If you grew up reading comics in the ’90s, Sleepwalker is a character you’re probably familiar with, but still know next to nothing about. The character’s inclusion in the Infinity Wars series was fascinating in part because it shows how the character is disconnected from any real reality. A creature of dreams and nightmares, the series postulates what would happen if all of reality changed and his tether to Earth in human Rick Sheridan was removed. It’s an example of the weird coming out and being a driving force for good in the Marvel universe.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Deep in the mind of man, in the ephemeral land of dreams, he lurks! The Sleepwalker-a guardian of the Mindscape, a realm threatened by the disruptive power of the Infinity Stones! But when all of reality becomes warped, can Sleepwalker find the help he needs to save us all?
Why does this matter?
In Infinity Wars, Gamora halves the universe by combining two souls into one, but what happens to dreams that are smashed together? Chaos and real trouble, it seems. This collection explores the wacky and weird realm of the dreamscape.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Sleepwalker comes out of this story stronger and more resilient than ever. By the end, he’s more heroic because of this due to his sometimes wacky and wandering adventure told here. You’ll come away aware he’s the only character that could have gone on such a journey and may even rival some cosmic-powered characters by the end. The fact that I’m excited for more from this character because of this story, and not simply due to nostalgia, is a major achievement of the series.
Writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims also infuse this story with many amalgam characters that will delight casual fans and excite longtime Marvel fans too. Right out of the gate the creators smack you in the face with Man-Thing Thang Thoom which is not only a delightful combo but a visually stunning one too. The second issue is filled with Little Monster, the combo of Ant-Man and Hulk, who gets a cool origin story here. The concept is quite clever as he gets stronger, and smaller, the angrier he gets.
The art by Nauck and Rachelle Rosenberg is out-of-this-world good too. There are some fantastic character designs here that show off how much fun Nauck is having and the realm of possibilities when it comes to color is all over the place. When Little Monster goes inside the body of an enemy, there are some deep reds and varying pinks used to show the gross location he’s battling. In the big climactic ending, there’s a verifiable army Sleepwalker must fight and Nauck does not skimp on details. Nightmare versions of heroes populate this crowd and it’s fun to linger and ogle the scenes.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The narrative can be too bizarre for its own good. It gets weird and even incomprehensible at times, in part due to the limited pages available to tell this story. I say this also because there seems to be a lot of telling but not a lot of showing. Sleepwalker’s captions are heavy at times, explaining what it is that’s going on and there is more than a few scenes of him talking at characters in a void of blankness. A lot of the concepts related are quite impossible to show due to time constraints and the like, but it could have used a bit more visualization of what is going on.
Is it good?
It requires a certain level of nostalgia for the character and love of the weird to fully enjoy this story. If you go in open-minded anyone can like it, but only a few will love it. It pulls off an incredible feat by not only visualizing some crazy ideas, but making the Sleepwalker character much more interesting and ready for more adventures in future Marvel stories.
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