History Comicbook / Sleeper

9th Oct '17 1:47:28 PM StFan
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A comic book series by Creator/EdBrubaker and Sean Phillips, set in the Creator/{{WildStorm}} universe, combining Noir and {{superhero}}es. Originally introduced as 12-issue mini-series (March, 2003-March, 2004). It spawned the one-shot "Coup D'Etat: Sleeper" (April, 2004) and the sequel "Sleeper: Season 2". The later was another 12-issue series (August, 2004-July, 2005). Sleeper was preceded by a 5 issue miniseries called ''ComicBook/PointBlank'' that effectively acts as a prelude, so tropes present in ''Point Blank'' are discussed here.

Holden Carver used to be a black ops operative for the American government agency known as International Operations. When his late father was revealed to have been a traitor, Carver stole a retrieved alien artifact and went rogue, eventually joining a syndicate of super-powered criminals run by supervillain Tao (formerly of the ComicBook/WildCATs).

Except that's not true. Carver unintentionally became bonded with the artifact while on a mission; he was recruited to infiltrate the syndicate by his mentor John Lynch. The preceding is just a cover story.

That is until a failed assassination attempt sent Lynch into a coma, and the cover story became, for all intent and purposes, reality. Carver then has to find his own way out while doing more and more questionable things to maintain his cover.

Has a [[Characters/{{Sleeper}} character sheet.]]

Not to be confused with the Creator/WoodyAllen film.

!!''Sleeper'' provides examples of:

* AllGirlsWantBadBoys: Supervillains often get groupies who are “young girls who need to be close to bad for a few hours at a time.”
* AncientConspiracy: Mostly made up of [[CorruptCorporateExecutive Corrupt Corporate Executives.]] In TAO’s Backstory, he tracks them down and, disappointed with their venality, completely screws them over by becoming a TreacherousAdvisor.
* ArtShift: When characters tell each other their origin stories, the artwork becomes a bit simpler with much less background detail to emphasise it's simply a story being told; all you see is all you need to know.
* AssholeVictim: Nearly everybody in the series who dies.
* BadBoss: Lynch and TAO
* BadGuyBar: The [[SignsOfDisrepair Tird Street Arms]] and the Alter Ego, with such trappings as Hero-faced dartboards, masked strippers and portraits of “Old-School” villains like ''Dr. Mind'', ''The Undertaker'' and ''Hugo Lark'' on the walls.
* BadPowersBadPeople: Several characters but Miss Misery is especially notable. The only way to get her to use her powers for good is to trick her into thinking she's doing something truly reprehensible.
* BadassGrandpa: Sir Malcolm Jones can hold his own and then some.
* BettyAndVeronica: Veronica St James and Miss Misery. In that order, actually.
* BigDamnHeroes: Holden rescues [[spoiler: Grifter at the end of Point Blank]].
* BigDamnVillains: When Tao's men spring Holden from I.O.'s facility.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler: TAO is now back in his laboratory prison without a tongue to speak under Lynch's surveillance and his terrorist organization is disbanded, but Veronica and Miss Misery have been killed and Holden is now in a self aware permanent coma while mentally living in an illusory tropical world where he can spend eternity with his projected versions of Veronica and Miss Misery until brain death. It becomes a DownerEnding when you realize TAO will eventually be back and none of the issues that have gone on so far have been resolved.]]
* BlackAndGrayMorality: Borders on EvilVersusEvil:
-->'''Veronica:''' He's a terrorist, Holden. He's destabilized governments across the globe. He's killed innocent people, and God knows what he's done that we don't know about.\\
'''Carver:''' What kind of black ops do you think I did for I.O.? Destabilizing governments, killing innocent people and lots of stuff you really don't want to know about.\\
'''Veronica:''' That's not the same. With I.O. there's a greater purpose...\\
'''Carver:''' Is there? Or is it just covert imperialism? Dead children are still dead children at the end of the day, Veronica... they don't care about the reasons behind it.
* BlessedWithSuck: Miss Misery and Holden Carver
* BulletHolesAndRevelations
* CardCarryingVillain: Tao's organization.
* TheChessmaster: Both Tao and Lynch.
* CivvieSpandex: Villains will often wear [[ConspicuousTrenchcoat jackets]] over their costumes when they aren’t on the job.
* CloakAndDagger: International Operations/Internal Operations
* ClusterFBomb
* ContinuityNod: To the Wildstorm universe and more specifically [[Creator/AlanMoore Moore’s]] run on ComicBook/WildCATs.
* DarkerAndEdgier: Impressively so, even by Creator/{{Wildstorm}} standards.
* DeepCoverAgent
* DespairEventHorizon: [[spoiler: Holden was mainly teetering on it, but fully crossed this after Veronica killed Miss Misery and he killed Veronica by his own killer response reflexes.]]
* DestinationDefenestration: There is a LOT of this going on.
* EvilCostumeSwitch: Averted. Hero and villain costumes look exactly the same. A nice bit of FridgeBrilliance illustrating the BlackAndGrayMorality of the book.
* FagHag: There is a supervillain named Faghag who [[VampiricDraining feeds on the life force of gay men.]] She got this power after being [[CrowningMomentOfFunny bitten by a radioactive gay Peter Parker]].
* FakeDefector: Holden’s father.
* FantasticNoir: More obvious in Point Blank, but there are definite shades of it throughout.
* FlyingCar:
-->'''Holden:''' I hate flying cars. I really do. They're so super-spy.
* FromBadToWorse: Many times, notably for Carver when Lynch, the only one who knew he was really an undercover agent, was shot and put in a coma.
* GambitPileup: Especially in volume 2.
* GoodGuyBar: "The Domino" (formerly called Clark's and run by an elderly Franchise/{{Superman}} expy until they had to change their name "for legal reasons.") Mostly filled with SuperZeroes and [[NinetiesAntiHero '90s Anti-Heroes]].
* GovernmentAgencyOfFiction: I.O. whether it stands for International Operations or Internal Operations. "Makes the CIA look like the IRS".
* GunsAkimbo: Used throughout the series. Holden and Grifter in particular like this trope.
* HiredToHuntYourself: TAO's organisation goes on a hunt for the undercover operative in their midst. Naturally, Holden is right in the middle of it.
* HowWeGotHere: Point Blank opens with Grifter about to be shot.
* {{Humanshifting}}: There’s a shapeshifter in season 2
* IfYoureSoEvilEatThisKitten: Turned on its head. The mission to get Tao is so important, Holden will do anything and everything to keep his cover, including mass murder. A lot of his character arc revolves around him reconciling how he deals with eating so many kittens and can still be considered a "good guy."
* InfantImmortality: Double-subverted. See PoweredByAForsakenChild, below.
* LaserGuidedAmnesia: Part of Lynch and TAO’s power sets.
* LeaveNoWitnesses
* [[spoiler: LukeYouAreMyFather: Lynch [[ItsAllMyFault commissioned the experiment to create TAO]], so TAO refers to him as “Dad”.]]
* TheMentor: Lynch to Carver, although Holden would deny it.
* MacGuffin: TAO often sends his people on missions for meaningless things just to [[IfYoureSoEvilEatThisKitten test their loyalty]]/[[ItAmusedMe fuck with them]].
* MindManipulation: Steeleye, TAO and Lynch
* TheMole: Happens a lot in both organizations.
* Mooks / FacelessGoons: Metric fucktons of ‘em.
* MyHovercraftIsFullOfEels: One of the few comedic moments in the series. "''That's right, horse breathers! I shit your branch!''" It is of course followed by violence, death threats and murder.
* NotSoDifferent: Lynch and TAO.
* NotWearingTights: Most of the higher-ups in both organizations.
* NotWhatItLooksLike: Grifter walking in on Kenesha A.K.A. [[ComicBook/WildCATs Savant]] having sex with a supervillain in a parking garage. He assumes the villain is raping her and is disappointed to find out that his [[DestinationDefenestration “heroic rescue”]] was a mistake.
* OhCrap: Grifter wakes up groggily after a skirmish and finds himself face-to-face with Tao.
* OOCIsSeriousBusiness: When Genocide Jones reveals his origin story, he becomes very somber, a stark contrast to his usual BoisterousBruiser personality. Also applies within the context of the story. Origin stories are meant to be told in the third-person, but as Jones's story goes on, he switches to the first-person.
%%* APartyAlsoKnownAsAnOrgy
%%* PoweredArmor
* PoweredByAForsakenChild: [[spoiler: Lynch’s decoding facility is based around a kid with a giant brain hooked up to incredibly painful machines. When Holden sees this, he [[MercyKill shoots him]] and tells Lynch that he is a monster for doing this. Lynch claims that the man in the machine was a 30 year old mutant who just looked like a child, but he may have been lying and that doesn’t make it much better.]]
* PrettyLittleHeadshots: A couple, here and there, although for the most part, [[YourHeadAsplode people's heads asplode.]]
* PsychoForHire: Almost a requirement to work for TAO.
%%* RayGun
* ReassignedToAntarctica: Lynch says this verbatim of an informant, and comments that [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness once he tells them everything about his contacts, he'll be "disappeared".]]
* RockBeatsLaser: Subverted. Energy weapons do far more damage than conventional ones.
* ShooOutTheClowns: After Genocide dies, the series becomes noticeably more dark and lets you know things have just become dead serious for Holden.
* ShutUpHannibal: Tao's main weapon is his voice, and his ability to talk people into almost anything. [[spoiler:At the end of the series, Holden rips his tongue out.]]
%%* SmugSuper
* SortingAlgorithmOfEvil:
-->''There was a hierarchy. TAO, of course, was at the top of the pyramid, and just under him were the Prodigals -- his three closest agents. If anyone knew TAO's motives, it was probably them. Beneath the Prodigals were the Torpedoes. Which is what I was, sort of a lieutenant in the organization. There were maybe 30 of us. In between missions we did as we pleased, answering only to the four people above us. Under the torpedoes were the Blackguards -- Our soldiers. These guys [[{{Mooks}}followed orders and kept the peace among the rank and file.]] [[EliteMooks Higher level Blackguards, like the ones that caught me and Genocide red-handed, reported directly to TAO.]] And below them was [[PunchClockVillain everyone else]] -- the Quislings. These guys were small-time post human crooks, some working just the odd mission here or there, and some eventually [[KlingonPromotion moving up the chain]].''
* SpyCatsuit: Shows up from time to time, particularly when someone has to scale a building.
* SupermanStaysOutOfGotham: The events are [[HandWave handwaved]] as being beneath the notice of the more public superhuman teams like ''ComicBook/TheAuthority''.
* SupernaturalFearInducer: Peter Grimm has the ability to trap someone in a mental loop reliving their greatest fear until they die.
* SuperpoweredMooks: Many henchmen on both sides are described as having “low level cybernetic enhancements” that [[InformedAbility serve no purpose but to spark]] when the characters are hit.
* SuperHeroOrigin: In-universe villains use it to kill time between missions, and it’s the done thing to tell your origin story in third-person.
* TalkToTheFist: [[spoiler:When Holden finally has Tao at his mercy, the man won't shut up, so Holden slaps him around. Tao comments on the pointlessness of this.]]
%%* ThisIsForEmphasisBitch
* TropicalEpilogue: [[spoiler: for Holden. Although given the [[CrapsackWorld setting]], it's not too surprising that it's only the side-effect of a LotusEaterMachine.]]
* ThisPageWillSelfDestruct: And often the messenger, too.
* ThoseTwoBadGuys: The last time we see Pit Bull and Blackwolf, they're waiting at the rendezvous point wondering where the hell everyone else is.
* TitleDrop: The VanityLicensePlate on Lynch's FlyingCar reads "[=SLEEPER1=]". The dialogue hilariously lampshades this, to boot.
%%* TrunkShot
* TheUnfettered: Lots of characters like to think they are. An ongoing theme of the series is how this is largely an illusion.
* UnPerson: A reporter who stumbled onto a meeting of these shadow power players thought he got away with it when he's let go... only to return to find no one at his newspaper claimed to have known him, his apartment was occupied by someone else, his family suddenly vanishing and he ended up dying of a drug overdose on the streets.
* UnrealisticBlackHole: A suitcase black-hole bomb.
%%* VanInBlack
* YourHeadAsplode: Many characters meet their fate this way, notably [[spoiler:Miss Misery and Peter Grimm.]]
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