The Sentry: A Superman clone or something else?
The Sentry is a Marvel Comics character first appearing in The Sentry #1, in July 2000. The character was created by Paul Jenkins, Jae Lee and Rick Veitch. He is often referred to as “Marvel’s Superman” and due to a big misconception, people seem to think he is a clone (or analogue) of one of the greatest comic book characters, Superman.
Superman clones and archetype are many. In many different forms of media, we see characters that share a lot of resemblance to the character. But they are all unique in their own ways. They are different takes on the character. Marvel’s Hyperion is an example of this.
However, Sentry is completely different from Superman. People often call him a Superman clone or “Marvel’s Superman” for short, but without the ‘S’ on his belt, they do not have anything else in common.
Their origins are very different, their powers are different, their designs are different, their ideologies and personalities are far apart from one another.
So, let’s dive deeper into this character together.
In the late 40s, the Weapon X program tried to recreate the Super Soldier Serum which gave Captain America his abilities. This new serum was supposed to be thousands of times stronger than the original. They worked on this “Project Sentry” for many years, but when the Cold War broke out, the project was set aside. Professor Cornelius continued to work on it and perfected it. This is where Robert Reynolds comes in.
Robert Reynolds, a high school drug addict came across this Golden Sentry Serum when he broke into Professor Cornelius’ laboratory. Thinking it was meth, he took it. Bestowed with powers far higher than a human, he accidentally destroyed the laboratory and killed a few people, including his partner in crime who came to this lab with him.
Professor Cornelius offers to help him control his powers better but also use the opportunity to test the subject and his powers. However, Robert Reynolds – Bob for short – had a good heart. So, he set out and became the hero known as the Sentry.
As the great hero known as the Sentry, he set out on many adventures alongside the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Spider-Man, and the X-Men. He also found his own sidekick, Billy Turner AKA Scout.
But with great power, comes great darkness. Enter: the Void.
A being with dark powers that can rival the Sentry’s tremendous power. After many years of battles, the Sentry finally learned a dark secret. He and the Void are one. Robert Reynolds was agoraphobic and schizophrenic, but as he got these powers, his condition worsened. So, the Sentry and Void are two other personalities which manifested when got these powers.
As the Sentry, he helped save people. But as the Void, he terrorized the world. At one point, the Void destroyed an alien civilization. So, to get rid of the evil Void, the Sentry must die too.
With the help of Reed Richards and Doctor Strange, Sentry developed a machine that would erase the Sentry and Void from the memories of everyone, including Robert Reynolds. If Robert Reynolds thought he did not have powers, he wouldn’t. If Robert Reynolds did not remember the Sentry or Void, they would not exist.
They removed the Sentry from the memories of everyone and removed all of his records, so Robert Reynolds would never know about them. If he did, they would come back. With the help of the machine, the Sentry and Void vanished from the world.
Bob lived a normal life with his wife – Lindy Lee. But then one day, he started to regain his memories. And so, the Sentry and the Void came back but that’s a story for another time.
That is his comic book origin. Very different from Superman’s origin – which we all know and love.
Rick Veitch wrote on his blog a long time ago that when they were coming up with the idea of the Sentry, they wanted a forgotten Superman in the Marvel Universe but make it more realistic. He and Jenkins wanted this Sentry character to be someone on the level of Iron Man and Daredevil.
However, that plan was changed when Joe Quesada greenlit the comic to move forward. With Jae Lee as the artist, Paul Jenkins wrote the story of the Sentry for the Marvel Knights imprint of Marvel.
The Sentry character was never based on Superman. They wanted a realistic Superman but never did. If you have read Miracle Man or Triumph from DC, you would notice some of the similarities.
Now, when it comes to stories, the Sentry and Superman are light years away from one another. For more than 80 years, Superman has been shown as the perfect example of a man. A hero to the people, to the world, and to the universe. He is known across the universe for his heroic feats, helping people in need and his good sense of morality. Superman is the embodiment of good.
Sentry, on the other hand, is different. When he gets the serum, Robert creates two other personas. One is the Sentry and the other is the Void. The Sentry gets all of his good sides and the Void takes his bad side. The Sentry is everything good about Robert Reynolds and the Void is everything bad about him.
As the Sentry, Robert goes around the world and the universe, saving people from many different kinds of threats. No matter how powerful the enemy is. However, this is where the problem occurs. For every good he does as the Sentry, the Void does something worse. If the Sentry saves a plane, the Void destroys one. The Sentry saves one, the Void kills one.
The Sentry decides to stay aside. To not help anyone, he is keeping them safe. If he helps people, he knows that the Void will do something worse. So, he decided to stay away and not be a hero. Of course, he has helped many people and saved many people, but he knows that the Void has done something worse. So, he tries his best to be neutral.
Most Sentry stories deal with his mental instability and how hard it has made his life. In Paul Jenkins second Sentry run, the Sentry Vol.2: Sentry Reborn, we dive deeper and deeper into the mind of the character and what he is all about.
There is a big problem when it comes to the Sentry’s appearances in comics. Most of the time, he is written as this overpowered tool who cannot do anything for himself. And is often controlled or ordered around by someone else. For example, the Dark Avengers.
Who doesn’t know and love Superman’s heroic personality? That good hero who always saves people, no matter how unlikely it seems. And would not kill unless its the absolute last resort, as he did with Brainiac once. But even with his deadliest villains, he would never think of killing them if he can defeat them.
Bob, however, is different. He is an agoraphobic and schizophrenic man with multiple personalities. As Bob, he is usually seen as this scared and confused man. He loves his wife and his dog but that’s it. He doesn’t remember anything when the Sentry or the Void is in control.
Bob also does not have the genius-level intelligence of the Sentry or his good ideals. In fact, he is not good nor bad. He doesn’t have a strict moral code. He is a man who leans to no side and is stuck between the two opposing sides.
Sentry has all the good parts of Bob. From his good/positive ideologies to thoughts to emotions. So, that is why he tries to do good work. He tries to do his best to save everyone. But even then, if he wants to defeat a villain, he will not hesitate to kill them. Carnage and Absorbing Man, for example. The Void, however, has all the bad/negatives. So, that is why he is a villain. He will never do anything good. He does his best to cause more death and destruction with every taking step.
In the original graphic novel, they were depicted as a God and Devil. Which I think is very interesting and seeing how powerful they are, it is fitting.
Superman has many different supporting characters. Supergirl, Superboy, Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Krypto, Kelex, Pa Kent, Ma Kent and so many more. They help him become a better hero and help him save the world over and over again. And vice versa.
However, Sentry is completely different. He has CLOC (a robot), Normie (his dog), Billy Turner (his sidekick) and Lindy Lee (his wife). But their relationship with him is not that good.
His wife, Lindy, is scared of him. She asked Tony Stark to find a way to kill him before he kills them all. She tried to even commit suicide once, just to get away from him. So, unlike Lois Lane or Lana Lang, she is not a person who is going to help Sentry. She is not going to help him become better. She just wants to get rid of him. In fact, she doesn’t love Bob at all. She fell in love with the superhero Sentry. And is often shown that she does not care about Robert Reynolds.
Scout. His sidekick. He turned evil just because Sentry no longer shared his power with him and did not care for him. Scout wanted to kill the Sentry and become the one and only Sentry. Would Superboy do that? Sure, in the 90s (Reign of Supermen), Superboy pretended to be the Superman but once Superman returned, he never wanted to kill him so he can be called Superman. Scout wanted to kill his former hero and replace him forever.
Watchdog. Normie is Robert’s dog. He is also very close with the Hulk. When Robert died during Siege, it was shown that Scout had taken Normie. But we have not seen him since then. Did Scout, perhaps kill him?
CLOC. Perhaps the only thing that actually cares about the Sentry. And he is the most loyal to Sentry. It’s kind of ironic. The only thing that cares about the Sentry is not even alive. CLOC helps the Sentry keep the world safe. He has helped Sentry and some other heroes. However, we have not seen him since Siege. CLOC said it would wait for its master, but even though the Sentry returned, we never saw it again. Perhaps it is destroyed as well?
Mrs Reynolds. Roberts Mother. We don’t even know her full name or what she used to do or how her relationship with Robert was. We only ever see her once, when Thor goes to her and tells her about Robert’s death. And we can assume that she might not have been the best mother because she let her son do drugs.
So, when it comes to supporting characters, Sentry and Superman are very different. Superman’s supporting characters help him become better. They help him save the world. They are his family. But it is different for Robert. His wife wanted to kill him. His sidekick wanted to kill him. Normie is gone. And CLOC? We have no idea where it is now.
Relationship with other heroes
We all know what kind of relationships Superman has with other heroes. Superman and Batman are best friends. He and Wonder Woman are also very close friends. At the end of the day, Superman has an amazing relationship with other heroes. They look up to him. He inspires them. And more than that, they are friends.
Now, the Sentry, on the other hand, has TERRIBLE relationships with other characters. And the main reasons for that is the Void. Sentry used to be a hero. A hero that saved people, inspired people. He was adored and looked up to by many. But then the Void comes in. He ruins everything. Once the superhero community finds out what the Void is, they start finding ways to try and kill him forever.
Reed, Dr Strange, Iron Man and Nick Fury, they used to be his friends but they are always looking for ways to kill him. Even his wife wants him dead. And then his sidekick tries to kill him. Do I need to say more? He has had terrible relationships throughout his life.
Superman has amazing villains like Lex Luthor, Doomsday, Brainiac, Darkseid, General Zod, Metallo, Bizzaro, Lobo, Parasite, and more. It could take hours to name them all. These villains have a grudge against Superman. They want to destroy or take over Earth but Superman stops them. Despite their differences, they sometimes team up to save the world or universe from the greater evil.
Sentry, on the other hand, has few villains. Cranio, the General, Scout, the Void, and a few others. All of these characters have tried to destroy or take over the world or do something evil and Sentry has stopped them.
The Void. The Void is the dark side of Robert. His own greatest enemy. He is everything bad about Robert. The Void has killed many enemies of the Sentry, and he is known for toying with most of the Marvel heroes.
The Void has played a major role in his life. He has ripped Scout’s hand, broken every bone in Hulk’s body, and threatened to kill his wife. And besides that, the Void is he himself. The Void has some memories of Robert that Sentry has forgotten. The Void is also responsible for Sentry losing his mantle as a hero. And so much more. Unlike Superman’s villains, this one is far more personal and deadly for the character.
Yes, Superman has villains that are extremely powerful… but the Void is different. He is the Sentry himself. Their relationship is far more personal.
In Dark Avengers #13, the Sentry goes to the sun, he de-powers himself and kills himself. But the Void recreates the body less than a second later. Even if Sentry wants to die, the Void will revive him mere moments later. Only if the Void and Sentry BOTH want to die, then they can die. But if they choose to come back, they will come back almost immediately.
Aside from the Void, Scout is another villain that the Sentry shares a deep connection with. Scout was Sentry’s sidekick, but then one day, against the Void he lost his arm. When the Sentry removed himself from the world, Scout also forgot him. But his arm was still missing.
So, when the Sentry returned to the Marvel Universe forever, Scout’s powers did not come to him. Sentry did not give him powers again. This made Scout hate his mentor and try to kill him.
Sentry also has a few other villains, such as Cranio. He is a man with a genius-level intellect. Developing many forms of weapons, he has tried to battle the Sentry a lot but always failed before the might of the Sentry. Cranio is the only person who has come close to recreating the Golden Sentry Serum.
Superman has a blue costume, with red “underwear”/belt, breaking apart his upper and lower body and a red cape. He also has a massive “S” (House of El’s logo) on his chest. The Sentry also has an “S” in his costume, and that spawned the confusion of him being a Superman clone.
The “S” on Sentry’s belt is shaped differently from Superman. It is centered on his belt, separating his upper and lower body.
Sentry has a yellow suit with a blue cape. The belt is black. That color scheme changed when he merged with the Void recently. Now, his suit is red with a black belt and a blue cap.
One of the reasons people confuse the Sentry for a Superman clone in Marvel is because he has powers such as flight, super speed, super strength, durability, etc.
However, this is an important part that people get wrong.
Superman has flight, super speed, super strength, durability, heat vision, freeze breath, solar energy absorption, and enhanced senses.
The sentry had only one power: Molecular Manipulation. Yes, that’s right. Molecular Manipulation is his main power. From that, he gave himself other powers such as super strength, super speed, durability, teleportation, telepathy, telekinesis, light manipulation, darkness manipulation, matter manipulation, energy manipulation, energy manipulation (can use any form of energy as a power source for himself), energy emission, resurrection, life creation, reality-warping, teleportation, dimensional travel, aura sensing, enhanced senses, power bestowal, immortality, transformation, attack reflection, soul manipulation, invisibility, intangibility, force field creation and more.
Furthermore, Sentry’s molecules move seconds ahead of the current timeline. Which is an interesting ability to have.
I am sure I have missed a few points here and there about the differences between them. But I just pointed out the most obvious points that make them different. To summarise:
- Sentry’s origin is very different than Superman
- Sentry has different powers than Superman
- Superman is a hero while the Sentry is both
- Superman has better relationships with his supporting characters and other heroes, while Robert does not.
- Sentry is agoraphobic and schizophrenic with multiple personalities.
So, to finalize, no, Sentry is NOT a Superman clone. If you see him for the first time, you might think like that. Because I know I did. I saw the ‘S’ and thought he was a Superman clone. But once you read his comics, you know how different he is from Superman.
I have seen some people argue that the Sentry is a different take on Superman. But I do not see how. So, I would like to know your thoughts on this.