Brian Michael Bendis’ The New Avengers: Sentry

Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers was a series that grabbed me right off the bat, and I finally got my hands on the second collection, Sentry. As you might imagine, it focuses on Robert Reynolds, the Sentry, who doesn’t remember who he is. The problem is, neither does anyone else, which, when you consider that he’s probably the most powerful superhero ever, is pretty strange.

The story starts the day after the end of The New Avengers: Breakout. Iron Man (Tony Stark) has called a meeting of other superpowered types — Reed Richards, Dr. Strange, Charles Xavier, Black Bolt, and Namor — to discuss the new team, since things happened so fast and with so little planning that he’s not had a chance to discuss it with any of them. But one question takes center stage: who is the Sentry, and why doesn’t anyone remember him? The secret lies somewhere in Bob Reynolds’ mind, but it’s buried very deep. Unraveling it becomes the main story.

Along the way, Stark calls in Reynolds’ wife, Lindy (who he thinks he killed), Paul Jenkins, the creator of the original Sentry comics, and Emma Frost, telepath extraordinaire, to try to break the block. This story is interspersed with other episodes — members of the team (Spider Woman, Spider Man, Luke Cage, and Woverine) have a run-in with the Wrecker, one of the escapees from Breakout, which sort of taxes their abilities — Wrecker had been mistakenly endowed with the powers of a god; a segment of the original Sentry — but it’s mostly involved with getting into Sentry’s head — and dealing with the Void, who is Sentry’s big problem.

I’m not sure how I feel about this one. I generally like Bendis’ stories, but this one didn’t quite jell for me. The action sequences are fast and active, the dialogue in scenes including the whole team is sharp (how could it not be, with Spiderman in the mix?), and the story is really pretty solid. I think what bothers me about it is that there are sections that are static — the parts with Lindy, Jenkins, and especially with Emma Frost, sorting through Reynolds’ memories — that break the momentum. There’s not all that much action in this particular action/adventure comic, and in those sections, the dialogue is pretty workmanlike — not a lot of life to it. Consequently, the pacing is a sort of fits-and-starts thing.

Steve McNiven did the pencils for this one, and they’re good, if not quite as definite as David Finch’s work for the first volume. The narrative flow is smooth, and there’s enough variation in the layouts to maintain visual interest.

The story is a fairly short one, and the last portion of the collection is taken up with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s “Most Wanted” files — in alphabetical order. I guess the series will keep going until all those escaped supervillains are finally hunted down.

(Marvel, 2006) Collects New Avengers #7-10 and New Avengers: Most Wanted Files.

About Robert Tilendis

Robert M. Tilendis lives a deceptively quiet life. He has made money as a dishwasher, errand boy, legal librarian, arts administrator, shipping expert, free-lance writer and editor, and probably a few other things he’s tried very hard to forget about. He has also been a student of history, art, theater, psychology, ceramics, and dance. Through it all, he has been an artist and poet, just to provide a little stability in his life. Along about January of every year, he wonders why he still lives someplace as mundane as Chicago; it must be that he likes it there.

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