Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dark Avengers #13

I hope no one out there was a big fan of the Sentry concept as presented by Paul Jenkins or Jeff Parker. For me, I absolutely loved the Silver Age approach Parker used in the Age of the Sentry limited series. For the first time, the Sentry was a character I wanted to learn more about.

Not anymore!

Bendis pulls a big retcon here, and I full realize this will last only until someone else writes the next origin, but for now, Bendis has pulled down the golden guardian of good. It turns out that Robert Reynolds isn't a genius or an earnest young man who happened upon an experimental serum, he is in fact a meth addict. An addict who broke into a secure lab and quickly became addicted to a super-serum. The best part is that while Sentry wants to be good, his power is linked to the wrath of God, the same wrath that killed the firstborn in the Old Testament. And because this is a Marvel comic, Galactus gets his name tossed in somehow too. It's all a bit confusing to me, because it seems like this is one heck of a set up for an unnecessary heel turn (when a good wrestler switches sides and goes bad). Age of the Sentry had a perfectly acceptable and pleasantly Silver Age explanation set up for the Void. Too bad this is the version that will get read by thousands more people. Overall, I just have to laugh. I mean, the big surprise weapon for Norman Osborn is a meth-addict Sentry empowered by God's Old Testament wrath. Does that all really seem necessary? How is it a surprise weapon when Sentry was a founding Dark Avenger?

Mike Deodato does a decent job with what he has. Parts of the book look mighty spooky and I always appreciate how he takes the time to include scantily clad ladies. I'm not clear on the weird skull Sentry exhibits at one point either. Just how evil is Sentry?



ian from westfields said...

Wanda was behind HoM (and everything you knew about her powers were wrong), who is the shadowed figure meeting with Spider-Woman early in NEW AVENGERS?, Who is Ronin?, the Illuminati, Who is Norman's shadowed enforcer in SIEGE: THE CABAL? What is the Sentry? If, over the course of seven years, you've employed the "Guess who...?" plot twist but alternately leaned heavily on sweeping retcons, it is very difficult for a reader to invest in the "Guess who...?" plot without automatically assuming this will be undone by a retcon once reveals become inconvenient or untenable. That's how I feel. I hope that makes sense.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy these comics. Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness's Hulk is fun. What I'm talking about here is good. This was not a good comic IMO and exposes some of the real weaknesses of Brian Bendis's Avengers work.

So far we've seen Bendis take on The Hood, Marvel Boy, and The Sentry (to name a few) to lesser effect than their prior appearances. It's neat that he's making use of new characters but it seems authorial fiat tends to take precedence over anything else.

Where Johns might've had a reputation for adhering to character and consistency, Bendis is like a bull in a china shop--his style so ideosyncratic and personal that he can't help but overwhelm any character he writes through his dialogue alone.

But then you throw in his penchant for just rewriting things anyway (and Marvel's lack of resistance when it come to BMB), and it makes for some pretty unimpressive results.

Dom said...

I totally agree with both of you on the lame retelling of Sentry's history. It's like if on the last episode of "Lost" Jack was just to wake up on the plane, and it was all a bad dream (pretty much the "Dallas" affect).

But with that said...some of my favorite books are the New Avengers and Dark Avengers. They have a lot of characters I enjoy and drive the overall Marvel story. Which I will still take over powerful colored people with jewelry any day. Is that racist?

My one fault (besides this Sentry thing) with BMB was that he used Deathlok way too little back in New Avengers when the Hood was coming into his own. Get dat' half-bot some action BMB!

Timbotron said...

LOL. It seems all smart nerds agree, Bendis needs to stop retconing!