Seeing a superhero struggle with their mental health makes for an engaging story, which is part of what makes the Sentry such a fascinating character. Jeff Lemire is currently writing an ongoing series about Robert Reynolds and his battle to contain his alter egos. Sentry #2 picks up from a strong opening issue, with Bob realising that he needs to track down the device that is preventing the Void from returning to the real world. Themes of isolation, reality and mental instability are explored in a tightly-paced story.
The second issue opens with Bob trying to figure out who has stolen The Confluctor, a device that houses the Sentry and Void personas. Reynolds needs to return to Sentry World every day in order to keep the personalities in check. Paranoid and flustered, Bob desperately tries to reach out to the likes of Doctor Strange and Tony Stark to help him build a new Confluctor, only for them to be indisposed.
Down on his luck, Bob goes to diner that he works at to try and get help from his friend Billy. Bob was responsible for giving Billy superpowers and turning him into the Sentry’s sidekick Scout. Their relationship is given a lot of attention, with Billy calling Bob out for only coming to see him when he has nowhere else to go. I thought their dynamic was one of the strongest parts of the story. Sentry is self-aware enough to know that he’s taken advantage of Billy in the past, but it doesn’t stop him from asking for help.
Meanwhile, Sentry World is under attack by an obscure villain known as Cranio. Lemire’s decision to reintroduce the character is a refreshing one, as Cranio is exactly the kind of outlandish villain that works in a story about the mind and the nature of mental health. The idea of thought is brought up, with Cranio telling Sentress that she’s nothing more than a mental construct.
I enjoyed how the thought theme was touched upon, as the way we think is responsible for shaping the reality we live in. Sentry World may be a projection of Bob’s mind, but it serves as a reminder that everyone is responsible for creating their own reality. If someone thinks positively, then good things can happen. In Sentry’s case, his world is massively screwed up.
Back in the real world, Bob is taken captive by SHIELD and Iron Man pays him a visit. Refusing to be locked away, Bob transforms into Sentry. This leads into a twist that I didn’t see coming and I’m looking forward to seeing how it gets resolved in the future.
Lemire continues to add layers to Bob’s personality, infusing him with a kind of pathetic courage that’s contrasted with the power at his fingertips. Being a superhero is a form of addiction for Bob, so watching him try to cope is a reflection of the withdrawal that many addicts go through. Kim Jacinto’s art is colourful and off the wall, a perfect fit for telling the story of Sentry’s mental health struggles.
Sentry #2 succeeds in cranking up the tension and building on the character’s supporting cast. Lemire is doing wonders with reinventing Sentry for a new audience so I’d highly recommend picking this comic up.