Writer(s): Ed Brubaker.
Illustrator(s): Sean Phillips & Colin Wilson.
Release Date: May 1st 2018.
Genre(s): Comics, Mystery, Espionage, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
There’s something truly atmospheric and gruesome about noir fiction that is hard to come by in other stories. With themes of deception, betrayal and murder serving as a blanket to the intimate, lonely and shrewd protagonists, there’s very rarely any truth being openly shared with everyone, as truth is always the ultimate desire for every party. From the Eisner award winner Ed Brubaker, known for his work on several DC and Marvel characters like Batman, X-Men, Daredevil and Captain America, but also for his creator-owned titles like Criminal, Velvet and Fatale, his series Sleeper brings an inexcusably brilliant espionage tale originally published by Wildstorm and featuring characters straight out of Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.s series. Sleeper is however a noir superhero series of its own that places Alan Moore’s Wildcats villain Tao at the center of the suspense and takes us on a journey through the eyes of a mole within his secret organization.
Sleeper Book One is a reprint of Ed Brubaker’s Sleeper Series and includes the prequel story Point Blank (issues #1-5) as well as the first two volumes of the Sleeper series (issues #1-12). In Point Blank, Ed Brubaker and Colin Wilson explore the origin story of John Lynch through the eyes of Cole Cash, a former member of Team 7 and the WildC.A.T.s who is mostly known today as Grifter. After being suddenly contacted by Lynch, Cole Cash finds himself investigating an assassination attempt that will lead him in a déjà-vu situation with a shocking twist forcing him to cross paths with Holden Carver. In Sleeper, the story follows Holden Carver and his infiltration within a post-human organization led by the mysterious figure Tao. While avoiding to blow his cover, he’s forced into making ties with strange individuals while also trying to find his way out of his dangerous predicament.
What’s most astonishing about this series is the universe in itself. This is far from being a superhero story. It is, before anything else, an espionage story in which beings with superpowers exist. How Ed Brubaker makes them blend into the background seamlessly is magnificent as you never find yourself wondering where they came from or why they’re there. In fact, most characters have something special to them, such as the protagonist of Sleeper, Holden Carver, who can absorb pain inflicted to him in order to transfer it to anyone he desires, instantly killing them. How they’ve learned to harness their powers is just as intriguing as what they do with them within the secret organization. Simply put, the introduction of new characters with their unique abilities is only the topping to what is already a marvelous espionage story.
The artwork is also worth bringing into the spotlight. First with Collin Wilson in Point Blank and then Sean Phillips in Sleeper, they both brilliantly set the atmosphere to their noir crime story. Heavy on shadows and inclined towards darker colour tones that often portray the dark nights in its pitch-black glory and its purple tonality, Sleeper truly captures the vibe it needs to tell its espionage story. On the other hand, Point Blank draws upon more vibrant colours to lay its focus on the crime setting rather than its espionage angle. In fact, the artwork, while different in style, is also different in objective, as it respects the intention of the story. This being my first rodeo with Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, I’m definitely excited to visit more of their work in particular and discover the stories they’ve created together.
Sleeper Book One is a fascinating spy story with suitably-powered humans who smoothly invite you within a gloomy espionage universe.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!