Thursday, November 20, 2008

Review: Learning to love The Age of the Sentry

I'm a big enough man to admit when I'm wrong.

I don't like it, but I can do it. And in the case of The Age of the Sentry — in particular issue #3, which was released this week — I have to admit that my long-standing disdain for the character has been broken. The Age of the Sentry is just ... well, really good.

With writing by personal favorite Jeff Parker, a second story by Paul Tobin, and art from both Nick Dragotta and Colleen Coover, Age of the Sentry is, in a word, charming. And it's the best kind of charm, managing to avoid being cloying or precious and instead treating readers to light-hearted adventure that isn't dumbed down. It's nice to see some writers and artists know you can be silly without being stupid, and that keeping things straightforward doesn't mean sacrificing story.

Meant as a look at the hero's early adventures, the stories in Age of the Sentry are love letters to the Golden and Silver ages of comics, with unapologetic nods to the past of both Marvel and DC. By keeping things playful, the creative teams touch on these elements without being weighed down by them; a deep knowledge of continuity is definitely not needed to enjoy the book. The scripts — covering everything from a hillbilly powerhouse, a shotgun wedding for the Sentry, wonderfully ridiculous use of superpowers, and a lovelorn Manoo getting dating advice from Millie the Model — are a pleasure to read, and reminded me of how much I love the pure fun that's unique to comics.

It's easy to tell that the creators are having fun, too. Dialogue is a perfect echo of the period in comics it's trying to evoke, but with a subtle wink at the hyperbole that was typical of the time. Scenarios are wacky in the best sense of the word, and it all just shows a lot of heart.

The styles of artists Dragotta and Coover are very different, but they share a quality of being simple without being simplistic, and both are well-suited to the stories they're telling. Coover's art, in particular, is just freakin' adorable, and both artists helped draw me in. Add to all this the little in-jokes and asides like the recurring "E.E." initials, the "Design submitted by ..." caption boxes in the Millie story, and too many others to do justice to here, and you've got a comic that will appeal to anyone with a soul.

Considering my history with the Sentry, I can't believe I'm saying this — wholeheartedly, at that — but The Age of the Sentry is a comic you shouldn't miss. Get it.


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

OK. I'll go but it.

Maxo said...

I hope you like it, Wayne - come back and let me know!

Mart said...

Great review, love to know what you thought of issue six - here are my thoughts: