WW Philly: Paniccia and Parker on "Age of the Sentry"

Sat, May 31st, 2008 at 8:51am PDT | Updated: June 1st, 2008 at 11:04am

Comic Books
Dave Richards, Staff Writer

To many residents of the Marvel Universe, the Sentry seems to have recently burst onto the superhero scene out of nowhere. In reality though, the Golden Guardian of Good has been protecting them for years, but due to a massive memory wipe they just don't remember! Starting this September in the six issue "Age of the Sentry" mini-series, co-writers Jeff Parker and Paul Tobin along with Nick Dragotta and another artist yet to be announced, reveal some of the Sentry adventures that the Marvel U forgot. CBR News spoke with Parker and Editor Mark Paniccia.

"Age of the Sentry" was born out of a brainstorming session between Paniccia and his assistant editor Jordan White. Paniccia had been fired up by writer Alan Moore's take on "Supreme" and thought it might be interesting to do a Marvel Project with a similar Silver Age feel. Pannicia knew Paul Tobin and Jeff Parker would be the best writers to give the series that particular feel. "Both these cats GET the Silver Age," Paniccia told CBR News. "They understand the pure sense of wonder those old stories brought to the reader, taking absurd ideas and not just entertaining but inspiring fans with the magic of comics."

"When I heard we could approach this from the perspective of whacked-out early 60's comics, that's all I had to hear to want in," Jeff Parker said. "It was such an interesting period as it played out in comics- popular culture was changing wildly and to keep up, the comics' publishers were throwing every combination of elements they could out to see what would stick. As a result, many of those books came out reading as very schizophrenic-- not unlike The Sentry."

The stories in "Age of the Sentry" take place during the characters early years. "You will not see his 80's mullet or 90's ponytail, or the period he had a robot claw arm," Parker explained.

Since Parker and Tobin's stories are set during the Sentry's heyday, the Golden Guardian of Good may seem surprisingly stable. "But look carefully, because the current world and events of The Sentry will inform and sneak into the stories in different ways. I will say: he's a little more preoccupied with fighting evil than with his great love Lindy," Parker explained. "Almost in the way that young boys don't care about icky old girls and their cooties, if you examined too deep."

Parker revealed that the stories in "Age of The Sentry" send the title character all over the globe, time and space. "The only place he never goes is home, strangely enough," Parker said.

The first five issues of "Age of The Sentry" each feature two stories, one by Parker and one by Tobin. In the series' sixth issue, Parker tells a full length tale that weaves together the various elements from the first five installments "Two short stories give you more Silver Age bang for your buck!" Paniccia remarked. "It also allows Jeff and Paul to focus on more ideas that will knock your shoes into the next block."

Parker and Tobin went all out and worked a number of big and bizarre ideas into "Age of the Sentry." "The first issue opens with a visit to the point when Rob Reynolds becomes The Sentry, and we see his origin along with Lindy Lee, Scout and Watchdog. I'm also pretty excited about upcoming stories," Parker said. "Where The Sentry fights Mountain Man, a super-powered hillbilly, and when he meets the Golden Age Sentry.

"Paul's stories I'm not sure I can speak on, because he gave the editors so many good ideas that I don't know which ones they're keeping," Parker said. "But I really hope he writes the one where Sentry helps the Guardians of the Galaxy try to facilitate the birth of a living planet, because it sounded awesome."

In "Age of The Sentry" the title character will confront brand new villains like the previously mentioned Mountain Man as well as a collection of extremely old villains. "Dr. Doom does not appear," Parker remarked. "Nor does anyone you probably expect."

The supporting cast of "Age of the Sentry" includes the previously mentioned Scout, Watchdog, and Lindy Lee but the series will also include appearances by some new characters and possibly even a certain candidate for President of the United States in the Marvel U. "You'll meet Rob Reynolds' boss, Burton DuBois. Which means you'll find out what The Sentry's job in his secret identity is. Scout's too, for that matter," Parker stated. "Stephen Colbert may be showing up as well."

Tone-wise, "Age of the Sentry" is a mix of old school Silver Age style fun and satirical humor. "I'm glad Tobin is writing these with me, because he and I share the tendency to make fun of something and love it at the same time (see: any of our 'Marvel Adventures' work). Anyone who thinks we're 'sending up' the Silver Age doesn't get where we're coming from on this stuff. Taking something deadly serious isn't showing it respect, making it entertaining is."

Nick Dragotta will draw Jeff Parkers stories in the first five issues of "The Age of the Sentry" as well as the entirety of the sixth and final issue. "Man I love working with Nick," Parker said. "This is the kind of series that demands tearing right through your imagination into your Id where all the real weirdness is, and few people can hang with Nick Dragotta when it comes to that. He already has strong 60's influences in his work - he takes what was cool about comics and cartoons then and makes it work in present-day stories - so this is the kind of project he can do with one hand tied behind his back. I don't know if you saw the recent 'X-Men: First Class' issue where we introduced The Continuiteens, but that's a good touchstone for what we'll be doing here."

The name of the artist drawing Paul Tobin's stories in "Age of the Sentry" couldn't be revealed just yet. In fact Paniccia hinted that editorial was looking at the possibility of having multiple artists depict Tobin's stories.

Parker and company have gone out of their way to insure "Age of the Sentry" is a layered series with something to offer both new readers and Sentry fans. "With a character like Robert Reynolds, you can't entirely trust what you see or what you hear him say - after all, he certainly can't. Is all of what you're seeing his actual history, or is some of it the way he wanted it to be? I think it's a neat approach to try to get a grasp on him from this perspective," Parker said. "So while you can come into this completely cold, I think if you read Paul Jenkins' two series you'll get a lot of subtext layering with this you'll enjoy."

Now discuss this story in CBR's Avengers forum.

TAGS:  avengers, sentry, marvel comics, jeff parker, wwp2008

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