As I browsed through the discount comics, I came across an interesting looking cover. What can I say, I’m a sucker for comic book promotionals. This textured and single colored cover of Fantastic Four #371 (December 1992) features The Human Torch flying toward the reader as the remainder of the cover seemingly melts. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Right from the first page this issue had my interest. Alicia Masters had been kidnapped by a rogue Watcher, and to get her back, The Thing and Mr. Fantastic are working with their long time foe The Puppetmaster. Why you ask? The Puppetmaster, for those of you who don’t know, is Alicia’s father. It is interesting to see the team up to say the least.
To add to the drama aspect of this issue (which is really what I feel is the strongsuit) is Sharon Ventura. Sharon wants Ben Grimm’s love and attention, but at the same time, The Thing is really only interested in the love of Alicia. When Sharon agrees to join the two members of the FF, in her full Ms. Marvel attire, on their quest to find her, it doesn’t bode well with the Puppetmaster. He feels that it is a conflict of interest because of her feelings.
Not enough of an emotional rollercoaster for you? Okay, so Susan Storm is not joining them because her and Reed are arguing. Over what? Sue once again tries to get his attention with a new costume that shows off plenty of her perfect body. While us readers are drooling over the look of the costume, her husband barely notices. Franklin, their son, also sees them arguing, and as a child, it bothers him.
On the other side of town, Johnny introduces himself to Bridget O’Neil, a fellow college student (and love interest). The introductions don’t last long though as he is attacked by Lyja, Paibok, and Devos. With Bridget frozen by Paibok, Johnny has to race to free her before it is too late. Succeeding in her rescue, The Human Torch is forced into a standoff on Empire State University’s campus. His only chance at survival is to go nova. By doing this, he has set fire to the entire campus.
Across town, Invisible Woman races toward her brother’s distress call, as Agatha Harkness (the old witch) remains to watch Franklin.
When Reed, Ben and Sharon finally find Alicia, she appears to be in some sort of coma induced by Aron the rogue Watcher. Uatu knows about Reed’s attempts to contact him, but his vows as a Watcher prevent him from doing anything, regardless of the fact that he wants to help. Aron has the three heroes right where he wants them, and intends on imprisoning them in a micro universe that he created.
The suspense, drama and revelations in this issue just keep coming, and that is what I really liked about it. The downside? Well, on page 16 there is something that got by the editor. The word “equipment” is spelled wrong (written as “equiptment). I know, this is nit picky, but as a writer, I noticed it quickly. I also was disappointed with the To BE CONTINUED on the last page.
I should have seen it coming, but now my curiosity has me wanting more. Sure it is a 20 year old issue, but it holds its status. I recommend it ONLY if you can find the issue/issues following it. Does anyone know how long this story goes on for? Please comment if you do. Otherwise, as an issue, I give it a 7 out of 10, that goes by WAY too quickly.
Review of: Sleepwalker # 3 Aug
Publisher: Marvel Comics in 1991
Article by: Rick Pipito
I chose this issue of Sleepwalker because it was my first introduction to the character back in the nineties. I feel he is one of the most underrated characters in the comic book universes. Reading this issue once again, years later, it has resparked my interest in seeking out more stories involving the Sleepwalker. There are SPOILERS AHEAD, so if you don’t want to know, then skip down to the last paragraph for my rating.
The story begins with Rick Sheridan, filming a college horror film. Rick is struggling to keep awake, because he knows that by falling asleep, he will let the Sleepwalker loose. The panels here are one of the reasons why as a younger boy I got into comics. A female actress, who just so happens to be Rick’s girlfriend, is dressed in almost nothing. She is glad for the wrap on the scene because she claims she is freezing, and it shows. The artist has her nipples drawn so far protruding, it is enough to spark any young boy’s fantasies.
I digress. Anyway, it turns out Rick has screwed up the camera work. As they are viewing the film, he is suddenly approached by the Sleepwalker as he comes out of the viewing screen. Sheridan fell asleep afterall. As he begins to freak out, the creature reassures him that he means no harm. To do so, he goes into an explanation of his origin. Yes, this is an origin story, so there isn’t a whole lot more than establishing the character in this issue, but it is done well.
Sleepwalker explains that in order for this explanation to work, Rick has to realize that this is all in his mind at the moment. If for one second, he believes that what he is seeing is any more than a dream, then it will become real… and dangerous. A few frames are shown of the memories of Sheridan’s past first. He forgets about it being a dream, and suddenly they are sucked into a vortex of sorts, but he is able to reground reality once again by forcing himself to think it.
Next we are introduced to the Mindscape. It is a dimension that links unconscious minds together. Sleepwalker is from a race that has a sole purpose of preventing evil creatures and other races from entering the vulnerable unconscious of an innocent. He goes on to explain one being that has constantly escaped banishment. The nemesis, Cobweb, is this being. Once introduced, Rick has a hard time grasping the reality/dream factor once again, and it places him and Sleepwalker under the attack of Cobweb.
It turns out that the reason Sleepwalker is trapped in Rick Sheridan’s mind is because Cobweb had tricked him into a trap there. As Sleepwalker is being beaten around by the enemy, Rick decides to use his dream to call in backup. The reinforcements are none other than dream versions of X-Factor, X-Men, Avengers and Fantastic Four members. He had the power to do so, but Rick’s quick thinking didn’t realize that he would have no control over these versions. The heroes begin attacking Sleepwalker because they believe that HE is the monster that Rick wants to get rid of.
Finally, he is able to force his mind into realizing it IS a dream, and all goes back to normal. Sleepwalker explains that he tried to get back to the mindscape, but he can’t find a way. He makes a deal with Rick that when Rick sleeps, Sleepwalker will continue to protect innocent from threats. This time however, he will do it by walking in physical reality instead of the mind. They shake hands, and part ways with Rick waking in class again.
This story, though semi-predictable at times, was different than the standard comic. The antagonist was really just the hero’s mind. For a refreshing story, I give this a 6 out of 10, and hope to be able to review more of the Sleepwalker’s adventures in the future.