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Graphic Novel Review: The New Avengers: Sentry by Brian Michael Bendis, Steve McNiven, and Mark Morales

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The New Avengers: Sentry is seriously the most ambitious retcon I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a few attempted over the years that ended badly. Spider-Man clone, anyone? But this is also one of the best retcons I’ve ever seen. Perhaps the best.

In the first volume of The New Avengers, readers got introduced to Robert Reynolds, the Sentry, and evidently the most forgotten about hero since…well, ever! He was sitting in prison for murdering his wife. Only, as it turns out, his wife isn’t dead at all and she’s been wondering what’s happened to him.

I like the way Bendis set up the character. Robert Reynolds instantly garners sympathy from the readers. The idea of someone wrongly incarcerated is a good one, even more so because Reynolds requested that he be kept locked away. Then when Emma Frost of the X-Men arrives and declares that Reynolds’ s mind has been tampered with, the real puzzle sets in. I was hooked by the mystery as well as how they were going to extricate Sentry from the predicament he was in. The most powerful man on the planet was also the man who held the keys to his own prison cell.

Bendis does a lot to develop the back story of Sentry. Watching how all the other Marvel Comics intellectuals gather to try to figure out the enigma represented by Robert Reynolds’s existence was terrific. I could actually see these guys coming together to brainstorm about what they knew and how best to handle the situation.

The art in this four issue arc is really good. Steve McNiven does an excellent job of laying out panels and illustrating the action. Mark Morales’s inks make everything pop. One of the most enjoyable aspects about the art is the retro-style Marvel covers included in this graphic novel. Somehow that touch made the story all the more believable.

Although this graphic novel is shorter than the first one in the series, it has a very intense, very compelling story to tell. And it continues shaking out the threads of the other stories Bendis has to tell about his new cast of characters. The additional pages of this volume are filled with information about known super-villains. True Marvel Comics fans may already know most of the information and may not be inclined to read over the material, but I’d really encourage you to at least look at the notes Bendis has written in the voices of the various Avengers. Bendis is talented enough to even make filler material interesting.

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