"Sentinels" Book 4 Commentary From Bernatovech & Vecchio

Wed, February 21st, 2007 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Arune Singh, Staff Writer

Today, comic book fans can purchase the final volume of "Sentinels," the self-published indy hit superhero series from writer Rich Bernatovech and artist Luciano Vecchio. Sure, you could just read "Sentinels" Book 4 today, maybe even check out our recent interview with the creative team, but we at CBR News have a bonus for you - behind the scenes commentary! CBR News spoke with Vecchio and Bernatovech, who chose six of their favorite pages from the book and offered some spoiler free commentary. You can also catch the duo at the New York Comic-Con, where they'll be at table A248.


Rich: This is one of my favorite pages and a great first page to "Sentinels" Book 4. It shows the original Sentinels and begins to update the reader on what has happened throughout the series. It also let's you know immediately that in this book you're going to learn everything about them. We have an entire chapter focused solely on them and this is a great teaser for what's to come. I remember Luciano drew this page very early, right after he finished drawing Book 2. We've only really shown the original Sentinels in Book 1 and that was only for one panel. I love that when you compare the two, you can see how much Luciano's art has changed. The characters are so much more alive now. You can see his growth as an artist.


Luciano: Years after having done Book 1, the aspect of our main characters and the book in general had evolved and moved away from the classic, legacy driven visuals it started with. So with this page I was forced to rediscover the originals and how they look and act. They reflect the comic superheroes of the '80s, starting to take themselves more seriously while keeping the classic tights, mask and iconic poses, combined with fashion elements like mullets and big shoulder pads.


Rich: This page is significant to me for a number of reasons. First, it's the page that brings the reader back into the story after a brief update on what has happened in the previous books. Second, it shows Templar in a different light then we've seen him before. The first panel of this page harkens back to the first panel of Templar in "Sentinels" Book 1. He was training then as he is here and that dedication and focus has not changed within him. But with everything he went through in Book 3, I thought it was important to show that side of him once more. I also wanted to show that he is healthy again and ready to go looking for his other son. What has changed about him is Firebomb and their son Alex. He's committed to them. We get to see Templar's compassionate side here which is something that we haven't shown before. After the torture and year of abuse at the hands of Rapture, Templar has learned he is not alone. That he has people who care about him and is learning to care for them in return.

Luciano also started to draw Firebomb differently in this book. The faces of all the characters, but specifically the women to me, really shined here.

I also think Luciano draws babies very well. Many comic artists just make them look like mini-adults, but he is able to truly capture all the different kids we have running around in "Sentinels" Book 4.

Luciano: There's so much these people go through, mentally and emotionally…This is a good example of how a scene with almost no action can avoid being boring to draw. I try focusing on the characters history and perceiving the moment through them. I also try to avoid allowing them to stop moving and just stand there talking, while I draw I see the whole thing as a movie sequence, even the quiet parts.


Rich: It was hard deciding what pages to show and still not spoil so many of the surprises we have in this book. But this was one of the things we decided early on to reveal. Templar and Harlette have been at odds throughout the entire "Sentinels" series and this fight was planned since the beginning. What I love about this page (and the entire fight scene) is the emotion Luciano put into the characters. I have them saying one thing and he perfectly counteracts that with their body movements. Not just their faces, their entire bodies. In the first panel you can tell they're ready to fight, yet not on guard as they would be against a villain. Then when Harlette can't stand it anymore and has to take a swing at Templar, you can see it in the way she jumps at him. Her one hand is fisted to punch him, yet her other hand is open like she wants to reach out and grab him. I also like the contrast with this page and the last page of this scene which has them come to somewhat of a resolution.


Luciano: The Showdown. Moments like this are where my anime influences take over as I try to make the action flow dynamically, from the tension and anticipation in the first panels to all hell breaking loose. Visually both characters have evolved to grow even more opposite, yet similar. Harlette's depression led her to honour her name and embrace a punk/goth harlot look, while Templar, after living the history of the Knights Templar firsthand, has chosen an according aspect, more metal armor, though modern, and less tights.


Rich: This page is from the flashback chapter telling the story of the original Sentinels. In it, we see how Damien (Gospel and Sin's father) first met their mother, Savanna. Things we touched upon lightly in Book 1 and more in Book 3 are clearer here. You get to see Damien's softer side and how when he assumed the role as one of the ruler's of Hell, he was transformed. Was he truly evil before then? Was it his plan all along? I like to keep it mysterious so that readers can make their own conclusion, but at the same time show that the power he received affected him just as it did Gospel and Sin in Book 3. Luciano's art here really shines to me. He's captured Damien's transformation in one page and it doesn't seem forced at all.

Luciano: This is one of the scenes I looked forward to doing the most ever since Book 1. I became very fond of Sin and Gospel, and here we finally get to see the story of their parents. Damien was the first villain of Sentinels, and the first character I designed on my

own (since Rich had the rest figured out way before I came in), and my main intention with him was to avoid the usual monstrous, horned, bat winged or grotesque hellspawn demon. I saw him as a fallen angel, one of the Lord's servants who fell from grace like Lucifer did, very humanlike and with ambiguous, even flawed, motivations. Visually he was originally inspired by Harry Lennix's interpretation of Aaron in the movie Titus, combined with obscure angelic imagery and my personal vision. Savanna became my favourite of the first generation right away; she's arguably the most powerful and the most susceptible to her own power as well.


Rich: This page is from the final chapter of Book 4. We had a really hard time finding a page that didn't spoil the story too much, but I think this is a good one. The Sentinels have just arrived at the location they believe Rapture is hiding at and have discovered one of their associates there. My favorite part of this page is the bottom panel. It reminds me of cowboys going into a gunfight and that's just what they're about to do.


Rich: Another page from the final chapter, but also another that doesn't reveal too much. This page shows Firebomb hell bent on getting to Rapture. She shows she's not the timid person she was in Book 1 and her journey in Book 3 has prepared her for this. She became so strong in Book 3 and this just adds to it. I didn't want her to be one of those "save my baby" type of heroines. She needed to be able to stand on her own and fight for herself. She changed the most throughout the series and became one of my favorite characters. This page also shows her brother Crusher ready to sacrifice himself for the others. He orders them to move ahead after Rapture while he handles the guy with ten-foot swords on each hand.

Luciano: An important page for our other pair of siblings, Firebomb and Crusher. They're finally backing up their words with action, especially Crusher, willing to take his "overprotective brother" act to the limit. The enemy here I had a blast with, designing the armor and the way it moves, menacing and powerful, yet heavy and somewhat unbalanced, like it's hard for the wearer to make it move. Also, since this is one of the pages pencilled and inked myself, I took the chance to improvise a maze of tiny ornaments all over it that I wouldn't have dared throw at Rich to ink.

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