Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sleepwalker #1

Sleepwalker #1 (June 1991)
Ongoing series
Marvel Comics

Many years ago, Marvel put out something called The Generic Comic (or, going by the cover, Generic Comic Book). It was a tongue-in-cheek example of paint-by-numbers superhero comics at the time, and let me tell you: if the title hadn't already been used by them then, "Generic Comic Book" would have been a great name for this first issue.

Sleepwalker #1 is a perfectly acceptable, inoffensive, unremarkable comic -- but it shouldn't be! The titular creature is a tall, gaunt, green-skinned, bug-eyed humanoid in a purple hood, who emerges into the real world and fights crime with a reality-altering medallion when our everyman protagonist Rick goes to sleep. This should be a can't-miss opportunity for mind-bending excitement, or at least weirdness. But instead we get most of the comic devoted to Rick, a Film Studies major, having mundane dreams and living his mundane life.

Rick might as well be named Peter Banner: he's got the college-student-with-cute-redhead-girlfriend life Peter Parker had, but adds to it a "I mustn't unleash the monster" side-serving once he far too quickly and easily works out that the Sleepwalker comes out when he's asleep (or concussed and unconscious, but hey.) It's bland bland band, and since creator Bob Budiansky penned almost the entire series, I can't see it getting much better.

It's disappointing to see a concept with such potential get off to such a mundane start. I've often felt that Sleepwalker, along with fellow early-90s Marvel properties Speedball and Darkhawk, got a raw deal when people dismissed it as lame. But that was before I picked this up for the first time. Now I'm hesitant to look at the others, lest I be further disillusioned.

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