A Massive Change for Sentry Alters Everything We Knew About the Hero

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Sentry #4 by Jeff Lemire, Joshua Cassara and Kim Jacinto, on sale now.

Every superhero has a story that defines them. Captain America was a runt unfit for military service until he received a super soldier serum injection. Captain Marvel was a fighter pilot unexpectedly exposed to a device that granted her fantastic cosmic powers. Bruce Banner was just a scientist with anger issues until a gamma bomb turned him into the Incredible Hulk. The stories have changed slightly over the years, but the core of them remains true, and each hero must operate within the bounds of their origin. To deviate too far would be cataclysmic, fundamentally changing everything we know about the Marvel heroes we love.

So, with all of that in mind, let's talk about how Sentry #4 is a cataclysmic, fundamental reimagining of everything we know about the hero.

If there's a story that defines Bob Reynolds, the Sentry, is that of two binaries constantly working against each other. On the one hand there is the Sentry, golden protector of humanity and font of seemingly limitless power. On the other hand, there is the Void, the embodiment of pure evil whose savage lust for destruction has left countless dead in its wake. Both personas have dwelled within Bob ever since he first received his own super soldier serum injection of sorts (that's another, equally complicated story). As the Sentry, Bob accomplished a lot of good, but he was always wary of the Void, whose return could signal the utter destruction of everything he had built and, well, just everything in general.

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Jeff Lemire and Kim Jacinto kicked off their Sentry run by revealing that Bob had come to accept that his own internal dichotomy was simply too dangerous to leave unchecked. The threat of the Void was always present, and the damage he could do when the sinister being took over far outweighed the Sentry's benefit. So, Bob opted for a third path. He opted to hang up his cape and remand his superhero time to a pocket dimension called Sentry World, made possible by a device called a Confluctor. For a time, things were good. Then, things got bad. Very, very bad. Billy Turner, Bob's former sidekick, stole the Confluctor out of frustration with Bob condescending to civilian life. There should always be a Sentry, Billy reasoned. So, why not him?

Billy concocted an incredibly elaborate plan that resulted in three very important things. First, he was able to recreate the Sentry serum with the help of one of Bob's former nemeses, Cranio. Second, he was able to trap Bob in Sentry World, which was actually just a strange side effect of Bob having lost his Confluctor. This led to the third important thing, which is that the Sentry was separated from Bob and trapped in the real world. Billy imbibed the Sentry serum and took off to deal with the solo Sentry, while Cranio tried to kill Bob in Sentry world. Alone, powerless and running for his life, Bob encountered the only thing that could possibly help him when his back was so profoundly up against a wall. He found the Void.

Bob accepted the Void's aid, but, this time, he did not become him. Instead, the effect of Bob embracing the Void in Sentry World rippled out into the real world, causing all three entities -- Bob, Sentry and Void -- to fuse, thus creating the All-New Sentry, a unification of the three personas that had long been taking turns claiming Bob Reynolds. This is also perhaps the most terrifying being to ever grave the Marvel Universe.

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To say that the Sentry, or the Void for that matter, is powerful is like saying that the Sun is bright or a shadow is dark. It's a simple, all-encompassing statement of fact, and one that Jacinto has been more than happy to communicate visually, seemingly drawing inspiration from the shaky-lined, shrieking power-up medium of manga to communicate just how devastating each of Sentry's attacks really are, and why it's actually a blessing that they're confined to the unreality of Sentry World. Now, Bob has access to not only Sentry's array of skills, but also the Void's. There's no telling exactly how that will affect the hero's power level, but it's also the less interesting discussion. What will be truly curious to see is just who this All-New Sentry actually becomes.

As the Sentry, Bob was fairly predictable. He was one of the good guys, though he was more than willing to go above and beyond to secure a victory -- all in the name of truth and justice, of course. Void, on the other hand, could kill a wide swathe of Manhattan and feel no remorse (he did that, too, by the way). So, what happens when these two personas mix? The result is frightening, but it might also be exactly what Sentry needs. After all, Sentry hasn't been the most clean-cut Boy Scout of superheroes throughout the years. He has had his fair share of controversial moments, the most infamously stomach-turning being when he murdered Ares by literally ripping the god in half. At the time, Sentry believed he was doing the right thing, but therein lies the inherent conflict of the Sentry.

Sentry tears Ares in Half

Sentry killed because he believed so strongly that what he was doing would save the world, but he still straight-up murdered a man (god, rather) and he did it at the behest of Norman Osborn, leader of the Dark Avengers. At his core, Sentry is a crusader, and a violent one at that. He's all pious rage and terrible reckoning. He might be one of the good guys, but for all his power he is profoundly unbalanced. At a certain point the best of intentions cross over into something else entirely when the means pass an ethical threshold. Like the Hulk, Sentry is a weapon that can't always be controlled, and we get a good glimpse at that when the solo Sentry persona tells off Tony Stark and blasts his way through a mile of solid Earth.

Make no mistake. The Void is evil as heck, but it's likely that he's only that way because he too is unbalanced. Observed on his own, he's the human id on acid, all electric hate and consuming desire. All-New Sentry might put an end to that imbalance, though. By combining not just Sentry and Void, but also Bob Reynolds, the All-New Sentry could actually be a much more human force for good in the world. He has the righteous fury of Sentry mixed with the self-doubt that Void represents, all tempered by the very human, very flawed Bob Reynolds. Where exactly All-New Sentry ends up falling in the grand scheme of the Marvel Universe is anyone's guess, but it's a good thing to see the character getting a new lease on life. Or is it lives, now that there's three of them?

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