What if I told you there was a comic publisher much like DC and Marvel, that has a rich history, large company crossovers, and years of storylines, and yet no one has ever read their stories. You may think I’m insane, but that is what happened with Sentinel Comics. It has years of history, hundreds of characters, multiple company-wide story arcs, and many, many heroes, all with a dedicated fanbase. How does it have a fanbase, and yet no one has read the comics? That’s simple: the comics don’t exist.
Yes, you read that right, the comic books that have huge fan bases do not actually exist. Sentinel Comics is not a comic publisher, rather it is a brand by board game company Greater Than Games. Christopher Badell wanted to create a board game based on superheroes, but the problem is, he had no superheroes he could use. So, he created his own. He slowly created an entire story in his mind, with multiple arcs, created characters for it, and then spun off of that with new heroes, villains, and stories, until he had a comic history that rivals those of DC and Marvel. When Sentinels Wiki contributor WalkingTarget was asked about it, they said “It’s too long and complicated for me to lay things out. While [Christopher Badell] and Adam [Rebottaro] haven’t filled in every issue, the history of the fictional Sentinel Comics company goes back to the 1940s.”
Badell partnered with artist Adam Rebottaro to create Sentinels of the Multiverse, a board game based on the idea Badell created, but Badell and Rebottaro equally created the world and the story together. Together, their ideas for the story are mostly contained within their heads, with the only continuity being them going back to previous cards and checking with the community to make sure it fits with canon. Sentinels of the Multiverse released in 2011 and instantly became a sensation within the board game community.
Badell and Rebottaro wanted to create a sense of history to the characters and the imprint, so they created characters such as Chrono Ranger. In an interview with The AV Club, Badell said, “Comic books, before they were about superheroes, were mostly about cowboys.” Badell added, “I mostly had this story in my mind that this company, Sentinel Comics, long ago used to write cowboy stories, and that a writer came around and said, ‘Let’s use one of our old characters.’ That’s where Groot came from. Groot was an old Jack Kirby villain, a weird tree monster. Then some writer was like, ‘How about we put him on a team of galaxy-hopping weirdos?’ Comic book history is bizarre and delightful.” (Side note, cowboys and westerns in comic books were actually just a small subgenre of comics. Most pre-superhero comics were either reprints of newspaper strips, or pulp detective stories, and post-Golden Age stories were mainly crime and science fiction, but cowboy strips definitely had a large presence in the comics scene.) This is not to say Badell is not extremely knowledgeable about the comic book industry. When talking to Sentinels Wiki contributor WalkingTarget, they told me “It’s set up to model the history of real comics. If there were fads in comics in real life, there are likely parallels in Sentinels. Horror and crime comics in the ‘50s, gritty antiheroes in the ‘80s, etc.”
Even though Badell had hired Adam Rebottaro to just do the art, Rebottaro became a contributor to the story itself, and, since the very beginning of the story, has been a huge contributor to the project. This can be seen best with The Letters Page, which is a podcast co-hosted by Christopher Badell and Adam Rebottaro. In it, they expand upon the lore of Sentinel Comics, and it has been a valuable asset to the fans hoping to piece together the lore of Sentinel Comics. When listening to it, you can tell that Badell and Rebottaro have a lot of fun with it. Some episodes are straightforward, where they just talk about the backstory of a character, but others are much more experimental, such as episode 78, which was styled after Golden Age radio dramas such as Superman and The Blue Beetle. (I suspect that it was intentionally chosen that the radio drama was episode 78 because of the fact that records from the time are called ‘78s.
Badell’s and Rebottaro’s world not only captivated them, but it captivated a huge fanbase of comic fans and board game fans. A wiki for the game’s universe was started back in 2012, and their goal is to have a centralized place for fans of the Sentinel Comics universe to compile the history and lore together. When asked about how the wiki started, moderator and founder Lynkfox had this to say: “”Back in … 2012ish I began the wiki – I had newly come to the world of Sentinels…” They went on to elaborate by saying, “I was dedicated to understanding more of this world. The forums at the time were still coming together as Sentinels fandom coalesced online, and there were a ton of theories being crafted and put together by everyone who was involved. Christopher [Badell, creator of Sentinels of the Multiverse] would stop by at times and drop off tantalizing hints as well. I realized we needed some central place to put it all. So I started a wiki on Wikidot, crafting the thing out mostly by hand, filling the pages myself. The project took shape over the next year and grew to take in just about everything related to Sentinel Comics.” They then said, “The site grew from there, finally gaining volunteers who would help me add more information to it.”
A large part of the charm of Sentinels of the Multiverse is how close-knit the community is, and how much passion the developers have for the game. Lynkfox told me “Around this time [four years ago] Paul of Greater than Games approached me and we entered a contract for making the wiki the Official, supported by GtG, wiki. It has been ever since.” The developers of Sentinels of the Multiverse really care about their projects. They create a free podcast that almost always has a lot of scripted elements, and they still put so much time into the franchise, even though the last game entry has come out, and the only new games in the franchise currently is a series of RPGs whose rulebooks are provided digitally, free of charge, to anyone who wants to play them.
Sentinels of the Multiverse, and the Sentinel Comics brand, is not very well known, but it is one that has a very dedicated fandom, as well as having extremely passionate developers. The fandom has been around since the creation of Sentinels, and the fandom is still growing. Badell and Rebottaro just recently finished a Kickstarter for their RPG, and they are working on a book, History of Sentinel Comics, which goes over the fictional history of the comic book company itself. The franchise has been around for many years and has been a large part of the lives of many in the community. As for Lynkfox, they told me “These days I don’t have a lot of time to work on the wiki, having gotten married and started a family, as well as finished my degree in Software Development and gotten a job with said degree. However, we have a lot of great volunteers like Jeysie, who constantly is finding better ways to display the information and format it, WalkingTarget who keeps the Podcast links and quick notes up to date, and many others”
UPDATE: I wanted to give a correction: Christopher Badell and Adam Rebottaro have been friends since childhood, and Sentinels is and always has been an equal collaboration between them. Also, I wanted to clarify that the RPG’s rulebook is free of charge digitally, but the RPG itself does not seem to be. I regret my error.