Characters Appearing: Alyssa Conover, Cobweb (Mindscape), Psyko, Rambo (dog), Rick Sheridan, Sleepwalker, Spectra, Spider-Man
Issue(s): Sleepwalker #28, Sleepwalker #29, Sleepwalker #31, Sleepwalker #32, Sleepwalker #33
This is the final Sleepwalker storyline (it's interrupted with a fill-in in issue #30). The story from issues #19-25 upended the book's status quo, separating Rick Sheridan and Sleepwalker, and the story following that began teasing elements related to the mystery of Sleepwalker's people (which called into question the origin that Sleepwalker told Rick). So these issues, which conclude that mystery and bring Rick and Sleepwalker back together, might have felt rewarding to loyal Sleepwalker fans, if such a thing existed. As for me, it's a hard slog. I don't have any interest in the details of Sleepwalker's people or the Mindscape, so i would have preferred if the last few issues of this series just had Rick and Sleepwalker back together, with a focus on the classic set-up of Rick balancing his dual lives. Of course, with the current art i don't think even that would be pleasant and if you really want to know my preference, it would be that the series was cancelled after Bret Blevins left. Frankly i don't think the world would be much worse off if the series never existed at all, although i think the basic concept of Sleepwalker is cool enough for him to be lurking around in the corners of the Marvel universe.
This arc starts with the government holding N'Ogskak, the leader of the Mindspawn defeated last arc, captive.
In violation of (hopefully) a number of regulations on keeping prisoners and (definitely) common sense, they are holding him in the same room as a "Mind Rake", a dangerous Mindspawn weapon that the Avengers took from Sleepwalker, and, just for fun, a convicted serial killer.
There's only one way this can go:
Sleepwalker is still on the run, but he borrows some mental energy from a homeless person to get his strength up, and then heads out to confront Psyko.
Psyko has a power similar to Madcap. He makes people go crazy.
Psyko uses the maddened people to distract Sleepwalker and press his attack.
Psyko's mental attacks somehow actually strengthen Sleepwalker physically.
However, he does start to succumb to Psyko's madness.
Sleepwalker does manage to pull himself back together. Meanwhile, though, a random man turns out to be hosting another Mindspawn.
Sleepwalker detects him in the crowd, and attacks. But Sleepwalker's old friend Spectra is also in the crowd, waiting to step in if Sleepwalker does go crazy. And she sees Sleepwalker's attack on the Mindspawn as an attack on civilians, so she gets involved.
Psyko gets away with the Mind Rake, and Spectra captures Sleepwalker.
That Next Issue blurb is unaware that issue #30 will be a fill-in. The story continues directly in issue #31. Spectra takes Sleepwalker to a clinic where listless people, victims of the Mindspawn invasion, are being treated.
Sleepwalker denies being responsible for the victims' state, and Spectra uses her powers to get the victims to speak up. Some say that they can't be sure because the Mindspawn all look the same, but some confirm that Sleepwalker was actually helping them, not attacking. However, his ruse in pretending to kill Rick Sheridan (he publicly displayed Rick's body to the Mindspawn) is harder for him to explain. And while he's trying, a nurse under the control of the Mindspawn tries to sneak up behind Spectra and stab her with a needle. Sleepwalker uses his powers to stop her, but Spectra again gets the wrong idea.
Spectra weakens Sleepwalker, but Sleepwalker again embraces the "swirling torrents of madness" to restore his strength.
But that again causes him to go mad.
Sleepwalker blasts away the diamond that gives Spectra her powers. Sleepwalker then forces a kiss on her (!). Spectra pushes him away and then reveals that the diamond helps her focus her powers but isn't the source. However, the kiss gives Spectra pause, and she goes back with Sleepwalker to the clinic, where it's confirmed that the nurse wasn't acting of her own accord.
But Psyko is still on a rampage. Cameo by Spider-Man, helping bystanders.
Spectra uses her powers to try to hypnotize the madness out of Sleepwalker, but it just makes Sleepwalker worse. Psyko shows up to take advantage of that. Eventually Psyko is defeated and Sleepwalker's sanity is restored, though.
After saying goodbye to Spectra (who will take Psyko to the authorities), Sleepwalker takes the Mind Rake and goes to Alyssa Conover and has her take him to Rick's grave.
Meanwhile, Rick Sheridan thinks he's dead and in the afterlife, but he soon discovers that he's really in Cobweb's realm.
Cobweb claims that Rick is dead, and that he's going to convert his spirit into dreamstuff.
He also tells Rick the true origin of Sleepwalker.
Cobweb isn't exactly trustworthy, of course. A lot of what he says is in line with what we've seen from the other Mindspawn. However, we already know that Sleepwalker didn't really intend to kill Rick, so that puts everything else he says into question.
Cobweb notices when Sleepwalker starts using the Mind Rake to bring Rick back.
A few graveyard security guards and grave diggers get possessed and come out to attack Sleepwalker. Sleepwalker identifies them as Mindspawn. Alyssa, not able to believe that Sleepwalker is doing anything besides desecrating Rick's corpse, helps them and knocks Sleepwalker out from behind with the Mind Rake. In the dream world, Sleepwalker is attacked by a horde of Mindspawn.
But Alyssa gets suspicious of the graveyard workers.
It turns out the Mindspawn we've been seeing are actually creatures under the control of Cobweb.
Sleepwalker is able to convince Rick to believe that he's not dead and to try to project himself back into his body. And Sleepwalker gets free and attacks Cobweb. It turns out that Cobweb has the "Imaginator" that Sleepwalker lost (which prevented him from going home).
Sleepwalker uses the Imaginator to banish Cobweb. This also causes the fake Mindspawn to get defeated, including the ones on Earth that Alyssa was holding off. Sleepwalker is weakened, but he's able to contact Alyssa and guide her into using the Mind Rake to bring him and Rick back. Rick wakes up, but Sleepwalker then disappears, which seems to imply that they're merged again.
That's not confirmed here, but it will be in a Sleepwalker cameo in Secret Defenders #25, his next appearance. So this final arc basically puts things back to the series' original status quo: Rick and Sheridan are merged and there's no question that Sleepwalker is a good guy. That would be helpful if anyone wanted to use the character elsewhere, but aside from that Secret Defenders cameo he won't be seen for over a decade (the 2005 Marvel Team-Up series).
As for this issues specifically, they make a mistake that seems to happen a lot. After the past two arcs, it seemed pretty critical to get the above things resolved. But instead of doing that directly, we have to slog through extended multi-issue fights with Psyko and Spectra. It's almost like it was known that the series was ending with issue #33 and they wanted that issue to be the one with the big reveals, so the plots for issues #28-31 (minus #30) were dragged out to interminable lengths to kill time. Instead of heightening the mystery, it just had me going "End already!". And somehow when we do get to the end, it still feels rushed, with the defeat of Cobweb coming very quickly and the discovery of the Imaginator definitely feeling like a way too convenient "this series is ending so here's the thing Sleepwalker was supposed to be looking for!". Krantz's art continues to be tolerable for the crazy dream stuff, although not at the Bret Blevins level, and the scenes in Cobweb feature an overwhelming number of lines due to the spider-webs. But the real problem is his human art. That scene at the end with Alyssa hugging Rick is so awkward looking.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Sleepwalker #30 is an out-of-sequence fill-in. Rick is thought dead between last arc and this one, so any generic Sleepwalker appearances showing Rick shouldn't be placed in between. I know this is very important, but i'm listing Rambo as a character appearing because Cobweb says that he's tapping into his memories. Cobweb could be lying, of course.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
She's drawn very badly, but I like Spectra's design.
Odd that Sleepwalker wasn't used for that long! He's such a weird, interesting concept, you'd think there would be at least a few writers who'd like to take a stab at him.
Posted by: Berend | February 16, 2017 1:42 PM
Sleepwalker's no Ghost Rider, that's for sure :)
Posted by: clyde | February 16, 2017 1:43 PM
Too bad Psyko never met Lunatik :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 16, 2017 4:05 PM
So did the coroner perform an autopsy on Rick? Was he embalmed? Or did they just decide "looks dead, let's bury him!"
Posted by: S | February 16, 2017 7:24 PM
@S: Where were you when Bob Budiansky, Tim Tuhoy and Don Daley were putting together this whole mess of a story 24 years ago? They could have really used your help! :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 17, 2017 10:41 AM
Don Lomax's presence here is very strange. Just before this, he was known for doing Gulf War and Vietnam-related war comics for independent publishers. He's most known, however,for doing hardcore porno comics all the way from sex tabloids like San Francisco Ball in the early 1970s to giant-boob magazines like Gent and D-Cup, which he was still doing at the same time as this book.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 17, 2017 4:17 PM
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