Sleeper Book One by Ed Brubaker

details
Title: Sleeper.
Book: 1.
Writer(s): Ed Brubaker.
Illustrator(s): Sean Phillips & Colin Wilson.
Publisher: Vertigo.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: May 1st 2018.
Pages: 424.
Genre(s): Comics, Mystery, Espionage, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401278441.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.

thoughts

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.

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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.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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20 comments

  • Man, I remember back in the day how everyone thought that small press titles like WildCats were going to just crush Marvel and DC. Funny how life works.

    You are getting a lot of paper comics. Are they starting to pile up?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You definitely can. The original series was released as four volumes of Sleeper, and later on, one prequel volume of Point Blank. This reprint just puts cuts down the number of total volume by including Point Blank at the beginning of it all + the first 2 volumes of Sleeper. While Point Blank will seem a bit odd at first (which is normal considering it was released after Sleeper, but is still a prequel), as soon you reach Sleeper, you get a good idea of what the story is about.

      I personally had zero knowledge of any of these characters and the whole wildstorm universe, except having heard them by name. These are meant to be read without needing any knowledge at all. In fact, if you do know where they all come from, it’s just a bonus to your fan-gasm, if I may say so myself hahah

      Liked by 1 person

      • Very cool. I like the idea of a book that can be accessible, but also part of a larger universe. It’s pretty daunting trying to get started on some of these series/ comics.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yep, that is true! What I do like however is how you feel compelled you find those missing pieces in order to understand certain stories. The whole daunting aspect turns into a challenge/a side-quest and everything you do afterwards is just so gratifying. 😀

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  • Awesome review Lashaan! The fact you can just jump into the story and start reading is a plus. Love the hints you gave about the different characters. Not a comic book fan, so I never heard of Cash or Carver. You do make the GN and Comics stand out. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Dani! And definitely! I didn’t know anything about this world either, so that was really cool. Having finished it, I became even more curious about all the original stories that introduced these characters too! Ahhh yay, thank you for the kind comment! I’ll always shine light on the stories worth discovering! 😉

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  • I’m a big fan of Brubaker, his Captain America and Daredevil runs are amongst Marvel’s all-time best (and puts a lot of their more recent stuff to shame). Gotham Central I also loved, although he didn’t stay with that right through to the end.

    His creator owned work is also great – The Fade Out (also with the amazing Sean Phillips) and Velvet are exceptional. Sleeper (along with Criminal, Fatale and Kill or be Killed) is one I’ve been longing to check out and hope to get to it one day.

    Excellent overview Lashaan, I learned a few details here I wasn’t aware of – like the Wildcats connection!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, I think it’s the second time I’ve heard you praise Brubaker. The first time was when we had a discussion on Daredevil and you took the opportunity to mention his work hahaha

      I definitely need to get around to checking out more of his Sean Phillips collab’ work. They all sound and look amazing. I’ve seen some beautiful deluxe editions for them that seem really worth getting my hands on too! 😮

      Thanks Chris! This is honestly my first time reading anything remotely connected to the Wildcats. It does make me curious on Alan Moore’s run on it now though! 😀

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        • Ohh maaan, a bit not surprised by the announcement. Honestly, I’d like to believe they’re cancelling these Netflix shows so that these heroes can appear in the Avengers 4 trailer as a huge surprise. It would be the coolest move to pull-off by Marvel/Disney if you ask me. My money is on this idea. 😀 How about you?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Devastated, Luke Cage and Iron Fist I could accept but Daredevil? With that cast and those writers? It’s a huge loss but it all boils down to business, Netflix and Disney are now competitors and the latter clearly doesn’t want to make success out of a rival’s IP.

            I doubt they’ll crop up in Avengers 4 to be honest but would love to be proven wrong!

            Liked by 1 person

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