The Sentry is a red herring in the comic book industry – a retcon idea that actually works. The 2000 miniseries, written by Paul Jenkins with art by the incomparable Jae Lee, introduced The Sentry to the Marvel timeline, a Superman-esque hero who apparently played a key role in the defining adventures of the Fantastic Four, X-Men and Hulk, despite never having been spoke of prior to the miniseries.
An innovative marketing campaign had Marvel and Stan Lee claiming that The Sentry was some kind of forgotten icon in the timeline, a lost relic of Marvel lore. Really, he was created for the purposes of the miniseries, but such a cool interpretation of the idea by Marvel lent it a real world credibility that carries over into the book (there’s a detailed explanation of the hoax at the back of the collected edition).
In the story, Robert Reynolds is a middle-aged loser who begins to remember his life as The Sentry, a hero with the power of a million exploding suns, complete with his own watchtower and nemesis, The Void. In the miniseries, we see Reynolds come into contact with his old superhero friends, who slowly begin to remember him after forgetting him for so long.
In the present day, The Void is returning, and The Sentry is the only one who can stop it. Unfortunately, there’s one piece of the puzzle that will reveal why all the heroes were made to forget The Sentry to begin with – suffice to say, the book tends to tread a downbeat path.
What fascinates me about the story is The Sentry’s hidden role in these Marvel heroes’ timelines. In a range of ways, this mighty superhero motivated these individuals to become better than they thought they were, a feat that both teaches you more about the motives of the standing Marvel characters and provokes sympathy for the doomed protagonist.
Pick it up. It’s quite unlike anything else published by Marvel.