Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Editions of Sleeper: Prelude on Sale Now, Final Volume Out in September.

The first of the new trade paperback collections of Ed Brubaker's Sleeper story for WildStorm comics is now in stores, and it has just been revealed that the final collection will hit stores in late September.

First, as we reported earlier, the new edition of Point Blank was scheduled for a May 6 release, and it appears that it was released on time.

Point Blank is a five-issue mini-series that was originally published in late 2002 and early 2003. Written by Ed Brubaker and illustrated by Colin Wilson, it focuses on Cole Cash -- better known in the WildStorm universe as Grifter -- and his investigation into the shooting of spymaster John Lynch. The story leads directly into Sleeper, Brubaker's first major collaboration with Sean Phillips, a series that began immediately after the conclusion of Point Blank.

The two titles are sufficiently self-contained to be read and enjoyed separately, but they really belong together, and combined they tell the really twisted and quite epic story of a spy who loses his bearings infiltrating an international criminal organization, working all the way up to its virtual heart of darkness. Probably in light of Brubaker and Phillips' well-earned success, DC Comics is reprinting the trade collections: the company is officially branding Point Blank as a "prelude" to Sleeper; to make the connection even more emphatic, DC has also given this edition new cover art by Sean Phillips.

It appears that the new trade of Point Blank is already on sale. As soon as I get my own copy, I'll post an update if there is any new material worth mentioning. In the meantime, DC has a six-page PDF preview of the trade collection at the book's official listing. (H/t Jog)

The proper story of Sleeper was told over the course of 24 issues, split into two "seasons," and originally collected in four volumes. For the new editions, the story is being collected into two volumes whose total cost is less expensive than the original collections. The first season's volume is scheduled to be released on June 17th, and DC's August solicitations now reveal an advance-solicited sale date of September 23rd for the second and final volume.

In addition to the 12 issues of Season Two, this final collection will inclued "the never-before-collected prequel story from COUP D’ETAT: AFTERWORD."

Coup D'Etat was a four-issue mini-series that shook up the WildStorm universe, and one issue featured a Sleeper story written by Ed Brubaker, but I have never found that this story, also available in trade paperback, really added to the story that Brubaker and Phillips were telling: I don't remember that it was even referenced in Sleeper, and so it's entirely inessential to that story. This "afterward" story, however, appears to be the season-two prequel that Brubaker mentioned last year. Despite its inclusion in a comic book with the "Coup D'Etat" branding, this story might add another wrinkle to the Sleeper collections.

Marvel's August solicitations were also released this week, and I see that no Icon books have been included: no trade collection for Incognito and -- more importantly -- no new issue of Criminal. I still estimate that the latter will return around late August or early September, and it looks like September is more likely.

We'll still have a lot to look out for this summer: the two new collections of Sleeper and the last three issues of Incognito.

Particularly if you haven't read Sleeper before, I strongly recommend that you get all three of the new trade paperbacks, as the story is definitely worth reading.


UPDATE, June 17: Above I wrote that I would provide an update about Point Blank "if there is any new material worth mentioning."

I never did provide that follow-up, because that book contained no significant changes, other than the new cover art by Sean Phillips. The book's paper is very slightly different, and the colors are almost imperceptibly brighter. The cover's spine includes the Sleeper icon to match the two season collections coming out this summer, and the cover includes two new blurbs. The back cover has a different image from inside the book, but almost identical text.

(The text mentions Criminal and Incognito in reference to Ed Brubaker, making it clear precisely who DC is targeting, and the text mentions that the book "serves as a prequel" to Sleeper. That last bit annoys me, because I think, strictly speaking, prequels come out after a work to relay earlier events. Because Point Blank was published first, it's more properly a "prelude" as the front cover describes it.)

Inside, the title page and copyright information are updated slightly, and the back page has a new advertisement for other WildStorm collections, including the upcoming Sleeper season-long trades. Everything else, including the actual story and Brubaker's original afterword, seems completely unchanged, down to a small typo on page two of part two.

If you already have Point Blank, this isn't an essential purchase, but I do strongly recommend the story for anyone else. Even those wholly unfamiliar with the WildStorm universe should find this book to tell a compelling, self-contained tale that is an excellent companion to the proper story of Sleeper.

Buy Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips comics from Amazon.com

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