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Sleeper, Vol. 1: Out in the Cold Comic – January 1, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Sleeper Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Holden Carver is a double agent, working in deep cover among some very bad people. He's become more and more morally compromised in his work as the body count rises, and he wants to come in from the coldâ€"but the only person who can bring him in is in a coma. Carver is also a superhero, and the bad guys he's working among are supervillains. That's the ingenious premise of the smart, cool and cruelly funny Sleeper series, whose first story line is collected here. Brubaker's densely plotted writing recalls his early Lowlife comics' merciless eye for underworld grittiness, and he finds dozens of ways to use the metaphorical force of superhero comics to feed the spy story that underlies this tale. For instance, Carver's partner Miss Misery gets her superpowers from committing immoral acts. (Carver's own power, fittingly, is an ability to pass on the effects of violence performed on him.) The narrative's high-tension thrill zooms so fast, it's easy to overlook its bone-dry satire (e.g., a central episode involves the annual meeting of the secret corporate rulers of the planet). Phillips's shadowy, blocky art is far more noir than heroic-slick. If it's sometimes unclear what's happening in all the darkness, that's probably intentional, given a protagonist so clouded in intrigue he barely knows what side he's on.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The comic book Sleeper, the source of this collection, centers on Holden Carver, agent for a covert government organization who infiltrates a mysterious, all-powerful crime cartel. It's a spy tale with a twist: though they eschew spandex costumes and the other superhero trappings, the characters all have super powers and colorful code names. Carver's own power is imaginatively distinctive. He absorbs the pain of injuries and passes it along to others, which neatly fits with the anguished emotional state brought on by the nasty deeds he's forced to commit in his undercover role. Writer Brubaker, known for his contributions to Batman, is a master of gritty, hardboiled dialogue. This proprietary effort lets him show off his considerable plotting skills better. Artist Phillips' storytelling remains masterful, and if his drawing has lost some elegance, it's still among the best in mainstream comics. These stories seemed rather slow-moving in their original comic-book incarnation, but in this compilation they constitute a page-turner that leaves a reader eager to see how long Carver can maintain his dangerous masquerade. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Comic: 98 pages
  • Publisher: Wildstorm (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401201156
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401201159
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.1 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,035,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Comic
This comic book is one of the best written series out there, the plot line is complex, full of plot twists. It is definitely for adults only, not only for the content but also for some of the psychological undertones. Holden is an undercover (sleeper)agent that loses his only contact on the "good" side and is stuck on the "bad" side. His "power" is that he can store and transmit the pain his body receives. Ironically enough, he cannot feel anything, be it pain or pleasure. I recommend reading the series in order, starting with season 1, part 1 (the GN in this review) and moving your way up to book 2 and then Season 2.
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Format: Comic
I really enjoyed the 2 Sleeper books. The story telling is excellent. The method used for revealing the characters origins was something I hadn't seen before. The fact that these characters have super powers is almost an afterthought to the story which is refreshing. The plot twists keep you guessing and you really find yourself rooting for even the vilest of the villains Holden befriends.

The artwork is very good (in that heavy dark inking style). The artwork in the origin re-tellings is even better.

I'm a casual comic reader who just recently came back to graphic novels as an adult. The content in this book is definately adult in nature. Plenty of violence, sex and language... but it is used to further the plot of the story so it doesn't come off as over the top.
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Format: Comic Verified Purchase
People go on and on about how great this series is, and the good news is, it completely lives up to the hype. I came to "Sleeper" after reading a few other titles Ed Brubaker had written, notably DC's deliciously revamped "Catwoman" (which is also a lot of fun)... I was skeptical, but I'm glad I took the plunge with "Sleeper," as it is one of the best comicbook stories I've read in a long while.

The action takes place in the WildCATS/Authority/Stormwatch universe, once a comicbook backwater that has recently been revitalized into a gritty and witty superhero noir... "Sleeper" tells the story of a superpowered secret agent, Holden Carver, who is placed undercover by a Machiavellian Nick Fury type to infiltrate a sinister spy network populated with superpowered, super-amoral bad guys. Brubaker uses the character's specific superpowers to flesh out their inner lives -- Carver's power is the ability to absorb any amount of bodily damage and transmute it into pure pain, which he can zap other people with. Meanwhile, he feels no pain himself and is practically unkillable, a situation that leaves him feeling dead inside and increasingly alienated from the true-believer idealism that lead him into military service to begin with. Brubaker borrows from the well-trod genre of spy fiction, but adds an extra layer with the whole superpower thing that is well thought-out and rewarding. Without getting into spoilers, etc., I'll just say that this was one of those rare comic series that I regretted getting to the end of... the world it depicted was so absorbing and textured that I was bummed I knew the story would end with Volume 4...
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Format: Comic
Tight pacing, a complex and twisty plot, and compelling characters make this a fast and satisfying read. I like that the protagonist isn't a Chosen One, but is just a dumb guy who gets picked for the wrong mission and ends up paying for it for the rest of his life. The basic concept is a character study: a good guy who spends his life in the shadows fighting the hidden wars is co-opted into becoming a mole, and is then left to swing or survive on his own. His actions and decisions become ever murkier, even to himself. Things are made more complex by the fact that he and those around him are all gifted/damned with unusual abilities. If you're a fan of the Le Carre type of spy thrillers, you'll probably enjoy this immensely.
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Format: Comic
This first Sleeper trade paperback starts things off on an intriguing enough tone and leaves enough interesting questions unanswered to have most readers heading for the next in the series. Set in a present day Earth with superheroes and supervillans, the story is about a government superhero spy who named Holden Carver, who has been sent to penetrate a powerful criminal organization. The story kind of hops back and forth in time a bit, as the authors dole out parts of the backstory here and there, which can be a little confusing at times. As a spy story, it's fairly basic stuff -- the Carver's in so deep he's losing his moral bearing, etc... And oh yeah, the one guy who knows about his mission, the one guy who knows he hasn't really gone rogue, that guy just happens to be in a coma....

All of that is pretty familiar stuff, but it's nicely converted to a set of characters with powers and wacky nicknames (for example, Genocide, Triple X-Ray, Miss Misery). Each superperson has a distinct power, but it's not clear if some of these are biomechanical modifications, or genetically engineered, or simply spontaneous superpowers, or what. What stands out is how the writer has thought out the real-world implications of people with superpowers. For example, superheroes are like rock stars, with entourages and groupies hanging off them. And quite naturally, superfolks like to swap origin stories amongst themselves, which is a great device for getting that information to the reader. In any event, the story has Holden rising rapidly in the criminal outfit and getting glimpses of a hidden world of power. It's standard issue conspiracy plot material, but how his crime boss fits into it is unclear and therefore interesting.
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