Gamora has united the Infinity Stones and taken an alternate strategy to her father Thanos’ plan to eradicate half of the living beings in the universe. She’s merged souls together creating a new mash-up Marvel Universe with the likes of the Soldier Supreme (Captain America + Dr. Strange) and the Iron Hammer (Iron Man + Thor). How does this affect the guardian of the Mindscape, Sleepwalker? He’s been released from his host, Rick Sheridan, who has been merged with another. Now he’s got to figure out how to navigate through Gamora’s dream in an effort to set things right.
I will be the first to admit that Sleepwalker is probably the last character I’d expect to play a major role in Infinity Wars, but as a child of the ’90s, I’m all for it. It’s clear from reading the other Marvel work from writers Chad Bowers & Chris Sims, that they feel the same way. Between this and Darkhawk, they’ve made 8 year old James very happy.
Bowers & Sims definitely have a deep respect for the source material. It would be easy to play Sleepwalker as a joke. He’s become little more than a punchline when poking fun at the insanity of the ’90s. Instead, the character is handled with care, re-introducing us to the tortured battle Sleepwalker fights every evening when Rick goes to sleep. He protects humanity from literal nightmares that aim to break free of the Mindscape and invade our world. Think about the scariest thing in the back of your mind. Now imagine that coming for you in real life. Pretty creepy, huh?
This is shown in gorgeous and frightening images from artist Todd Nauck. Sleepwalker’s journey has him facing a river of eyeballs, a multi-headed dragon, his own twisted doppelgangers, and my personal favorite, flying feet with ant bodies and giant mouths. Yeah, I don’t know where that one came from either, but it’s pretty unsettling. It does give you an idea of what we’re working with.
Since Sleepwalker sits in a unique position, he’s able to see the full consequences of Gamora’s actions. We’re given some glimpses into other Infinity Warps such as Man-Thing Thang Thoom (Man-Thing + Fin Fang Foom) and the adorable Little Monster (Hulk + Ant-Man). Nauck makes each page turn exciting as we don’t know what to expect next. We’re treated to some jaw-dropping amalgamations of popular and some not so popular characters.
The design for Sleepwalker himself is a mix of alien and mystic. His bald, green face is covered by a purple hood, allowing his red eyes to peer out from the shadows. Colorist Rachelle Rosenberg creates a nice palette for the character. It’s tough to make purple look cool, but she pulls it off in spades here. Travis Lanham’s letters add to the mystique of Sleepwalker with odd-shaped word balloons with thick pinkish outlines.
Where some of the Infinity Wars tie-ins are getting a one-shot or a two-issue mini-series, Sleepwalker is somehow getting four issues and I could not be happy. I hope that this serves to introduce the character to a whole new audience and elevate him to new heights.