Or – “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Sentry…”
…but were too afraid he’d throw you into the sun to ask.
Dark Avengers #13
Previously, on Dark Avengers: Robert Reynolds.Â A study in contrasts.Â Sometimes a heroic, perfectly lucid figure, other times a gibbering nutbar, coweirng in fear of his own dark side.Â His entire history was wiped from the timeline due to a bizarre series of events, and even his return was strangely handled. In short, everything about the man is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, dipped in tempura and fried up with a side of bacon. He’s as crazy as a soup sandwich, and he has the power of one million exploding suns. The events of the last couple of issues of Dark Avengers have led Bob Reynolds to realize that his true power is greater than even HE realized, as he took down the man who took down the Beyonder in moments, and has apparently instinctively resurrected himself no fewer than three times in memory. How can you deal with a situation that’s millions of times worse than you thought it was when your initial thought was that it was a catastrophe?
We open with a flashback to a time identified as “1600 BCE” as a bearded prophet explains the word of the Lord, and that God has told him to mark the doors with the blood of the lamb. I suddenly recognize the words of Exodus, and I am officially uncomfortable with this story as of page one. As the prophet explains that the firstborn sons of the Egyptians will all die, the familiar power signature of The Void appears over the city. Are… are they actually doing this? Cut to several months ago, moments after Norman Osborn calls out for cheeseburgers, having convinced the Sentry that they’re just a couple of guys. What we DIDN’T see was Norman handing over an ampule of the serum that created his Sentry powers in the first place. Sentry greedily drinks the potion, and suddenly is filled to the bursting with power. “Mister Osborn,” he says in the familiar white on black word balloons of The Void, “I owe you one.” Norman responds happily, “That makes you my secret weapon.” Well, that question is answered, at least. Cut forward to moments after Lindy blew The Sentry’s face off several months ago, as she looks at the shattered skull of her very-clearly-dead husband, and explains to CLOC (Sentry’s robotic sidekick) the truth of The Sentry’s origins…
Robert Reynolds was not a clean-cut youth working for a professor, as the official story goes. He was a drug addict searching for a fix, and the fix he found was super-powers. Lindy tells CLOC the story about how her husband tried desperately to pretend to be a hero, to pretend that he was Captain America, but deep down, he was nothing but an addict chasing the dragon the whole time. As she wishes she’d killed him years ago, Sentry once again rises, and the voice of the Void tells her, “[That] makes me feel like I’ve put more into this marriage than you were ever going to.” He prepares to kill her, but Bob reasserts himself and the two personalities fight for control of the body of the most powerful creature alive. In a moment that I find screamingly funny for those who believe that the Sentry’s only trick is throwing things into the sun, he flees Earth, and tries to save the world from his own evil side… by THROWING HIMSELF INTO THE SUN. The Void explains that the Sentry is more than just a superhero. With three little words, The Void makes the subtextual textual, and makes me very unhappy in so do. “You are God.” The Sentry returns to Earth, and New York is shadowed (as in the prologue) by the power signature of the Void…
Okay, I have to say this: I can’t happily process the revelation that The Sentry is literally in possession of the power of the actual capital-gee-oh-dee. I wouldn’t categorize myself as highly religious, and I love comics with far stupider revelations in them, but for some reason this sticks in my craw hard. Someone once said that there’s a fine line between high concept and dumb joke, and this issue really makes me think about the truth of that statement as regards this issue’s (you should excuse the expression) revelations. There have been a lot of layered meta-textual bits in the Sentry’s history (after all, the character made his debut as an in-joke to sell a miniseries of Stan Lee’s “lost” character from early Marvel) and given that his power levels have been officially turned to eleven, I suppose it could be considered high concept that Bob is empowered by the almighty… And then that little voice in my head asks about being struck by lightning. There’s some nice art this issue, and a lot of revelatory material that helps to fill in some annoying gaps in recent issues of this book, which should be a great relief and IS kind of a nice read… And then we have ACTUAL BIBLICAL VERSE being transcribed into an issue of the frickin’ Avengers. A couple of decades ago, there was a minor controversy about the character of Sise-Neg, a sorcerer from the future who fought Doctor Strange, went back in time and became all-powerful, triggered the Big Bang, and essentially became God. As weird as that story is, at least Sise-Neg wasn’t a tight-wearing caped lunatic. Usually, when I do a review, I weigh the pros and cons of an issue, and give it a star rating that assesses my overall enjoyment of the comic book in question. I can’t do that this time. I don’t know if I’m being hypocritical, I don’t know if I’m being overly politically correct, I don’t know if I’m being rational or not. I liked portions of this book, and the art was some of the nicest that Deodato has done on this title. Norman Osborn’s character is at it’s creepy best here, and The Sentry mystery is finally starting to lurch towards a conclusion, but I can’t make any sort of objective assessment about Dark Avengers #13. I guess it’s a moment where, as Rod Serling would put it, I’m just submitting for your approval: Is it acceptable for a superhero (especially a superhero who is a drug addict, who suffers from mental illness, whose own alternate personality attempted to murder his own spouse) to be overtly powered by the Judeo-Christian God?
And moreover, why do I feel bad about being bothered by it?