Issue(s): Sleepwalker #19, Sleepwalker #20, Sleepwalker #21, Sleepwalker #22, Sleepwalker #23, Sleepwalker #24
I don't know if anyone has ever tried to actually use it as a mask, but it wouldn't be as easy as you might think. First, the string holes are not perforated, so you'd have to punch them out yourself. And the string holes don't line up with Sleepwalker's face on the front side, so your strings would be coming out of the black space on the sides of his face. Which means you couldn't cut out the outline of Sleepwalker's face to wear as a mask; you'd have to wear the whole cover. So if your big plans for Halloween were to use this mask, just realize you'd be going as a Sleepwalker comic book as opposed to Sleepwalker himself. It's also worth noting that Sleepwalker's eyes are pretty important to his overall look, and if you punched out the eye-holes you'd be losing that. All that said, these issues are not very rare, so if you're looking to be the hit of your local comics convention, it is not too late.
As for the actual content of this issue, these issues close out the second year of the title. And while the first year's average sales numbers, if accurate, were insanely high (356,925), we get new numbers in issue #23 showing them cut in half, and if the single issue closest to filing date indicates the trend, it was in cancellation territory at this point. And indeed the series will be canceled with issue #33. So these issues shake up the status quo a few times. The interim changes to the status quo were probably all planned, as opposed to the thrashing that we see in the Nick Fury series, but the end result is that Sleepwalker and Rick Sheridan are no longer bonded, which could have potentially opened up new directions for the character(s). We also meet Sleepwalker's arch-villain Cobweb for the first time outside of flashbacks or dream sequences, and we start to delve into the secrets of the Sleepwalker race. So it may also be that Bob Budiansky saw the writing on the wall and was beginning to wrap things up.
I suppose that included revisiting the Chain Gang, who were left trapped in the Mindscape after their last appearance. I think a smarter move would have been to never show the Chain Gang again, but i suppose fans of the series, if any, deserved some closure with them. So they are found by Cobweb.
Initially they try to fight him, but he overpowers them and makes them go after Sleepwalker. At that point they're like, hey, we would have done that in the first place if you just asked us, but Cobweb says that he relishes making people his slaves.
The scene of Cobweb finding the Chain Gang is said to take place in the "recent past". In "The present", Rick's date Janine wakes up snuggled up to Rick on the floor of a building in Chinatown. She's approached by Sleepwalker, who makes Janine panic and wake up Rick, which causes Sleepwalker to disappear.
Janine and a Chinatown gang were used by the telepathic heroes last issue and in Infinity War, but they have no memory of that. So Janine is confused and the gang is unhappy. Rick, though, is a real powerhouse.
The rest of the gang are less interested in fighting and they let Rick and Janine go.
Rick then goes home and "later" (in fact, a lot later; see the Considerations) dreams up a menage a trois.
This book may not really be "Sandman done right and/or the Marvel way" but it certainly depicts teenage hormones accurately. And it sure sucks being bonded with someone that can enter your dreams, huh?
Sleepwalker wants Rick to know that they've been bonded long enough that Rick can summon him without actually falling asleep, but doing so would be irreversible, allowing Sleepwalker to come out whenever he wants. Rick, probably more concerned about hiding his boner, just angrily tells Sleepwalker to go away. I should note that with this dream sequence we've come full circle. Rick first met Sleepwalker back in Sleepwalker #1 during a similar sexy dream. No wonder he's always so cranky to Sleepwalker.
Meanwhile, Alyssa Conover is out on a date with Whitney Cooper, apparently unaware that she forgot to put anything over her Victoria's Secret nighty.
Whitney is competing for a gold pool trophy, and that of course is catnip to Sleepwalker's other "major" villain, 8-Ball.
Nice. Steal another 30 or so of those gold pool trophies and i bet you could pay for your floating pool ball. Which must be the most awkward way to get around. At least hippity-hops had a handle.
Rick is back asleep, trying to recreate his three-way dream, so Sleepwalker is out and about and is able to confront 8-Ball. But 8-Ball defeats Sleepwalker with floating pool balls and escapes with the trophy.
I have to say that i'm really disappointed to see 8-Ball remove his helmet. I feel like Black Cat seeing Peter Parker without his mask for the first time. Just put the mask back on. I'm in love with 8-Ball, not whoever you are.
Sleepwalker is left falling to his doom. But this is when Cobweb sends Chain Gang to kill Sleepwalker. They escape the Mindscape via Rambo!
Rick wakes up, saving Sleepwalker from his fall. And then he tries to do what Sleepwalker told him earlier and summon him. But they wind up all merged together.
The Chain Gang fought Sleepwalker during Infinity Gauntlet. They got put in the Mindscape, which preserved them from the cosmic reset that happened at the end of Gauntlet, but Sleepwalker was affected by the reset, so he doesn't remember the Chain Gang. But he fights them off as best he can in his merged body, which decreases his powers by more than half. The noise wakes up Rick's landlords, who enter Rick's room to find a giant hole in the wall. They incidentally wake up Rambo, which causes the Gang to disappear for now. After the fight, Rick/Sleepy is seen by Janine, but she runs away.
Kelly Krantz is doing his best to replicate Bret Blevins, who had a tendency to dress all the women in this comic in skimpy clothes. But his art is really stiff and it just looks bad.
Cobweb says that he's going to give the Chain Gang one more chance to "save Earth".
Before he sends them back, though, he's attacked by another Sleepwalker. The Chain Gang stop him.
Then they are sent back to Earth through the mind of Alyssa. They get into another fight with the merged Rickwalker.
Rickwalker breaks their chain, neutralizing their powers.
And now that they have a moment to rest, Sleepwalker is able to separate himself from Rick. Except now Rick is in Sleepwalker's mind and vice versa.
Despite Sleepricker saying out loud that he's Rick, Alyssa doesn't know what's going on. When Sleepwalker wakes up, Rick disappears. Sleepwalker rushes Alyssa off and she's got no clue what's going on.
Rick finds himself in Sleepwalker's subconscious. Since this story is teasing the idea that not all is what it seems about Sleepwalker (e.g. Cobweb's line about saving the Earth), i thought maybe we'd see clues in the images in Sleepwalker's mind. But i don't see anything.
Sleepwalker tells Rick that he's going to have to patrol the streets as Sleepwalker until they can un-swap bodies. Sleepwalker says that the one thing he should never, ever, do is warp a living being with his warping powers.
The Hobgoblin seems to have immediately escaped Vault custody after the Spirits of Venom story. We see a similar lack of care when it comes to the other villains in the Bar (Beetle, Mr. Hyde, and Crossbones were all last seen getting captured). Villains can of course escape off panel, but their inclusion in this story just seems random and not thought out.
It turns out Hobgoblin and 8-Ball are not going to play pool. They kidnap the bar's bartender, which you'd think would be against some unwritten rule about the bars with no name.
Hobgoblin doesn't believe that 8-Ball really killed Sleepwalker. So their challenge is to see who can kill Sleepwalker first. The bartender is made the referee; it's said that since he runs a bar full of criminals, he's the only person they can trust.
Meanwhile, the Chain Gang, back in the Mindscape, realize that they can still use their powers if they hold the broken chain together. So the one called Up-Link uses his mental powers to control Alyssa and make him come on to Rick (who is really Sleepwalker).
She invites him back to her place.
She knocks him out and ties him to her bed. Being knocked out causes Rick-as-Sleepwalker to come out, but he just jealously notes that Sleepy is getting more action than he does and leaves the room. Meanwhile, Alyssa is grabbing a knife to kill him.
Rick-as-Sleepy is spotted by 8-Ball and Hobgoblin.
But 8-Ball starts to realize that he's not fighting the real Sleepwalker. Hobgoblin manages to slash Rick's throat and crush him under some machinery, but 8-Ball is able to convince him not to finish him off, and they confirm that Rick isn't the real Sleepwalker.
I'm surprised that 8-Ball was able to notice the difference and cared to stop Hobgoblin from killing him. I guess he formed a deep bond with Sleepwalker in their previous encounter.
Meanwhile, the Chain Gang doofuses briefly disconnect the chains, leaving Alyssa to wonder what the heck is going on.
But even when they regain control, they're not able to make Alyssa kill Rick. Especially after Sleepwalker, still pretending to be Rick, tells her that he loves her.
Since Sleepwalker has woken up at this point, Rick goes back to the Mindscape. But he's still injured, and he's captured by Cobweb. But Cobweb also is not interested in killing a fake Sleepwalker.
But he's not above torturing him with the resources available in the Mindscape. That's when things get weird(er).
Rick is rescued by more Sleepwalkers.
But his injured throat has been removed by Cobweb, so communication is difficult. And that's on top of him not being a real Sleepwalker.
But eventually they agree to help. They have to fight Cobweb and his "Bad Ideas", which could easily describe this entire series.
And Bob Budiansky has plenty more where they came from.
It turns out Sleepwalker had his throat all along. Just like in the Wizard of Oz.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Janine shows up for a date that Sleepwalker didn't know that she'd arranged with Rick. Something is wrong with Janine's neck, or maybe she's aware that she's a poorly drawn character in a comic book, and she's looking at us in the audience, begging us to help.
Janine takes Sleepwalker to one of those heavy rock clubs the kids like. Alyssa later shows up at Rick's place looking for him, and she's told by Rick's landlords where "Rick" is.
The club doubles as an S&M gathering place.
At first i wondered what gave Janine the impression that Rick has been to places even wilder than this, but then i remembered that after her first date with him she woke up on the floor of a Chinatown gang's hideout.
It turns out that the loud music is soothing to Sleepwalker, so he begins to drone out. That allows Rickwalker to come out of his head. He's learned that the other Sleepwalkers are planning an invasion, but he doesn't know what they intend to invade yet. He comes back to the real world just as Alyssa is entering the club with a knife. She's still under the control of the Chain Gang and is trying to kill Rick. Rick does the one thing he was told to never do and uses Sleepwalker's warping ability on her. It has the side effect of releasing the Chain Gang from her mind.
The Chain Gang are still at a disadvantage because they have to hold their chain together while fighting, so they flee.
It turns out that warping people isn't that big a deal. The physical effect wears off quickly. Mentally, it causes people to relive their worst nightmare over and over again. In this case that was counteracted by the Chain Gang being in Alyssa's head. But even if that wasn't the case, it sounds about the equivalent of Ghost Rider's penance stare. Not something a true good guy would use willy-nilly, but not as bad as how Sleepwalker first made it sound.
Sleepwalker figures out that the Chain Gang have been around every time their attempts to merge/unmerge have gone astray, so he figures that once they take care of them, things can go back to normal. They manage to locate the Chain Gang after their chain is repaired, and somehow during the final fight the barrier between the real world and the Mindscape starts to disintegrate and everyone falls through. Sleepwalker tells the Chain Gang that they are the cause, and that they can fix things by concentrating and putting Rick's mind back in his own body and vice versa. They do, and the Chain Gang and Rick are thrown back to Earth. Sleepwalker decides that he can stay in the Mindscape and go home. And maybe that should have been the end of the series. But when Rick gets back to Earth, he realizes that the Chain Gang are still a threat, so he summons Sleepwalker back. Sleepwalker defeats the bad guys. And he says that if their positions were reversed, he would have done the same thing as Rick. But as it stands, they are free of each other. The Sleepwalker is now permanently on Earth, even when Rick is awake, and there's no reason for them to stay together.
With Bret Blevins gone, whatever small reason this book had for existing is gone with him. I don't think anyone wanted to read about villains like 8-Ball and the Chain Gang when they were being drawn in Kelly Krantz's rough style. The Sleepwalker's backstory - the stuff with Cobweb and the other Sleepwalkers - is potentially more interesting, but honestly i just needed a quick couple of flashback panels explaining anything we didn't already know, not seeds being dropped for another multi-part storyline. That's another thing with this arc: it's six parts. Half a year of this series devoted to a transitional story with Sleepwalker and Rick merged or bodyswapped, not to mention with Chain Gang as the main villains. I'd say it seems like a waste, but i'm not sure that there was anything else to do with the character.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 158,275. Single issue closest to filing date = 91,900.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: After a scene set in the "recent past" showing the Chain Gang meeting Cobweb, issue #19 has a scene that begins immediately after Infinity War. But the main story in this issue results in significant status quo changes for Sleepwalker which would prevent generic appearances elsewhere (and when Hobgoblin appears it's said that the story takes place after Spirits of Venom, which happened post-Infinity War). Secret Defenders #4 is one of those generic appearances, and it has a footnote confirming that it takes place "before Sleepwalker #25" (which really has to mean before #24). And Secret Defenders definitely takes place after Infinity War for Dr. Strange.
So there has to be a gap between the opening scene and the rest of this story. And there is one, after page 4 of issue #19, when Rick and Janine walk home in the aftermath of Infinity War. Sleepwalker #30, a fill-in with Sleepwalker's old status quo, can also take place during that gap. For placement purposes i'm only counting the post-gap portion.
Frustratingly, even though this arc begins in the aftermath of Infinity War, there are also considerations relating to Infinity Crusade. We learn in Infinity Crusade #3 that the crossover (or at least that issue) takes place before Rick and Sleepwalker are separated (the footnote again says "before Sleepwalker #25". So this story begins directly after Infinity War but somehow takes place after Infinity Crusade. To make matters worse, Hobgoblin will reference his actions in this story in Deathlok #26, which takes place before Infinity Crusade (Deathlok #28-29 are Crusade tie-ins, and Deathlok #28 continues directly from #27). So even with the gap i identified above, fitting this story in after Infinity Crusade but before Deathlok #26 is literally impossible. One idea is to fit this story and Deathlok #26 into the middle of Infinity Crusade somehow. But that would also mean ignoring the world-wide effects of the Goddess, which happen pretty much from the start of the crossover. So i'm actually going to take the two footnotes referring to "Sleepwalker #25" at their word. Apparently Rick and Sleepwalker somehow got re-merged after Sleepwalker #24, participated in Infinity Crusade, and then got separated again by Sleepwalker #25, which takes place after Infinity Crusade.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): show8-Ball, Alyssa Conover, Beetle, Cobweb (Mindscape), Crossbones, Esk'odin, Ida Epstein, Janine Epstein, Jason Macendale, Master Link, Missing Link (Chain Gang), Morris Epstein, Mr. Hyde, Psyko, Rambo (dog), Rick Sheridan, Sk'obe, Sleepwalker, Speed Demon, Sv'ara, T'opali, Uplink, Weak Link, Whitney Cooper
FNORD - I was laughing so hard at some of your comments, I almost forgot how bad the story was.:)
Posted by: clyde | September 16, 2016 4:55 PM
Man, this art (especially the sequences with the floozies), looks like it a me from the Golden Age. And that's not a compliment.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | September 16, 2016 6:55 PM
"Rick finds himself in Sleepwalker's subconscious. Since this story is teasing the idea that not all is what it seems about Sleepwalker (e.g. Cobweb's line about saving the Earth), i thought maybe we'd see clues in the images in Sleepwalker's mind. But i don't see anything."
Posted by: Michael | September 16, 2016 7:35 PM
Apparently, all girls who date Rick run around in spandex bike shorts and halter tops.
Posted by: Bob | September 17, 2016 12:51 AM
8-ball is like a pog come to life. That issue is so 90's it hurts.
Posted by: Bonez | September 17, 2016 11:19 AM
This artwork was so batshit insane I actually googled Kelly Krantz and he's now a tattoo artist in Nyack, NY. I will give any member of this little fan community $36.80 in cash if you call Kelly Krantz and request a Sleepwalker tattoo. I mean it.
Posted by: Wis | January 28, 2017 2:45 AM
Comments are now closed.
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