. Or, well, was, anyway. When he was introduced by Paul Jenkins, the Sentry, who’s also the most powerful hero in Marvel, was super confident, intelligent, and powerful. His alter ego Bob Reynolds had mental issues (agoraphobic, schizophrenic, and some other things) and his arch enemy the Void was just as powerful as the Sentry. Then it was revealed that the Void and the Sentry are both aspects of Reynold’s personality and the Sentry “powerset.” So it was decided that the only way to stop the Void was to make Reynolds, and the rest of the world, forget the Sentry existed. No Sentry, no Void. The world lost it’s greatest hero, but a powerful threat to earth was also removed at the same time. This particular series was off on it’s own though, and wasn’t considered a part of the mainstream Marvel Universe.

Cut to a couple real time years later, and another Sentry miniseries written by Jenkins is released. Now it’s revealed that a young Reynolds drank an experimental serum that was a modified version of the supersoldier serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America. (Keep in mind, Captain America is “peak human” by Marvel standards, which is comparable to Fedor Emilianenko, if Fedor was as good at every sport known to man as he is at fighting. The Sentry, on the other hand, is godlike in his level of power.) And there’s nothing special about Reynolds, the serum would have done the same to anyone. But the government doesn’t want to recreate the process, because they can’t control or kill Reynolds. See, Bob was just a kid looking to get high when he stole the serum. And when he got the powers, the -first- thing he did was become the Void. Having a few screws loose though, his mind developed the Sentry persona as well to balance out what he was doing.

The balance thing tied into the Sentry for a while, as for every good thing the Sentry did, the Void swore he would do something equally evil to counter it. At the end of this series, the Sentry threw the Void into the sun, and that was seemingly the end of it, for a while, anyway. Still sorta simple though.

That basic element to the Sentry is what I like. He’s a caped hero, super strong with energy manipulation powers (the trifecta of stuff I like about superheroes) and he has the unique quirk that his alter ego is insane. And his arch enemy is the evil split personality of his alter ego. Sort of like Wonder Jonathan from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Remember when Jonathan did… something… to become super competent and popular, but to balance it out, there was a monster that only he could beat? See? Cool!

After that, (or during that, I don’t remember offhand) Brian Michael Bendis became the writer of New Avengers, and the Sentry was put on the team. But Bendis had to “update” the Sentry’s origin to introduce the character to the Marvel Universe proper. So now, Reynolds admitted himself to prison for killing his wife, and he’s been using his vast psionic powers to make the world think he existed by giving the Marvel universe version of Paul Jenkins the idea to put him into comic books in Marvel. But now the Sentry is a rookie hero that needs to be told what to do. And he was mindscrewed by D list X-Men villain Mastermind to think that using his powers would lead to the “devil himself” coming to earth. So that was the explanation for the Void. But instead of Reynolds being a few sandwiches short of a picnic and the Sentry being competent, now the Sentry is just as unstable as Reynolds.

Then Secret Invasion hits. And in the middle of a fight, before even really doing anything the Sentry panics (he tends to do that a lot since Bendis started writing the character) and flies off into space, where he sees the Void in orbit around a planet. The next we see the “Sentry” he’s all black with a black speech bubble (the black speech bubble is the accepted technique to show the Void is talking), and the Black Sentry tells a horrified Lindy (the wife of Bob Reynolds) that everything will be okay, as “he” will do what the Sentry couldn’t do and protect her.

Another miniseries was released after that, with more of an old school, 60’s and 70’s era vibe to it, called The Golden Age of the Sentry. This series touched on some of the adventures that the Sentry had back in his early years.

Before I get too carried away though, I should also mention that Marvel tried to pull off a hoax with the first Sentry mini, that Stan Lee actually created the character before the Fantastic Four, making the Sentry Marvel’s first superhero. But Stan forgot about the character until some old sketches were discovered. Which isn’t true, of course. Jenkins created the Sentry. I think it’s funny, but a lot of people are overly unamused that Marvel has tried to shoe-horn the Sentry into old continuity. There’s a lot of Sentry hate out there for that matter. A lot of people think he’s too powerful for Marvel, which I disagree with. A lot of people also think he’s too similar to, take your pick of Superman (being really powerful, simple costume design), the Samaritan (having a supercomputer make his decisions for him), and Marvelman (the whole “forgetting he was a hero” thing.) Once again, I think that sort of mixing and matching of tropes is par for the course in comics. Anyhoo…

Back to the Golden Age of the Sentry. This series sort of mused on the idea that the serum Bob drank actually tapped into the power of a cosmic being from another universe. And towards the end of -that- series, as a dying Sentry gets into a fight with the Void (who’s established as a shapeshifter) and the last thing the Sentry does is transfer his own power into the Void. I forget the specifics, but the Void decides to carry on as the Sentry. Or something.

Now we have the Dark Reign of the Marvel Universe, where Norman Osborn “leads” a secret group of villains known as the Cabal. (At first it was Dr. Doom, Loki, Namor, Emma Frost, and the Hood. Save for the Hood, they’re all characters who previously wouldn’t give Norman the time of day.) The kicker is that Norman had an enforcer to keep the Cabal in line, but the comics never showed who it was. All signs pointed to the enforcer being the Void, as the Sentry is a member of the Dark Avengers team lead by Norman. Much debate ensued on the interwebz though. People gave theories as to why the Scarlet Witch, Molecule Man, the Beyonder, or even Marvelman were Norman’s Secret Enforcer.

So the Dark Avengers book turns the Sentry into a bit of a Kenny style joke, where he’s killed off every other issue. And when the Sentry wasn’t dying and mysteriously reappearing, Norman was trying to get on the Sentry’s good side, to convince him that the Void didn’t exist. But every now and then, the Sentry’s eyes would go black, and he’d have the black speech bubble. So just what was going on? Dark Avengers 13 is supposed to explain the mystery of the Sentry.

Well… Norman did… something… early on in the Dark Avengers timeline to give the Void control. The Void tells Norman he owes him one. Norman tells the Void he’s going to be his secret weapon. The story shifts to a sequence where Lindy shot the Sentry with an alien gun, and it looks like she kills him. Then we get Lindy explaining the “real” story of the Sentry. So now an adultish addict Reynolds took the serum looking for something to get high on, and the serum turned him into the Sentry. But Reynolds got addicted to the power of being a superhero, and tried to make himself -look- like one, but Reynolds was only ever in it for the power, not to actually be a hero. This is sort of similar to the themes Jenkins’ was touching on at first, that Reynolds was addicted to being the Sentry, even with all the problems it caused. Lindy then -theorizes- that the Sentry’s power is similar to that of Moses or Jesus. The Sentry wakes up, as the Void, makes a crack about being “Galactus… the destroyer of worlds” and gets ready to kill Lindy. (Galactus is a cosmic godlike being in Marvel considered a force of nature, that “eats” planets by absorbing their energy.) The Sentry persona pops in, and starts fighting the Void in his own body (sort of like how Gollum would argue with himself in the Lord of the Rings movies). Sentry panics, again, and flies off into the sun to kill himself and get rid of the Void.

But the Void keeps telling the Sentry he’s a coward and it won’t kill them. The Void then coerces the Sentry into letting him take control so the Void can actually get things done, like “the last time.” End of issue. Next issue: The Void Rising!

So there’s some controversy over the issue on the interwebz. Yeah, I know, what -don’t- people argue about over the interwebs, but I like the character, so I’m going to talk about it. Ha-HAH! Anyhoo, some are taking the Void too literally when he says he’s Galactus, but I’m of the opinion that the Void was creatively saying he’s comparable to a deadly force of nature.

The other thing is the religious implications. They’ve been saying for a while that the Sentry’s had a god complex, but they never actually said anything before like he got his powers FROM the Christian god. Granted it’s not explicitly stated, but the odd comparison was made. Here’s hoping that it’s just that, a comparison, but we’ll see in the next issue.

-Zer0

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