WW PHILLY '08: Mark Paniccia on The Sentry

The 'Silver Age' style of Marvel's The Sentry.

Despite the original miniseries, specials and occasional flashback or two which have focused on the character’s past, the history of Marvel’s Sentry is still largely unknown.

The broader strokes of the “Golden Guardian of Good” who possesses the “power of a million exploding suns” are known – he has existed since the earliest days of the modern heroic age of the Marvel Universe, but the memory of the hero and his interactions with the other heroes was removed from the collective consciousness of the entire world until only recently.

So what was his past like? As mentioned, we’ve seen only glimpses, really.

But that changes in September with The Age of the Sentry, a limited series launching in September which will delve into the history of the character in a unique fashion.

We spoke with Editor Mark Paniccia about it.

Newsarama: Mark, tell us about the origin of this project. Who first suggested it, and what's it setting out to do?

Mark Paniccia: My assistant editor, Jordan White, and I had been reminiscing about Silver Age books. He thought it might be cool to do a faux Essential Sentry and I had been recently inspired by a re-reading of Alan Moore's Supreme run. We decided it might be worth pitching a series with the character set in the early days of Marvel, something that could show a different and not often seen side of the character.

NRAMA: Tell us about the format - it's been describes as "Silver Age style" - what does that entail, and who are the creators working on it?

MP: We're going to get our Silver Age on! That means we’re going to do covers with text bursts, two stories per issue (of equal length with the exception of issue #6) and old-style editorials and letters pages. Jeff Parker and Nick Dragotta are doing the opening stories and the entire last issue—which will tie certain elements of the previous issues. Paul Tobin is doing stories drawn by several guest artists. Both Jeff and Paul are guys who get the sense of wonder and inspiration of stories of that time—the uninhibited imagination that allowed for tales you'd only find in comics. This series is really more of a celebration of what many of us readers—whether in the industry or as fans—feel make the medium so incredibly special.

NRAMA: With the specific creative approach, will it be set in the "Silver Age" of the Marvel Universe?

MP: Yes, and to some extent, it covers all super hero books of the time, an amalgamation of characters and tone if you will.

NRAMA: If you could, and to go slightly off topic for a second - with the flexible time scale, what does the "Silver Age" of the Marvel Universe mean anymore when you're looking at the tapestry in continuity terms? Is it just shorthand for an earlier time, shortly after the bulk of the heroes appeared, when there was a touch more innocence in the air, perhaps? I mean, obviously, you're not going to have The Sentry rescuing President Kennedy...or are you?

MP: Well, one story will include an homage to the Beatles, but I guess the safest way to play it is to just try to be timeless, sort of like a David Lynch or Wes Anderson movie. There will definitely be visuals that cue a specific period, but there might be things in there that make it harder to pin an absolute year to—except of course, Jeff's story wherein the Silver Age Sentry meets the Golden Age Sentry from another dimension. That might very well need to visually take place in the ‘30s.

NRAMA: Back to the miniseries itself, will the two stories appearing in each issue be related?

MP: Not really anymore than a double feature in World's Finest would. Jeff and Paul are friends so they're constantly discussing the book with each other, but it's up to them as to how much they want to connect the dots.

NRAMA: In the larger lifespan of the Sentry that we've seen, where is this miniseries set? Is this filling in the history that was mentioned obliquely in the one-shots seen previously?

MP: It's set in the earlier years of the Sentry. There will be connections to what we've seen but this is a chance to check out a side we've not been able to give as much screen time to.

NRAMA: So what will we see Jeff and Paul tackling with the Sentry? Will they be hitting any of the bigger storylines and elements that have come to be a hallmark of his present day incarnation - the mental instability, etc?

MP: Parker, Dragotta, Tobin and the others will be showing the heroic side of Rob Reynolds, the noble man who uses his great power to save the world at any cost—but they may sneak a few hints of things to come, some major clues to our universe to be. All the more reason to jump on!

NRAMA: Personally - as editor, what's your guiding principle for The Sentry? How do you see him, who is he, and why does he do what he does?

MP: There's the Silver Age part of me that sees his mission in the simplest of forms. Here's a guy with extraordinary power and might and a desire to make things right against overwhelmingly devious opposition—something most of us thought was pure magic when we first started reading comics. I hope to capture some of that magic and more with this book. We know it's a love letter to the Silver Age, but tell me that love letters don't sometimes come with an unexpected revelation and consequence.

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