Thursday, January 14, 2010

Best of the 2000's #3: Sleeper

#3: Sleeper by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

What a heartbreaking story. I started following Holden's story in Point Blank, never realizing I was seeing the creation of one of the best comic noirs ever told. Ed Brubaker's story works so well because it mixes what we expect from our comics (masterminds, costumed thugs, etc.) with the realism of criminals at every level. Tao is a terrifying boss. The series works so well on every level, the powers are original and cool, but the levels of criminals makes the book feel like a normal mafia story. The series wouldn't work if we didn't care about the protagonist, but Holden Carver is so likeable the reader is always rooting for him to find a way out of his terrible situation. (I'll admit the name is a bit obvious in its inspiration.) The best part is that maybe he doesn't hate the life so much, with friends like Triple X-Ray, Genocide, and Miss Misery, Carver sort of fits in, doesn't he? I'm still impressed that Brubaker was able to set the series solidly in the Wildstorm U. There are Wildcats, Team 7, and Authority references throughout, and yet the contrast against those books only enhances the gritty feel of the Sleeper title.

Sean Phillips is a fantastic noir artist. Miss Misery oozes appeal, and Genocide looks like a stupid thug, and yet you still kind of like the guy! Carver's anguish is clear in almost every panel, it seems the only time he's happy is when he's performing for Tao. I love the designs for the random heroes and thugs that show up throughout the series. Phillips does a nice job with the required nudity too, it is never gratuitous.


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