I first came to learn about Rich Bernatovech’s Sentinels when I met Rich at Big Apple Con many, many years ago. Sentinels is a independent book about a group of kids who become a superhero team many years after the disappearance of their superhero parents. The book was instantly appealing not just because of the premise but because Bernatovech wasn’t releasing individual issue of Sentinels. He was releasing his series as a trade. Now the trade was made up of 8 actual issues but instead of self-publishing issue after issue he just put it all together into one book. I thought this was pure genius. Independent creators usually create their books with big ideas and many storylines but the fact of the matter is many peter out after a few short issues. By the time I met Rich he already had two trade paperbacks full of Sentinels storylines.
I reviewed the book right away calling it “a triumph of an independent comic full of solid storytelling, intensity, and a sense of urgency rarely seen in superhero team books.” I was instantly a fan of Sentinels and continued reviewing the remaining two books when they came out. The fourth book brought the story to an end, though two Anthology issues were released featuring the characters. Rich was kind enough to ask if I wanted to write a story for the first Anthology which I was happy to do. I was teamed with Andrew Charipar and actually wrote myself into the story. Yes – somewhere in the Sentinels universe I work as a reporter somewhere. I’m probably reporting the “fake news” right now.
Following Sentinels Bernatovech went on to create some new books including Neverminds, Bugged, and his new webcomic Kowa. Sentinels artist Luciano Vecchio would also go on to work on series like DC’s Beware the Batman and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comics.
It was always Sentinels that was one of my big indie comic loves and while Rich and Luciano have yet to bring back the series for any further adventures of the superhero team they have been re-releasing Sentinels issues on ComiXology. Instead of releasing the book as a trade the issues are now being released one by one. They are completely remastered, reedited, and, for the first time, presented in stunning color. The book looks great and actually reads even better than it once did.
What is Sentinels about? The description tells us that Sentinels is the story of a second generation superhero team, led by the last Templar, whose parents disappeared in action when they were young. As they step into their new roles as heroes and struggle to take charge of their lives, they get pulled into the mystery of what happened to the first generation. From hellish conquerors to alien invaders and secret paramilitary agencies, a conspiracy connects their every mission and their personal histories, concealing a menace of Divine proportions that ties back to the legacy of the Templar Knights and their secret mission: To protect the means to access the Power of God.
The book was already an amazing read but the new Comixology version completely blow me away. Text is redone, layouts are redone, and entire pages are redone to help form and shape the story to become even better than it ever was. Sometimes you don’t mess with a good thing (*COUGH*George Lucas*COUGH*) but, in this case, Sentinels just looks, feels, and reads amazing. Side by side comparisons are able to fully illustrate how more fully formed the new pages really are.
It seems that the colorization of Sentinels actually came out of a deal with a publisher to translate the book into foreign languages. The other caveat was that they wanted the book to be in color. When the deal for that fell through Bernatovech still had these colorized version of the book and ComiXology became a perfect fit.
“ComiXology opened their doors to indie companies and we jumped at the offer,” Bernatovech says. “The issues sold well and we decided to keep doing them.”
Vecchio would color the first four books before colorist Ihor Loboda took over with issue five. Both men have continued to make the book look fantastic and Bernatovech couldn’t be happier with the results. “I love the colorized version a lot and I’m very proud of the work,” he states. “The colored version is almost like a new edition and a new story.”
The two most important questions still remained for me. Would the colored versions ever be collected into a trade paperback so I can have it on my shelf? And, as a Sentinels fan, would I ever see a return of the superhero team? The answers made me both happy and sad.
On the trade Bernatovech said, “We would love to do a printed version one day, maybe even a hardcover,” Bernatovech said but also noted, “But right now we’re just going to continue it digitally.” And new Sentinels adventures? “The second anthology is the last we will see (of the Sentinels) for a while other than this colored version. We still plan to have some of the characters pop up in Neverminds one day though.”
Until the characters make a guest appearance in Bernatovech’s new book I’ll have to be happy with these new colored versions of Sentinels. Luckily reading each new issue is like getting to know an old friend in a whole new way.
As issues are only 99 cents each jumping into Sentinels is easy and cheap to do on ComiXology. To learn more about Sentinels (and other Drumfish Productions books) click right here to check out their ComiXology page.