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Marvel’s Voyager Is the Avengers’ Sentry 2.0

By Blair Marnell

Marvel’s Voyager Is the Avengers’ Sentry 2.0

Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but Marvel is introducing a previously forgotten character who is absolutely essential to the Marvel Universe and the early Silver Age heroes. If that sounds familiar, and it should, it’s because Marvel’s plans for Voyager are very close to what they did for Sentry nearly seventeen years ago. Except this time, Marvel isn’t trying to pretend that Voyager was literally created by the classic writers and artists of the past.

For months, Marvel has been hyping Marvel Legacy #1 as the next big thing, and many fans were so distracted by the big resurrection that they barely noticed a key detail: the statue of the founding Avengers now consists of Captain America, Ant-Man, Wasp, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and Voyager. Somebody’s been mucking around with time, and that means we’ve got a mystery on our hands.  

Apparently the reveal of who and what Voyager is will be a part of the upcoming Avengers: No Surrender weekly event series, which will unite the characters and the creative teams of all three Avengers titles into a single book for the duration of the storyline. Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort told Newsarama that “[Voyager is] the most important character in the Marvel Universe that you don’t remember – but you will...And you’ll remember her by the time Avengers #676 comes out, the second part of ‘No Surrender’…There’s a scene in there that lays out quite concretely exactly who she is. Her identity will be revealed.”

Of course, Brevoort wouldn’t just come out and completely spoil the reveal. But he couldn’t stop himself from revealing her alliterative secret identity: “I will tell you – because it fills me with immeasurable glee – that her secret identity, her real name, is Valerie Vector. Take that as you will – people can go to their Marvel Handbooks to see if they can suss out any clues about her identity…There are clues in Marvel Legacy #1. There are clues in the promo image that Alex Ross painted that’s on the back of the lenticular variant and will be seen on a lot of books moving forward, where she’s included with the founding Avengers on their statue.”

Okay then, we’re getting a new heroine. The real question for us is whether Voyager was added to the past when Secret Wars rebooted the universe or if she’s a creation of Kobik (the sentient Cosmic Cube who thinks that she’s a little girl). About the only thing we know for sure is that Brevoort said that she won’t be Kobik herself. Although that would have made some sense. 

Here’s the thing: characters introduced as the secret linchpins for superhero universes rarely catch on for the long term. Chris Claremont tried to turn Sage into one of the most important X-Men and it didn’t really take, and the less said about ForgetMeNot the better! But really, it’s the Sentry who is granddaddy of all Marvel retcons. However, the Sentry ruse may not have been intended to go as far as it did. Paul Jenkins and Rick Veitch envisioned the Sentry as the star of his own miniseries or whose memory had been erased from the Marvel Universe before making his return in the modern era. Jenkins and artist Jae Lee teamed up for the first Sentry miniseries in 2000, but Marvel hyped it for months before its release by trying to fool people into believing that the Sentry really existed prior to this project.

Although Sentry was largely written out of the Marvel Universe again after the miniseries, Brian Michael Bendis brought him back in the pages of New Avengers. For about half-a-decade, Sentry was basically Marvel’s mentally unstable answer to Superman. Why didn’t it last? Our theory is that Marvel took it too far, and tried to make Sentry too important. Suddenly, he was the guy who helped Spider-Man win his Pulitzer Prize for photography, or the man who inspired the Hulk to be a hero. Sentry taught Angel to overcome his fear of heights, and he even had romances with both Crystal and Rogue! 

Every time Sentry appeared, it seemed like more and more characters were added to his backstory. By adding so many layers and attempting to make Sentry integral to previously established heroes, it simply collapsed under its own weight. Sentry just couldn’t be Marvel’s Superman. He had to be all things to all people. And he just happened to share his body with the Void, the dark half of his personality that was also his super-powered enemy. Sentry kept trying to throw the Void into the sun, because that was his solution for everything. But it never took.

Eventually, Sentry was killed off during the Siege storyline, but many fans forget that he’s still out there somewhere. Sentry was resurrected during the first run of Uncanny Avengers as a Horseman of the Apocalypse Twins, and he was last seen hiding the body of a Celestial out in space. 

Without being privy to Marvel’s full plans for Voyager, it’s hard to tell if the company will fall into the trap of making Voyager feel like the Roman Reigns of the Marvel Universe. Fans don’t tend to like it when the company decides which character it wants to push, and blazes ahead regardless of the reception. It’s going to be an uphill climb, but the writing team of Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub will hopefully be up for the challenge when Avengers #675 hits in January. That’s the first part of the Avengers: No Surrender weekly storyline that will run for 16 weeks.

Images: Marvel Comics