Poor Sleepwalker. Originally named simply, Alien, he was the idea of Bob Budiansky (the guy who named the original Transformers and wrote their tech spec bios, plus the comics) back in the 1970’s and then abandoned after the 1977 movie Alien came out and became an instant classic. In 1989 DC Comics released The Sandman, the Neil Gaiman series which transcended comics by telling stories based around mythology, mixed into a gothic horror about the Lord of Dreaming who rebuilds his kingdom and attempts to right his wrongs after being imprisoned for 70 years.
By 1991 The Sandman had become a huge success, with a massive female readership and an audience consisting of primarily non-comic readers as it weaved Shakespeare stories into Morpheus’ own adventures with his thousands of lookalike spawns Death (think Harley Quinn but dressed in black). Marvel decided that they needed their own dream based series and Budiansky repurposed Alien into Sleepwalker – a dream guardian who hunted down rogue creatures who sought to harm people.
Unfortunately Sleepwalker becomes trapped in the mind of Rick Sheridan and then ends up fighting crime alongside other heroes with newly launched comics like Deathlok and Darkhawk, with a mandatory appearance from everyone’s favourite cameo appearance star – Spider-Man. It was 1991, it was either going to be Spider-Man, Wolverine, The Punisher or Ghost Rider. Needless to say Sleepwalker wasn’t even remotely a threat to The Sandman’s sales even after playing a major part in the Infinity Gauntlet sequels.
Eventually Sleepwalker would be mistaken for an evil alien, become feared and hated by New York city (just like Spider-Man and the X-Men), banish his nemesis Cobweb (urgh) then get stuck in Rick’s mind with no way of escaping and that was the end for him after 33 issues. Sleepwalker went to sleep in 1993 and was briefly resurrected in 2005 in a one off story that revealed that he could interact with the world again but Rick’s new work schedule and sleep pattern meant that Sleepwalker was still essentially trapped.
Resurrected in 2018 for a 4 issue miniseries, Sleepwalker was once again part of an Infinity related storyline. Sales of the individual issues weren’t great at around the 17,000 mark with issue one being outsold by the titanic crossover between Green Lantern and Huckleberry Hound. When collected into a Trade Paperback, Infinity Wars Sleepwalker sold exactly 704 copies in the first month. For the time being Sleepwalker has been put to sleep again like a sick dog. Sadly, Sleepwalker had a decent enough look and background but got strong armed into the Marvel superhero crowd instead of keeping him as the gothic horror character he was supposed to be. Morpheus only interacted with DC’s supernatural characters and Sleepwalker should have remained in Marvel’s darker shadows with Ghost Rider, Morbius, Blade and the others.
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