Saturday, August 22, 2009

Blogathon 08: New Avengers: The Sentry

[Discussed in this post: New Avengers #7-10.]

First off, thanks to Robot 6 for giving the blogathon a little promotion. Now, back to the comics...

So, Bendis brings the Sentry back. In Breakout, he's in the Raft for killing his wife. Since then, he's been hiding out in a cave where Iron Man and Captain America find him -- and inform him that his wife, Lindy, is alive and the Sentry isn't real, he's the creation of comic writer Paul Jenkins.

While I had high hopes for Bendis bringing back the Sentry, he falls down here. It is just brutal how much he screws this up through worthless, bullshit changes that don't add anything. Bendis has a habit of bringing back unused characters or ideas and changing them for the hell of it. He reminds me of movie studios who option a book and then change it so completely that you wonder why they bothered with the original.

The inclusion of Paul Jenkins here goes nowhere and adds nothing. It's a needless little stunt that tries to play into the way that the Sentry disappeared/was forgotten, but never quite does anything.

Eventually, Bob is suddenly home and finds all of the heroes outside. Then, the Void attacks and Emma Frost goes into his head to solve things. This is all very well and good, but, during the course of this, we get a revelation: the Sentry didn't make the world forget him on purpose, his mind was altered by the Mastermind at the command of an old enemy, the General to do so. So, I guess, the Void and all of that is a result of them? Except the Sentry's own powers -- coming from him -- make the world forget? It really changes what Jenkins originally wrote and for no good reason. The situation is unchanged, but the reasons behind it are... but they don't make it a better story in any way. All it does it make it so the heroes don't make the world forget the Sentry again, which is kind of lame. Bendis needed to find a way for the Sentry to remain an existing character... but he doesn't.

The Void is still a threat. The Sentry is still mentally ill. Why wouldn't they get him to go away again? It also lessens the idea that so much power would harm a person mentally, which was a big part of the Sentry to this point. Now, he's just a victim of a little punk like the Mastermind? And constantly referring to the Mastermind as a little punk as they do doesn't help -- why can't Emma undo the damage?

I like the idea of the General being a badass villain who gets rid of his arch-enemy and is satisfied, at the time, knowing that he did so even if he won't remember later.

During the beginning of the arc, the Avengers take on the Wrecker and it's an entertaining fight. We're also introduced to Edward Gross, a collector of superpeople items... he had the Wrecker's crowbar. The fight is good and shows off the team (minus Cap and Iron Man) working together well.

Steve McNiven does the art here and I'm not a fan. His people look like their skin is made of plastic. They don't look right. But, he does do some very pretty pages. It's really he's just not to my taste and I accept (and see why) others liking him.

A couple of other things:

* The Sentry's 'fate' element to the team is cemented when it's revealed that the new Avengers Tower is really the Sentry's Tower!

* The Illuminati appear here for the first time. And Tony Stark lies to them about the Savage Land.

* On the content/promise of content, this story is pretty content packed without much 'stay tuned for something better next time' crap.

The Sentry coming back also raises a lot of questions... few that are answered, sadly. Not even in the book I'll be discussing in 30 minutes: The Sentry: Reborn, which has Jenkins return to the character and spend eight issues doing absolutely nothing.

[Don't forget to donate what you can to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund! After you do, let me know via comment or e-mail (found at the righthand side) so I can keep track of donations -- and who to thank.]