Reviews of trade paperbacks of comic books (mostly Marvel), along with a few other semi-relevant comments / reviews.

11 July 2006

Sentinel, v. 3: Past Imperfect

Collects: Sentinel (v. 2) #1-5 (2006)

Released: May 2006 (Marvel)

Sean McKeever gets the chance to finish the loose ends from his Sentinel series in this volume. This is probably the last of the series, which did poorly in sales as individual issues. But it was also part of Marvel’s digest line, which they heavily pushed at bookstores and contained many low-selling series, such as Runaways.

This does, for the most part, exactly what it’s supposed to: finish off Juston’s quest to find his mother. Juston’s search for his mother was the teaser at the end of Sentinel, v. 2: No Hero, a strange ending to a clearly cancelled series. Juston also becomes closer to his father and brother, finishing the transition from bratty teen at the beginning of the story to mature member of the family. He also makes his choices in his personal life, with his “girlfriend” Ashleigh Nichols getting what she deserves. That said, some of those choices seem arbitrary from his perspective, even if the reader knows they are the correct decisions.

Disappointingly, however, Past Imperfect leaves the moral questions about Juston’s use of the Sentinel unanswered. Yes, Juston does heroic acts with the Sentinel and promises to do more, but it doesn’t come to grips with his horribly selfish acts from No Hero. There is a parallel with Past Imperfect’s villains, Sen. Knudsen and Col. Hunt, who used the Sentinel to murder a man and use a newer model to try to destroy Juston and his Sentinel. Yes, their use of the Sentinel is unforgivable, while Juston is merely selfish; they continue to use the technology for evil, while Juston wants to use his for good. But being better than evil isn’t enough, in this situation.

Udon Studios, in the persons of Joe Vriens and Scott Hepburn, provide the art. Stereotypically, their manga-influenced style is perfect for big robots, and as always, they do an excellent job with the big robot. This time they get to draw a Sentinel vs. Sentinel fight and do a pretty good job with it. That’s a majority of the work, in this case, both in the sense that it’s the most important part of the art and seemingly the content of more than half the pages. The other characters are consistent with the previous two volumes; you may quibble with the manga-style designs, such as Jessie’s little hat and all the kids’ hair, but it’s now set as Sentinel’s style.

If you liked the first two volumes of the series, then you’re likely to enjoy Past Imperfect, even if it is flawed at times.

Grade: B-

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