Green Day: Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? Never Mind, it's Only The Sentry

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Continuing Kelvin Green's on-going skewering examination of Marvel Comics' catalog of characters. In previous installments Kelvin has written about Hank Pym, Reed Richards, Scott Summers, Black Cat and Rocket Raccoon.

This month's column focuses on a character that DEMANDS the Kelvin Green treatment: The Sentry!

Ah, the Sentry. A product of that strange and exciting time at Marvel when they started taking creative risks, apparently all hopped up on adrenaline after barely surviving bankruptcy. This is the era that gave us Grant Morrison's* Marvel Boy and New X Men, as well as a new imprint aimed at bringing young readers back into comics. "Ultee-Matt" or something, I think; I don't recall how that turned out...

Anyway, there was also this odd little miniseries, claimed by Marvel to be a lost Stan Lee project from before Fantastic Four #1, polished and updated for the modern era. This astonishing bit of comics archaeology was backed up by Wizard, a scholarly journal well known for its journalistic thoroughness.

Really, how did anyone fall for this nonsense? Considering that Stan usually has all the subtlety of an H-Bomb, even he's not that obvious; his boss told him to rip-off DC's Justice League and he instead delivered the Fantastic Four, so the suggestion that he just took Superman and changed absolutely nothing but the costume and the colour of his hair must have surely raised eyebrows? No? Really? What is wrong with you people? But I digress. I'm not here to deconstruct the hoax surrounding the Sentry, but rather to put the boot into the character himself, and there are fewer more deserving** than this confused and useless non-concept.

I actually do quite like the original Sentry series, despite the hoax. Jae Lee's art is really quite strong throughout, and there is a palpable sense of doom and inevitable tragedy running through the story; this last is particularly notable, because no writer since, even Paul Jenkins himself, has managed to wring the barest smidgeon of pathos out of the character, but we actually cared for him in his first outing. Aside from that, the initial series established one thing in particular, which will require further elaboration.

Spoilers for a series published nine years ago follow!