THE SENTINELS #274
Publisher: Standard Comics
Creators: Roy Johnson, Ron Charles Williams, Shayne Cui, Elizz Hezekiah, Francisco Zamora
Price: $4.99 (first available on Kickstarter, soon at IndyPlanet.com)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Website: indyplanet.com/standard-comics and standard-comics.com
In “Interregnum,” the Grim Reaper continues to wrestle with his own internal demons, a mysterious figure arrives at Freedom’s Stronghold. UltraMan and crew continue their Multiversal journey. Super-villains report to a secretive figure.
Despite what the high issue number may indicate, this is actually the eighth issue of Standard Comics’ flagship title, “The Sentinels.” The company operates under the conceit of this series being “From the back issue bin of a parallel universe where three big companies continued operating from the 1960s to the modern day.” So instead of Marvel and DC being “The Big Two”, in this reality it’s actually been “The Big Three” since those halcyon days, and Roy numbers his issues accordingly.
Roy Johnson, wearing multiple hats as creator, writer, and Editor-in-Chief, combines both Public Domain characters (often redesigned with a modern flair) as members of his Sentinels team, along with Original Characters of his own creation. His world is extremely well-thought out, and complete with its own history, character handbooks, and technical schematics for the Sentinels’ headquarters. All of which are available at their site on IndyPlanet. His writing harkens back to bygone years and makes for a fun, if light, read. But you can tell he has things planned out well in advance as he lays down subplots aplenty, though they can sometimes cause the main story to suffer a bit as they can interrupt its flow.
The art for this issue is provided by Ron Charles Williams, most notably known for his work on Big Bang Comics, among other Indie titles (my own Steel Wolf for Angry Bear Press and Taranis the Thunderlord for G-Man Comics included). Ron’s lines offer a 1990s feel to the projects he pencils and inks, bringing a lot of really dynamic and striking action scenes and design work to the book. There are times where his lifework can look a bit unfinished, and his inking lines a bit too thin. I often wonder if maybe having a dedicated inker finish his work might bring out the full potential of his great style.
Colors this issue are handled by the duo of Shayne Cui (flats) and Elizz Hezekiah, and offer just the right retro tone this series demands. Sharp, crisp colors compliment the art without muddying it up, as so often can happen in these digital times.
Letters on this issue are handled by veteran letterer Francisco Zamora, and as with every project on which he works, the work is top-notch.
In closing, I can’t recommend this series highly enough. Every issue has been a lot of fun, and I’ve been a fan of Roy’s stuff since before he even got his first issue off the ground. If you miss the kinds of books we used to read back in the day, then this is for you. And since Roy is meticulous about keeping his projects available, everything he’s done so far, from Sentinels issues to handbooks and even a trade are all available. Jump on in and catch up.
Full disclosure: Roy and I are both partners in Coalition Comics, and my own character Steel Wolf has appeared in past issues of Sentinels, so take that as you will when weighing my opinions.