by Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Mike Deodato (art), Rain Beredo (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: The rather unpleasant back-story of the Sentry is revealed and reviewed.

What’s Good: Character-driven issues always bring a particular set of strengths.  They’re usually a bit of a denser read, and Dark Avengers #13 certainly reflects this trend.

Bendis turns a great deal of attention to the Sentry’s wife, a character largely present in Dark Avengers as an inanimate object.  I do feel that he managed to garner an appropriate amount of sympathy for the character and was able to get some strong emotions out of her.  He almost made me actually care about her, which given her status throughout the series, should be outright impossible.  All told, her narration is solid, carrying an acidic tone that is a pitch-perfect mix of guilt, bitterness, and skepticism.

Of course, the best bit of dialogue is no doubt the back and forth between the Void and Bob.  It’s very well-done, with the Void achieving a sort of malevolent sentience that we’ve not really seen out of Dark Avengers thus far.  Bob’s schizophrenic circumstances are really well realized, with the back and forth between him and the Void being turbulent and violent and the distinction between the two of them being stark and poignant.

It is also worth mentioning that this is some of the best work we’ve seen from Deodato.  He goes all out in some really bombastic superheroic images.  He also makes absolutely fantastic use of lighting and his illustrations really, really help depict the Bob/Void opposition.  The Void, when in control of the Sentry, is a flaming demonic mess, while Bob looks nearly child-like in his innocent facial expressions.

What’s Not So Good: I feel as though Bendis is really going out of his way here to piss off Sentry detractors.  And I’m not sure if the character actually even has any real fans.

Does the Sentry really need a power creep that is so ridiculously massive?  The big reveal at the end is just jaw-dropping, and I have a sinking feeling that that may only be because of the sheer audacity of Bendis’ reveal, an audacity that may be laced with the stupid and the ridiculous.  Frankly, it’s hard to critique this reveal without spoiling it.  Suffice to say, if you thought Bendis had gone too far in the reasons for the Sentry’s trouncing of Molecule Man, wait till you see what’s in store for…  This takes the insanity to all new heights.  Literally biblical heights.

I’m also not sure how this reveal factors into Marvel continuity, given that the Marvel Universe already has a pseudo-Christian God (“One Above All”).  It’s unclear whether Bendis has decided to retcon this entity out of existence, or if there’s some ambiguous power division going on here.

Ultimately though, I’m not sure what the hell Marvel are going to do about this development in the long-term, though I sense the only options are either to retcon it or send the Sentry packing.  Keeping things as they are seems unsustainable, paralyzing, and headache inducing.  That, to me, is a sign that this idea by Bendis was neither good nor welcome.

Beyond this big reveal, there’s not that much on the table here.  The rest of the material and backstory on the Sentry just isn’t as gripping or shocking as Bendis clearly thinks it is and just feels a bit drab.  Furthermore, readers familiar with Paul Jenkins’ work on the character may feel like they’re treading a lot of old ground.

Conclusion: A lot of “meh” concluded with a slap to the forehead.  I can’t wait to hear from you in the comments section.

Grade: C

-Alex Evans