Thursday, May 13, 2010

Forget Death, the Character Needs to Be Eradicated From Continuity *Spoilers*

(Update: There's a followup post with a Mike Carey quote.)

Spoilers Below

Only the Sentry could be such a gawdawful black hole of originality and creativity that the character would piss me off the most of all in a single page of his funeral issue.

For those of you not following the current Marvel metaplot, the Sentry was created years ago as an April Fool's Day joke that actually wasn't too terrible to read left alone, but that went horribly awry when a writer who shall remain nameless rescued the character from the annuls of Marvel Imaginary Stories (I mean, Imaginary-Imaginary not Real-Imaginary like we've been reading) and brought him into the Marvel Universe in all his insanity. To be fair, I suspect this writer brought him back because he originally intended to write the Scarlet Witch in a tragic fallen hero trilogy where the Marvel Universe mourns the death of someone who as once a friend who had to be destroyed for the good of the universe. Then sometime after Part I was published (and he'd committed himself to Part II) someone pointed out to this writer that the Scarlet Witch had fans (and possibly that the way he drove her insane didn't really fit into continuity but that may be giving Marvel too much credit), so he handed off the Scarlet Witch (and Part III, now her redemption arc) to a television writer who would put her at the bottom of his priorities list, and dug up the fucking Sentry as the new centerpiece.

I have no information that confirms this is the behind-the-scenes chain of events, but judging by the way the crossovers since Disassembled have lined up Siege would have been the natural fall/redemption arc of the Scarlet Witch since the whole mess was started with Disassembled and House of M. I also got the impression from Son of M and the corresponding fates of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch in the Ultimate Universe that they never intended to make Pietro Maximoff a heroic Avenger again (a Dark Avenger I could see, especially if Wanda's in the Sentry role). So without any inside information, I think Wanda being switched out for Bob is a fair conclusion, and honestly a charitable one because it suggests that this miserably clumsy insertion of Robert Reynolds into the Marvel Universe storyline and his seizing of not only the current metaplot but of every character's history and continuity was not intentional. It was them salvaging a storyline that could have been eyesearingly infuriating in all aspects, rather than fucking infuriating in one funeral issue. Specifically, one half-page of one funeral issue.

For those of you who missed my four-score-and-seven twitter posts ranting about it, I'm referring to this fucking page:



Yes, that's Scott Summers and Johnny Storm gossiping about Rogue and Sentry. Implying with the first question that she was in love with him, in the second that she fucked him, and in the last that they don't know when or how long the affair lasted.

(Full disclosure: when I first heard that Rogue lost a boyfriend, I was overjoyed because I thought Gambit was the next death in the X-men: Second Coming crossover event, and I hate Gambit. Then I discovered they had retconned in this relationship, I was enraged because not only were my dreams of Gambit's death shattered, but they had found the one character in the Marvel Universe besides Juggernaut that was an even worse choice to sleep with than Gambit.)

This page, which pisses me off beyond all words, perfectly illustrates exactly what is wrong with using the Sentry as part of the Marvel Universe proper. Rogue has apparently been fixed so that she can control her powers (good for her, but I'm not sure how long this will last), but she was originally a character built around an inability to experience physical intimacy. Her power means that she sucks the life out of anyone she touches, and it manifested when she got her first kiss. She has been a woman with a traumatic and miserable romantic life, and seemed to be consigned to the role of Marvel's Designated Perpetual Virgin. Because she's not celibate by choice, this has been a large source of angst, and is the driving source of tragedy for the character. It makes her romances tortured and fascinating. She was often put opposite energy fountain Gambit, because he might be able to generate enough to survive a kiss but she never wants to risk it. Sometimes she has been lucky enough to start seeing someone who can block her power, a force-field generator like Magneto or his clone Joseph, but even then it's never been made clear if they went anywhere.

The point is that since human contact was such a rare and idealized experience for Rogue, an event like the loss of her virginity is certifiably a Big Fucking Deal. It is a monumental experience for this character. It is her story more than anything else, because it is a moment that she has been denied all her life. It is a Rite of Passage that long boarded off to Rogue (with little detour signs leading to "Experience Prejudice", "Prove One's Valor in Combat", and "Absorb the Memories, Powers and Life Force of An Entire Other Person"), and she expresses the pain of that roadblock in every appearance. Breaking through that roadblock, whether it's through a temporary depowerment, or a forcefield, or a character powerful enough that she doesn't completely absorb him, is a major life experience for Rogue. It is something that should affect her for the rest of her appearances, making the event she can never experience now be something she misses and giving her a comforting memory when confronted by the cold reality that she can't even shake hands.

It is noteworthy enough that it deserves a three-issue mini-series with romance-novel style covers, a lush exotic locale, a tender build-up of affections and at the very least a soft silhouetted kiss then a fade to black. Then, most importantly, the fallout. The incredibly important reason why she did not stay with the person that could actually touch her every day for the rest of her life. Was it his choice or her choice? If it was his choice, how did she take it? If it was her choice, why? Because the reason for giving up the thing you want more than anything else in your life says a hell of a lot about what kind of person you are.

Even now that she can control her powers (again, not sure how long this will last before someone wants tragic Rogue back), the loss of her virginity is still an important event for her because physical intimacy is something that was denied to her so long. It is at the very LEAST something that needs to be covered in her own book and not any other character's. We're talking about the fulfillment of a lifelong dream of Rogue's here, something more special for her than the other character who might be involved for a laundry list of reasons.

But instead this event is implied not in any of Rogue's wistful memories, not in the most private thoughts that comfort her in her darkest moments, but in a half-page tribute to the Motherfucking Sentry.

A character that never thought twice about Rogue. A character who had a wife that he brought back to life after her death and kept prisoner in his tower because he couldn't stand the thought of anyone hurting her. A character who had an affair with a princess on the moon because I suppose that wife wasn't enough for him. But it's in HIS story that we learn about Rogue's earliest tryst. And not even from her, we find out from freaking Cyclops talking to the Human Torch. We don't know what she loved about him, besides the fact that this was a man and she could hug him (and really for Rogue it's perfectly understandable if that's all there was). We don't know what he saw in her, if she was just there and vulnerable or if he'd been attracted to her for a long time before they found out she could touch him. We don't know why they didn't stay together. (Except, maybe for the wife--or was this before the wife?) We don't know anything about this story except she could hug him and she told Cyclops they were together, on the way to the funeral. She never thought once about him in her own book since this happened, but now that he's dead--possibly the only man she's ever slept with/after all that angsting about not being able to even hug or kiss another person--she feels really awful.

This is a pivotal point in Rogue's life, where she experiences what she has been denied since her powers manifested--manifested and destroyed innocent dreams of a lifetime of romance and human closeness that had been forming at that very moment--this is the fulfillment of a lifetime of fantasies... and this moment is reduced to a punchline in order to glorify the adventures of the fucking Sentry.

And that is the ultimate problem with the motherfucking Sentry being shoehorned into the Marvel Universe. He becomes the Sun around which the rest of the Marvel Universe revolves. Forget every niche occupied by the characters of Marvel, those aren't their stories. Those are just backstories so that we can read about how wonderful the Sentry is! The Marvel Universe goes from being about the characters we love, the ones we love to read about, and becomes All About Bob.

Did you know Angel was once afraid to fly? Amazing, a mutant with wings being afraid of that. Surely, that's something to have overcome during his training under Professor Xavier, and an experience he can perhaps now recount to help guide a younger mutant to accepting their powers, right? Nope, it's something the Sentry helped him through and is now a memory of how awesome Bob is. Why? Doesn't add anything to Angel, but it has to be there for Bob because he has to have taught the X-men something early on, or he wouldn't have been a notable hero in the Silver Age. Warren overcoming his fears? All About Bob.

Did you know that Reed Richards had a best friend outside the Fantastic Four? Someone close to him that wasn't Ben, Johnny, or Sue--his FAMILY members? Why, it was the Sentry. so fucking perfect that one of the most standoffish men in the world was open to him. All of this bonding, of course, happened off-panel during the most important moments of Reed's life. You know, the moments we read that didn't have the Sentry in them. The moments where we watched him fight his own preoccupation with science and exploration to learn to socialize and appreciate his own family. The hundreds of little teamups where Tony Stark and Hank Pym slowly developed enough of a friendship with Reed that he would collaborate with them on large projects rather than just continue working on his own in his own little cubby-hole like he was always inclined to do. Don't get me wrong, Reed's not an unfriendly man or an extremely shy person, I actually consider him one of the more compassionate characters I've read--but he is incredibly self-absorbed and work-absorbed. Even Sue and Ben can barely get him to come up for air, so if he has a friendship outside of his small, insular group--a friendship where he would actually consider someone other than Ben his best friend--then it's something that built up over time and is a very big thing in Reed's life. It is something we find out about in Reed's story, not in that other character's story. But nope. It's only in Sentry stories and Sentry flashbacks that it comes up. Why? Because it's nothing to do with Reed. Nothing gets added to Reed because he was friends with the Sentry, and the Sentry was there during those moments. It's to show that the Sentry was smart, so smart he was friends with the smartest man in the world. And to show that the Sentry was a great hero that everyone was comfortable with off-duty too. Reed's friendship? All About Bob.

Did you know that Crystal slept with the Sentry? This, I suppose fits a bit. She likes temperamental, impulsive men with light coloring it seems. Of course, she doesn't remember the affair. He does. Why? Because the Sentry was there in the Silver Age, and he had to have gone to the moon. And what could he have done on the moon? Why, he can sleep with Crystal, because she's just some dumb slut, right? Not because she married too young and let two guys push her into choosing one or the other. Not because of her own insecurities or desires. Nope, doesn't matter why Crystal did it, because that romance (unlike the ones with Johnny, Pietro, Ronan, and the couple guys she slept with while she was married to Pietro) had nothing to do with Crystal's situation or storyline. It was because sleeping with a moon princess is just something a Silver Age hero does. Crystal's love life? All About Bob.

And of course, there's Rogue. Poor Rogue, starved for the touch of another person. Rogue who it turns out had her first full sexual encounter with none other than the Sentry. What led to this? How did she react? How did the realtionship end? Was there even a relationship? Who cares?! It doesn't matter what Rogue's role in this was, only that there was a void in her life and the Sentry filled it. Why? Because Rogue losing her virginity isn't about Rogue, silly. It's about how wonderful the Sentry was and how much we miss him! It's just one more throwaway moment in a list of moments of how awesome the Sentry is, how he saved everyone's lives and helped everyone do everything, and was the Supermanlike inspiration they needed because Captain America somehow just didn't cut it. Not only that, he is so amazing that not only did he have a romance with the X-men's poor chaste belle (as much as waypost, apparently, as teaming up with Spider-man, befriending Mr. Fantastic, and sleeping with Crystal), but he actually fucked her which not even Gambit or Magneto can seem to pull off. He got the the prize, folks, and what is possibly the most desired experience in Rogue's life? You guessed it, All About Bob.

Now, if I'm right in being charitable and the whole point of this was that the writers and editors at Marvel original wanted to use a character who was actually a hero during the Silver Age and had the impact already, well good for them for not killin off an actual character. But dammit, there's a right and a wrong way to introduce a new character to the universe.

Strangely enough, the very writers who brought back the Sentry is the one who did it the right way. See Alias, the series that introduced Jessica "Jewel" Jones-Cage to Marvel readers a few years back. Jessica was a former superhero with a Silver Age era origin. She was a classmate of none other than Peter Parker, and had a little thing for him. She fantasized about the Human Torch before she got her powers. She had a bad run-in with a Daredevil villain that led to a single adventure with the Avengers and a lifelong friendship with Carol Danvers/Ms. Marvel. She knew Luke Cage, and eventually married him and had a child with him.

This was an incredibly subtle retcon, a million times more restrained than the Sentry. Jessica had a Silver Age tie to Spider-man, but he didn't know she was alive. (In New Avengers, when she brings it up, he vaguely remembers her as "coma-girl".) She never met the Human Torch or the Fantastic Four during her brief time as a hero. When the Avengers rescued her from the Purple Man and offered her a slot on the team, she turned them down and retired. The ones who remembered her remembered her as a hero who retired after some tragedy, but not as anyone who made a huge impact on their lives. Carol's friendship slips between the panels because Jessica was out of costume the whole time, and Carol was usually in a team book. It worked that she had a civilian friend off-panel we hadn't met. It worked that one of Peter's classmates became a superhero, then retired. It worked that Luke Cage had met her sometime in the interim and they dated. She didn't take over these characters pasts, and their important life moments didn't suddenly become background to Jessica's story. She slowly joined their lives, a little bit at a time, with small things in the past that we reasonably wouldn't have seen.

But they didn't go subtle with the Sentry. They went all out, and shoved him into every book possible. He had a tie to every character in the Marvel Universe that was presented to the readers as fully formed and functional, a tie we never got to see formed even though we'd been watching the rest of these characters grow into the people they are for years. We were just introduced to this guy, Bob. We were told he was a great hero everyone loved but tragically were forced to forget, and then we watched quickly lose his mind while everyone discussed what a great guy he was. There was no restraint. This was all-out assault strategy, where they shoved him everywhere and gave him every Silver Age experience we can come up with. It was like they brainstormed for a session or two and just ended up using it all so the heroes would love him.

Which of course is why so many readers hate him, and why so many of us would love to just forget him. This leads us to a problem with Rogue and Sentry. Chris asked me what was so bad about it, aside from the storytelling technique sucking, and I gave him a few paragraphs worth of ranting about it. His response? "Got it. Fans want to see Rogue lose it."

And here's the thing: He's absolutely right. Fans want to see Rogue lose it. We're rooting for Rogue romantically, for her to get what she really wants and to control her powers or at least find someone who isn't affected by them. We don't want her to wind up alone, and we want to be there with her when she attains some closeness with a human being. I'm not saying we want a XXX-rated X-men special showing every detail of her first night. But we want to at least see the guy, the attraction, the gentle connection forming, and the kiss before they cut to another scene. We don't want to find out that the entire relationship happened off-panel in a book about a character no one really likes but dammit, Marvel really wants us to accept as part of the world.

We want to be there for Reed's growth as a person, and watch him open his heart to his family and friends. We don't need to find out his best friend and confidante has been there all along, off-panel, in some character we never met and never bought as a character in the Fantastic Four.

And we really, really, don't need Crystal to be fucking guys that don't feed her storyline. Because much as I dislike Crystal, her romantic links are all she has in character history and they are her choices and about her life, and giving them to the Sentry is just plain shitty.

And most importantly of all? The Marvel Universe doesn't need a cheap Superman knockoff to inspire them. They have Captain America and the original Human Torch to inspire them. We don't need a guy who's better at that than them, is every male character's best friend and mentor, and who manages to fuck every desirable woman in the universe.

And as much as there are certain moments I want to read about involving these characters, I'd rather not read these moments using some new character that I already hate because for years he's been shoved into the backstory of all our old favorites no matter where he fits properly because they need his death to count for as much as possible. It's for the best that these moments be written using the relationships that have come about naturally in the character's own story paths through their own books and crossovers with supporting characters and guest stars that fit into that world without taking it over or overbearing the people who don't really care for them at first.

So for the love of all that's good and holy, let's close this as the last chapter on the Sentry, bring back the Scarlet Witch as a hero, and forget any of these important life events were ever connected--let alone attributed--to this incredibly uninteresting character.

60 comments:

  1. Good Lord, I couldn't agree more with everything you just said.

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  2. Great post, and hit the nail on the head regarding the Sentry.

    I do have one question, re: the Rogue Virginity, and seeing as how you pay a lot more attention to the character, figured you'd know.

    So, those issues of X-Treme X-men (ugh hurts to TYPE that title), where Rogue and Gambit lost their powers and went off on their own for a while, and when they came back Rogue had all these tribal arm tattoos and was comfortable with human contact...did she and Gambit have a physical relationship? Was that ever addressed?

    Not that I really want Claremont to address it because, well, he's a bit "creepy uncle," but if I'm remembering it right, that would have been a pretty logical place to bring up the whole virgin thing.

    Did X-Treme X-Men get subtly retconned out at some point? I also don't recall seeing any tattoos on Rogue's arm of late.

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  3. Jeff -- Look at the page. She's explaining her reaction by saying that "for the longest time" she couldn't touch anyone, and he was the only one she could get a hug from.

    I'm pretty sure the implied tryst is prior to any extended period of time without her powers. Suggests it's even before she got together with Magneto or Joseph (both could managed physical contact with a magnetic forcefield). This is very much a "he was my first because he was the only one available implication."


    Aside from that, I do think X-treme X-men's been long since forgotten and soft-retconned away. Until someone wants to use it.

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  4. If you go down the Mary Sue ticky boxes, I'm pretty sure the Sentry hits them all. He's a wish-fulfillment character who is somehow completely repulsive. He's Poochie the Rockin' Dog with a cape. And to cap it all off, everyone is super sad when he dies, because Canon Sue is like that.

    Thank you for eviscerating that piece of crap scene. And thank you for pointing out that the Sentry is being given the place in the story (in *everybody's* story!) originally occupied by other characters. It's the stupidest thing I've seen in a while in comics, and that covers *a lot* of ground.

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  5. @Ragnell: Oh. OH! Ohhhh. Now I see what - Ewwww.

    Yep, that's just really, really shitty.

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  6. This essay is totally awesome and right and I'm glad you wrote it.

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  7. I agree 100%. Plus, I have no idea why disclosing how the Sentry cheated on his wife is supposed to make us think that he's so great.

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  8. F*ck it, I've always thought that Rogue lost her virginity when she went trough the Siege Perilous and ended powerless back in Savage Land and having an affair with Magneto.

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  9. I know retcons are usually terrible, but I wouldn't mind one here.

    You know how the Sentry apparently made everyone forget him through some vaguely defined psychic power or whatever? How about it was actually through that ability that he somehow inserted himself into everyone's lives? So while none of this stuff actually "happened" all the Marvel characters think it did because of his powers' influence?

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  10. Awesome post, Ragnell. Couldn't agree more about Rogue and about progressing the characters' growth over "Hey, look what we retconned!"

    It really does highlight how good the Jessica/Jewel retcon was.

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  11. For fuck's sake. Let us kill this bastard for ever in our minds, and never ever talk about the sentry again.



    Seriously, I think the olny time he was good was in the first minisseries. After that...

    Well, maybe Marvel Zombies vs Evil Dead. :D

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  12. You're an idiot.
    Your dismissal of the original Jenkins mini solidifies that right off the bat.

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  13. Excellent essay! Virginity or no virginity, Rogue being able to touch someone in any way has always been a big deal. So to just casually throw this out there (and imply it was more than just touching) really cheapens her entire struggle and is guaranteed to frustrate fans.

    This revelation also cheapens the (supposed) nobility of the Sentry, too. This issue tries to make him look like such an awesome guy, but Rogue's "confession" only reinforces the Sentry's possessive psychopath persona we've seen previously. The guy who keeps his wife locked in a tower is the same kind of guy who will have sex with the ultimate virgin just because he knows that no other man can have her.

    On a different note, I think your theory that he was created to replace the Scarlet Witch is a very interesting one! I never thought of that, but it would make a lot of sense. I would love to find out if that were true or not.

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  14. "ugh hurts to TYPE that title"

    Would you call it...X-ponentially X-cruciating?X-tremely X-hausting?

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  15. Poochie. Definitely Poochie. Or possibly that guy from the Dos Equis ads, who "is the most interesting man in the world!"

    Bah!

    I can't stand the Sentry, and I'm glad...GLAD that he's dead. Unlike Ryan Choi, dammit.

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  16. Was Gambit really introduced as a character because they needed someone whoe might actually have enough excess energy to stand up to a Rogue kiss? Is that the motivation behind his development? I haven't seen anything like that suggested before, and it's something I could definitely get behind.

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  17. jmatonak -- I'd go so far as to suggest discarding the sexist Mary Sue term and in the case of in-continuity comic book characters at least (maybe keep Mary Sue and gary Stu for fanfic), referring to this character type as a Sentry.

    Kadu -- I always liked that one. She was very upset when Magneto went bad again, if I'm timing things correctly. I remember in Magneto Rex she was the only X-man present, and she tried to convince him to save Pietro. She was shocked he refused to rescue that son he's been perfectly willing to just let die in any situation he's been watching for years. She was very invested in the idea ther was something of "that man I knew in the Savage Land", and she's always had a soft spot for Magneto since.

    We are talking about a woman who's had so few opportunities for sexual encounters that whoever she's been with, she'd have a fixation on. And after Gambit, she's next fixated on Magneto.

    Anon #1 -- We were discussing something like that over AIM. It would be an awesome story if he were just an extremely lonely, deluded telepath.


    Josh -- Sad thing is, they may never admit it. Maybe in a few years when someone key has retired. But really, we have:
    Wanda-Threat (Disassembled)
    Wanda-Threat (House of M)
    Internal Strife Due to Fallout After Wanda-Threat (Civil War)
    Enemy Taking Advantage of Weakness From Wanda-Threat Fallout (Secret Invasion--no mutants made it possible) and Resulting Internal Strife (Secret Invasion--divided Avengers made it advantageous)
    and it all culminates in...

    Sentry-Threat?

    Anon #4 -- I don't know where the idea for Gambit originally came about from, but I think it's been confirmed in-story that the Rogue-Gambit relationship is based on how their powers react to each other. She's an energy vampire with an energy producing on-again off-again boyfriend.

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  18. CRISWELL PREDICTS:

    Some time in the next five to ten years, Bob will be back.

    HOWEVER, he will be brought back by a writer who loathes him as much as the readers do.

    According to patterns that are already well-established at both Marvel and DC, that writer will craft an entire storyline to serve as a gigantic TAKE THAT to Bendis and everyone else responsible for the awkward shoehorning of the character into Marvel continuity.

    The essence of this storyline:

    The Void didn't lie to Bob. Bob really does turn into The Void, and The Sentry really is just the construct of a guilt-ridden mind.

    The Massive Mental Manipulation Of The Whole World wasn't to make them FORGET about the Sentry; it was to IMPLANT FALSE MEMORIES about him in everyone on the planet. He NEVER ACTUALLY EXISTED until Bob murdered his wife.

    The Sentry will be revealed to be the Mary Sue guilt fantasy of a murdering, drug-addled loser who happened to somehow tap into Phenomenal Cosmic Power while in the throes of a nervous breakdown, and all the memories about him will be revealed to be false, and we can all go on as if it never happened.

    This story WILL be written. That's just the way things are going at the Big Two, as Ascended Fanboys carry on their personal storytelling grudges in the pages of the comics. Enough writers and fans loathe The Sentry that this is INEVITABLE.

    As far as I'm concerned, it's ALREADY happened.

    LA LA LA LA LA I'm not HEARING you.

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  19. Ragnell:

    I'd go so far as to suggest discarding the sexist Mary Sue term and in the case of in-continuity comic book characters at least (maybe keep Mary Sue and gary Stu for fanfic), referring to this character type as a Sentry.

    Your wish is my command:

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheSentry

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  20. Great article. Thank you for writing it.

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  21. Or it turns out that the affair was with the Sentress. The memories didn't get wiped with the rest of Carol because Bob had retconned them out of existence at the time. They get reinserted into the "absorbed memories" part of her brain when Sentry returns and every other memory does. She never notices.

    And when Bob dies, they jar loose. All of Carol Danvers/Sentress' Sentry-related memories, with none of her other memories to give any kind of context.

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  22. Or maybe we shouldn't take stuff that makes the Sentry out to have banged an underage girl while he was married literally.

    Seeing as it was whispered quietly by a guy who had no reason to be at the funeral except that he has the Void in his head.

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  23. Hey maybe when they bring Scarlet Witch back she can alter reality again this time erasing the Sentry's involvement in other characters' lives. Then release a mini-series depicting how that reality would be so much better.

    To paraphrase the Wright brothers on their first model, this shit will not fly.

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  24. As usual, your temper gives voice to all that made the Sentry lame. He's dead now? Mavel is improving.

    -- Jack of Spades

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  25. Ok I just have to chime in here (as I go around the web right now with this atrocity in stores) I couldn;t agree more with your whole piece on the Sentry and what an obnoxious, ridiculous Mary Sue he was. However some points:

    -This cannot have taken place long ago (which only would've made Rogue severely underage anyway) because Jenkins himself wrote a scene once where it was a established that before he disappeared, the only X-Men he knew were the original 5. He sees Logan Rogue and Kurt and doesn't recognise any of them!

    So Rogue CAN'T have dated/screwed the Sentry in some nameless, distant past. By Jenkins' very own writing. The Sentry never knew her then.

    -Rogue has NOT had sex with any other character than Gambit. Happened a while ago and yes they had a normal sex life in X-Treme X-Men. She never had sex with either Jospeh or Magneto. (and it's amazing how many people seem to still think this)

    Jenkins clearly knew nothing of Rogue other than her basic description. Rogue couldnt have dated the Sentry ages ago and recently she'd already had a sex life with Gambit making the 'Oh Sentry was the only one' and its supposed emotional impact sheer nonsense.

    I can't remember the time Marvel let a writer screw up so badly over such a stupid little scene, just to 'stud up' the motherfucking Sentry.

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  26. I can't disagree with a single word the author said about the overwhelming, shitty heavy-handedness of everything related to Sentry, apart fgrom he was being to damn nice. The funeral itself makes no sense. Did everyone apparently miss that Sentry seems to have been about the most evil person ever? Murder, statutory rape, you name it, he did it.

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  27. UnrulyWeds is spot on, Rogue simply wasn't around in the Silver Age, so an adulterous, kiddy-fiddling Sentry couldn't possibly have deflowered her.

    Superb piece, Ragnell, very well-argued. The enforced chastity is so fundamental to her story that it's bloody rude to generations of X-Men creators and fans to say, 'oh, the Sentry dealt with that off-panel'. It'd be like saying the Sentry helped Peter Parker overcome his guilt about Uncle Ben in 1967.

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  28. Actually, she was around. There were 4 years between the manifesting of her power at 13 and her joining the X-men at 17. She was doing stuff with Mystique and Destiny. Towards the end of that period, she clashed with the Avangers, Dazzler and the X-men.

    But marvel time, her early years with Mystique must have overlapped quite a bit with the original 5. When she fought the X-men around issue 160, she'd been active for 3-4 years already.

    Serious eww territory.

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  29. @Mart:
    Exactly. Some people wonder why Rogue fans are so upset. I find that amazing. To suggest (continuity issues aside) that something as monumentally important to a character like Rogue as losing her virginity or having any sex, 'kinda happened off panel' in a comic that is only about "The Sentry Was Cool Dammit!!!" is just so demeaning to the character.

    @Anonymous:
    You're right. It would've made the Sentry a pedophile. But as I wrote above, Jenkins himself established that the Sentry never knew Rogue before his return (or any X-Men other than the original 5) So It CAN'T have happened long ago. It can only have happened since his return. Which was well after she and Gambit got it on already, and that makes this graveyard scene kinda nonsensical.

    What a mess....

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  30. UnrulyWeds -- Wait, you cna't say the funeral scene is null because she's established to have slept with Gambit in the time frame prior. The way Rogue is, anyone might've slept with after losing her virginity is STILL someone she'd keep a strong emotional attachment to.

    And really, you're kinda creeping me out above with your insistence that it was ONLY Gambit, and no one really counts after. Because it's not the losing the virginity or "been with someone other than Gambit" thing (because honestly, if there was anyone Rogue could touch back then, she is MORE than entitled to jump their bones to hell with Gambit). It's the out of nowhere thing. If she had been with someone earlier in her life through some contrivance, it would be a guy she would still be attached to and would still think fondly on. And there are a few characters who do fall under the years of "I've still got a soft spot and think on you even when you are an asshole" that this would require.

    So, if it were someone that she had an established fondness for, and it promised an explanation later or it fit in a romance with a power weirdness (like Colossus and Magneto and a couple others), no biggie.

    Don't lose sight of the big problem here, which is that this is out of nowhere just to make Sentry more impressive, which is dumb.

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  31. Ragnell wrote: UnrulyWeds -- Wait, you cna't say the funeral scene is null because she's established to have slept with Gambit in the time frame prior. The way Rogue is, anyone might've slept with after losing her virginity is STILL someone she'd keep a strong emotional attachment to.

    Sorry, I think you misunderstand me. That's not what I meant.

    My point is that the way Jenkins wrote her dialogue 'he was the only one who could hug me, and now he's gone', sounds like he meant that the Sentry was either first and/or the only one. But Rogue had already been touched plenty by the time this could've happened. I think Jenkins really thought that Rogue was still completely 'untouched'. Taking her history into account, he way she phrases things is really really odd.

    And really, you're kinda creeping me out above with your insistence that it was ONLY Gambit, and no one really counts after.

    Woah! Well let me stop the creep-out: that's REALLY not what I said or meant.

    It's in no way 'only Gambit should matter'. It's just that a lot of people seem to think she has had sex with other characters already and that's simply not true. So far, apart from the Sentry thing, Gambit's the only established lover.

    But I don't care if she breaks up with Gambit tomorrow or if they reveal she had sex with Cyclops when they went to have a beer in Logan's room recently. Or had a one night stand with Logan. Whatever. Just have it make sense. Make me believe it. Have it at least be character she actally knows and has history with.

    It's the out of nowhere thing. If she had been with someone earlier in her life through some contrivance, it would be a guy she would still be attached to and would still think fondly on.

    Absolutely. But that's what I meant that the dialogue is so weird. She should've said something like "One of the few men I have touched' or 'one of the few people I have 'been' with' etc. But she says "he was the only one who could touch me and now he's gone" Which even sounds like the only reason she's sad is that she lost a touch-possibility. It says nothing about how she liked him personally.

    So, if it were someone that she had an established fondness for, and it promised an explanation later or it fit in a romance with a power weirdness (like Colossus and Magneto and a couple others), no biggie..

    Agreed 100%. It's just that so far this is not the case and for some reason many people think it anyway. That;s all I meant.

    Don't lose sight of the big problem here, which is that this is out of nowhere just to make Sentry more impressive, which is dumb.

    Dumb, and frankly even a little offensive, especially to a character like Rogue. I just still say Jenkins didn't actually know her history at all before he mucked with it. And it shows and makes it even harder to swallow.

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  32. Oh, above we never said she HAD as in it was in continuity, we were doing fan speculation. It looked like a spot where it was likely, and would suit her history. We figured she did, but it wasn't on the page for sure.

    Sorry to jump on you, but there seemed to be a subsection of fans who are very "That would mean she cheated on Gambit!"--Gambit-Rogue shippers who seem to feel he owns her which is like, whoa, no!

    Sorry man.

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  33. All right, Your Obedient Serpent has another interpretation of that whole issue:

    It was an Owl Creek Bridge. In the instant that Mjolnir fell, Bob's creepy, egotistical, I'm-the-center-of-the-universe mind imagined how Awfully Sad everyone would be at his funeral, including reactions based entirely on his own twisted fantasies.

    It was one of the last things to pass through his mind.

    (The VERY last thing to pass through his mind, of course, was Mjolnir.)

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  34. @Ragnell:

    No worries man, I know there's a lot of really fanatical Gambit fans. And I didn't mean people assumed wrong things on this thread, more like on other places on the web and I wanted to address it before anyone started. Kinda unnecessary, I guess;)

    I do agree I don't believe she would cheat on Gambit, but that's more because of her personality. It's been established she has real strong contempt for cheating and cheaters and I would find it very out of character. (Nothing to do with Gambit really)

    Of course that would mean it would've had to've been in a period where she had actively broken up with Gambit. Which admittedly did happen about 2-3 times, but all added up it just stays almost impossible to believe, as Jenkins clearly had no clue and didn't care

    (I really get the impression Jenkins thought Rogue was still a virgin right now! And that Sentry was the first an only. That's just how it reads.)

    @Your Obedient Serpent: LOL thanks, I needed a laugh.

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  35. Rogue-rage aside, this issue was also a terrible tribute to the Sentry. I've been a fan of this character for a long time, but seeing how Bendis wrote him in New/Mighty/Dark Avengers, I can understand why so many fanboys dislike him. Although in this case, Jenkins is the guilty party, which makes this all the more surprising; and saddening.
    With more retcons than a Crisis event, there was no room left to talk about any of the things the character had actually done during his time in comics. I know the Sentry had done some good in his time, I have the comics sitting on my shelf. Why couldn't the issue focused on some of those instead? Sadly, all I'm left with is 20+ pages of Paul Jenkins telling me why the Sentry was great, instead of showing me.

    If/whenever they do bring the Sentry back, it will be in the hands of someone who can do something interesting with the character. Look at the great work DnA are doing with Marvel Cosmic. Remember when we thought nobody could ever bring back Bucky? Remember when everybody thought Cyclops was lame? There are no bad characters, just bad writers.

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  36. This rant is the greatest thing I've read in a long time. Here's hoping that the rant I've been working up to the last few days (about DC's Silver Age fetish and how it relates to the death of Ryan Choi) will be half as good.

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  37. All people can hope is that Sentry's not merely dead, he's really most sincerely dead. Maybe they can make up yet another power for him, where even after death he can make Brian Bendis realize that the Sentry sucks. And while he's at it make him realize that Spiderwoman isn't all that hot either.

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  38. I suspect Sentry is the Beyonder, doing the insert-heroic-identity-into-existence thing. I would have went with Molecule Man, but he was in Dark Avengers.

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  39. Yes. Everything you said. Yes. Yes.

    And EVEN when I start to think about the one example that could derail your argument - Jessica Jones - you go and write a long and perfect explanation as to why the situation with Bob is so wrong, when the story surrounding Jewel was so right.

    The first time I read that funeral scene, I immediately thought of your earlier post regarding Crystal - letting Bob sleep with the Moon Princess just to persuade us how awesome he was. The CRAP they have just pulled with Rogue is the same thing, times a thousand. A THOUSAND. And clearly, 'they' don't get what is so upsetting.

    Sorry if this repeats comments already made - I just had to throw my hat in as soon as I finished reading your brilliant post.

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  40. not to be nitpicky, but Rogue wasn't a virgin before this atrocious one shot. She got raped while depowered in the first Genosha storyline and, likely, boned Magneto in the savage land.

    But other than that, yeah, good points one and all

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  41. Shades -- Tell it to Jenkins, who wrote this as a virginity story.

    Though the rape storyline was said by the writer (Claremont?) to be just having been felt up. That doesn't make it much better, it's still a sexual assault and still an example of the mishandling of sexual assault by stupid comic writers, but this one I'm going to cling to because Rogue's problems with physical touch go so deep you want her virginity to have been lost consensually, at least. A rape in her backstory is just.. overkill here.

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  42. Shades -- Also, we go back and forth about virginity in the comments above, if you want to take a look.

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  43. Yeah, it was Claremont that wrote the Genosha story. Actually, he created the character, so saying he over did it by having them fondle her is kind of pointless since she's his "baby." I'm huge fan of Claremont's run of X-Men up until he introduced Jubilee, which was not too long after the Genosha storyline. He still had some great stories in him, but they were less and less frequent once he introduced Jubes.

    I didn't read all the comments on this article, but, for me, a guy that has a full run from Giant Sized to the most recent issue, including fail that is X-Treme, I say Rogue hasn't been a virgin for over 200 issues. Others can disagree, but arguing about it online is kind of sad and I won't do it.

    As for the Sentry, it is such a damn shame that such a good stand alone miniseries became so damn bastardized. If Jenkins creation would have been left alone, then I don't see it being anything but good. Instead, all the things you said in this article came about and it just absolutely ruined a good story. The huge shame of it is that Jenkins wrote this one shot and he has no one to blame but himself for it. It'd be like Swamp Thing being injected into the JLA after Moore reinvented him and then after something like Crisis kills him, Moore comes back for the Eulogy and reveals that he was really an alien all along.

    sigh

    Again, i agree with about 90-95% of this article, but there's nit picky things as a long time continuity nerd with which I take umbrage

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  44. Dude, you're not exactly unique in being a nitpicky continuity nerd. Again, check the other comments.

    But I've got a few points to address:

    1) Discussion of exactly where and when she lost it is a side discussion, since for at least the first two decades of Rogue's existence the stuff we're talking about is ONLY ever implied.

    2) That someone created the character during work-for-hire doesn't mean they can't go too far. Jenkins himself takes the Sentry WAY too far here. But that's pointless to argue since Claremont seems to believe that a rape in the Genosha storyline would be overdoing it, as by most accounts he's the one who said it wasn't a rape. (And man, when Claremont thinks something goes too far with a female character...)

    And most importantly, READ THE SCANS. Jenkins himself seems to believe that Rogue never lost her virginity. Rogue's reaction almost certainly presents this as Rogue's "First", so to speak. So if your "You got only one thing wrong, she's not a virgin" argument is directed at ME, you're aiming at the wrong person. I've been in the "With Magneto in the Savage Land" and "Almost certainly at some point with Gambit" camps for years, and really it just makes it more irritating that Jenkins seems to feel that Rogue liked Sentry because he was "the only person who could hug me" for "the longest time". Because we've at least seen her look back on her romances with Gambit and Magneto.

    You've mastered loading the weapon, but you need to correct your sights so you get the right target.

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  45. I might not be the only night picky continuity nerd, but that doesn't make it any less sad.

    1. That was actually the beauty of good Claremont. He used to imply the hell out of stuff, giving all sorts of subtext while rarely saying things out and out. It wasn't until DECADES later that a throwaway line in Uncanny 140 or 41 was picked up by another writer and it was out right stated that Mystique was Kurt's mom. Or Lesbian Storm adventures. Just because hacky Claremont hasn't out right said that Rogue got laid, doesn't me she hasn't.

    2. Oh, c'mon. Claremont may have done X-men as work for hire, but you can't honestly argue they aren't his babies. He poured his soul into that book for a good 20 years. I would ask for a citation on the fondling thing, but again, don't care. I read it as rape and it doesn't change anything for me if it wasn't. Again, old school Claremont, while dated by today's standards, was damn solid writing.

    I thought the whole point of this was how much Jenkins and Bendis have let a good single story spiral out of control and fucked up continuity by doing it. Regardless, Jenkins is by no means a powerhouse writer at Marvel, so we can and I personally will, completely forget this issue unless it is referenced again.

    This whole issue just needs to be forgotten like the editors forgot about savage land shenanigans or X-Treme coitus.

    And I'm arguing with you because you wrote the article. Marvel doesn't care about hardcore fans like me. I'll keep paying for shit with a smile because I have been. This is me screaming at a blank wall to feel better.

    Salient points from this post
    Jenkins knows dick about continuity and whenever he tries to cram some shit in, it is best to ignore it.

    Sentry had a good original story that should not have been brought back

    Claremont, honestly, used to be good the last decade or so not withstanding.

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  46. But.. you're still arguing with me as if I subscribed to the idea that Rogue had never lost her virginity prior to this year. I mean, I'm not a blank wall, and saying you agree with 95% of what I said and then going off about a 5% that I didn't actually write seems... really weird.

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  47. I'm kind of offended by the idea that Rogue being sexually assaulted in Genosha (whether rape or not) would somehow make her first consentual sexual experience less important to her character.

    As for Magneto or other possible consentual experiences, well, they weren't confirmed on-panel. Sadly, this was. So as far as continuity goes, Jenkins currently trumps. Until the next retcon.

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  48. Okay, I think I get what's going on. You had me confused because I thought you wanted to talk with me. But you're arguing against points I never made and ignoring the ones I make. It seems you just want to talk AT me, and that is rather pointless. My comments are not your blog, even if you do position them as if you're debating me (you're not, you're debating some imaginary me I suppose). Go rant in your own internetspace.

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  49. Where has this blog been all my life?

    Seriously, I thought this was a wonderful article and summed up much of what I hate about Sentry.

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  50. Recovering alcoholic Tony Stark turns up to an impromptu memorial service with a case of cold beers on the back seat on his car and NOT ONE of his many close friends at the graveside with him who accepts one from him questions the wisdom of that act.

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  51. This was all kinds of awful. I actually think that The Sentry had the potential to be a really interesting character at the outset but was totally ruined by constant, needless retconning, telling and retelling of his origin and complete inconsistency in his character, as well as poisoning every other character who came near him by association. Fallen Sun had the opportunity to salvage some dignity from the situation by sticking to the whole "Maybe we will never know the truth... Who was he really?" line of thought and leaving him a stranger in the eyes of the heroes, who nonetheless were forced to smash his head to pieces to prevent him destroying the world.

    I read this issue back to back with Hulk 22 and I'm about ready to give up on all comics again for the next 2 years, I am so totally disillusioned.

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  52. The only consolation we can take is that this whole one-shot never took place outside of Bob Reynolds' immagination - the Sentry's entire career pre-Breakout was a fiction of his own making in any case, so THIS NEVER HAPPENED as far as I'm concerned.

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  53. I've long wondered why Rogue never hooked up with Wonder Man. She discovered she could touch him way back in Avengers Annual #10, but as far as I know, nobody has ever followed up on this. For a long time I kept waiting for them to meet again, to see how desperately she might throw herself at him. But it never seemed to happen.

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  54. Sentry wasn't all that bad a character- I just think they took him too far off the grid. As for Rogue- she absorbed Carol Danvers' power and persona at one point... I'm sure Carol was no virgin, (actually she was once Sentry's girl wasn't she?) so by proxy at least, Rogue has experienced sex. More than likely she has experienced the sexual encounters of everyone she's ever touched long enough to absorb... men AND women. Arguably Rogue has had the most varied sex life in the Marvel U.

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  55. I hope someone from Marvel reads this, because you are completely right, and this might show them where the are going wrong. Also, I hate Sally Floyd.

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  56. I thought writing 101 was to "show" and not "tell". Of course I am referring Jenkin's abysmal writing. I mean when you can't "show" on a comic book get the fuck out of the business.

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  57. Yes, yes, yes! I know you wrote this post a year ago, but I really felt the need to say that. The Jessica Jones metaphor is so perfect. When I started reading comics again last year and first started seeing her in "Avengers," I found myself thinking, "Wow, I've got to go find out more about her back story." After all, getting to go and rummage through back-issue boxes at a comic-book store to find out more about a character you just discovered is probably the greatest part of being a comic-book fan. Treating the Sentry as if he were someone like Jessica Jones, a somewhat minor character that graduated to the big leagues, was always what made me stabby, but I didn't realize it until you mentioned it. Thanks!

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  58. Sentry was a great character, who got destroyed by Michael Brian Bendis.
    "Fallen Sun" was indeed a little bit too much Sentry-love, and I consider myself as the biggest Sentry-fan there is.

    I'm hoping that Sentry will return one day and that they made him saner then he was. That they stick with Lindy's god-theory, since it's an interesting one to go with.
    Sentry was able to heal people, came back from the dead and to do even more things, just like Jesus healed people, came back from the dead and Moses split a sea and summoned all kinds of animals to threaten his enemies.
    Sentry could be the next person who gained such power, but didn't exactly know how to handle it.

    Sentry was never a good team-character, since he was way too powerful for that. It was the first mistake to put him into the Avengers, since he outclassed all of them by far.

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  59. I like Sentry, but this book was stupid Sentry wouldn't cheat on his wife this was just used for a cheap joke

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  60. I hate the Sentry, the attitude that made them think they were entitled to shoe horn it in to what was left of the zombie of the Marvel Universe, his tacky powers, and every other god damned thing about him.

    Then I read a guy's theory that the Sentry is actually the latest atrocity committed by Franklin Richards, the most powerful being in the Marvel Universe, and that made for an interesting thought experiment.

    But no, I hate the Sentry, the mind set that makes nutballs think it's a good idea, and the terrible plodding "storytelling" that it is symptomatic of.

    /rant

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